Figures suggest that some welfare reforms are hitting the most vulnerable hardest

There is no doubt there is public support for reform of a welfare state which supports claimants who could work and should work but choose not to people the current Chancellor once called “scroungers”.

But these figures obtained from the Department of Work and Pensions by the Methodist Church, suggest that some of the reforms aren't hitting the scroungers the hardest – but some of the most vulnerable.

They show that claimants who have mental illnesses are suffering disproportionately from sanctions.

Paul Farmer, CEO of the Mental Health Charity Mind called these figures the “inconvenient truth” of the welfare reform programme.

Mind says those with mental illness are often unable to negotiate their way through the complex system of meetings and work programme commitments which job centres now require, and that they are being sanctioned more and more when they fail.

Welfare reforms hitting vulnerable hardest figures show. Credit: PA

These figures look at the number of sanctions for those who are in the Work Programme and on ESA (Employment Support Allowance) , a benefit awarded to those with health issues who are temporarily unable to work.

These decisions aren't taken lightly, and less than one per cent of ESA claimants have their benefits suspended each month for not taking up the jobs support that is offered to them.

– A DWP spokesperson

The Government says it is embarking on an ambitious reform programme which will make work pay.

They say that sanctions only happen for good reason and that the most sanctions are as a result of a missed or late appointment.

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