The coalition government’s benefits sanctions regime has ravaged the nation, punishing vulnerable people up and down the country for the ‘crime’ of being the victims of a failing economy.
“Half a million people have been sanctioned and had their financial support withdrawn in the last 12 months alone,” said Liane Groves, Unite head of community.
“Money can be cut for arriving late at the Jobcentre, missing an appointment to go to a funeral or even failing to apply for a job while waiting to start a new job,” she added.
In 2013 David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier, died starving because he was penalised by the Jobcentre for missing a meeting.
His body was found surrounded by CVs and his electricity had been cut off making his insulin unusable.
His sister, Gill Thompson, has been campaigning for an inquiry into his death.
She will be handing in a petition containing tens of thousands of signatures to the Department for Work and Pensions on Wednesday (March 9).
“This harsh benefit sanctions regime treats claimants worse than criminals fined in courts, leaving people without money and unable to feed themselves and their family,” said Liane.
“It is a system out of control with decisions on guilt taken in secret and claimants not even allowed to be present to explain their case,” she added.
The petition calls on the prime minister David Cameron to implement a ‘broad and independent’ review of benefit sanctions as per the recommendations of the Work and Pensions select committee.
Unite community members have organised a day of action to coincide with the petition being handed in.
“Far from helping people back to work, the cruel sanctions regime harms physical and mental health and drives up food bank use and homelessness,” said Liane.
Campaigners will be protesting outside Jobcentres in over 70 towns and cities across the UK on Wednesday as part of the national day of action against the benefit sanctions regime.
“It is totally counterproductive and there can be no justification for this grotesque cruelty by the government. It can’t be allowed to go on,” added Liane.