Sanction Now, Ask Questions Later Attitude Leaving More People Homeless!
More and more people are being left homeless because of having their benefits sanctioned for petty reasons according to Hull East MP Karl Turner and staff at The Warren in Hull City Centre.
“People are being left without benefits because they’re being sanctioned for the most petty reasons since this government came in,” Said Mr Turner.
Attending a public meeting hosted by JJ Tatten, manager, at The Warren Mr Turner was given many tales of woe by young benefit claimants who have either had, or been threatened with, benefits sanctions.
Reasons for sanctions being imposed included, being at a funeral, being at job interviews, being on work placements, one young lady even got sanctioned because she failed to sign on when she went into labour at the job centre.
Christian Wilding and Craig McDade also had their benefits sanctioned and ended up having to ask for financial support elsewhere until their benefits were reinstated.
Other people at the meeting told about how it takes four weeks for an application for hardship payments to go through and, until then, they don’t have any money for food or paying bills.
Another knock on effect of having benefits sanctioned means that the persons housing and council tax benefit is also removed automatically so they are left owing massive rent arrears which then results in eviction.
Hardship payments also vary between benefits, a person claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) gets £28 a week on hardship whilst a person on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) gets £35 a week.
Before the start of the meeting Mr Tatten said he even knew of a case of a former soldier in his 60s having his benefits sanctioned because he was selling poppies for the Royal British Legion.
During the discussions Mr Turner said about how an MP for Wigan was having a debate in the House of Commons about benefits sanctions for petty reasons, like people being 2 or 3 minutes late to sign on, and the MP who was supposed to respond to her questions was actually 5 minutes late for the debate.
Counsellor Julie Chapman from The Warren said, “Sanctions on benefits are more frequent now, in fact they’ve more than doubled since this government came to power.
“Homelessness as a result of benefits sanctions has almost normalised now with lots of people now also sofa surfing
She also said, “Sanctions put a huge strain on families and impacts on mental health and also leads to food poverty,”
After the public meeting I attended a soup kitchen organised by Hull Homeless Outreach at St. Mary’s Church in Lowgate and spoke to Sarah Hemingway who volunteers there.
“Hull Homeless Outreach opened a food bank a few weeks ago and we feed 37 people on average there, at one point a woman turned up with four kids and her partner and they were expected to live on £38 a week.
She also said, “I want to know how many more austerity cuts are they going to agree on that could prevent a lot of this?”
In total 50 people came to the soup kitchen looking for food and drink.
Mr Turner also said, “We are trying to get some corporate sponsorship to keep Dock House open past the end of this month but I can’t promise anything yet,”
Asked why it is being forced to close again Mr Turner replied “Because central government has taken £150 Million away from the Hull City Council budget.
“Cameron’s Oxfordshire constituency has had a 2% rise in its funding, Hull has had a 10% cut in funding,” He continued.