Woman sanctioned after miscarriage was left in poverty and suicidal


A woman was left with just £24 each week of her social security to live on after suffering a miscarriage and being sanctioned. She has told the Daily Record how she considered suicide after being left with barely anything to buy food and pay bills.

Lyndsey Turnbull told of her ordeal as the Scottish Government formally launched their new welfare-to-work programmes.

Lyndsey from Midlothian, said: “I wanted to get into work but the whole thing seemed geared up to punish those who wanted to get off benefits.”

She was on approximately £140 a fortnight Employment and Support Allowance when she missed an appointment after having a miscarriage around nine weeks into a pregnancy.

She said: “I was in a bad place and couldn’t talk to anyone about it.”

Lyndsey was sanctioned because was too distressed to disclose the reason for missing the appointment, which is absolutely understandable. However, the punitive sanctions framework does not accommodate people’s circumstances and situations when they may be very vulnerable.

Having to face a stern and unsupportive bureaucrat, whose role is to discipline and punish people who cannot comply with rigid welfare conditionality, to discuss deeply personal and distressing circumstances – and such a traumatic event as miscarriage – is the very last thing anyone needs. 

She added: “I went down to £24. I had no food, nothing to pay bills. It was awful.

“I really thought suicide might be the only option – and I wondered how many people would be just like me.”

Fortunately, Lyndsey eventually found someone to talk to at welfare service group Working Links, who helped her to get a second sanction reduced.

She later found a job at a petrol station and she said the new system’s voluntary focus will make it easier for people to get off benefits.

Lyndsey courageously contributed to a group meeting with Scottish National Party (SNP) Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn, to explain the problems she faced with the UK Department for Work and Pension sanctions regime.

Holyrood has no control over major benefits policy. However the new Scottish programmes will be voluntary – with no financial penalties attached – in a bid to get better results.

In other words, they will be genuinely supportive, rather than punitive and mandatory.

Around 4,800 people with disabilities and health conditions will get some help into work, the Daily Record reports.

Employment support is one of the first powers devolved through the Scotland Act 2016, made possible by the Vow of more powers before the independence vote.

Work First Scotland will help 3300 disabled people while Work Able Scotland will focus on 1500 people with long-term health conditions.

The Record revealed last year that the SNP would block any bid by Westminster to impose a sanctions system on the new programmes.


Batul Hassan, 49, who also met Hepburn yesterday, was made redundant after 11 years at a local authority and was helped into work by Remploy.

She has dyslexia, dyspraxia and hearing problems and said her previous employer struggled to understand her needs.

Batul, from Edinburgh, added: “The new system has the potential to be a good thing.

“Two contracts mean people can move at the right pace, not lumped together.”

Hepburn said: “The devolved services will have fairness, dignity and respect at their core.

“We believe people will see them as an opportunity to gain new skills through supportive training and coaching.”

The Conservatives have clearly changed the meaning of words such as “fairness”, “support” and “respect”, in order to persuade the public that their punitive policies are somehow acceptable, and to deny the negative consequences they have on people who need the most support.

They are not acceptable.



I don’t make any money from my work. I am disabled because of illness and have a very limited income. Successive Conservative chancellors have left me in increasing poverty. But you can help by making a donation to help me continue to research and write informative, insightful and independent articles, and to provide support to others. The smallest amount is much appreciated – thank you. 


13 thoughts on “Woman sanctioned after miscarriage was left in poverty and suicidal

  1. That’s awful.

    To bad the current lying #### Damian Green is not looking at Scotland’s approach.

    I’ve recently been moved off Support Group into WRAG group, but have not been invited for a work related interview yet. But when I do. I’ll just tell them how it is. That I volunteer at a community group and do some casual work for United Response. And that is about as much as I am able to cope with.

