It was recently announced during a Commons debate in parliament that Universal Credit sanctions (UC) are “back with a vengeance”. This comes after the figures for the last quarter have been revealed.
According to the released figures the sanction rates are now 250% higher than they were for the three months before the pandemic.
It’s extremely worrying that the figures have risen so much in such a short amount of time makes me very concerned about the welfare of UC claimants.
The huge increase allows for the ever increasing number of UC claimants. In layman’s terms it amounts to 2.5% of UC claimants being sanctioned each month which is almost double the amount when compared to 1.4% before the pandemic.
Let’s not forget that in June 2022 £34 million was taken away from claimants as a result of being sanctioned. This was followed in July 2022 by £34.9 million and then in August taking the total to over £36 million.
When you do the maths this totals to £100 million which has literally been taken from vulnerable claimants that were already struggling to pay for basic necessities.
Upon questioning these figures Guy Opperman minister for employment speaking on behalf repeatedly avoided answering a question which asked why the number of sanctions had increased so rapidly.
The only other possibility being that the DWP may have changed its policy on applying sanctions but neglecting to inform everyone that would be affected by this. After all it’s not the first time that they’ve done this.
The only answer that Opperman eventually gave was “The hon. Gentleman asked specifically about the rise in the number of sanctions. Some 98.2% of sanctions are for missing a meeting with a work coach.”
Opperman declined to give an explanation as to why twice as many claimants are now supposedly choosing to miss appointments with their DWP advisor.
Of course this makes no sense because claimants are desperate to receive their UC payments. Methinks Opperman’s not being honest which comes as no surprise at all.
However Anne McLaughlin, SNP MP for Glasgow North East didn’t hold back from being honest in informing the commons the advice that she gives every UC claimant that has come to her after being sanctioned.
She went on to say;
“If you have your benefits sanctioned, do not take it lying down. Contact me and I will fight this for you, because this is wrong and nobody should have to live on less than the minimum income.”
This is of course correct, everyone that finds themselves in this position should fight it. The reality is that many don’t because they don’t have the strength to do so.
I have spoken to many people that had taken the decision to stop claiming UC because they can’t cope with it leaving them with little or no income to live on.
More MPs need to speak up about this in parliament but I won’t hold my breath. Only a few MPs including Debbie Abrahams actually speak up about this but others need to follow.
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