Walking the Benefit Sanctions Tightrope in Shirebrook

10th March 2016
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FAAD highlights the effects of Benefits Sanctions

For someone claiming benefits, receiving a sanction can have a long lasting effect on their health, their finances and their relationships as well as making it harder for them to look for work. 

On Wednesday 9th March, Finance Action and Advice Derbyshire (FAAD) staff joined the Unite Community to demonstrate against the government's benefit sanctions at the Shirebrook Job Centre.

FAAD surveyed 61 Derbyshire benefits claimants who had been sanctioned. Only one person thought the sanction increased their chances of finding work and 85% felt powerless to avoid the sanction.  95% of people felt more stressed, depressed or anxious following the sanction, with more than a quarter still feeling that way six months on.

A quarter reported long term impacts on their physical health, whilst 60% coped by borrowing money. Two thirds reported difficulties with relationships as a result of the sanction.

Regardless of the hardship, only 15% said that the sanction encouraged them to apply for more jobs - the remainder said that it made no difference.

In a typical year, 7,000 people in Derbyshire suffer sanctions.

It was a wet and windy day in Shirebrook which was especially challenging when it came to 'walking the tightrope'. Circus artist Richard Billet climbed on to a 10 food high tightrope to walk the "benefits high-wire" whilst juggling three circus clubs names Rent, Food and Bills. The challenge faced by Richard reflected the real life challenge of those on benefits and he struggled initially before making it all the way.

To read more about the event at Shirebrook click here. To contact someone at FAAD for information or advice, please go to their website here or email b.parker@ruralactionderbyshire.org.uk or c.thornber@ruralactionderbyshire.org.uk.