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Complaints rise over jobseeker sanctions
THE number of York jobseekers being punished for missing appointments or not doing enough to find work has more than tripled in a year, experts have warned.
Staff and volunteers at York and District Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) said inquiries from people who are out of work and have seen financial support removed rose to 22 between July and September, compared with six during the same period in 2012.
The organisation is now calling for an urgent rethink over the sanctions system, which seeks to hit those not making enough effort to return to employment.
The CAB’s umbrella charity said many people had no idea why they had been sanctioned, and said others had been punished for attending a job interview rather than visiting a jobcentre.
The sanctions, which are for a minimum of four weeks and a maximum of three years, are aimed at people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance and other support, and the system was recently toughened.
Across the UK, CABs dealt with 3,895 issues for sanctions during the second quarter of this year, and the charity’s national chief executive Gillian Guy said that while jobseekers must do as much as they can to find work, the regime was often “excessively harsh and badly implemented”.
George Vickers, chief officer of York and District CAB, said: “Harsh and badly applied sanctions are one of the big issues facing people in York, and the national rise of 64 per cent since last year shows we are not alone in facing this problem.
“In the past year, we have helped clients deal with this issue which, in many cases, is making it even harder for them to find work. Many families in York are struggling to find work, and to face an undeserved and excessive punishment adds insult to injury.”
Mr Vickers said poor communication with a jobcentre often led to support being withdrawn, and the requirements of the system were unrealistic for those with health problems and set many people up for a fall. He said: “Ministers must urgently look again at how they give support to people trying to get back into work.”
Ms Guy said the sanctions were having “an appalling human cost” and barriers were being put in the way of jobseekers. She said: “People looking for work need strong, targeted support to help them back into employment and, in many cases, sanctioning them can be harmful and counter- productive.”
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