Jobcentre Plus sign.

Activists from Britain’s biggest trade union Unite will tomorrow (Thursday) be protesting outside the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in London, calling on the UK Government to stop it’s “cruel and ineffective” benefit sanctions regime.

Campaigners will target more than 80 jobcentres across the UK, as part of a ‘national day of action‘ to stop benefit sanctions.

Since May 2010, over 3 million people have been referred for a sanction 8 million times. Over 318,000 people have had their benefits cut or stopped completely in the last year alone, often for punitive and unfair reasons – such as being late for appointments with the jobcentre, or being too sick to ‘actively seek work’.

According to the food bank charity Trussell Trust, more than 500,000 three day emergency food parcels were given to people in crisis in the first half of 2016/17, including over 188,500 to children, with the most common reason for referral being problems and delays with benefit payments.

Liane Groves, head of Unite Community said: “The government really needs to stop the cruel use of benefit sanctions which are destroying lives.

“The stress they are putting on people, and the effect on their children and wider families, is unacceptable. We should all be shocked.

[clickToTweet tweet=”No evidence that benefit sanctions are working” quote=”‘No evidence that benefit sanctions are working’ – Unite”]

“The government has shown no evidence that benefit sanctions are working. The opposite is true, when people are in survival mode, fighting to put food on their family’s table or stressing how they will pay their bills means their mental and physical heath suffers and finding work is so much harder.

“Rather than punishing the unemployed for not having a job the government should be helping people get jobs. People need a hand up – not a slap down.

“Unite Community members will be campaigning up and down the country tomorrow calling for an urgent end to sanctions.”

Unite has also expressed concerns that if people do not appeal against negative sanction decisions, if they are sanctioned again, they’re benefits could be affected for even longer – up to three years.

A report from the National Audit Office last year found there is very little evidence to suggest sanctions ‘encourage’ people back to work.

Unite Community members will be taking part in protests across London before moving to DWP headquarters for a demonstration from 15:00 to 16:30. Regional protests are also being held across the country.