The government must reduce the number of people locked into in-work poverty. It is the silent threat to the life chances of so many. And for the country. Today, around two-thirds of working-age adults in poverty live in a household where at least one adult is in work. Increasing numbers are finding themselves in insecure low-quality jobs which lack guaranteed hours to give certainty of guaranteed, consistent income. Sustained low-quality employment has significant knock-on impacts for an individual’s health and wellbeing.
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However, an increase in sanctions for people who do not take on any roles offered to them will have the opposite effect, creating increased fear, stress levels and mental health issues for those affected.
At the end of last year, the Big Issue reported that an increase in sanctions is evidenced to directly increase the numbers of people claiming disability benefits citing mental health issues. We have been contacted by hundreds of people who have shared harrowing experiences of proving their eligibility for benefits, leaving them in extreme distress, more impoverished and, in some cases, suicidal.
There is a different way possible. And we urge government decision-makers to listen to what we’re doing and see our blueprint for success.
For the last two years, we have been building Big Issue Recruit to give marginalised people who face barriers to work the same access to jobs as everyone else. And we have managed to prove not only that we can do it, but that there is both appetite and a market for our approach.