Angela Rayner MP has highlighted the impact of the Government’s benefit sanctions on the poorest and most vulnerable people in Ashton-under-Lyne.
Since the Government made sanctions harsher in 2012, some claimants now face having their benefits cut for up to three years, and a minimum of four weeks, while they look for work.
Tameside Citizens Advice Bureau is very clear that harsh and badly applied sanctions are one of the biggest issues facing people in the borough.
Since April alone, Tameside CAB has helped more than 2,000 people to make emergency payment claims – most arising through sanctions being applied by the DWP.
In the last year, across Tameside, Oldham and Manchester there has been a 230 per cent increase in the number of people going to the CAB for help after they were sanctioned.
Angela Rayner said: "I would appeal to Ministers to look urgently and closely at the impact of benefit sanctions across the whole of Greater Manchester. There does seem to be a disproportionate impact in Tameside.
"Benefit is being stopped for ridiculous reasons. One of my constituents who is not computer literate, is dyslexic and has learning difficulties, had his benefit stopped for four weeks for not properly filling out a job search agreement.
"Another young man who had badly ulcerated legs was admitted to hospital for treatment the day before he was due to attend an ATOS medical. He was sanctioned for non attendance.
"Another had his Job Seekers Allowance stopped because he had not attended a work programme - but he was able to provide full, written evidence that he had attended every single day. He was still sanctioned for four weeks. By the time he won his appeal, he had been evicted from his home for non-payment of rent.
"Other constituents are being sanctioned without reason and with no notification."
Angela added: "These are not isolated examples of mistakes, or misunderstandings or bureaucratic cock-ups. They are part of a pattern.
"They are institutionalised punishment of the poorest, most vulnerable people.
"The result is increasing debt. In a recent survey of CAB’s in Greater Manchester, 80 per cent of people who had been sanctioned had been driven deeper into debt as a result. Two thirds had been left with no other income at all."
Angela is now calling on Government ministers to urgently review how sanctions are being applied in Tameside and has called for greater support for people seeking work.