We were sitting outside eating when a man came up to us and quietly asked could we spare him some money as he was homeless.
Hoz bought him lunch and he sat with us talking for a while as we ate. His name was Rob and he was having some problems in his life which had resulted in him becoming homeless more than five weeks ago. His landlord had defaulted on the mortgage and done a runner leaving the tenants to be evicted.
Rob was left homeless but as he explained, worse was to follow. He now had no address and failed to tell the Jobcentre, so he was sanctioned. For effectively not telling them he no longer had an address, perhaps he had more things on his mind, you know, like finding somewhere to live.
Anyway he was sanctioned and was now reduced to asking for charity.
He was explaining how things had happened and I asked him about the Hardship relief that should have been available to him, he said the Jobcentre told him he was not entitled to it because he had been sanctioned, also no support was available to find him somewhere to live because he had been sanctioned.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I have been told the hardship payment is there for exactly this sort of problem.
Anyway I advised him to visit the Citizens advice and find out exactly what he should say then go back to the Jobcentre. If they refused him again I told him to get it in writing and take it to the Citizens advice again.
The council apparently also can’t or won’t help him because housing is tied to jobseekers and him being sanctioned blocks that as well. Applying separately would probably take months.
We left him eating as Hoz had to go and traffic was building up on a Friday afternoon but two things remain in my mind from this random encounter. One thing that Hoz said and one thing I said.
Hoz said ‘The DWP unemployment numbers had gone down by one’.
I said ‘Welcome to Tory Britain’.
We both meant exactly the same thing, a young man left homeless because of events beyond his control then reduced to the charity of complete strangers simply to remove one number from Ian Duncan Smiths monthly unemployment quote.
Nothing but a statistic, just another tick in the box.
I hope he gets some good advice and gets a better deal, no one deserves to be treated like that but it seems to be all too common in Britain in the second decade of the 21st century. He may be simply someone who has fallen through the cracks but it seems to happen all to often these days, hundreds of thousands sanctioned for the most ridiculous reasons and left with nothing. I live in a sleepy little town in the southwest but even here the number of homeless has increased significantly over the last few years and the resources to help them have shrunk.
I can only go by what Rob told me but even so, sanctioned for being homeless. That's a new low even for the DWP.
Welcome to Tory Britain.