Sep 082014
 

Tory welfare reform is in crisis. Last week 70 Conservative MPs ignored a three line whip and stayed away from Westminster for the vote on Andrew George’s bedroom tax bill. Protests have beaten back government attacks on benefits but we need to keep fighting to see off the hated bedroom tax once and for all and to stand up against sanctions, which remain a vicious plank in the government’s punitive policies, whose use is rocketing and which are still supported by Labour in Parliament.

Join protests happening in the areas below or hold your own. Send pictures and updates to benefitjustice@gmail.com and/or mail@dpac.uk.net.

 

Barnet

9.00am: Jobcentre Granta House 1 Western Rd London N22 6UH. Go to Barnet Housing Action Group on facebook for more information.

 

Birmingham

12 noon: Broad Street Job Centre, Centennial House,100 Broad St, B15 1AU.

1.15pm: Centenary Square, Broad Street.

Sandk123456@aol.com

 

Huddersfield

12 noon: Upper Head Row, Huddersfield, HD1 2JL. (near main entrance to bus station) juneholmes@btopenworld.com

 

Leeds

12 – 2pm: Street meeting on benefits and sanctions: Briggate, LS1 6JX (near the Body Shop). ellenrobottom@hotmail.com

 

London

11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1
(Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign will be meeting 10.30am outside Metropolitan Tabernacle opposite Elephant and Castle tube station to go up to Parliament)
Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Gig: Starring: THE WICKED VENETIANS + PARVA HINTON + SEBASTIAN MELMOTH + MYLAS: New Cross Inn, 323 New Cross Road London SE14 6AS: http://newcrossinn.com/?p=1&m=09&y=2014

Milton Keynes

12 noon – 1pm outside Milton Keynes Jobcentre Plus, Midsummer Blvd, MK9 3BN. E.kate.hunter@googlemail.com

 

FRIDAY 12th SEPTEMBER

 

Brighton

11am: Brighton station forecourt: brightonbenefitscampaign@gmail.com
Witney

Paupers Picnic outside David Cameron’s Witney Conservatives event at Witney Lakes with tax-dodging, expenses-grabbing MP Nadim Zahawi. Coaches leave Oxford at 5.30pm. For more info contact: mail:dpac.uk.net

Aug 262014
 

Thursday 11th September 2014

End Bedroom Tax; No Sanctions for Claimants – No Targets for Staff

On 11th September the Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Campaign is holding a day of protest: say no to claimant sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit cuts

Government attacks on benefits mean hunger, debt and fear. Ex-soldier David Clapson died hungry and destitute after his benefits were stopped, the latest in a string of deaths and suicides related to sanctions and benefit cuts.  The overwhelming majority of referrals to food banks are due to  claimants being sanctioned.

Sanctions cutting benefits of disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance, rose by nearly 580 percent between March 2013 and March 2014, and total sanctions rose to over a million last year, from 100,000 in 2010 (DWP figures).
PCS union is supporting the 11 September protests.  Research by PCS members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions.Protests have forced Government to promise changes: see Review report. But sanctions remain a vicious plank of the Government’s punitive welfare reforms, and are still supported by Labour in parliament.

Join us on one of protests below or organise your own.  Demand an end to the Bedroom Tax and link it to the slogan: ‘No sanctions for claimants, No targets for staff’. Build links with local PCS members – contacts for local PCS in DWP and PCS regions.The Bedroom Tax is almost dead – we will demand MPs kill it now  and up the pressure to beat the sanctions regime too. Let us know any actions you are planning so we can promote them.

End Sanctions, Bedroom Tax and benefit cuts11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1

Other protests planned in
Leeds, Sheffield, Oxford, Manchester/Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow


Aug 162014
 

 

(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. 

 

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. 

 sanctions

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.

Fighting Workfare

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

 

 

Feb 242014
 

This article draws unashamedly on David Webster’s excellent briefing following the release in February 2014 of sanction statistics for JSA and ESA claimants by DWP. David Webster, who is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University, also presented very strong and documented evidence to inform the enquiry of the Work and Pension Committee into sanctions in March and November 2013. http://paulspicker.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/david-webster-evidence-to-hc-work-and-pensions-committee-20-nov.pdf

The briefing on which this article is based can be found here: http://paulspicker.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/sanctions-stats-briefing-d-webster-19-feb-2014-1.pdf

It explains in great detail the trends in sanctions, in reasons for sanctions, in appeals etc. since 1997 which, for David Webster, is evidence that Iain Duncan Smith is behaving unlawfully on a large scale.

