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Sanctions against women
With International Women's Day recently, it is interesting to note how much austerity measures are affecting women, particularly those with children.
Of the £26 billion of cuts by this government to benefits, tax credits and pensions, 85% has been taken from women's incomes. 40,000 single parents with preschool children, mainly women, have been sanctioned yearly. 100,000 children are going hungry as parents forced to look for non-existent work have benefits withdrawn.
These cruel benefit sanctions are pointless, and have been shown to drive people away from the jobs market. Less money means fewer resources to even look for work.
Women need socialism. We are still the main carers in most households. It is clear that capitalism is incapable and unwilling to meet our needs.
In Derbyshire, 32 Sure Start centres are under threat of closure, leaving just 19 - increasing hardship for those with young children. Those sanctioned can appeal to Citizen's Advice centres, unemployed worker's centres and the Derbyshire Discretionary Fund for hardship payments.
Elaine Evans and Karen Seymour, East Midlands
In Derbyshire, 65% of benefit claimants are still feeling the stressful effects up to six months after a sanction, according to Financial Action Advice Derbyshire. It affects their health, their finances and their relationships.
There does not need to be this punitive system. Your benefits can be stopped with no warning. Those in employment do not lose all their wages if they are late, as can a benefit claimant who is ten minutes late for an appointment.
Claimants have to be careful what they are signing up for. If the jobseeker's agreement says they have to make 35 evidential job searches, and there is no proof of their search online, they could be sanctioned. This also applies to those on training schemes.
In Derbyshire alone, 7,000 people were sanctioned for no good reason. Research shows that 90% of these sanctions go unchallenged. People should apply for mandatory reconsideration as many of these sanctions are overturned on appeal.
On the national day of action against sanctions at Shirebrook job centre, it was reported that an unemployed person was given an appointment for 10am when the job centre did not open until 10.15. Even this mistake in the paperwork can result in a sanction.
Unite Community says that the unemployed are not scroungers - they are heroes walking a tightrope. Juggling to buy food, pay bills, and look for work, while the government is taking away the safety net of the welfare system.
There is no evidence that sanctions help anyone into work. We all need to support each other to make everyone's life better.
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