Hundreds of people registered as disabled have been issued with benefits sanctions over the last five years in Cumbria because they ‘failed to complete work related activities’.
771 people with a disability across the county were punished by the Government since the end of 2012, meaning residents on employment support allowance who have been deemed too ill to work have been left without money to help them with day to day independent living. That’s according to data acquired by the CN Group.
Campaigners and a number of MPs in the region have condemned the practice, which has affected around 70,000 people since 2012. Critics say the move was cruel and unfair.
According to the group’s research, people in Carlisle have been hit hardest with 204 disabled people having their benefits withheld.
John Woodcock, Barrow and Furness MP, told CN Group: “I’ve always defended the existence of the possibility of sanctions if people genuinely don’t meet reasonable expectations but what is being done to vulnerable people by this Government is not reasonable.
“The rules are being applied harshly and arbitrarily by staff who seem under pressure to find people to punish rather than helping them succeed.”
Meanwhile, another MP, Tim Farron, said the system was ‘shameful’.
“Sanctioning people with disabilities is simply cruel,” he said. “They provide no incentive for people to work and penalise those who are physically unable to.
“Sanctioning happens as a result of decisions made by ministers in London who understand nothing of the lives of people living in desperate need, but are only too happy to make those lives worse.”