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100,000 children hit by benefit sanctions last year - time to rethink sanctions

Categories: Articles:Social Justice | Published: 06/03/2015 | Views: 1042
Please call on your MP to rethink the unjust and inhumane benefit sanctions regime- Church Action on Poverty Campaign

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. Email your MP now!

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“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), one of the people whose stories of benefit sanctions feature in a new church report

nbsp;Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions, a new report from a coalition of major UK churches and Church Action on Poverty, reveals that in 2013-14, around 100,000 children were affected by benefit sanctions, and a total of nearly seven million weeks of sanctions were handed out. The new data and stories of sanctions are also featured in Dispatches, to be broadcast on Channel 4 this evening (2 March).

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 are calling for a full and independent review of the sanctions regime, and for urgent reform of the hardship payments system to avoid the deliberate imposition of hunger. In the meantime, we are urging the Government to suspend all sanctions against families with children and those suffering from mental health problems. Most importantly, the culture of enforcement and punishment must change to one of assistance and support.

Click here to email your MP
. Ask them to press their own party to commit to reviewing the unjust benefit sanctions regime.
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