Benefit sanctions – No money whatsoever – The British public need to know the abject poverty and horror

Sanction n. ~ A threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule – a common enough word we hear for example let’s impose economic sanctions on Russia by for example not allowing the import of caviar, or let’s sanction South Africa for apartheid by denying a cricket match with England.

That is its normative use. But how about let’s sanction benefit claimants by not giving them any money whatsoever for three years

That version of the noun ‘sanction’ is what we have in the UK.  A sanction means anyone on welfare benefits is not given any money whatsoever and takes the form of 3 weeks for a first offence, 3 months for a second offence and 3 years for a third offence.  Yes that’s right NO MONEY WHATSOEVER for up to 3 years.

The benefit claimant must have to commit a heinous transgression to have a sanction imposed you may think?How does being ten minutes early for an appointment instead of 15 minutes early become a penalty of you are getting no money whatsoever for 21 days and have to live on thin air sound?  How about you attended your grandmothers funeral?  You law breaking bastard that is 90 days without a penny in benefits…and no we don’t give a shit if you have children either.

How about these decisions are made by lowly civil servants who are pressurised to impose such sanctions and have targets to impose them and with no regard whatsoever to whether a child will starve to death because of them?

How about there is no right to appeal these?

How about the decisions are taken behind closed doors with the claimant not being present to offer any defence for these ‘outrageous’ transgressions?

How about as one academic report I read over the weekend here says that the total amount of benefits sanctioned by these civil servants is MORE than the cost of court fines issued by judges who by law have to leave you enough money to live on and feed your children?

Hardly surprising and very valid that this report was called Benefit Sanctions: Britain’s Secret Penal System which I urge you read and the simple graph included in this short and accessible article by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies says it all…



I want to hammer home just one point to the public.

A Benefit Sanction means NOT A PENNY GIVEN IN BENEFITS

It does not mean a 10% cut, a 20% cut, a 50% cut in welfare benefits it means a 100% CUT.

AND it may mean despite not being given a penny the benefit claimant still has to attend the job centre (the place which imposed the sanction) on a daily basis even if you do not have the bus fare to get there and even if they set the time at 3.30pm or 9am when you have to take and pick up the children from school.

Social media is full of cases of why sanctions have been imposed and being only ten minutes early or attending your grandmothers funeral are NOT the worst reasons for their imposition, far from it, and they are typical sanctions which lead to getting NO MONEY WHATSOEVER for 21 days or 90 days or 1,095 days.

It is hard to believe that people get ALL OF THEIR INCOME TAKEN AWAY if they ‘transgress’ in these tiny areas

How about this selection from

You’re a 60-year-old army veteran who volunteers to sell poppies for the Royal British Legion in memory of fallen comrades. You’ve applied for dozens of jobs – including the supermarket where you sold the poppies – but without success. You are sanctioned for four weeks.

Source: Daily Mirror


You get a job interview. It’s at the same time as your job centre appointment, so you reschedule the job centre. You attend your rearranged appointment and then get a letter saying your benefits will be stopped because going to a job interview isn’t a good enough reason to miss an appointment.

Source: Daily Mail


Your gran dies during the night. The next morning your partner calls the job centre and asks if you can come in the following day instead. The centre agrees, and you sign in the next day. Then you get a letter stating that you failed to sign in and would be sanctioned if you don’t reply within seven days. You reply, explaining the situation. The job centre gives you a six-week sanction for not replying.

Source: Mari-claire M at Netmums


You are forced to retire due to a heart condition, and you claim Employment and Support Allowance. During your assessment you have a heart attack. You are sanctioned for not completing your assessment.

Source: Debbie Abrahams MP


Your job centre advisor suggests a job. When you go online to apply it says the job has “expired” so you don’t apply. You are sanctioned for 13 weeks.

Source: Penny at Yahoo! Answers

And there are many more thousands of similar tales across social media from MPs from Citizens Advice and from scores of other sources.

Now go back and read them again and instead of reading the word ‘sanction’ read NO MONEY WHATSOEVER AND WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF YOU HAVE TO PUT FOOD IN YOUR CHILDREN’S MOUTHS.

Take the last one a sanction for 13 weeks, sorry 91 days without any money whatsoever as you refused to apply for a job that had expired and did not exist.

