(Report from workshop at national meeting of Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice federation)
Fighting Benefit Sanctions
The government has a policy of increasing sanctions to force people off benefits.
More than 800,000 people have been sanctioned in the last year. Referrals to food banks are mainly due to claimants being sanctioned.
Martin Cavanagh is the PCS Group Exec member for civil servants working in the DWP. The PCS union resolved at their recent conference to oppose both Workfare and Benefit Sanctions. He explained the three central reasons behind the Tories policy of increasing sanctions; Further demonisation of the poor, financial savings for the government, and driving a wedge between claimants and workers.
A PCS survey of members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions.
The Kirklees Axe The Tax group have used a banner : No Sanction for Claimants! No Targets for Staff! This attracted claimants and some staff to their stall outside a job centre.
Roger Lewis speaking for DPAC said that ‘more needed to be done by the PCS.’ But, he insisted, ‘we will not allow the government to divide us. Those working for the DWP alongside claimants have a common interest, we are locked together in a common fight against the Tories.’
‘More will be done from our union the PCS over the sanctions,’ explained Martin.
‘Advice for claimants on how to challenge sanction decisions has now been agreed between our union, the PCS, Unite the Union Community branches, and campaigners against sanctions. That advice will be issued shortly.’
Research has shown that only 1 in 50 claimants who are sanctioned appeal the decision. Of those 90% win their appeal. Forthcoming advice will explain to claimants how they can appeal.
To launch the joint advice and joint campaign, we agreed a day of action against benefit sanctions for Thursday 11th September.
Protests will be organised in every region outside key DWP headquarters or similar high profile government offices.
Public campaigns work!
With just a few protesters the Boycott Workfare actions have ‘shamed’ many employers into withdrawing from the Workfare scheme. Companies and businesses don’t want to be exposed as employing ‘slave’ labour. Only when a company signs up to the Boycott Workfare pledge are they removed for the Boycott Workfare website listing.
Protests outside flagship venues of those companies still in the scheme will continue until the schemes are scrapped.
Reblogged with thanks from http://antibedroomtax.org.uk/2013-05-29-04-42-41/latest-news/110-stop-sanctions-11th-sept-day-of-action