Number of sanctions: The latest figures released by DWP through its new software (Stat-Xplore) show that the number of sanctions for JSA and ESA claimants has reached unprecedented levels.  Between 22/10/2012 and 30/09/2013 (49 weeks) 527,574 JSA claimants received a sanction. The figure for ESA claimants over a complete year is 22,840, also a record number. Although the rate of sanctions for ESA claimants is much lower, it is rising and stands almost at 0.,5% per month (compared to 6% for JSA claimants in the 3 months to 30/09/2013). 

Length of sanctions: What has also changed is the length of sanctions. Although ministers claimed that hardly anyone would be subject to the new 3-year sanctions, the number of JSA claimants who had received a 3-year sanction rose to 962 by 30 September 2013, up from 700 by 30 June 2013.  Claimants’ ‘failures’ such as not attending or being late for advisory interviews,  non-availability for employment, which used to attract  1 or 2 week sanction, are now penalised with a 4 week sanction 

Reasons for sanctions: The main reasons for JSA sanctions are failure to participate in training/employment schemes and not ‘actively seeking work’ while the majority of ESA claimants are being sanctioned for not participating in work-related activity (75%), and the remainder for missing or being late for an interview.

Work Programme: The Work Programme continues to fail JSA claimants, as contractors have been responsible for twice as many sanctions on the people referred to them as they have produced job outcomes:  394,759 sanctions and 198,750 job outcomes. There is also evidence of maladministration of referral forms which has lead to a huge increase of cancelled referrals. What it means is Work Programme contractors are making mistakes in their paperwork on a big scale.

Appeals and reconsiderations:  The success rate of appeals taken to an independent tribunal is quoted as being 58%, even by the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. This figure represents an average over 12 months, which fails to reflect the strong and clear upward trend of successful appeals. Tribunals are now upholding almost 9 out of 10 of appeals against DWP. This confirms the evidence that sanctions are applied unreasonably.

Unfortunately, only about one in 50 sanctioned claimants appeals to a Tribunal – 2.44% in the latest 3 months. The vast majority of claimants find the process too difficult.

To conclude, a note added by David Webster to his briefing regarding the role of sanctions in creating destitution:

‘There is clearly a lot of confusion about the role of sanctions in creating destitution. The current regime under which sanctioned claimants lose all their benefits and, unless in an arbitrarily defined ‘vulnerable’ group, are not allowed even to apply for discretionary ‘hardship payments’ for the first two weeks, has been in force since October 1996. What has changed dramatically in recent years is the number and length of sanctions. Prior to the Jobseekers Act 1995, sanctioned claimants were entitled to a reduced rate of Income Support or Supplementary Benefit as of right from the start, assessed on the normal rules’.

 

Jan 212014
 

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the new benefit which replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA). 

DLA was introduced in the UK in 1992, and its main purpose was to compensate for the extra costs associated with disability and it was therefore not means tested, non contributory and not taxable. Although the majority of people claiming DLA had mobility issues, some disabled people would also choose to claim it to cover their personal care costs. Many were awarded DLA for life in recognition that their impairment/health issue would be with them for life. DLA was for those both in and out of work for the extra costs associated with disability. The Government presented PIP as a ‘like for like’ payment to replace DLA.

PIP was introduced in 2012 to replace DLA, the government arguing that the increasing number of claimants made DLA unsustainable.  PIP is therefore more restrictive and will lead not only to a reduced number of claimants but also to a reduced number of claimants entitled to the enhanced rate of the mobility component. http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2014/01/shocking-pip-figure-raises-new-motability-concerns/

PIP has also been riddled in controversy because of Atos, the firm contracted by the government to undertake the PIP and the Work Capability Assessments, which has led to 1 million disabled people appealing in court, with 43% of them succeeding in having their fit for work decision overturned. http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2012/11/esa-appeals-increase-by-40-what-the-newspapers-wont-print/

Therefore it really came as a surprise to discover that in 2012 PIP had become a sanctionable benefit.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/192913/response/472770/attach/3/8.194%20Clarification%20letter%20Jones%20WDTK..pdf

http://legislation.data.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/5/schedule/9/crossheading/social-security-fraud-act-2001-c-11/data.htm?wrap=true

