CITIZENS’ Advice Bureau officials are warning of a wave of Doncaster benefits claimaints who are losing their payments under new rules.
Doncaster bureau director, Matthew Bennie, said the organisation has seen a marked increase in the number of people asking for legal advice after having their Jobseeker’s Allowance payments stopped.
This comes after reforms to JSA payments came in as part of the Welfare Reform Act in October last year, which saw the introduction of sanctions that means job seekers can now have payments sanctioned for up to 13 weeks if they fail to meet specified conditions.
Mr Bennie said: “There has been a noticeable increase in the number of people in the last six months needing our help because they’ve had their JSA payments stopped. We see at least two or three every week.”
“Most people we see have had their payments stopped because they’ve been told they’re job searching efforts aren’t good enough, which is an incredibly subjective matter. There does also seem to be a problem with people not being given enough information on what to do next when they have had their payments stopped.”
Mum of two Anneka Corbett, 26, of Poplar Place, Armthorpe, had her JSA payments sanctioned on February 13 after being told she wasn’t looking ‘hard enough’ to find a job.
“Normally I apply for at least 20 jobs a week, but due to extenuating circumstances over the last couple of weeks such as my partner leaving, my daughter being in hospital and my laptop breaking I was only able to apply for six jobs in the weeks running up to my payments being sanctioned, which I explained to them,” Anneka said.
She added: “But no-one told me having my payments sanctioned was even an option. I find it really frustrating because I really do want to work so I can be a good role model for my children. I’ve been offered job interviews but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to them now because I have no money to get there.”
A spokesman from the Department for Work and Pensions said: “It’s only right that people should do everything they can to find work if they want to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. We always make it clear to people what the rules are and that they risk losing their benefits if they don’t play by them. Sanctions are only used as a last resort and anyone who disagrees with a result can appeal.”