The amount of money taken from claimants has risen by 3,000% under the coalition, the Public and Commercial Services Union(PCS) has claimed today. The news comes as a report issued by a group of churches finds that hunger is being used to control claimants behaviour.
According to the PCS, in 2010/11 a total of £11 million was withheld from JSA claimants because of sanctions.
But analysis of recent DWP data suggests that, in the year to September 2014, £355 million has been withheld from claimants in the year to September 2014.
The PCS points out that a four week sanction for an offence such as turning up 10 minutes late for a jobcentre appointment is worth around £300. They go on to say that:
“Recent crimes with a similar fine imposed by the courts include shining a laser pen at a police helicopter, described by magistrates as "extremely reckless behaviour which could have had horrific consequences".
Meanwhile, a report by Chuch Action on Poverty has found that 7 million weeks of sanctions were handed out in sanctions in 2013/14 and argues that:
The design of the sanctions system includes both the threat and the use of hunger as an instrument of policy.'