However aborrhent sanctions are, there is a kind of twisted logic behind them.  JSA and ESA claimants have to sign a contract (under duress, meaning threat of sanctions) and have to comply with the terms of this ‘contract’ (again under threat of sanctions). If they don’t, they will lose some of their benefits and many JSA and ESA claimants have been sanctioned, some 120 disabled people up to three years http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/3-year-benefit-ban-hits-120-disabled-people-under-new-sanctions-regime

 But with PIP, there is no contract, no Jobseeker’s agreement, no Claimant Commitment and it still remains a recognition that life for disabled people is more expensive, if they have to buy appliances or care that non disabled people don’t need in order to live a decent and dignified life or to work.

So what does it take to have your PIP sanctioned?  Is there somebody in the twittersphere or reading this article who can answer this question?  Because making PIP sanctionable does not make any sense, unless the DWP or IDS have a cunning plan. And they might.

Jan 122014
 

In another year of imposed austerity when the Condems voted in a 5% tax cut for all earning over £ 150, 000, another year when unpaid tax by corporations was at £95bn per year, a year that MPs paid their heating bills with our money, while we couldn’t afford to heat our homes DPAC received more emails and realities of destroyed lives under imposed austerity.

We have reproduced some of these below with all identifying elements removed. We know they don’t fit into anything that Channel 4 or the BBC would like to show as part of the media demonization propa ganda – so we rely on you to share and publicise the real demons and real impact of austerity for those that should be supported with basic necessities like food….

 

“I just got this information from a nurse friend of mine last night…….a man who has diabetics type 2 and severe copd was brought in to hospital last night…..aged 61 his esa was stopped 8 weeks ago after being found fit 2 work….. it turns out he has been eating dried corn flakes for the last 5 weeks and has no electric on for 5 weeks….. he has had no heating or even able to boil a kettle for a hot drink…..he was not even able to use his nebulizer without electric…..the cold has got to his lungs and his blood sugars have gone dangerously low as type 2 diabetics must eat 3 times a day 2 keep blood sugars level……the nurses have chipped in to get him a bottle of squash and some fruit ….apparently this gentleman is very unwell at the moment and if the Tories and Lib- Dems find peoples hunger something to laugh at will they also find this funny? The sick will end up in hospital beds if they cant eat and stay warm……this mans situation is just a taste of what the future holds for thousands…….”

 

“Hi guys… You’ve probably had a few complaints already, so I really am sorry, but I need to unwind… Would it have caused that many issues for the DWP to release our disability payments a few days early, and in time for Xmas this year? I struggle to feed myself as it is, and my payment is due this Friday, the 27th. I have no food in my fridge, nor my freezer, and none in the cupboards…I honestly do not know what I’m gonna do for food between now and Friday… Is the Government that much out of touch with the people? I have no family to whom I can turn for help… What am I going to do? I remember a time when payments were made available early, to cover such occasions… What’s happened? I have osteoarthritis, which is aggravated by my hypertension, and one out two other complaints. I’m unable to walk far, and I have no transport. I thought I had a friend, until I found out just how self-centered he is…Now it’s clear that I’m on my own. Is there any wonder people withdraw and become isolated from society if this is what’s on offer? Sorry for bring the bearer of such bad ridings, and I sincerely hope you have a great time. Thank you for taking the time to read this email”.


Today at the foodbank in Bromley over 200 families received help to eat over Christmas. Many of their stories were horrendous. Three of them am going to share with you now.

The 89 year old man, in hospital with malnutrition, freezing in his home, kicked out of the PRUH for bed blocking, sent home to a freezing cold home, and no food. Tonight he has food, carers are going in, and someone is going to spend Christmas with him. He has money on the gas and electric, the local shops made sure of that with donations. It was heartbreaking to see him cry and thanking us all. He hasnt had a decent cup of tea at home for the last 4 weeks, he told us. I just wanted to do more to help, but now the agencies in the area have swung into action to help. 

Of the family with a three week old baby, her father sanctioned this morning for a year. The job centre said he came on the wrong day, he showed them the letter for the day to see them today, the JCP changed it and did not tell him. Then as they sanctioned him they wished him a Merry Christmas and smiled at him. He cried on my shoulder, his family affected by the bedroom tax, no food, nothing. So we applied for DHP for him, and for hardship payments, his baby called May has a few toys for Christmas and some clothes and baby milk, some of the shops in the area donated for them. 

