Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under ‘draconian’ new sanctions regime

The under-24s are bearing the brunt of a punitive new system that stops payments without warning

Thousands of young people have been forced to go without food or other essentials after their benefits were wrongly stopped under a “draconian” new sanctions regime, research suggests.

Since the Coalition introduced more punitive benefit sanctions in October 2012, more than 45,000 young people have been hit with an incorrect penalty, according to IoS analysis of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures. A sanction can mean having welfare payments cut off entirely for a minimum of a month and as much as three years for “repeat offenders”. The hardline system, which means people can end up cast adrift for accidentally missing an appointment, is thought to be one of the reasons behind the vast numbers turning to food banks.

Experts say young people are being unfairly singled out by the strict new system of penalties. Despite making up only 27 per cent of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, 18- to 24-year-olds have accounted for 42 per cent of all sanctions handed out.

In total, 343,744 young people have had their benefits stopped because a job centre decided they have not abided by strict rules. About one in five cases results from someone failing to attend an interview with an employment adviser, though there have been examples of people being sanctioned for this despite never receiving an interview time.

YMCA England is publishing a report this week into the damaging impact of sanctions on the young people it works with. Denise Hatton, its chief executive, said: “The level of incorrect decisions being made by Jobcentre Plus is frankly scandalous. Benefits are supposed to be a lifeline and safety net for those most in need. When these benefits are taken away, it can be disastrous. When this is done without due cause, it is reprehensible.

“It is no surprise that the young people we support feel that the job centre is simply a place they have to go to be processed and punished.”

Of 79,924 young people who asked for their case to be reconsidered since the system changed on 22 October 2012, 38,969 had the decision overturned. A further 6,455 are recorded as successfully appealing a sanction, though the DWP says it is re-examining its own appeal statistics.

Sally Copley, head of UK campaigns at Oxfam, said that getting sanctions overturned is a “really painful” process that can drag on for months. Oxfam is pushing for more intensive one-to-one support for unemployed people as a more effective way of tackling poverty.

Shadow Employment minister, Stephen Timms, said: “David Cameron’s out-of-touch government is letting young people down, and the number of young people on Jobseeker’s Allowance for over a year has doubled since the election. The shambles at the Department for Work and Pensions, with a staggering 58 per cent of appeals against sanction decisions upheld, is distracting job centres from their real job of getting people back to work.”

The DWP has been dogged by claims that job-centre staff are given weekly or monthly targets for the number of benefits sanction decisions to take. The department strenuously denies this, describing the numbers as management information, not a target.

Nearly all YMCAs (94 per cent) responding to research out last week reported an increase in the number of young people they work with being sanctioned, with just under two-thirds indicating that the increase was significant.

More than four-fifths of the vulnerable young people who were sanctioned reported being forced to go without essential items. The most common areas where they were forced to cut back or go without were: food, 84 per cent; housing costs, 81 per cent; and toiletries, 75 per cent.

Citizens Advice has been inundated with requests to its bureaux for help with those facing sanctions since the changes came in 16 months ago. Citizens Advice chief executive, Gillian Guy, said: “Sanctions are meant to be a last resort but the experience of many of our clients is that job centres sanction first and ask questions later. In many cases the Government’s sanctions regime pushes people working hard to get a job further away from employment.

read the rest of this article by Emily Dugan in the Independent 2nd March 201:

11 thoughts on “Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under ‘draconian’ new sanctions regime

  1. I did a blog for May Day, in its form of International Workers Day, as to what we owe socialism in the modern world:

    Today like never before, our lives depend on socialism and its is nowhere to be found in the current political class. It’s up to us to conserve this endangered ‘species’.

  2. Here are a few but free wise words to any person, who gets their benefits sanctioned, look on Internet, if you have access to the Internet and look under your right to food it is under international law, that you as a person have a right to food and when you find that piece of international law and look under two articles, article 11 and article 25, I think it is and if I am right, than print it off and make sure that you make copies and keep the original that you printed off at and make sure you take with you, every time you go to the job centre plus, so if they even think of using sanctions against you or your friends or family and than you can tell them that they are about to break international law on human rights to food and than make sure you show the piece of paper and make sure you have plenty of copies and than say you will call the local police and than show the local police officer that piece of international law and say, who ever your adviser is at your local job centre plus, you would like so & so arrested for breaking international law on the grounds of my human rights to food under article 11 and article 25, but just one word warning, please make sure what I have told you is right under those’s articles, please.

  3. My 15 year old struggling on toilet with his bowel problems again this morning because his diet is not right. His diet is not right because there is no diet for him today or the rest of this week. They sanctioned us after treating us like dirt and left my family with no food. I’ve a brain injury I don’t need this crap.

    • That’s disgusting your child should not have to go without because the coalition bought in stupid sanction rules. I bet the workers at the DWP are eating properly. My friend has been sanctioned and living on £35 a week that’s before paying bills. Added to that he served his country in the forces and has got naff all for it. This government should be looking after their people not making them live in poverty.

  4. Pingback: Seven Regions of The UK Are Among The Poorest in Europe | Rantings From a Virtual Soapbox

  5. I bet every worker who is employed by the DWP always eat well . Its the people who can’t get the job they want that always suffers. If britain says we have a good welfare system then i think they need their brains seen to. There’s no point in writing to the PM, he doesnt answer letters and anyone else wouldn’t know where to start. The only reason why Britain has a lot of poverty is because we have a lot of idiots in parliament. Don’t bank on this goverment looking after their own. If they can’t look after their elderly with Dementia then the State has a lot to do and i challenge anyone to put this right.

    • No, every worker employed bty the DWP does not eat well. They have thousands of people who are being paid below a living wage. There is indeed little point in writing to the PM but there is a lot of point in writing to your MP, especially with an election coming up.

  6. the people r looking in bins here neath/port/talbot, police statiion closed & higher crime,cant get an ambulance,is this to cut down the population as people dying of starvation,or effects of changes???

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