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Benefit sanctions compounding welfare reform misery - report

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Benefit sanctions compounding welfare reform misery - report

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing

Benefit sanctions compounding welfare reform misery - report Benefit sanctions compounding welfare reform misery - report

Benefit sanctions are compounding the impact of the government's welfare reforms, according to a report published today.

The recrently-reformed Jobseekers’ Allowance sanctions regime is "unfair" in its decision-making process and "disproportionately harsh" in the sanctions imposed, research by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations reveals.

The Federation's 'Cause for Concern' report also highlights concerns that tenants’ housing benefit is being stopped, leaving them destitute, unable to pay their rent and at risk of homelessness.

The SFHA said that, against a backdrop of poor economic conditions and welfare reform, housing associations are reporting significant levels of hardship among tenants, particularly those faced with both benefit cuts and receiving sanctions.

Speaking after giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee at Holyrood, David Ogilvie, SFHA Policy Manager said: “When you look closer at how the recent changes to JSA are being implemented and how they are actually impacting upon some of the most vulnerable in our society, a worrying picture emerges.

"We are at risk of seeing an increasingly unsympathetic and uncaring state where the ‘safety net’ is now so loosely woven it is all too easy for vulnerable people to fall through it.”

Mr Ogilvie added: “We’re really concerned about the clear trend that when a tenant receives a sanction on their benefit, all too often their housing benefit is being suspended, leaving them with no means of paying their rent and potentially at risk of homelessness.

“As rental income is the primary revenue stream for housing associations, we are very concerned about the combined impact of benefit cuts and sanctions on tenancy sustainment and, ultimately, the viability of the sector.

“That’s why we are calling on the UK government, as a matter of urgency, to introduce appropriate measures to ensure that all sanctions are reasonable, proportionate and do not trigger a suspension of any existing housing benefit claims.”

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