Protest against benefit sanctions outside St Leonards Jobcentre

Jobcentre Plus NNL-150528-110248001
Jobcentre Plus NNL-150528-110248001

Campaigners will be protesting outside St Leonards Jobcentre against the government’s benefit sanctions tomorrow (Wednesday, March 9).

More than 34,000 claimants had their benefits sanctioned from July, 2014, to June, 2015, forcing them into debt or relying on foodbanks to feed themselves.

The day of action organised by Unite across the region will see campaigners demanding an end to the government’s punitive sanctions from 11am outside the London Road Jobcentre Plus.

Unite’s community coordinator Kelly Tomlinson said: “Half a million people have been sanctioned and had their financial support withdrawn in the last 12 months alone.

“Money can be cut for arriving late at the Jobcentre, missing an appointment to go to a funeral or even failing to apply for a job while waiting to start a new job.

“This harsh benefit sanctions regime treats claimants worse than criminals fined in courts leaving people without money unable to feed themselves and their family.

“It is a system out of control with decisions on guilt taken in secret with claimants not even allowed to be present to explain their case.

“Far from helping people back to work, the cruel sanctions regime harms physical and mental health and drives up food bank use and homelessness.

“It is totally counterproductive and there can be no justification for this grotesque cruelty by the government. It can’t be allowed to go on.”

Gill Thompson, whose brother David Clapson died after being sanctioned, will be handing in a petition calling on the prime minister David Cameron to implement a ‘broad and independent’ review of benefit sanctions as per the recommendations of the work and pensions select committee.

Mr Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier, died starving in 2013 because he was penalised by the Jobcentre for missing a meeting.

His body was found surrounded by CVs and his electricity had been cut off making his insulin unusable.

His sister has been campaigning for an inquiry into his death.

What experiences have you had of benefit sanctions? Let us know by emailing hastings.observer@jpress.co.uk.

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