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Campaign highlights 'unfair' benefit sanctions

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Campaign highlights 'unfair' benefit sanctions

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

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A housing provider has started an online campaign to raise awareness of the "unfair" sanctions hitting many of its tenants.

St Vincent's Housing Association has seen an increase in the number of its residents having sanctions imposed on their benefit claims.

The reasons for the sanctions include "trivial" issues such as being a few minutes late for a job centre appointment where the claimant has been subject to the vagaries of public transport.

According to St Vincent's, the so-called 'claimant commitment' forces those on jobseekers allowance to treat looking for work as a "full-time job".

And the social landlord argues that what it does not do is consider an individual’s circumstances such as disabilities or dependents.

In some cases claimants have had their benefits stopped for up to six weeks for an extremely minor infraction and as a result the whole family hasn’t received a penny.

As a result, the 3,000-home provider says it is seeing more and more of its tenants relying on food banks and accepting loans from disreputable lenders.

Charlie Norman, St Vincent's chief executive, said: “We have seen many of our customers unfairly hit by sanctions and we would like to see this very unfair policy ramped up the agenda and discussed at the highest level. I want to get as many people on board with this, and our friends at @RealLifeReform are also working hard to raise the profile of this problem. The more people we get on board, the more we can lobby the decision makers.”

The campaign can be viewed here.

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