The 14 Words

Sunday, 22 September 2013

UK Homeless jobseekers hit hard by benefit cuts

Tough new sanctions regime 'is pushing people into petty crime'

Homeless people looking for work are being disproportionately hit by government benefit sanctions. One in three homeless people on Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) have been penalised with a cut in their benefits, compared to just three per cent of jobseekers overall, according to research by the charity Homeless Link.

The coalition's introduction of more punitive sanctions for jobseekers last year now means that just missing an appointment can leave welfare claimants with no benefits for a month. They are designed to motivate, but the study says that these penalties often push homeless jobseekers into an even more precarious situation.

Researchers looked at data from more than 50 organisations working with homeless people and found that nearly a third reported homeless people being sanctioned while grappling with poor mental health, learning difficulties or substance misuse problems. The report found that in most cases these problems got worse as a result of sanctions – pushing some to commit petty crime rather than motivating them to find employment.

The most common reason for homeless jobseekers being sanctioned was failing to attend a Jobcentre Plus interview. But homeless services also reported that it was common for those they helped not to receive important communications that could have enabled them to avoid being sanctioned.

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