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Campaigners slam broken welfare system after claimant wins appeal

This news post is over 6 years old

Claimant case was raised in prime minister's questions

Campaigners have slammed the “broken welfare system” after a woman won an appeal to have benefits reinstated after being sanctioned for 276 days.

Margo Laird from Glasgow has been dependent on her son and sister to supply her with food and money for electricity after the Jobcentre stopped her benefits last year.

Laird’s benefits were halted despite sending in sick lines saying she couldn’t attend Jobcentre appointments.

She was at risk of homelessness as her rent was not being paid and her landlord had begun legal proceedings over £900 rent arrears.

However she appealed the decision and won with the tribunal deciding the DWP evidence provided for sanction was “inadequate.”

Campaigners say the case is just the “tip of the iceberg” with hundreds of other people in Scotland being sanctioned arbitrarily.

Pete Judd, a campaigner for the Anti-Cuts Coalition, said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is deliberately ruining lives.

He added: “It is criminal Margo was put through this, a sanction that was deemed unnecessary. The DWP is forcing Jobcentre staff to become zealots with the prevailing attitude to sanction first and worry about whether it is legal later.

“It’s more evidence that the sanction regime needs dismantled. It’s being used to force people into poverty for daring to be out-of-work. The system is broken.”

David Linden, Glasgow East SNP MP, took up Laird’s case last year.

He said: “The details of this case are truly shocking yet another brutal example of this Conservative government’s deeply damaging welfare policies.

“Here we have a woman pushed below the poverty line, reliant on foodbanks for survival, into rental arrears and to the brink of homelessness - all because of a litany of fundamental errors made by the DWP.”

A spokeswoman for the DWP said: “Only a small minority of people are sanctioned, and that only happens if someone doesn’t have a good reason for falling short of their claimant commitment.

“When decisions are overturned it’s very often because new evidence is provided.”