Take the fact that every benefit decision notice has the wording “This is the minimum amount the law says you need to live on” and a judge or court is only allowed to take £5 per week out of this to pay a court fine.  YET a non legally trained civil servant who does not like the cut of your jib can take every single penny off you in a totally arbitrary manner.

The Independent has ran articles on this as has every national newspaper including the usually rabid pro-Tory Daily Mail

Ceri Padley, 26, had her benefits sanctioned after she missed an appointment at the jobcentre – because she was at a job interview.

Via the Daily Mail.


Michael, 54, had his benefits sanctioned for four months for failing to undertake a week’s work experience at a charity shop. The charity shop had told him they didn’t want him there.

Via the Guardian.

Read all of the above with the horror they deserve but make sure you read that Michael 54 in the case above received no benefit at all for 120 days.


Welfare benefit sanctions were introduced by the last Labour government in 2000 and if a claimant is genuinely taking the piss then there is at least some validity in a penalty regime or at least an argument to be had for a penalty regime.  Yet look at the graph below which is just for JSA sanctions and ask yourself has the number of scroungers and shirkers increased six-fold or 600% since this coalition came to power?  Are there suddenly six shirkers for every one we had before?  That is what the figures say and of course the sanctions now are so much stronger too than they were before.

jsa sanctions


So many academic, parliamentary and other research reports such as the JRF here (pdf) use the language of ‘sanction’ and ‘conditionality’ yet fail to hammer home the point that this means NO MONEY WHATSOEVER.

That is not a ‘sanction’ a threatened penalty for some heinous crime such as Apartheid or murdering your biggest political enemy in cold blood as Putin has done this week, this is killing people through starvation.  It is killing British children because mum or dad went to a job interview to get out of the poverty they are in and in doing so were put into abject poverty because some jumped-up prick at a Job Centre hadn’t met their targets for claimants to sanction that week!



Sanctions will get worse under Universal Credit as the following explains from Crisis:

Conditionality and sanctions

15. Will conditionality and sanctions change when Universal Credit is introduced?

Yes. There will be more conditionality and much tougher sanctions under UC.  In order to receive UC, claimants must sign a ‘Claimant Commitment’. This will set out what the claimant will be expected to do as a condition for receiving UC. This will include work-focused requirements where appropriate.

Failure to comply with a ‘Claimant Commitment’ could result in a reduction in the amount of UC the claimant receives. The sanction amount will be up to 100 per cent of the ‘standard allowance’. Claimants will not be able to receive more than one sanction within a two week period.

For example, UC claimants on the equivalent of JSA, will face the following sanctions:

Offence Sanction

1. Refusing a job offer

100 per cent reduction in standard allowance of UC for three months

2. Refusing second job offer within a year of the first offence

100 per cent reduction in standard allowance of UC for six months

3. Refusing third job offer within a year of the second offence

100 per cent reduction in standard allowance of UC for three years.

Unlike at present, sanctions will not run concurrently. This means that if a claimant receives the first two sanctions in the table above within say three weeks, they will effectively be sanctioned for nine months.

3 months or 91 days for a first ‘offence’ such as attending a job interview having re-appointed a sign-on or other job centre plus meeting!  And all at the whim of a civil servant who may just not like the cut of your jib!

Concurrent sanctions too.  So attend an interview and granny’s funeral and its 9 months without a penny.



19 thoughts on “Benefit sanctions – No money whatsoever – The British public need to know the abject poverty and horror

  1. Another fine piece, Joe.

    When the sanction regime was introduced under NuLabour, the DWP had to prove they had tried and tried with the claimant, and that included warning that a sanction may be applied, even then the sanction may have been half a days money (of the adult portion of the weekly benefit).

    Any sanction that takes money from those below the poverty line is cruel, but this government has taken cruelty to a new extreme, while the basic benefit is way below subsistence level, anyway. The fact that keeps on getting “revealed” but for whatever reason seems to gain no traction is that people are starving, children are hungry, AND, as you pointed out yesterday & before, this is now going to be rolled out to those in work, ffs.

