A WOMAN says an “unlawful” financial sanction against her for missing a benefits meeting in Stroud is forcing her to leave her home.

Faith Hurford, a 62-year-old benefit claimant who suffers from several health conditions, has been taking apart her vegetable garden in preparation for a move to Nailsworth after she had her Universal Credit payments docked for failing to get to an appointment on time.

This sanction has meant she can no longer afford rent, she says. 

She says she tried to cycle to the August meeting from her house in Hillesley - approximately 15 miles from Stroud - but due to the distance, heat and her health she had to stop at Dudbridge and missed her meeting.

She says she cycled because she does not own a car and could not afford a bus ticket.

“I had been a supporter of Universal Credit before - it helps you look for work and it’s simpler to use - but that sanction was unlawful,” she told the SNJ.

“By the time I got to Sainsbury’s after hours of cycling I couldn’t go any further, I was completely dazed.”

Universal Credit claimants can be penalised if they fail to attend regular meetings where a coach helps them find work.

Faith says she tried to appeal her sanction, pointing to the effort she put in to get to her appointment, but her appeal was turned down.

“That was unlawful. You need to take a person’s circumstances into account. The effort I went to was not recognised in any shape or form.”

In her frustration, she says she attended but refused to “participate” in her next appointment out of protest, and faced another sanction.

She says the sanctions have cost her nearly £200.

“I can’t recover from a sanction like that, I’m on a shoestring.

“I grow my own veg, I’ve reduced my food intake. There’s nothing else I can do.”

“I’ve fallen behind on rent and I can’t afford this place now. I’ve got to move out.”

Faith is now taking her case to a tribunal, but she says she has been told to expect a year’s wait.

In the meantime, she is looking at somewhere else to live close to Nailsworth, where she has just got a job.