Of the man homeless who walked four miles in the driving rain to the foodbank today. The local church clothed him, got him hot food, and he is in a shelter for the next few months”. 

 

“my benefits are sanctioned over Christmas for arriving to a work program 5 mins & 15 minutes late on 2 appointments I’ve no money until the 5th January is I cannot get a budgeting loan as they say i owe them to much already I have no food no electric no heating & 2 young children I’m in desperate need of some form of help is there anything I can do?”

 

“I have just been sanctioned.

Apparently i have not been doing enough to find a job … despite the fact i have a job to go to in January.

When I mentioned this, I was told … but what if for some reason, that job falls through.

WHAT IF ??? ……….. can you imagine the hoops we’d have to jump through if we put on the jobsearch record … what if i got a job by sending out cv’s to companies that don’t exist ….. yet”

 

“I really need some money because I have no food and i need to pay rent and I need gas and electric I cant get help nowhere and I have been to the food bank 4 time AND you can only go 3 time they cant help no more”

 

 

am a 23 year old male with A levels and a degree.

Unfortunately I have been forced to sign on. My “Advisor” has put me down for picking/packing work and cleaning.

Not only that, I was sanctioned for not attending a group session. The reason for this is because I met up with a guy who interviewed me for a job. I told the job centre the reason and told them to ring the guy. I even got him to write them a letter. The PROOF is there. How can they sanction money for trying to get a job??????? Its ridiculous. They cant make ONE phone call. Its all computerised and robotic in today’s world so we don’t even stand a chance.

Why are the sanctioning innocent people?

The UK is meant to have a system in place to help those in need. I’m not a bad person. I have saved lives, raised money for charities and even worked voluntarily. I am treated with disgust by our system. I can now see why a man set himself on fire outside of the Selly Oak job centre!

I have lost weight. I have depression. My motivation is zero. I am in a pit. As I write this, suicide is in the back of my mind because I feel helpless. The support is not there and it never will be until there is a major change. Would me taking my own life be enough to make the system change? Sadly I think it will. It always takes somebodys life to make people realise.

I have waited over 8 days for a hardship fund. I am living on old biscuits which I had from Christmas 2012″.

 

“Just thought I’d post this I found, then read it again, this is the “care” cancer sufferers get

Dear Mr Cameron,

Chester and Ellesmere Port Foodbank (Wednesday, 6 November 2013): ‘Jenny shared her story with one of our volunteers, and requested that we share it with you (everyone). We are privileged to do so.’

Jenny

Jenny came to the Chester and Ellesmere Port Foodbank last month, having been diagnosed with terminal Cancer. Her prognosis was three to six months. She already suffered with several chronic illnesses preventing her from working over the last two years and was in receipt of Disability Living Allowance. Having no family she was trying to “put her house in order”, ensuring all her bills were paid and saving up for her funeral. Her DLA was stopped; the reason given was that as she was not expected to survive the required time, she did not qualify for this benefit!

She came to the Foodbank not for herself but to bring a neighbour who had mental health issues and short term memory problems. He had been 30 minutes late for his appointment at the Benefit office (he had forgotten the time!) and had therefore been sanctioned. He had not eaten for three days. They were both given a meal and the time to talk of their problems and referred to the appropriate agencies for food vouchers and further support and help. Several weeks later Jenny came to the Foodbank to thank everyone for the help and food that was given and the kindness and support that was shown in their time of need. Jenny died three weeks later.

Where did Jenny fit in your striver/scrounger world, Mr Cameron? Evidently she did not fit at all, she was abandoned to die in poverty as a direct result of your government policies and in particular the welfare policies of Iain Duncan Smith”.

 

“I’ve got no food rent is due also got an appointment 20 miles away on Tuesday at a local hospital with atos to see if I can get PIP don’t get paid ESA until next Thursday already had budgeting loan 3 months ago suffer with recurrent depressive disorder care cluster 3 and severe anxiety”

“I am close to suicide due to the threat of eviction due to not being able to pay council tax or the bedroom tax!