    It’s bloody ridiculous that they are hammering vulnerable people like this. Yet do F### all about tax dodgers and hardly bat an eyelid when that ingrate Osbourne gets 3 jobs totally a couple of million pounds a year. And even funnier is the fact that he is now the editor of a newspaper and has nothing in the way of experience when it comes to journalism. And worse yet. He is still an MP and him being editor of a newspaper is a conflict of interest with that.

    Ah well. We have the Greater Manchester Mayoral Election coming up soon. I know where I will be putting my X and it will be in pen too. I don’t trust those pencils they hand out. To easy to go at the ballets after the fact with a rubber and fix the result.

    Am glad the woman concerned found her feet again. But I fear that she is probably the exception and not the rule.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ian, maybe like me you have just been forgotten about, I don’t put phone numbers on forms and the person at the WFI asked me for it and I just looked blankly at them, I know all my personal details by heart but they would never give them any! It’s 49 months since my last WFI and 44 months since an assessment and recently heard they are putting assessments back up to another 2 years.


      1. Unfortunately. They haven’t forgotten about me.

        I got a letter this morning saying that I have to attend the first of five mandatory interviews with a Jobs Coach. Failure to comply will result in sanctions. Now am stressed because the only number they have given me to call is the bloody premium rate one. And I need to change the appointment because they have given me a morning appointment. Most my mornings as in over 99 percent of them. I am usually doubled over on a toilet struggling with IBS, which only gets worst when I am anxious.

        So going to local community group tomorrow to see if I can use their phone. Last time I called that number they give. It was to inform about my change of address and they had me on bloody hold for nearly bloody 2 hours.


      2. This is so typical, but not unusual. Write to the Director of Universal Credit who is a Claire McGuckin email is claire.mcguckin@dwp.gsi.gov.uk and tell her what your situation is vis the phone calls.

        The DWP is a chaotic shambles from my experience, they cannot communicate amongst themselves in even the simplest of things, only impose sanctions when it suits them. They are incapable of sorting out basic problems,

        My advice is contact your MP and they will hopefully act for you, mine did and the only way I got anywhere was through his efforts not the DWP. I would suggest this action most strongly, rather than incur any more costs on the phone.

        I am currently fighting them (DWP) over the loss of housing benefit which happened a year ago, even though my claim ended in January this year, they asked me two basic questions as of Feb this year that they should have asked in April 2016.

        Camp on them and make sure you write everything down. Their biggest weakness is they are so disconnected and they make judgements without even contacting clients to ensure their information is up to date or even relevant. They even admitted making a mistake in my claim and submitted this as ‘evidence’ for a tribunal, which is yet to be heard unless they give up on it.


  2. This is a sad story but I can see that it is true, sanctions are imposed sometimes without warning, thanks to gross negligence, Universal Credit stopped my housing money without even bothering to find out if my circumstances had changed.

    They had made an error which they admitted to in writing, but instead of stopping digging the hole they started, they made the matter worse. They cost me £3000 in lost rent, they are intent on going to a tribunal even though they are presenting evidence to that in which they admit to making an error!

    I wrote to the head of Universal Credit in response to her ‘explanation’ of the failings of her department, she got a 4 page reply in which I told her that her staff’s performance was negligent and unacceptable, I am awaiting her reply.

    I got hit by sanctions without warning and these were incorrectly taken. I am not happy.

    I ended up living on just over £100 a month. I have a job now, but I am still fighting the DWP over the way I have been treated.


    1. I agree Matt all they have to do is get an email that simply says nothing more than there as been a change in the persons benefits and the council take it on themselves to stop housing and council tax benefits then send the person a letter stating they owe hundreds of pounds in rent and council tax, if not thousands.
      I write out emails in open office then copy them to an email and send it, office software has many more handwriting fonts than email templates do, so I can add a signature as email is the same as any other communication and has to be excepted as a signature if you request info from a public body. Asking me to sign a form when I use a handwriting font signature in emails to councils when appropriate get me and the get a 7 letter response of 4-3

      Liked by 1 person

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