The Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) urge people to get involved in the campaign against the Tory’s cruel and vindictive benefit sanctions policy. Whilst issues such as Brexit and the state of the NHS are rightly in the news at the moment, the government quietly continues to pursue a policy that has caused untold misery for many. GPTU co-secretary and former benefit claimant, Lee Burkwood had this to say:
“Whilst claiming Jobseekers Allowance myself, the Job Centre threatened to cut my benefits unless I agreed to do unpaid work at Tesco for four weeks. I literally had no choice but to work for less than the minimum wage at a multi-billion pound company. It was deeply humiliating.”
Benefit sanctions were set up to catch people out who cheat the system. However, the evidence clearly shows that many legitimate claimants are caught and punished unfairly. In the past year, half a million people have had their benefits stopped for reasons such as: being minutes late for a Job Centre appointment, not applying for work whilst waiting to start a new job, and even missing a meeting to attend the funeral of a family member. Furthermore, the evidence shows that this dysfunctional policy costs the taxpayer more to administer than it saves. Analysis from the National Audit Office shows that the DWP spend £30-50 million yearly in applying sanctions and around £200 million a year in monitoring the terms it sets for jobseekers – yet these measures only reduced the benefits bill by £132 million in 2015.
This is why we are supporting Unite Community’s day of action on Thursday, urging the government to scrap their policy of benefit sanctions and instead investing taxpayers’ money into genuinely helping people to secure and sustainable work, rather than punishing them for minor indiscretions and pushing them into poverty. See the website below to find out how you can get involved and use the hashtag #No2Sanctions to share your stories on this issue.