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Benefit claimants ‘abused’ over aid

Thousands of benefits claimants are being subjected to abuse – both verbal and physical – for receiving support from the state, campaigners have warned.

A YouGov poll for the Who Benefits? campaign group found 15% of claimants said they had been verbally abused for getting benefits while 4% said they had been physically attacked.

With more than five million people claiming working age benefits, Who Benefits? – an umbrella organisation representing charities and campaign groups such as the Children’s Society, Crisis, Gingerbread and Mind – says the figures suggest almost 800,000 claimants are facing verbal abuse while 200,000 face actual physical abuse.

The survey also found 16% of claimants said a landlord or letting agent had refused to let them a property because they were on benefits while 18% said they had been treated less favourably by a potential employer or had difficulty accessing a bank account or other financial services.

Katharine Sacks-Jones of the Who Benefits? campaign said: “We need to change the way we talk about benefits. Until we do, hundreds of thousands of people will continue to face abuse and be denied essentials, whether it’s a bank account or a roof over their heads, simply because they receive some extra support to make ends meet.

“Our benefits system should help people when they fall on difficult times and support them to live with dignity, instead many find themselves isolated and excluded from society.”

:: YouGov interviewed 2,352 adults – of whom 980 were currently received working age benefits or had done so in the past – between July 17 and 18.

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