Campaigners will be protesting outside Jobcentres in over 70 towns and cities across the UK on Wednesday (9 March 2016) as part of a national day of action against the government’s cruel benefit sanctions regime.
The day of action organised by members of Unite the union’s Community section will also see a petition containing tens of thousands of signatures handed in to the Department for Work and Pensions, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NA at 14:30.
Gill Thompson, whose brother David Clapson died after being sanctioned, will be handing in the petition calling 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.
Mr Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier, died starving in 2013 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 has been campaigning for an inquiry into his death.
Commenting Liane Groves head of Unite Community said: “Half a million people have been sanctioned and had their financial support withdrawn in the last 12 months alone. 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.
“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. 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.
“Far from helping people back to work, the cruel sanctions regime harms physical and mental health and drives up food bank use and homelessness.
“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.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.