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PCS Conference: Jobcentre staff demand end of 'despicable' benefits sanctions from Iain Duncan Smith

Labour exchange employees say they are 'depressed' by making people destitute on the orders of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

FRONTLINE Jobcentre staff renewed their campaign yesterday to scrap Tory benefit sanctions they are forced to hand down to Britain’s worst off.

Civil servants protested at PCS conference about the impact of the government’s welfare policies they witness everyday at work.

Unemployment benefit of just £71 per week can be stopped for two weeks under sanctions introduced by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Jobcentre worker Martin Humphrey told delegates about the “depressing” task of telling people their benefits have been stopped.

He said: “We have to say to people that they have to live on nothing for two weeks.

“To make people destitute for two weeks is despicable.”

Jobcentre staff exposed once again how they are given sanction targets to hit — a claim Mr Duncan Smith continues to deny.

Britain’s pensioners are also given just £110 a week while disabled people face cruel tests by private comapanies, PCS vice president John McInally pointed out.

He said the result has been soaring demand at food banks, a rise in homelessness and hate attacks on disabled people.

And he said: “As a union, we have a duty to stand up for our members and our services.

“It’s disgraceful that our members’ job to help people is being turned on its head in order to attack the most poor and vulnerable.”

Department for Work and Pensions rep Fran Heathcote said frontline civil servants had been the target for anger from disabled, elderly and unemployed people stripped of benefits.

But she said: “PCS members understand and share the concerns of the people we serve every day.

“They want to help the unemployed find work and pay benefits to pensioners, the sick and the disabled.”

Delegates resolved to fight welfare attacks alongside groups like Disabled People Against Cuts (DPac) and other trade unions.

The union also committed to exploring the viability of a universal basic income to replace Mr Duncan Smith’s failing Universal Credit scheme.

Leeds delegate Annette Wright pressed the union for a campaign of non-compliance with benefit sanctions.

She argued that legal advice given to the union would allow civil servants to boycott sanctions if PCS “first of all identifies a legitimate trade dispute.”


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