Monday, October 14, 2019

Single parents hardest hit by unfair benefit sanctions, research shows

Single parents are more likely to be subjected to unfair and unjustified benefit sanctions than any other group of claimants, according to new research published by the single parent charity Gingerbread.

The charity’s report ‘Unhelpful and unfair?‘ highlights that single parents are eager to work, but are being pushed further away from employment by the Government’s cruel and discriminatory benefit sanctions regime.

Their research found that the number of sanctions imposed against job-seeking single parents have risen over the past decade, with single parents losing out on around £31 million in benefit payments since the sanctions regime was introduced.

Researchers also found that single parents are far more likely to face unfair sanctions than any other group of claimants, with 62 per cent of sanctions for single parents overturned when challenged compared to 54 per cent for other claimants.

Gingerbread says the use of sanctions can make it more difficult for single parents to achieve their ambition of moving back into work, due to being unable to afford to travel to the jobcentre or job interviews, whilst also warning of the significant financial and emotional difficulties caused by sanctions and sanction warnings.

One single parent told the charity: “I think it is unfair to put single parents in a desperate situation because then you are sanctioning the children.”

Sumi Rabindrakumar, research officer at Gingerbread, said: “We’ve heard from single parents who want to work and provide for their children, but are being subjected to sanctions that punish them for factors outside of their control, such as a lack of flexible work or affordable childcare.

“Despite DWP saying that they will provide tailored support and use sanctions only as a last resort, this is clearly not playing out in reality.

“Sanctions are being used to police a tick-box approach to job-seeking which fails to recognise the barriers to work faced by single parents, and leave parents in debt, anxious and struggling to feed their children.

“We urge the government to recognise that sanctions don’t work for single parents, and to focus on providing support to better enable single parents to enter work.”

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