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Sanctioned woman goes for a year without money

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She has been left reliant on handouts from friends and family

A woman has been relying on handouts from family members after having her benefits sanctioned for the last year.

Margo Laird, from Tollcross in Glasgow, had her benefits halted as she couldn’t attend Jobcentre interviews because of illness.

She believed she didn’t need to attend because her GP said she was not fit for work and posted sick lines to the Jobcentre.

Margo has received no payments of her Universal Credit benefit since January and has been dependent of support from her family.

Local foodbanks have been giving her emergency food aid and local psychiatric services are also giving her help.

Tollcross Housing Association is owed £900 as a result, because while her housing benefit has been re-instated the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will not clear the arrears.

She said she had started going to the jobcentre but was still not being paid as she is currently under a 132-day sanction.

Margo said: "I’ve now been going for the last six months but I still don’t have any money coming in.

“My son and sister are helping me with money for the meter and bringing me messages.

“I didn’t even know I had rent arrears because I thought it was being paid.”

Despite knowing she has been sanctioned and left with no money, no-one at the DWP has asked her how she is able to survive.

Margo's case was raised at the House of Commons by her MP David Linden.

He asked Damian Hinds, the work and Pensions minister, if he would look into her case and find a solution.

Linden said: “What has happened is Margo Laird has been pushed as close to destitution as she can by the UK government.

“Universal Credit is causing untold misery to people.”

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

“Work coaches support claimants to meet their requirements, and people are given every opportunity to explain why they have failed to do so before a decision is made.”