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York delivery worker hit by benefit sanctions
A YORK man who works part-time 364 days a year has had to turn to the Salvation Army for food, after falling victim to controversial benefit-sanctioning policies, his MP says.
The man had a small part-time, low-paid delivery job, 364 days of the year, but also received Jobseeker’s Allowance to top up his income, said York Central MP Hugh Bayley.
He says that to qualify for this, the Job Centre said he had to apply for ten jobs a week.
But Mr Bayley said: “He is dyslexic and struggles to use a computer to apply for jobs online. One week he only managed to apply for nine of the ten jobs and his benefit was “sanctioned”.
This means his allowance was taken away for a month. His housing benefit was also stopped and he was forced to go to the Salvation Army for food parcels.”
Mr Bayley tells the story today in his monthly column in The Press.
He says another constituent who worked in a bar had his hours reduced to a zero-hours contract, which meant he was no longer guaranteed enough hours of work to live on.
Mr Bayley said: “When he applied for benefits, the Job Centre wrote to his employer to ask when he left his job.
“His employer said that he didn’t know he had left and sacked him. The Job Centre then sanctioned him because they said he had left his job voluntarily.”
Mr Bayley said many such people had contacted him after being sanctioned by the Job Centre, or because of a delay in getting their benefit paid.
“More and more frequently they are forced to turn to food banks because they cannot afford to feed themselves and their family,” he said. He said that anyone who could work should do all they could to get a job, but sanctions should be applied fairly.
A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said: “It’s only right that people claiming benefits should do everything they can to find work if they are able.
“The rules regarding someone’s entitlement to Jobseekers’ Allowance – and what could happen to their benefits if they don’t stick to those rules – are made very clear at the start of their claim.
“We will provide jobseekers with the help and support they need to find a job, but it is only fair that in return they live up to their part of the contract.
“Sanctions are used as a last resort and anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal.”
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