Last week, we revealed the area’s CAB had condemned the sanctions policy imposed by job centres across West Dunbartonshire in a new report titled ‘Unjust and Uncaring’.

According to the report, which was released last Tuesday (February 18), between between October 2012 and June 2013, 350 jobseeker allowance (JSA) claimants in Dumbarton and Alexandria were “left without any income for no good reason”.

The report claims a stricter sanctions policy introduced by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) from October 2012 has led to a system where jobseekers go without money for arbitrary reasons — leading to food and fuel poverty, personal debt and mental and physical health problems.

Speaking to the Post at the report launch, June Maxwell — a voluntary advisor at Clydebank CAB and member of the social policy team — says her role has been transformed dramatically in the past 18 months. June told the Reporter: “These are not just ordinary enquiries we are dealing with anymore, on how to get for a TV licence for example. These are much more distressing to deal with as an advisor.

“I had a woman in her sixties come in recently with tears in her eyes because she didn’t know she was going to feed herself and her family.

“We are not trained as counsellors at the CAB, we can’t offer medical support, there’s limited support that we can give.” Linsey Close, volunteers at nearby Alexandria CAB and is also a member of the social policy team. She said: “They [job centres] are not explaining to people why they have been sanctioned — very often people come to us and they have no idea why they were sanctioned which makes it difficult for us.

“Lots of times, people don’t have it in writing, so they come to us for help but don’t actually know what’s happened.” “That makes it very difficult for us,” Gareth King, manager of nearby Clydebank CAB added, “we’re taken to a central number firstly and even if we do get to speak to the local job centre, we’re often told they can’t tell us the exact nature of the sanction because it’s been referred to a ‘decision-maker’.” If you have been sanctioned by the job centre and need advice you can contact Clydebank CAB on 0141 435 7590.