THE amount of people seeking help because of sanctions in Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) has risen by two thirds in Burton in the last year, according to the town’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB).
Changes to the benefits system have pushed up the amount of time a person must wait before claiming the allowance, meaning increased levels of hardship for many as they wait for the often vital payment.
Bosses at the CAB have warned that far from encouraging people to find work more quickly, it means they are diverted away from searching for a job by worrying about paying the bills, creating a ‘counterproductive’ system.
“We see people sanctioned who are desperate for money. Parents are often forced into the hands of payday lenders, which only make things worse.
“Sanctioning can have a negative effect on somebody’s mental health. Being sanctioned can actually put someone further away from the workplace, they’re so busy trying to put food on the table they can’t look for a job.
“The minimum four week sanction is setting people up to fail and creating a barrier which can stop them from looking for work. Four weeks is a long time to go without money to get by and people are struggling to make ends meet,” said Dawn Green, chief executive of East Staffordshire CAB.
More than 10 per cent of people claiming JSA nationally have been hit by the sanctions, the charity said.
A large portion of the food bank vouchers distributed by the CAB at their Horninglow Street office now go to people who are dealing with these sanctions, which were put in place by the Government in the autumn.
Mrs Green warned this was a sign that changes to the system – intended to cut costs and get more people into work – simply are not working.
“Whilst it is vital that people receiving taxpayers’ support do their utmost to find work, the model needs to work and not make it harder for claimants to find a job,” she told the Mail.