Homeless jobseekers hit hard by benefit cuts

Tough new sanctions regime 'is pushing people into petty crime'

Homeless people looking for work are being disproportionately hit by government benefit sanctions. One in three homeless people on Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) have been penalised with a cut in their benefits, compared to just three per cent of jobseekers overall, according to research by the charity Homeless Link.

The coalition's introduction of more punitive sanctions for jobseekers last year now means that just missing an appointment can leave welfare claimants with no benefits for a month. They are designed to motivate, but the study says that these penalties often push homeless jobseekers into an even more precarious situation.

Researchers looked at data from more than 50 organisations working with homeless people and found that nearly a third reported homeless people being sanctioned while grappling with poor mental health, learning difficulties or substance misuse problems. The report found that in most cases these problems got worse as a result of sanctions – pushing some to commit petty crime rather than motivating them to find employment.

The most common reason for homeless jobseekers being sanctioned was failing to attend a Jobcentre Plus interview. But homeless services also reported that it was common for those they helped not to receive important communications that could have enabled them to avoid being sanctioned.

The shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne, told The IoS: "This government isn't helping homeless people get back on their feet and into work; they're making it harder. Sanctions should push people into jobs, not into the hands of loan-sharks or to the mercy of food banks.

"This government is now so out of touch it has lost all sight of its basic task: to get our country back to work, not push a generation into debts from which they'll never recover. That's why our message is clear. Introduce a compulsory Jobs Guarantee for anyone and everyone left to languish on the dole for more than 24 months."

Some 84 per cent of services working with homeless people reported that those they helped experienced increased anxiety or depression when sanctioned. Fewer than one-fifth of services believe the threat of sanctions is motivating some clients to get into employment – and two-thirds said that it had pushed some towards crime to survive.

Rick Henderson, Homeless Link's chief executive, said: "The welfare system should provide a safety net to protect people at risk of falling into destitution and support them into work. This report highlights the fact that the sanctions regime is doing very little to help homeless people towards the long-term goal of independence and stability.

"Claimants do have responsibilities but it is clear that sanctions may be forcing them deeper into the problems that led them into homelessness in the first place. We're calling on the Government to ensure the conditions for receiving benefits take into account individual circumstances."

Tougher sanctions and hardship payments for those on JSA prompted a 40 per cent rise in people seeking assistance from Citizens Advice in the year to March. In the first three months of this year alone, some 3,000 people needed help from bureaux with sanctions.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "It's only right that people should do everything they can to find work if they want to claim Jobseeker's Allowance. However, if a jobseeker tells us they are homeless, or has an addiction or health problem, this would be taken into account by their Jobcentre Plus advisers. Sanctions are only used as a last resort and we have worked with homelessness charities – including Homeless Link – to revise our guidance to staff to ensure someone's individual circumstances are taken into account. Anyone who is in genuine need can apply for hardship payments."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
news

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
London's New Year's Eve fireworks event is going to be ticketed this year for the first time at £10 a head
news

Revellers will have to pay to see New Year's Eve fireworks in London

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Life and Style
tech

Try putting that one on your Christmas list
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing...

KS2 Teacher

£105 - £120 per day + Expenses: Randstad Education Maidstone: Randstad Educat...

German & French Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week