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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 March 2014

Fight the government's vicious sanctions regime

Ian Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs

Experiencing the daily grind of poverty and fruitless job searches when you're out of work is very demoralising.

But the Con-Dem government goes the extra mile. They're hell-bent on making life as difficult and miserable as possible for unemployed people.

Recently, the news media has been awash with stories about the severity of benefit sanctions. The link between benefit sanctions and extreme poverty featured heavily in BBC's Panorama documentary, 'Hungry Britain?', on the spread of food banks across the country.

According to Panorama, a record high number of people, 875,000, had their benefits withdrawn through sanctions over the last year.

Demonstrating the depths of cold cruelty that Con-Dem policy can sink to, 130,000 of these were overturned on appeal. This outrageous figure would be even higher if more people appealed.

Many people have their benefits withdrawn for devastatingly long periods of time for what even the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) deems 'minor offences'. One family had their benefits cut entirely following a 'clerical mix-up', ie a mistake by DWP!

The DWP pleads innocence and claims there are no targets for sanctioning people on benefits. But PCS members working in jobcentres know that sanctions targets do exist.

Jobcentre workers are pressured into meeting 'management estimates' on benefit sanctions. Panorama featured one jobcentre in Grantham adorned with a wall chart showing the savings made from imposing severe benefit sanctions.

Jobseeker's Allowance recipients are by no means the only people to suffer from sanctions. Victims of the hated 'bedroom tax' have been told to find a lodger or more paid work to cover the penalties imposed on their 'spare room', without knowing this can affect their eligibility for housing benefit.

Benefit sanctions, even those provoked by mistakes by DWP, leave unemployed people with, at best, an emergency payment, but in some circumstances, nothing.

Out of touch former Thatcherite Tory minister, Edwina Currie, says there is no need for food banks and no such thing as food poverty.

Scandalously, Iain Duncan Smith has even claimed food banks contribute to 'entitlement culture', putting the blame for the disgustingly rapid expansion of food banks anywhere but at the doorstep of his government.

They're even more out of touch than we previously thought when they claim 'there is no link between their welfare cuts and the rise of food banks'.

The Con-Dem government should no longer be confident it can rely on public antipathy when attacking people on benefits. There is only so far they can push us, before we snap back!

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In The Socialist 5 March 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Pay us a living wage now!

Need for new mass workers' party is undeniable

Government condemns millions to housing misery

NHS in crisis: Stop Hunt's hospital closure plans

Fight the government's vicious sanctions regime

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Ukraine crisis: Ruling elites foster division and conflict

Northern Ireland rocked by 'on the runs' crisis

International Women's Day

The miners' strike changed women's lives

Socialist Party workplace news

Determined Doncaster care workers in 7-day strike

Wales: Unison branch challenges Labour with no-cuts budget

Support strike action against legal aid cuts

Leeds council workers discuss cuts fightback

Train drivers vote for action at Northern Rail

Cleaners strike at London college

Readers' comments and reviews

Nigeria's battle for a mass workers' party

Letter of protest to the BBC

Union question time - Labour has no answers

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Action against vicious council cuts

Police spying ends lives - end it!

Fighting youth low pay (and security bullies)

Calderdale and Huddersfield: People ready to defend A&Es

Barton Moss protesters say no to fracking

Oppose the EDL in Worcester


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