Boycott Workfare call for sanction stories

Boycott Workfare outside Policy Exchange after "ruining" their event

Boycott Workfare outside Policy Exchange after “ruining” their event

In return for supporting the passage of a retrospective law to steal £130 million from claimants who were illegally sanctioned, the Labour party were promised by the government that there would be an independent investigation into the sanction process. Of course, we expect little from an investigation that came at the price of justice for claimants. With no space for claimants to actually submit their concerns and experiences, the views of claimants will be not be represented.

With your help, Boycott Workfare would like to highlight the devastating impact that benefit sanctions are having on people’s lives. Collecting together your experiences of benefit sanctions we will be putting together a sanctions zine. Email us your words, however many or few you want to use. Things you may want to include may be:

– the length of the sanction

– the ‘reason’ the Job Centre gave for imposing the sanction and how they told you this ‘reason’

– how it affected your life, including its impact on your physical and mental health, your family and friendships

– how you coped during this time

– and how you are doing now e.g. still claiming JSA, stopped signing on, signing on to a different benefit, stress/worry about further sanctions etc.

– perhaps you have not been sanctioned, but have been bullied and threatened with sanctions

Email us at

Feel free also to submit drawings and get in touch if you have any other ideas or suggestions. We also welcome submissions from those who are indirectly affected by benefit sanctions, such as welfare activists, welfare advisors and those involved in the Civil Service Rank and File Network.

We look forward to reading your submissions!


Comments (10)

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i know someone who got a 4 week sanction for not filling in his jobsearch diary. 4 weeks for that is ridiculous.

Obi Wan Kenobi

Mark Hoban on the benefits system:

"How's it work? … don't ask me", says Hoban.

He can't make head or tail of the benefits system.


In April 2013, I got a letter, out of the blue as far as I was concerned, from the Clydebank DWP saying I could lose some JSA cos I didn't attend a Triage appointment. I replied, telling them I'd called the place and had made another appointment, and got a reply from DWP saying I wouldn't be sanctioned.

They probably have a problem with me since December 2012 when I was livid and ranting and raving at one of them, telling him - you've got as much chance of finding a job by yourself without their interference by putting you on some 'work experience' scam. As I was storming out, he said 'wait until voluntary work becomes mandatory'.

I was back there today and it feels good, letting them know you can't be intimidated. Nobody spoke to me for the hour I was there, except the receptionist. Why was I even there, I wondered? A few times I've been and there are no staff to deal with your job search.

A Selection Of Especially Stupid Sanctions | Birmingham Against The Cuts

[...] a community we can fight back against the regime running the DWP. Boycott Workfare are looking for people who have been sanctioned to tell their story and are taking action around the country against workfare and the work programme, where many [...]


While on my mandatory volenteer work I had a great experience worked really hard and learned a few things but that all came crashing down when I got a 4 week sanction for not doing enough to look for work according to the job centre that is what break and lunch time was for

How can you do this to people


Sanctioned for simply getting 2 appointments at A4E mixed up. I do not know how the Civil Servants who carry out these cowardly deeds of the criminal mafia government can sleep at night or look themselves in the mirror.

It's like civilisation is regressing back to the dark-ages. Unchallenged.

This will all backfire eventually. It's a simple law of nature. You get back what you give out. If you want to try and correct, or 'help', people who are low and down, with bullying, fear, negativity and vitriol, then that's exactly what you will get back.

Cameron and IDS will burn in the same hell Hitler is currently cooking in. In their arrogance, they have probably convinced themselves they don't have anyone to answer to for their evil crimes against humanity.


I was sanctioned today as I mixed up an appointment day. Considering they give me appointments at all different times on any given day is it any wonder people get confused. I was then made to fill out a jobsearch to say that I hadn't been looking for a job on christmas day or boxing day(?) and the whole week I missed the appointment. When I asked the advisor just because I missed a job signing, it didn't mean I wasn't looking, she barely looked a me and replied only to be in a snotty manner. She then gave me an appointment for the next day at 2pm - despite me showing her I had an interview at 2.20pm that same day? To which she replied, I would have to ring up on Wednesday and be further sanctioned. Are you kidding me??? I only lost my job in October after a serious breakdown from losing a baby and have been trying my best to pick my life up only to be treated like a common criminal? (I truly felt like this). What right have these people to treat those in a worse position than their own?? I have never signed on in my life before in the 17 years I have been working. Isn't the job centre supposed to create a relationship with claimants, so they trust them to help them find work?? It would work better being run like a proper agency and actually match you to your skills and not penalise you for everything. It does nothing for your self esteem, only causing more stress and misery. We are run by social psychopaths. I will be outside my jobcentre telling everyone to contribute to this site!


