Ashton MP: Benefits system needs reviewing due to ‘ridiculous’ sanctions

The benefits system needs reviewing due to ‘ridiculous’ sanctions that punish the poorest and most vulnerable, according to Ashton MP Angela Rayner.

Since April alone, Tameside Citizens Advice Bureau has helped more than 2,000 people to make emergency payment claims – most arising through sanctions being applied by the DWP.

This has stemmed from the Government making sanctions harsher in 2012, with some claimants now facing having their benefits cut for up to three years, and a minimum of four weeks, while they look for work.

“Benefit is being stopped for ridiculous reasons. One of my constituents who is not computer literate, is dyslexic and has learning difficulties, had his benefit stopped for four weeks for not properly filling out a job search agreement,” the Labour MP said.

“Another young man who had badly ulcerated legs was admitted to hospital for treatment the day before he was due to attend an ATOS medical. He was sanctioned for non attendance.  

“Another had his Job Seekers Allowance stopped because he had not attended a work programme – but he was able to provide full, written evidence that he had attended every single day. 

“He was still sanctioned for four weeks. By the time he won his appeal, he had been evicted from his home for non-payment of rent.

The Labour MP is now calling on Government ministers to urgently review how sanctions are being applied in Tameside and has called for greater support for people seeking work.

“These are not isolated examples of mistakes, or misunderstandings or bureaucratic cock-ups. They are part of a pattern,” she said.

“They are institutionalised punishment of the poorest, most vulnerable people.

“The result is increasing debt. In a recent survey of CAB’s in Greater Manchester, 80% of people who had been sanctioned had been driven deeper into debt as a result. Two thirds had been left with no other income at all.”

In the last year, across Tameside, Oldham and Manchester there has been a 230% increase in the number of people going to the CAB for help after they were sanctioned.

Tameside CAB is very clear that harsh and badly applied sanctions are one of the biggest issues facing people in the borough.

“I would appeal to Ministers to look urgently and closely at the impact of benefit sanctions across the whole of Greater Manchester,” Mrs Rayner added.

“There does seem to be a disproportionate impact in Tameside. Other constituents are being sanctioned without reason and with no notification.”

Image courtesy of Angela Rayner via YouTube, with thanks.

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