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Benefits blunder

Date published: 06 January 2014

A FRANTIC jobseeker has hit out at harsh benefit sanctions after wrongly being told her payments would be stopped for a year - for missing an appointment.

Amy Lindley (20), of Chadderton, lost her job in February and after missing an appointment at the Union Street Jobcentre Plus, the office wrote to confirm sanctions would last a month.

But after the four-week punishment the sanctions were extended to a full year - forcing her to rely on her retired grandparents for support.

After the Chronicle questioned the punishment, the Department for Work and Pensions acknowledged a mistake had been made - but said Amy would still lose 13 weeks worth of benefits.

They said because she missed an appointment in February — just after she became unemployed, when she was unclear about the system - she had already received benefit sanctions of a month. The punishment for a second offence is 13 weeks. Missing a third appointment extends sanctions for a year.

Amy, currently studying for a professional cooking qualification at Salford City College, blasted the draconian punishments.

She was also stunned by the lack of help she received from staff at the centre where staff failed to check details of job applications and were unhelpful in finding work.

She said: “When I first went on benefits I was still getting used to the routine and I thought they would give me a warning. I missed the October appointment because I forgot it was arranged. I get that they need to punish you for not going - but it’s not like I’m not doing anything. I’m on a course and I have been doing work experience and I think it’s too harsh.

“For three strikes a year is just ridiculous. How can you find a job if you are worrying about feeding yourself and your kids and keeping the heating on?

“Luckily I have moved in with my grandparents, they lent me money even though they are pensioners. But not everyone is that lucky.

“All I have wanted since I became unemployed was to find work again. So why is it that the job centre seems to be against me every step of the way?”

Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher has accused the Government of “brutalising the poor” by enforcing the sanctions, saying: “The penalties are wildly harsh, out of all proportion.”


So first she misses an appointment, but thinks it's OK, loses 4 weeks benefit, and instead of learning from the sanction, goes & does it again !

Yes it is incredibly harsh and draconian, but you should never get yourself in that position unless you have no thought for your obligations!

Having worked since I left school in 87 I wouldn’t have a clue about the benefits system. However 3 missed appointments is quite a lot if you depend on the benefits coming in to support your family, surely attending the appointments would have been a priority.

The unremitting face of the DWP under IDS. No room for human error. No humanity demonstrated.

i had one not long ago after i rang in ill i got done.

MP Michael Meacher has nailed it on the head well said. Job Centre decision at times are bad their just don't think about people anymore.

Do these employees not appreciate the very real suffering that such heartless sanctions inflict upon a person. Perhaps more importantly, do they actually give a damn.

i dnt blame you to hit out on um girl i got three sanctions 3dayz in a row its not on this job center have never helped me all lthay seem to do is take and never help us and there should be a direct number for the people who impose these sanctions on us poor people

This is Dickensian management by Oldham Job Centre
- reminiscent of the Workhouse & The Poor Law :
1 week's sanction for 1 missed appointment would surely be more appropriate ?
In comparison, Hospitals do not sanction people at all despite missing multiple appointments - but my Dentist does .

People will be forced to steal with these silly sanctions. They wont have any heating, gas, electric, food and will have baliffs knocking at their door. Children and pets will be starving too.Its bad enough being unemployed.How is Amy supposed to get to college in Salford with no money for transport? She could get kicked off the course for not attending then would be unemployed longer with no qualification gained.So 3 people are suffering as Amy's grandparents (pensioners)will not see her hungry

So what, really, is the problem here? Someone is unemployed & thinks she can behave as she likes & still be paid by the State. Maybe she will mature now .....

Well done, Meacher.....and how is this the government's fault? She said herself that the punishment for not going needs to be applied.

The problem here is the JobCentre staff who have no respect for people out of work. You need to focus your energy on the disdainful staff in these places, Meacher.

