Bolsover revealed as benefits sanction hotspot

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Bolsover has been revealed as a benefits sanction hotspot in a new report.

Homeless charity Crisis commissioned an independent study by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University which it claims shows a postcode lottery in the use of benefit sanctions.

And Bolsover is in the top 25 with 9.7 Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) sanctions per 100 JSA claimants.

The charity is now warning that the sanctions could have devastating consequences for homelessness, food poverty and health.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “The Government has assured us that benefit sanctions are only for those who refuse to play by the rules. But evidence is mounting of a punitive and deeply flawed regime.

“Sanctions are cruel and can leave people at severe risk of homelessness – cold, hungry and utterly destitute. At the same time, people who are already homeless can struggle to meet the conditions of the regime.

“Many are trying to rebuild their lives, and losing the support of benefits can be disastrous. This isn’t helping people into work. It’s kicking them when they’re down.

“We want our next Government to commit to an urgent, wide-ranging review looking at the appropriateness and effectiveness of sanctions, especially for people at risk or experiencing homelessness.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The report itself admits that elements are based on scant evidence making it difficult to draw firm conclusions.

“It fails to recognise that we have already changed the rules to give homeless people time to arrange accommodation before they have to look for work, changes which Crisis themselves have welcomed. It also fails to mention that the number of sanctions is falling.

“The truth is that every day Jobcentre Plus advisers are helping people into work, with a record number of people now in jobs. Sanctions are only used as a last resort for the tiny minority who refuse to take up the support which is on offer.”