Benefit sanctions hit 100,000 children in a year - time to rethink sanctions

If you commit a crime, no criminal court in the UK is allowed to make you go hungry as a punishment. But if you’re late for an appointment at the Jobcentre, they can remove all your income and leave you unable to feed yourself or your family for weeks at a time. 

“During the first three weeks of my sanction I continued to look for work as I was required to. By the fourth week however I was exhausted, unwell and no longer had it in me. I was not eating as I had no food and was losing a lot of weight. I told the Jobcentre I was unwell through not eating but was sanctioned for another three months for not looking for work properly.”
James (not his real name)

Most people in this country would be shocked if they knew that, far from providing a safety net, our benefits system is making thousands of people destitute. As Christians we believe that everyone is loved, valued and made in the image of God. We have a responsibility to challenge any structure or system that undermines this dignity.

We highlighted these problems in our 2015 report Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions, and we are not alone. The Select Committee for Work and Pensions called for a full independent review in their 2015 report Benefit Sanctions Policy: Beyond the Oakley Review. Even the Department for Work and Pensions' own advisers and the National Audit Office say that there is no evidence that sanctions work, and have called for a review.

The DWP have taken a small step by introducing a system that will give people better notice of a sanction, but they continue to resist calls for a full review. We are keeping up the pressure; sanctions are one of the issues being addressed in the new campaign End Hunger UK.

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