The displaced tenants paying the true cost of an inhumane housing policy

Councils must commit to a more humane, thoughtful and cost-effective social housing policy than moving people away from jobs and homes

Moving halfway across the country when you are already vulnerable causes huge emotional and health problems.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/dec/02/human-cost-benefits-cap-tenants-shunted-england-councils

 

Gran suffered heart attack at job centre meeting – but was too scared to leave as she feared losing benefits

The incident echoes the hit Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake, where the lead actor suffers a heart attack on the way to a job centre meeting and dies

A gran suffered a heart attack during a job centre employment meeting but said she was too scared to get up and leave – for fear of ­losing her benefits .

The incident echoes the hit Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake, where the lead actor suffers a heart attack on the way to a job centre meeting and dies.

Grandmother Salena Hannah, 50, claims she had the seizure during a Jobseeker’s Allowance appointment, but was ignored by the “callous” interviewer. Salena said she dreaded falling victim to the Tory sanction scheme, introduced in 2012, which can involve a reduction in benefit – often to zero – and range from one week to three years.

Sanctions are enforced if the Department for Work and Pensions decides a person has not met the requirements for receiving JSA. Salena said the incident happened earlier this month.

She explained: “I had been suffering with chest pains for about two weeks and took a couple of sprays of GTN spray, to help with my angina, before I walked in to meet my interviewer. My job is under 16 hours, so I am forced to attend regular meetings, or my benefits might be stopped.”

“I was feeling some really bad pains in my chest and I told her at least two or three times that I was in agony, but she was just so callous, she just kept ignoring me. I said I needed to go to the NHS walk-in centre immediately, but it fell on deaf ears. I was living in fear of being sanctioned and just felt trapped. I didn’t think I could leave or I would be sanctioned.”

Salena claims she was forced to endure a 40-minute JSA interview, while sweating profusely and suffering cheat pains. As soon as she left the interview, she went to a nearby NHS walk-in centre, where medics immediately called an ambulance and took her to hospital. Blood tests revealed she had suffered a heart attack and surgeons inserted two stents into her arteries.

She was allowed home after three days, only to suffer serious chest pains an hour later and return to hospital, where three more stents were inserted. She is now recovering at home but is struggling to breath and is constantly weak.

She said: “I was just dreading getting sanctioned. I just would not be able to afford to live if that happened, so pain or no pain, I had to endure that meeting. It is unbelievable how cruel the sanction scheme can be to people like me. It is almost like they are trained to be unfeeling. Is that what Britain is coming to these days under a Tory Government?”

Mum-of-four Salena, from Salisbury, Wilts, is bringing up her two grandsons aged 14 and 10 on her own.

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gran-suffered-heart-attack-job-10458734

Unconnected and out of work: the vicious circle of having no internet

Jobseekers must spend up to 35 hours a week on online applications, or risk losing benefits. When you can’t afford a computer, this is no mean feat

….In Wigan, Lisa Wright, 47, a former factory worker who has been unemployed for three years after the food processing plant she worked for closed, is doing a mandatory six-month community work programme. Alongside 30 hours of community service each week, she has to put in 10 hours on Universal Jobmatch.

“I can only get to a computer in Wigan library on Thursday evenings, Fridays and Saturday mornings,” she said. “There’s sometimes a queue so you can hang around for up to an hour. That’s the only time I can check my emails, which means if I get sent a reply to a job application on Monday I don’t see it for days. It feels like you’re constantly doing things wrong and struggling just to keep up. I met a kid last week doing 200 hours’ community service for robbing a shop. I’m doing 780 hours’ community service and my only crime is being unemployed.”….

read more here: https://amp.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/09/unconnected-and-out-of-work-the-vicious-circle-of-having-no-internet

 

Benefit sanctions hit one in seven single parents, research shows

‘Single parents increasingly feel punished for being unable to juggle seeking work and looking after their children’, charity says.

One in seven single parents in receipt of benefits have been hit by the Government’s “inflexible” sanctions regime, while even more are at risk of having their benefit payments slashed in the future, according to shocking new research from the Gingerbread charity.

read more here: http://www.welfareweekly.com/benefit-sanctions-hit-one-in-seven-single-parents-research-shows/

MPs say housing benefit is being wrongly stripped from jobseekers, threatening them with eviction and homelessness

The Public Accounts Committee cites evidence that one-third of people who were claiming housing benefit lost their money when they were given a sanction

Housing benefit is being wrongly stripped from jobseekers accused of failing to look for work, MPs say – threatening them with eviction and homelessness.

The “appalling situation” is condemned by a Commons committee which has told the Department for Work and Pensions to investigate the blunder urgently.

Government rules say benefit claimants who are sanctioned can be docked jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) and employment and support allowance (ESA) – but not housing benefit, which they may need to keep their home.

In evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Sir Robert Devereux, the DWP’s permanent secretary, said: “The sanction is applied to the JSA and not to the housing benefit.”

But a survey by the housing charity Crisis found that a staggering one-third of people who were claiming housing benefit lost their money when they were given a sanction.

Meg Hillier, the PAC’s Labour chair, said: “Suspending people’s benefit payments can lead them into debt, rent arrears and homelessness, which can undermine their efforts to find work.

“A third of people surveyed by the charity Crisis who were claiming housing benefit had this stopped in error because of a sanction – an appalling situation to be faced with.”

read more here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/mps-housing-benefit-sanctions-jobseekers-meg-hillier-eviction-homelessness-report-a7589936.html

British Psychological Society calls for the Government to suspend its benefits sanctions system

In a joint response with other leading psychological bodies to a Government consultation the British Psychological Society has called for the suspension of the benefit sanctions system.

The Government should suspend its benefit sanctions system as it fails to get people back to work and damages their mental health, says the BPS and other leading UK psychological bodies.

The bodies highlight evidence that sanctions, or the threat of sanctions (benefit cuts following a claimant’s failure to comply with jobcentre conditions, e.g. missing an appointment with their work coach) can result in destitution, hardship, widespread anxiety and feelings of disempowerment.

The call came in a joint response to the Government’s consultation, ‘Improving Lives’, from the British Psychological Society, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Psychoanalytic Council, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

Findings from the National Audit Office  show that there is limited evidence the sanctions system actually works, or is cost effective. The bodies argue that the Government needs to change focus from trying to make unemployment less attractive, to trying to make employment more attractive.

read more here: http://beta.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/bps-calls-government-suspend-its-benefits-sanctions-system