Homeless claimants are ten times more likely to receive a jobseekers allowance (JSA) sanction and seven times more likely to receive an employment and support allowance (ESA )sanction than other claimants, according to a report released today by Homeless Link.{jcomments on}

The report claims that:

“Although on average 3% of JSA and 2.7% of ESA claimants receive a sanction, our research found that a third of homeless people on JSA and nearly one in five on ESA had received a sanction.

“We found that more young homeless people receive sanctions, as well as those with mental health issues, substance use issues and learning difficulties. For homeless people facing these challenges, it can be particularly difficult to meet the conditions of the benefits system, or to understand the consequences of noncompliance.

“Homeless people are most commonly sanctioned because they have not attended a Jobcentre Plus advisory interview or failed to follow a jobseeker’s direction – a formal instruction to take a certain action to find work. Although, like all claimants, homeless people are expected to comply with benefits requirements, being homeless can make this more difficult.

“When claimants are sanctioned, they will lose the ‘personal allowance’ element of their JSA or ESA until the sanction is over. Many homeless people experience food poverty because of sanctions, often using food banks to meet their immediate needs. When sanctioned, claimants should continue to receive Housing Benefit, but our research found that rent arrears and evictions were common because homeless claimants did not know to notify the local authority of their circumstances, and subsequently lost their Housing Benefit. Some were applying for hardship payments, but for many the repayment schedule was a disincentive as it was already hard to make ends meet.

“Sanctions make homeless people very anxious, and bring acute financial insecurity at the point when many are trying to move on with their lives. For some, this instability has made mental health or substance use issues worse. There is little evidence from our research that sanctions are helping encourage people into work or motivating them to engage better with Jobcentre Plus. There is a need for Jobcentre Plus advisors to have a greater understanding of homelessness and how this can impact on an individual’s ability to comply with benefit conditions.”


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