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Benefits are halted for more than 2,600.

Byline: Report by Lisa O'Brien

MORE than 2,600 job seekers in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin have had their benefits stopped or reduced for up to three years, new figures have revealed.

It comes after the Government announced it is scrapping lengthy sanctions.

Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has announced that she is ending three-year benefit sanctions, which she said were "counterproductive" and failed to help people into work.

Sanctions will now be capped at a maximum of six months.

Anti-poverty charities have welcomed the decision to scrap the harshest penalties, but urged the Government to make further reforms to end all punitive sanctions, which they said could leave people "hungry, in debt, and on the brink of homelessness".

Department for Work and Pensions data shows 1,510 high-level sanctions were imposed on people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in Shropshire between October 2012 - when the current sanctions system was introduced - and January 2019.

However, the data reveals job centre staff tried to impose high-level sanctions 3,990 times, with the decision overturned or the case against the claimant cancelled in the remaining 2,480 cases.

In Telford & Wrekin data showed 1,100 high-level sanctions were imposed, but job centre staff tried to impose high-level sanctions 2,830 times, with the decision overturned or the case against the claimant cancelled in the remaining 1,730 cases.

JSA claimants can be sanctioned for a variety of reasons, such as being late for appointments, not doing enough to look for work, or failing to attend a training programme.

High-level sanctions are the harshest penalties, and last for a period of three months, six months, or three years, depending on the severity of the claimant's infraction and how many times they have been sanctioned previously.

There have been 2.1 million sanctions handed out to JSA claimants across Great Britain since October 2012, of which 185,858 were highlevel.

In total, 6,914 sanctions have been imposed on claimants in Shropshire and 8,324 in Telford and Wrekin.

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Publication:Shropshire Star (Shropshire, England)
Date:May 22, 2019
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