Sunday, 19 April 2015

Why Benefit Sanctions need to be Stopped.

Guest blog from Andrea Carey
Benefit Sanctions have doubled since 2006.  The introduction of this degrading, poverty inducing, and unfair practice is contrary to the Over-riding duty the Government has to provide for the welfare of its (most vulnerable) people.  Benefit sanctions go against the will of our post-war Nation to provide for the Health, Happiness and Freedom of its people.   With measures such as these we, as a Nation are slipping back into the Pre-Welfare state of reckoning the country’s worth based purely on profits and not the welfare of its people.  

Between October 2012 and June 2014 49,000 lone parents & 182,000 disabled adults were subjected to Benefit Sanctions. (Government  Statistics).  Of these totals some 3,471 Lone Parents and 18,197 Disabled People were subjected to Higher Sanctions and had their benefits stopped for 3 months to 3 years!

What kind of society are we that we allow procedures like this that remove the income safety net from people who are struggling to bring up children alone and adults who have mental impairments (the highest category subject to Sanctions!) and physical impairments.

While benefits are being stopped, people are resorting (as they did in Victorian times) to charities and societies like the Trussell Trust food Banks across the UK to stop themselves from literally starving.  Between April 2013 - and March 2014 582,933 adults and 330,205 children  received food and assistance from the Trussell Trust.   We are in the 21st Century now and we should not have any children in the UK who have to resort to Food Banks for their survival.  

In the last 6 years food, transport  and rental costs have (according to the Rowntree Foundation) risen by over 25%, and fuel costs by 60%.  We all know that fuel poverty is an issue but the Trussell Trust figures show us just how desperate the situation is becoming.

The injustice of the Benefit Sanction system is beyond belief – arbitrary decisions are being made which are not open to appeal.  People have been ‘sanctioned’ for things like attending a family funeral,  and not being being able to attend a job centre appointment because of it clashing with a job interview!  When is common sense, humanity and fairness going to prevail?  How many people young, old, disabled have to suffer and starve before the Government finally changes this cruel practice.

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