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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Jobseekers Allowance and sanctions

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The following was published in the new edition of The new Heeley Voice: http://heeleyonline.org/new-heeley-voice/heeley-voice-issue-60/


The Department for Work and Pensions website says: “we are aiming to make the benefit system fairer and more affordable to help reduce poverty, worklessness and welfare dependency”. From the calls I get to my office and the stories I heard on recent visits to a food bank and job club this is not the experience of many local people.


The government introduced ‘tougher’ rules and by October 2012, the number of sanctions had increased to 4.2% of all Jobseekers Allowance claimants every month. Sanctions mean claimants losing 100% of their income for several weeks. I am increasingly concerned that this rise may be the result of ‘target setting’ by the Department for Work and Pensions.


In many cases, these sanctions are being made inappropriately, unfairly and disproportionately. For example one person was sanctioned for applying for too many jobs, while others are sanctioned for applying for too few jobs despite insufficient appropriate vacancies being advertised.


Many people discover when sanctioned, their housing benefit also stops, with no warning, leaving them not only penniless, but in rent arrears. Some claimants, who have successfully overturned a decision to sanction them, are told that the information about the sanction will remain on their file. Others find that despite overturning the decision they are left without money for weeks.


A sanction used correctly should have the effect of encouraging claimants to engage more actively in job seeking. It should not be used as an attack on the most vulnerable members of our society. The sanctioning regime was never intended to work in this manner. I am committed to pursuing this with the government.


 


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