93k UK Children Go Hungry*
A newly released report shows well over 90,000 of the poorest British children went hungry last year because their parents’ benefits had been stopped or cut.
The report released by a coalition of churches on Monday said more than 93,000 children did not eat sufficiently in 2014 due to benefit sanctions imposed on their parents.
According to the report, last year, more than one million benefit sanctions were imposed against Britons, sometimes on simple grounds such as being late for an appointment at the Job centre.
The coalition condemned the government’s sanction methods, saying the penalties are often unreasonable and disproportionate.
“We are disturbed that a benefit system intended to provide for the needy and vulnerable is used as a means of coercion and compliance,” read the report, adding, “the penalties often do not appear reasonable or proportionate to the ‘failure’ that has occurred.”
The report also said the UK’s benefit sanctions regime is one of the most severe in the world, adding that it had not found any evidence that it helped unemployed benefit claimers into work.
Niall Cooper, of Church Action on Poverty, which helped write the report, condemned the sanctions system.
“If you commit a crime, no court is allowed to make you go hungry as a punishment,” said Cooper, adding,
“But if you’re late for an appointment at the Jobcentre, they can remove all your income and leave you unable to feed you or your family for weeks.”
In response, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) denied the findings, saying it did not recognize the data in the report, adding “sanctions are only used as a last resort for the tiny minority who fail to take up the support which is on offer.”
The current UK coalition government launched austerity measures when it came to power in 2010 in a bid to tackle the country’s mounting debt and sluggish growth, but the policies have sparked opposition and public protests in recent years. The cuts have severely hit the poorest households in the country, forcing many of them to choose between paying for food or energy.