Fifers called for an end to benefit sanctions during a national day of action, claiming people were losing their income for being minutes late for appointments.
The People’s Assembly Fife led a demonstration outside Kirkcaldy Job Centre Plus in a bid to persuade the UK Government to end the “disgusting” practice.
Spokesman Tam Kirkby said one victim lost his benefit payments because he failed to search for jobs on Christmas Day.
He said people, including single parents, were being forced to turn to foodbanks to feed their families because they had been left with no money for weeks.
The group is gathering evidence about the extent of sanctions and whether they are a key factor in the soaring demand for foodbanks.
Mr Kirby said: “Of the 240 people we have spoken to, 30% have been sanctioned. The use of foodbanks is going through the roof and we are gathering evidence to prove that that’s because of benefit sanctions. The government flatly denies they are the cause.
“A guy in Cowdenbeath, who has some learning difficulties, was sanctioned and left with no money over the Christmas period. Another young guy, who also had learning difficulties, was sanctioned because he didn’t do a job search on Christmas Day.”
Demonstrations were held around the country against the sanctions, which can see claimants’ benefits suspended for between four weeks and three years if their job-seeking activity is deemed to fall short of what is required.
Organiser Unite the Union said around two million people had fallen foul of this policy in the last two years.
Protester Susan Archibald, of Cardenden, slammed the sanctioning of single parents. “Who is thinking about the bairns? It’s absolutely disgusting,” she said.
“People are missing the bus for appointments and getting sanctioned. We have young people living on couches. Their parents can’t afford to keep them and they are moving from one pal’s house to the next.
Labour councillor Kay Morrison — who took part in the demonstration — told The Courier: “The sanctions are draconian. People are being forced to live on nothing for weeks.
“Often, the reasons given for sanctions seem flimsy. Sometimes someone has been at a job interview and because they haven’t turned up for their Job Centre interview, they are penalised.”
Article taken from The Courier by Cheryl Peebles