    (I wonder if the DWP, if the Tories steal power again, will ban employers from providing food & drink to sanctioned employees, like they have for those on work programme? Also, there are some MASSIVE Titan prisons to fill, complete with factory floors and workshops and call centres…………)

  2. Great article,but you forgot to mention that while sanctioned you are still required to adhere to JCP rules(MWA,WP,CWP) so no money and still required to jump through hoops or face further sanctions,diabolical,it is like asking a person to bring the rope to their own hanging!

  3. Never under any circumstances call them unless you can record both sides of the conversation! Personally I use email that way you have a record of the email in your sent folder. A trick I have used on JCP/DWP before is at the end play a recording of THIS CALL HAS BEEN RECORDED FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE CALLER and some of the words they say are more use to a “Chubby” Brown show as they quickly disconnect the call.
    One person actually left the phone connected and said “The cheeky c**t had the nerve to f***ing record me” to which I said “Disconnect the f***ing call first and even that’s on the recording” all these recordings I lost when I lost my laptop but points do still come to mind.

  4. My friend was sanctioned as they had made his signing on day on xmas day when obviously the office wasn’t open. They sanctioned him for not attending his signing.

    He put in his reasons for the decision maker to see the sanction wasn’t reasonable but staggeringly they told him the office being closed was not a good reason and they upheld the sanction.

    Also because he had put a complaint in they made him do daily signing for 3 months while he had no income. He applied for financial help and a month after his JSA was back into payment they sent him a payment for £6.10.

    He became very ill as he was having to walk 6 miles each way to the job centre every day as he had no money for transport and also was hardly eating. He ended up in hospital and nearly died. When he got to the hospital the nurse told him they didn’t have any beds in the geriatric ward. My friend asked why he had to go there as he was only 36.

    The job centre is still messing him about and it so sad to see what a shell of a man he has become over it all. This must be against peoples human rights to be treated in such a manner that causes such illness and financial ruination as they are taking the tiny bit of money people have and leaving them to literally starve.

    1. @MT POKKITS Maybe “God” spoke to him, in the same way “God” spoke to George Bush telling him “God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam”. Reportedly said to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Didn’t Blair also indicate he thought he was on some kind of divine mission? Perhaps Cameron et al are in receipt of “divine guidance”? Am I the only person who is sceptical of leaders claiming they are doing what they are doing because “God” told them? How do they know its God who is not noted for giving such precise instructions and not Darren Brown?

  5. Reblogged this on SMILING CARCASS'S TWO-PENNETH and commented:
    I feel so glad to be lucky enough to be employed. I feel so glad not to [currently] be at the mercy of these despots, both government and employees of the benefits system.

    The creation of an army of unemployed, penniless, homeless or soon to be homeless individuals needs only a leader, an organiser to see revolution.

  6. Doing away with “National Insurance” is to break the connection with the taxes we pay and entitlement to welfare and pensions. Tax freedom day is in June. The govt position appears to be they’ll take half your income in taxes over a lifetime but you’re not entitled to anything. Good article in Telegraph
    . National Insurance reform could cost us dear – Telegraph › Finance › Personal Finance › Tax
    24 Feb 2014 – National Insurance is effectively a gigantic Ponzi scheme that pays ….. strengthening the contributory aspect of benefits – not doing away with it.

  7. As a disabled person in the support group I am constantly terrified when I see the postman. If I see a brown envelope it’s like I freeze with fear – or, as my CPN calls it, flight or fright. To be honest, if this lot of murdering b&stards get in again in May, I don’t know what many millions of us will do.

  8. Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    Very scary, and YES, it should be out there with msm, television and social media. But don’t put anything on until after Coronation St/Emmerdale/Eastenders has finished ‘cos most of the population aren’t available then…

    1. FAO Joe Halewood


      Around 20 years ago, a High Court judge contacted the national media registering his concerns – like you have done here – about the power of Civil Servants exceeding that of the courts – and that was before the maximum benefit sanction became greater than the maximum fine handed out by the Courts!

      The question is, are benefit sanctions classed as “fines and forfeitures”, as in the Bill of Rights Act, which promised freedom from fines and forfeitures without trial?

      It should also be pointed out that someone attempted to challenge parking fines in the High Court in 2006 under the Bill of Rights Act, but the judge decided that parking fines did not amount to fines and forfeitures!!!

      If benefit sanctions – which can also lead to homelessness – are not fines and forfeitures, what are they then?

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