Leading UK poverty charity Turn2us is raising concerns about the rise in the number of people receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) who have been sanctioned.
It says that 874, sanctions were applied in January 2016, and rose to 1,545, for September 2016, the most recently available figures. Turn2us says that sanctions can have devastating consequences for those who receive them, and that it regularly hears from people who have received an ESA sanction contacting it for help to pay for basic living costs.
Turn2us says that ‘failure to participate in Work Related Activity’ is consistently given as the reason for the sanction in a large majority of cases, and says that these activities such as skills training and community work placements are often difficult to undertake for many people with complex illnesses and disabilities. The charity points out that a large proportion of those who have received ESA sanctions have disabilities, 41,510 since December 2012, compared to 7,774 who didn’t during the same period.
Outlining the charity’s concerns, Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us Operations, said:
“Employment and Support Allowance is a key benefit that allows many people with an illness or disability to pay for their basic living costs. We know from those who seek our help the desperate situation people can be left in, if these essential benefits are cut. A rise in these sanctions is therefore very concerning.”
Turn2us has also emphasised the importance of anyone struggling with accessing benefits to seek its help at Turn2us.org.uk. It says that it can help people understand and access what they are entitled to.