I have applied for a DHP and been refused, I also have a carer overnight which I have to pay £400 per month for and they use one bedroom but this is not being counted,I also have a room that is used for medical equipment such as a scooter, wheelchair toilet rolls and paper towels and washing tablets as I have bowel problems due to cancer treatment, and also the bed is used as a massage bed due to alleviate my pain due to arthritis, and also facial masks and filters for my CPAP machine and a facial steamer which clears my air passage at night and massage equipment! This was scoffed at as being a room for medical use”

 

Don’t forget: Monday 13th Twitter Demo against Love Productions supporting Street Demo against #BenefitsStreet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 022013
 

On Monday 2nd December the welfare-to-work industry will be splashing out yet more tax payers’ money on their annual workfare conference in a plush Central London venue.

Workfare exploiters like the Shaw Trust and the Salvation Army will be gathering to discuss how to further profit from the huge increase in unpaid work. From April next year hundreds of thousands of unemployed people will be forced to work for free for six months or face losing benefits completely. The cost of this scheme is estimated to be £300 million. Most of this cash will end up lining the pockets of the welfare-to-work sector – companies like A4E, G4S, Ingeus and Serco who specialise in forcing people to work without pay.

Many of these companies will be present at Monday’s conference where tickets cost up to a whopping £534 in some cases. Claimants are clearly not welcome at the conference unlike Employment Minister Esther McVey and Matthew Sinclair from hard right think tank the Tax Payer’s Alliance who will both be giving speeches at the event. The Tax Payer’s Alliance recently released a report calling for permanent workfare for those out of work even if this is due to sickness or disability.

The conference is being organised by ERSA, the trade body established to represent the welfare-to-work racket along with the Centre for Social Inclusion (CESI).

Boycott Workfare will be holding a noise demo outside the conference from 12.30pm as part of the Week of Action Against Workfare and Sanctions . A day of online protest has been called targeting the sponsors of the event who hope to gain some positive publicity from being associated with this workfare love-in. Contact them on social media and let’s make sure that doesn’t work out quite in the way they hoped as they are named and shamed for their support of forced work.

Delegates at Monday’s conference will be tweeting using the hashtag #ERSA2013 so add this to all tweets. Don’t forget to tweet conference organisers ERSA and CESI themselves.

 

Sponsors of the conference include:

Learn Direct, who are on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/learndirect

 Work Programme providers the Shaw Trust are at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shaw-Trust/221553131217597

 Training charity Catch 22 who recently advised the Department for Education that the new unpaid Traineeships Work placements should be shown “to provide a commercial advantage to employers” can be found at: https://en-gb.facebook.com/Catch22charity

 Spirit Resourcing are sponsoring the delegate packs: https://www.facebook.com/spiritresourcing

 Welfare-to-work recruitment agency R3 Welfare & Skills will be sponsoring the pens at the conference.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/R3-Welfare-Skills/475538409128072

You can tweet direct through the Boycott Workfare site http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3124

 Don’t forget to sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exception

Oct 262013
 

A new harrowing but unsurprising report by the Citizens Advice Bureau on sanctions found that:

 –60% of those sanctioned had been receiving JSA, but a further 33% were unfit for work and were receiving ESA.

-40% of respondents said they had not received a letter from the Job Centre informing them of the sanction.

 –Almost a quarter of respondents did not know why they had been sanctioned. 29% of respondents said they had been sanctioned because they had not done enough to look for work. However, many people commented that the sanction had been applied unfairly, when they had in fact looked for work or attended an interview as required, because of a very narrow interpretation of the rules or for reasons that were beyond their control.

-More than half the respondents said they had not received any information about how to appeal against the sanction. Nonetheless, three-fifths (62%) of respondents had appealed. One third of these appeals had been successful and a further 23% of those who had appealed were still waiting to hear the outcome. Administrative delays in receiving formal notification of the sanction meant that a number of people had been refused leave to appeal because they were out of time, adding further to the perception that they had been treated unfairly.

-The majority of respondents had been sanctioned for four weeks or less, but almost one third had been sanctioned for 10 weeks or more. The average duration of the sanction was 8 weeks.

-Two-thirds of respondents had been left with no income after the sanction was imposed. Those with children reported they only had child benefit and child tax credits.

-Just under a quarter (23%) of those sanctioned were living in households with children. More than 10% of respondents were lone parents.

-Respondents coped with the loss of income by borrowing money from friends and family (80%), from the bank or on their credit card (8%) or from a pay day loan company (9%).

