Claimant Sanctioned- For Missing JobCentre Appointment To Accept Part Time Work
The punishment is one of three handed out to the part-time cleaner, from Barrow, which she claims have left her and her partner on the breadline for a year.
It forced the pair to use Barrow’s foodbank and town community kitchen to keep hunger at bay while living without heat or power on occasions when the high tariff pre-payment electricity meter at their rented home ran out of credit.
They have now hit out at the ‘unfair’ benefit system they claim is making them ill.
The woman, who is in her 20s and says she has applied for scores of jobs in a bid to secure full-time work, said: “I was given some extra hours on a Monday morning starting at 7am.
“My job centre appointment was at 9.30am and I didn’t have any credit on my phone. I took the work and called to explain about the appointment the next day but it was a sanction.
“I got another one for missing a workshop about Twitter. I know how to use Twitter but it didn’t make any difference. They’ll sanction you for anything.”
Crippled by sanctions, the couple even faced homelessness when they could no longer afford the rent on their two-bedroom home.
They moved into a one-bedroom flat in the town after the landlord offered to accept a deferred deposit.
“We try our hardest,” she told the Evening Mail.
“I would love to have a full-time job but we’re really struggling. The stress has made me ill. These sanctions are not fair; they need to be stopped.”
Sanctions can be applied to people receiving benefits for a range of reasons. They can include missing appointments at the job centre and failing to follow instructions from a work coach.
But Barrow councillor and former job centre employee Michael Cassells said there needed to be more flexibility in the system to ensure sanctions were dished out fairly.
“There’s no doubt sanctions are cruel and causing real hardship and, unfortunately, in most cases, people are not told they can appeal against them, or how to do it.
“We need this system to be looked at so that people are treated with respect and empathy. Otherwise they simply feel they are trying their best but hitting a brick wall with nowhere to turn to for help.”