THE NUMBER of people needing help because of benefit sanctions on the Isle of Wight is among the highest in the country, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
Isle of Wight CAB chief executive Lee Hodgson warned the sanctions, when benefits are stopped for a minimum of four weeks for reasons such as failing to attend a job interview or leaving a job voluntarily, were having a counterproductive effect.
The minimum sanction period was increased from one week to four, last October. The government introduced the measures to ensure people were actively seeking work, however concerns have been raised that they fail to take into account wider circumstances and people have been wrongly penalised.
In the three months to December 2013, the organisation dealt with 47 JSA sanction problems — the highest number in the South East and among worst in the UK.
Mr Hodgson said: "We see people sanctioned who are desperate for money. Parents are often forced into the hands of payday lenders, which only make things worse.
"Some people don’t even know when they’ve been sanctioned, so by the time the money stops there’s no time for emergency budgeting, challenging the sanction or access to hardship payments.
"The minimum four week sanction is setting people up to fail and creating a barrier which can stop them from looking for work.
"Four weeks is a long time to go without money to get by and people are struggling to make ends meet."
He added: "People need a system that can take into account their situation, set suitable work search requirements and where necessary apply sanctions at a level that won’t limit their chances of employment."
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