“I got sanctioned nine months altogether – sanctioned, sanctioned, sanctioned” | Kate Belgrave

The Department for Work and Pensions office in London.

Terry was an ex-heroin and crack addict who’d recently done time in Risley for burglary. He said that he’d been in and out of jail since he was a teenager – mainly for robberies which paid for his habit. Terry said that he’d cleaned up in jail and hadn’t used for a couple of years.

Terry had a small flat in the Spring Street hostel in Oldham. He also had casual work as a labourer across sites in Greater Manchester. He was meeting a friend the next day who had a day’s work for Terry at another site.

That was the good news.

The not-so-good news was the number of obstacles that Terry faced getting to these jobs.

A charity had paid for the work boots, hard hat and work clothes that Terry needed for labouring work on construction sites. Terry said the jobcentre had not helped with these costs.

He shrugged when I asked why. I see that shrug a lot. Could have been that the jobcentre didn’t offer to pay for the clothes as it should have. Could have been that Terry kept the jobcentre at arm’s length and sorted things out himself where he could. Terry did not view the DWP as a go-to place for anyone who wanted to rehabilitate. Terry said he’d been sanctioned three times in the past for three months at a time.

“The dole should be doing all that [paying for work clothes], but they didn’t…the charity paid for my CSCS [worksite accreditation card]. They paid for me work boots, work pants, work coat work gloves, hard hat, everything. They got me everything to be able to work. Without any one of those things, I wouldn’t been able to go.”

Terry also had trouble meeting travel costs to and from work sites. The jobcentre would pay for his travel, but only as a reimbursement if he paid up front. That’s always a problem for people who can’t afford fares.

“They will help you get to work – but afterwards. If I am working with my mate tomorrow and it’s in Salford, I haven’t got a penny. So I can’t get there. If I had the money and had the bus fare and showed them [the jobcentre] the ticket two weeks later…[they’d pay]. They won’t give it you up front.”

Terry also had about £2000 in rent arrears. It’s not an exaggeration to say that about everyone I meet at foodbanks now has rent arrears, or has been evicted for rent arrears. Terry had built up his arrears when in prison. He’d lost his flat, but had kept the arrears. That’s how the system “works” for people such as Terry. One way or another, they keep paying long after they leave jail.

Source: “I got sanctioned nine months altogether – sanctioned, sanctioned, sanctioned.” And £2k rent arrears. No money for fares to work. More stories from the foodbank | Kate Belgrave

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2 thoughts on ““I got sanctioned nine months altogether – sanctioned, sanctioned, sanctioned” | Kate Belgrave

  1. It's Me

    This is like my experiences, I believe they just make people belirve they are helping you or other people, the truth is hey get out of it when they can and they have a number of tricks, to make it look like your fault.

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