Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Sir Jeremy has lost £16k

You are Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary. You turn up late this morning for work after celebrating, last night, a reunion for old boys of Hertford College, Oxford.

Your boss, David Cameron, docks one month's wages for your tardiness. That is £16,249.62. Spiteful Cameron added that if Jeremy was late again, he'd dock three years' wages - over half a million pounds.

How would you feel if someone took £16,249.62 out of your wages?

Because that is what is happening, not to poor Sir Jeremy, but to the really poor and destitute in Scotland.

Today's The National reports on a study carried out by Dr David Webster of Glasgow University with the Public and Commercial Services Union - whose members run the benefits offices.  The study reports that an analysis of the most recent Department for Work and Pensions data reveals £355 million in Jobseeker's allowance across the UK was stopped in the year to September 2014. In 2009/2010, £11 million of JSA was sanctioned.

That is a 3,500% increase 2010-2014. Hundreds of thousands more people going without money.

The union says: "We believe this massive rise goes a long way to explaining why sanctions have been so closely linked to the increase in the use of foodbanks."

Across the UK 568,430 people were sanctioned with anything from one month to three years of benefits being stopped. As a proportion, that could mean almost 60,000 people in Scotland.

These cruel sanctions illustrate why we live in a broken state. We should care for our poorest and most destitute people. Not cut them off from even the most basic benefits.

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