Benefits cut for unemployed women suffering from domestic abuse

Recent news reports have claimed that unemployed women who are victims of sexual and domestic violence are being wrongly penalised by losing all or part of their benefits.
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The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, slammed the Department for Work and Pensions for not publicising rules which allow flexibility in imposing benefit sanctions on victims of violence by their partner.

The Fawcett Society’s inquiry team, found that women suffering from domestic violence had their Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) cut for missing Jobcentre appointments and training courses. Single parents and women who did not speak good English borne the same fate.

The society’s chairman, Belinda Phipps said: “Women, particularly mothers, are more likely to be affected by financial hardship in the home because they act as ‘shock absorbers’, shielding their children and families from the impact of financial hardship. Every day, women in the UK are going hungry so that their children can get fed. All of this affects their ability to seek work and to engage with a system that discriminates against them. That leads to them losing their benefits.”

The inquiry found that the system did not take account of women’s lives and heard evidence that women were advised their children would be taken into care because they didn’t have enough money after losing their JSA. For example, lone parents have to look for full-time jobs involving three-hours of travel even though that makes it impossible for them to look after their children.

The inquiry’s proposals were outlined at a Westminster press conference today, Sir Keir called for specialist advisers who would help victims suffering domestic and sexual violence; lone parents and those without good English. He said claimants should be told about the policies in place to help these victims. Sir Keir added that the system of appealing against benefit decisions should be revamped to bring in an informal and quick process. Single parents (67%) were much more likely than all claimants (47%) to be hit by the most severe financial forfeits.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 11.37.24You can help support women who are victims of domestic violence by donating to Rufuge, click here to find out more.

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