In recent days, most of my parliamentary work has centred on ensuring that everyone has the financial support they need to weather the coronavirus crisis.
To their credit, the UK Government has listened to concerns and responded with measures to help businesses and their employees. I'm still pushing for greater support for other workers, such as the self-employed, freelancers and zero-hours workers.
I'm also very keen to make sure that the very lowest-paid in society are looked after properly. I was alarmed to hear that benefit sanctions are still in place for some, which will undoubtedly be leading to increased hardship.
I have written to the Government to call on them to urgently lift these sanctions, given the exceptional circumstances we face.
The coronavirus affects us all and this is no time to punish or penalise those who are struggling to heat their homes and feed themselves.
Read my letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey MP, below.
Dear Secretary of State,
COVID-19: Removal of benefit sanctions
The current COVID-19 outbreak has exposed many households to huge financial uncertainty. I am grateful for the measures taken so far to financially shield many of those affected and commend the consensual nature with which Government has conducted itself in these unprecedented times.
I hope you will be receptive to a request for a change in policy to help some of the most vulnerable in society. Whilst I welcome the decision to not apply benefit sanctions to those affected by the coronavirus crisis, I am given to understand that existing sanctions remain in place.
For those with limited incomes, budgets are being stretched at present. More time at home will lead to increased energy consumption. Furthermore, supermarket shelves remain void of low-cost staple products, leading to increased expenditure on food.
I would like to request that the Department urgently reviews its position, lifting all currently-applied sanctions. I appreciate that this would mark a significant departure from policy, but consider this a necessary step to safeguard the wellbeing of the poorest in society in the most exceptional of circumstances.
David Linden MP