Not very long ago IDS was claiming that there was no government policy to stop peoples benefit, and yet here we see in stark reality that there is in fact a clear policy.
Miss one appointment 4 Weeks
Second 3 months
Third 1 Year

I expect that every other benefit office in the country has the same policy and as it's a new one, it has to have been implemented by government.

So either IDS is completely ignorant of what is going on in his department or he's lying !

I trust that the headline "Benefit blunder" refers to the blunder Ann Lindley made in failing to attend meetings and not the authorities, who seem to have done everything correctly.

If she is allowed to get away with this then it leaves it open for everybody to do the same.

It's always somebody else's fault isn't it? What was so pressing you couldn't get to 2 appointments? You are being given support thanks to taxpayers, the least you can do is make an effort.

If people read this properly they will see that Amy was sanctioned twice, the 1st time being when she didnt know the system and the 2nd time was when she had the same day, same time of appointment but they changed the DATE. She is attending college,not a lazy layabout.Amy had a severe asthma attack, cycling (after college) to one of her appointments and still made it after I (Amy's mum) calmed her down..very distressing for both of us.We all have an opinion but nobody actually knows full details

Completely agree with those who say she should make more effort to attend appointments. And the sanctions are nothing new, a friend of mine had his benefit stopped for six months in 2006 for a similar reason (under the Blair Labour government, Mr Meacher.)

Deb115, no need to explain the circumstances, the more informed among us, know only too well just how nasty the entire system has become. Until we all come together in collective (direct) action, nothing will ever truly change. Never forget, that those who seek to oppress us, are in the minority, and that we, the oppressed, are in the majority.

Deb115 nowhere in the article does it say the Jobcentre changed the date....it actually says that she "forgot".

Excellent.......best laugh of the year to date.....Shaun McGrath's man of the people, up the workers rubbish. I'm working class and I've experienced unemployment and in the latter instances, I worked damned hard to make myself employable. Do I feel oppressed...not in the slightest....but if you want REAL oppression, hop over to North Korea PLEASE!!!

Thank you Shaun McGrath.... Amy has worked
since she was 16rs old. She worked all the time college and only came out of work last February. She is trying her hardest to gain qualifications so she can get a good job with a career. The job Centre know this. I am not the type of mother that sticks up for her children when they are in the wrong. The job Centre don't even check her job searches. I have seen this myself when I've taken her as she had no money to get the bus

mikejh I do feel oppressed in the UK since Blair came to power.
Now you can be prosecuted simply for saying the wrong word, and if it hadn't been for the house of Lords stopping section 5 of the public order act speech - not just free speech would have been banned.
This week another attack on freedom 'Causing annoyance in a public place' will hopefully be knocked back by the Lords. Thank goodness it's unelected and doesn't have to answer to the whips.

Mikejh45, you need a reality check, mate. You may (naively) believe that everything in the garden is rosy, but tens of millions would passionately disagree with you. Wake up before it's too late!

For those still in denial as to the reality of benefit sanctions - insofar how they 'really' affect people, I give you the following link to a revealing YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXE6q1LZ62E

Shaun, and I suppose you can account for these tens of millions! Stop playing the numbers game because you genuinely do not know.
Flake, please tell how you are genuinely oppressed...does your plight compare to a human rights activist in N.Korea or Zimbabwe, a Christian in Egypt or Iran or a 16 yr old girl who wants an education in the remote parts of Afghanistan or Pakistan? Oppression is a whole life situation where you are at risk daily at the hands of others!

Mikejh45, I think you'll find that the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word 'oppression', more than adequately describes the daily reality faced by millions in this country.

Good grief, is that the best you can do, Shaun!!! You are still peddling this "myth" that millions are suffering to the point of being oppressed. Please bring to this discussion a truly independant source that is not Labour Party/BBC/left wing/union funded and that includes sundry think-tanks. One person whose opinion I value over and above any politician is the Big Issue founder John Bird who wrote a very interesting article in the Mail today (I also read other papers too). Read it and learn.


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