The Unite Community Leeds and Wakefield Branch has established a Sanctions Working Group. The Group aims to consider ways in which we can support local claimants who have been subjected to benefit sanctions and how we can campaign against them. Unite Community’s position is that benefit sanctions should be scrapped, however, the key question for the Group is how to achieve such an end.
Pamphlet and paper
So far, the Sanctions Working Group has published a discussion pamphlet, Social Security, ‘Shirkers’ and Sanctions: Unsettling the ‘Common Sense‘, about strategy in campaigning against sanctions. There has also been a follow-paper, How Gramsci’s ideas can help us in campaigning against sanctions, describing how the ideas in the pamphlet have informed the work of the group so far.
The group has also published a four-page leaflet, Unemployed, unwaged or retired? Ever thought of joining a union? , which challenges the hostile narrative about working-age people in receipt of social security benefits. We have leafleted areas of Leeds and used it on Unite Community campaigning stalls.
Food aid guide
More recently, the Sanctions Working Group has been working jointly with the Leeds-based project, Unity in Poverty Action, to produce a Leeds food aid guide. It identifies sources of extremely cheap or free food, including food parcels, hot meals and other sources of help. The online version of the guide can be accessed A Guide to Food Aid in Leeds.
Plans for the future include a possible drop-in centre for members, representation for those attending appeal tribunals and support with work capability assessments. We also wish to carry on campaigning at a local and national level, especially against benefit sanctions and Universal Credit.
Sanctions Working Group meetings
The Sanctions Working Group tends to meet on the second Friday of each month. Any Unite Community member who would like to get involved should email us at the following address and we will supply further details: firstname.lastname@example.org