I applied for JSA online after losing my job at the end of March. I had my FIRST signing appointment on the 3.4.14. Unfortunately i got this mixed up and was positive it was 4.4.14. Upon realising my mistake i was down the job centre first thing that morning abjectly apologising and re-organising a signing which i got that morning. I was asked the excuse and told i may well lose that day's money. I got a letter yesterday sanctioning my money for a whole 4 weeks!! Considering this was my first signing and mistakes are easy to make and the fact they signed me up for the ECDL course as mandatory which i have completed and turned up on time every day this seems very harsh indeed. God knows what im going to do for money for a month. I will be appealing.

nicola burns

I got my job seekers money sanctioned for a non appearence when i was actualy at a job interview, i phoned and informed them about this but still had my money stopped for 4weeks. I appealed the decision and am waiting on a result

Dan Maginnis


I would like to share a few of my bad experiences with JSA sanctions to contribute toward the motivation to stand against this system.

Remember when the work programme was in place? I was sent to A4e to join their "How to apply and attend interview" circle sessions. Although early on in the programme, my grandfather died due to cancer and I fell into a bad state of depression. I was often telling the Job Centre of this, but I can only assume they never bothered to note it on my profile.

Because of this socially crippling depression and anxiety, I failed to turn up to a few A4e appointments... Funny thing is though, I never received any letters or warnings until after around four missed appointments. Then I basically received four sanctions at once, all stacked, one to take place after the other, this put me off the benefit for over a year. I'm sure you can imagine this certainly didn't help with mental illness.

Eventually I managed to get a job by my own accord. I started receiving calls from A4e congratulating me and saying i just need to sign a form for them. I did a little research and found that my signature on this form would allow A4e to gain thousands of pounds for "getting me back into work"... I never signed the form... my advisor was borderline trying to coerce me into signing it (He even drove to my workplace to meet me after work), but because of the distress they'd put me through, and the fact that they didn't help at all, I refused them their bonus.

Anyway, skip forward a couple of years, I recently went back onto JSA from ESA (which i was on while going through issues with medication as the depression & anxiety had been getting much worse).

It's as if they give me different rules to follow every time I go! I got told of and warned because i wasn't writing down jobs i was looking at but NOT applying for, stating why i didn't apply for them.... Then i was told i don't need to do that because it just wastes space on the diary sheet... I've been forced onto their Universal Jobmatch site (which i have to say, is terrible)... I decided not to give them my consent to access my account because i hate the idea of being monitored on their website from my own home. So they started being more funny with me.

Anyway, yesterday, i was told i will be sanctioned unless i print off my personal email 'sent emails' page to show them as evidence of my applications. Bearing in mind, i have never been asked to bring any such documents in before, they always just ask me how it's going... get my signature and shoo me off for the next poor soul that has to deal with them. On an average week, i apply for round about 8-15 jobs on different websites, and the woman i saw was more concerned with the fact that i hadn't used TWO websites per day... even though I always DO use two per day... apparently Universal Jobmatch does not count as one because it's in a different box in my JSA agreement. Utterly ridiculous. Oh, and the fact that i hadn't looked in a local newspaper.

I apologise for the long message but I do hope this helps to show people in similar situations that they aren't the only ones being victimised by this wildly flawed system.

We're being judged and punished for the sake of petty little technicalities. Following strict guidelines seems to be more important to them than actually doing a good quality Job search. You might aswell just be clicking apply on any random position just to meet the numbers they have tied to you in the agreement.

We all get spoken to and treated as if we're all lazy layabout Jeremy Kyle guests... While they all attach this pathetic presumption to us, we will not be treated as equal human beings in the Job Center. Our personal circumstances are of no meaning to them, just our obedience.