Lisa

One day I went to the job centre to sign on and was told I would be sanctioned.

I am a 34 year old single Mum of 3 children aged 15, 14 and 11. I live in Stockton-on-Tees where the second series of Benefits Street has been filmed. I work 16 hours per week cleaning and cooking at an emergency re-housing hostel.

As well as my wage from the hostel, I also receive Housing Benefit, working tax credit, child tax credit and child benefit.

One day I went to the job centre to sign on and was told I would be sanctioned for not keeping to my ‘claimant commitment’. The reason given for this was that the job I had got with the hostel was only for 14 hours per week, instead of the 16 hours I was required to find.

I wasn’t actually receiving any money as the wage I received for the 14 hours was above the limit. But, the sanction meant my Housing Benefit was stopped immediately, leaving me short of money and in rent arrears. When I got the letter to say I was being sanctioned it had no end date so I didn’t know how long the sanction was going to last. I was lucky. When my employer found out I was being sanctioned she offered me an extra 2 hours per week. This meant I could sign of Job Seekers Allowance. I was really pleased, as I think people at the Job Centre speak down to you and are always threatening you with sanctions, even if you’re doing everything you can to find work.

I wanted to take part in Real Benefits Street to show people that living on benefits isn’t like what you see on the TV. Real Benefits Street shows actual people living as best as they can on what little money they have if they have been sanctioned, whereas Channel 4’s Benefits Street makes it out as if people on benefits have a life of riley. I think it portrays people on benefits as drug and alcohol addicts and makes working people who don’t get benefits think that they get loads of money.

I can’t believe I got sanctioned for having found work for 14 hours a week – it felt like I was being punished for getting a job. I think the benefits system should be a ladder to help you climb out, not a shovel to dig you in to a hole.

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Lisa Sanctions

Lisa

One day I went to the job centre to sign on and was told I would be sanctioned.

I am a 34 year old single Mum of 3 children aged 15, 14 and 11. I live in Stockton-on-Tees where the second series of Benefits Street has been filmed. I work 16 hours per week cleaning and cooking at an emergency re-housing hostel.

As well as my wage from the hostel, I also receive Housing Benefit, working tax credit, child tax credit and child benefit.

One day I went to the job centre to sign on and was told I would be sanctioned for not keeping to my ‘claimant commitment’. The reason given for this was that the job I had got with the hostel was only for 14 hours per week, instead of the 16 hours I was required to find.

I wasn’t actually receiving any money as the wage I received for the 14 hours was above the limit. But, the sanction meant my Housing Benefit was stopped immediately, leaving me short of money and in rent arrears. When I got the letter to say I was being sanctioned it had no end date so I didn’t know how long the sanction was going to last. I was lucky. When my employer found out I was being sanctioned she offered me an extra 2 hours per week. This meant I could sign of Job Seekers Allowance. I was really pleased, as I think people at the Job Centre speak down to you and are always threatening you with sanctions, even if you’re doing everything you can to find work.

I wanted to take part in Real Benefits Street to show people that living on benefits isn’t like what you see on the TV. Real Benefits Street shows actual people living as best as they can on what little money they have if they have been sanctioned, whereas Channel 4’s Benefits Street makes it out as if people on benefits have a life of riley. I think it portrays people on benefits as drug and alcohol addicts and makes working people who don’t get benefits think that they get loads of money.

I can’t believe I got sanctioned for having found work for 14 hours a week – it felt like I was being punished for getting a job. I think the benefits system should be a ladder to help you climb out, not a shovel to dig you in to a hole.

“I ain’t living the life of luxury like you see on the telly, like it’s portrayed on the telly. Sometimes I wouldn’t have had food to feed myself. I wanted to portray the actual real version of life on benefits, life with sanctions.” 

Lisa