Punitive and unreasonable benefit sanctions are causing “significant levels of hardship” among social housing tenants, The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) say.

The SFHA say benefit sanctions are ‘compounding the impact of welfare reform’, because vulnerable tenants are having their Housing Benefit suspended, leaving them destitute with no money to pay bills, heat their homes or buy food, and in risk of homelessness.

According to the SFHA, housing associations are seeing an increasing number of vulnerable tenants falling through the social security ‘safety net’, and further warn that the UK is becoming a ‘unsympathetic and uncaring state’.

SFHA criticise what they call the “disproportionately harsh” and “unfair” changes to the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) benefit sanctions regime,  introduced by the Tory-led coalition government as part of widespread changes to the UK’s welfare system, as a means of incentivising unemployed people into looking for work.

Critics argue that far from encouraging people into finding work, benefit sanctions can create a barrier to employment because those affected are pushed into survival instinct; where rather than looking for work they are forced into finding alternative ways to pay bills and acquire food – which may include visiting food banks or even taking part in criminal activities.

David Ogilvie, SFHA Policy Manager, has called on the coalition government to ‘introduce appropriate measures to ensure that all sanctions are reasonable, proportionate and do not trigger a suspension of any existing Housing Benefit claims”.

Mr Ogilvie said:

“When you look closer at how the recent changes to JSA are being implemented and how they are actually impacting upon some of the most vulnerable in our society, a worrying picture emerges.

We are at risk of seeing an increasingly unsympathetic and uncaring state where the ‘safety net’ is now so loosely woven it is all too easy for vulnerable people to fall through it.”

“We’re really concerned about the clear trend that when a tenant receives a sanction on their benefit, all too often their Housing Benefit is being suspended, leaving them with no means of paying their rent and potentially at risk of homelessness.

“As rental income is the primary revenue stream for housing associations, we are very concerned about the combined impact of benefit cuts and sanctions on tenancy sustainment and, ultimately, the viability of the sector.

“That’s why we are calling on the UK Government, as a matter of urgency, to introduce appropriate measures to ensure that all sanctions are reasonable, proportionate and do not trigger a suspension of any existing Housing Benefit claims.”

  • louisa

    our goverment needs to help british people before offering benifits to others that move over here,in times of need our country should supportthe needs of their own before others!!

  • Sick and Tired

    The Sanctions are pushing the country into poverty in a big way. I’m currently unemployed but busting my backside trying to find the jobs that just are not there.. They are filling our country up on immigration and then sanctioning us when we cant find jobs…
    I lost my job as a construction worker because it was cheaper for my employer to take on 2 polish guys who have no regard or knowledge for health and safety, so i was paid off….
    I was Sanctioned for 6 months in total 4 weeks, then 4 weeks again straight away another 4 weeks, then slapped me with 3 month sanction all straight after each other.
    All because i had to return to Glasgow to attend court and be a witness against a polish man who raped/gang raped and abused me. He got 16 years in prison after a 2 week long trial( was over the papers and everything), and in those two weeks trial i missed 1 job center signing and 2 work program appointments due to the trial, (that they were fully aware of, even had court letters and numbers to speak to legal representatives, prosecutor fiscal everybody but the judge himself) so they saw fit to sanction me 4 times for 6 months in total,. My sanctions only just finished in October last year, yet even now, i only receive £25 per week as i am currently having over £100 taken from every payment because i am now paying back rent and council tax arrears that happened due to my unfair sanctions. £25 a week, thats less than i was getting on hardship allowance on sanction, and im still expected to starve and use this money to find work, ooh and did i mention i am a single parent with 3 kids, whos on the verge of doing something illegal just to put food in our mouths…. The state of my counrty brings me to tears, the state it has left my family in has me on the brink of doing something really desperate and probably illegal…..