-They also cut down on food (71%), heating (49%) and travel (47%). Almost a quarter (24%) had applied for a food parcel. Some respondents had been left to scrounge for food from skips or bins, or had had to resort to begging to feed themselves.

 –The sanction had a severe impact on the mental and physical health of many respondents. Existing health conditions were exacerbated because of poor diet and stress, and a number of respondents said they had attempted suicide or that they felt suicidal.

 –There were also serious effects on the wider family, particularly children, because of the loss of income. There were stresses also on adult relationships: one respondent said ‘the strain has quite literally smashed our family to pieces’.

-Many respondents felt they had been unjustly treated because of the Job Centre’s own administrative errors or because a sanction had been imposed unreasonably given their circumstances.

Comments included:

I had no income, and had to borrow from my parents (who are also on benefits and don’t get much income. It has affected me mentally, and I am severely depressed and having anxiety attacks

Starved and lived off what I had. Scrounged food from bins and only left the house after darkness fell. Had no electric or gas. Struggled and went without nothing for 3 days

I’m worried benefit won’t be sorted in time for rent as this could make us all homeless yet again. Last time we were homeless was a result of fleeing domestic violence and me and my children were put in B&B.

Read the full report at https://skydrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=CB5ED957FE0B849F!350&app=WordPdf&authkey=!AJTbB-gzwsSCayQ

May 122013
 

Grandmother Stephanie Bottrill was forced by this Government to find £20 a week that she didn’t have for the bedroom tax. She had lived in her terrace house for 18 years. Last Saturday she left her home for the last time to walk to Junction 4 of the M6 where she walked out in front of lorry- she was killed instantly. She is the first known suicide to result from the heinous bedroom tax imposed by the Tories. She left notes for her family in which she said: don’t blame yourselves, blame this government. Days before her death she told neighbours ‘I can’t afford to live anymore’. Read more of this harrowing story at http://www.cantpaywontpay.org/publish/?p=2655

A deputy head of a London school wrote to the DWP asking if they knew about the effects that sanctions were having. She described children who hadn’t eaten, children fainting from hunger, children unable to attend school because they did not have shoes.

http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2013/05/dear-department-for-work-and-pensions/

This is 21st century Britain; a place where the suicides and premature deaths from the DWP and Governments regimes are increasing with alarming speed; a place where people are unable to feed their children or their selves.

On the day Stephanie’s tragic story was exposed by the Mirror, the Benefits Justice Summit2 was happening in London. The second of two successful summits and a model that has been replicated in local areas for a ‘fight back’ to this attack on disabled people and people on low incomes by the multi-millionaires and corporate companies running this country. A country that is the sixth richest in the world, but one which sees no end to the demonization and increasing desperation and destitution of ordinary people like Stephanie and many others. We cannot allow this any longer, we must all join together to fight these horrendous attacks on ordinary people!

May 042013
 

I am a deputy head of a junior school in a deprived city area and
I’m having a lot of problems with the effects of benefit
denial/sanctions on my pupils’ and their respective parents’ please
allow me to elucidate. Almost every day we are having to deal with
the effects of so so-called welfare reform and when I had to deal
with another extremely distressed parent today – who’s been
sanctioned for not looking for enough jobs – it was the last straw,
so my questions are:

Q1. Do you realise the effect that your sanctions and refusal of
benefits are having on the most vulnerable in our society?
These are some examples of the disruption caused to me and my
colleagues by the DWP because you have refused benefits to parents.
a) Children A’s mother came in the school and explained her husband
had been sanctioned on JSA and she had no money for the electricity
(she was on a pre-pay meter) to launder her two children’s
uniforms, nor did she have money for food.
b) Child B had to move home because of the bedroom tax, the parent
couldn’t move B into a school nearer to their home as they were
full to capacity, so they have to travel on a bus to school,
recently he couldn’t come to school because of benefit sanctions,
the mother said they had no money for food and the DWP said they
weren’t allowed any whilst her partner was on sanction.
c) Children C’s father is disabled, however, he recently lost his
benefits because you said he’s no longer disabled, children C’s
mother was beside herself with stress as she explained to the head
how her husband had had all his money taken off him and was denied
benefits for appealing against the decision, the situation became
that dire for this particular family that I had to get social
services involved to help them.
d) There’s dozens of cases I can relate to you, however, today was
the last straw when a single parent told me her daughter had been
absent because the sole fell off her only pair of shoes and she had
no money because of sanctions to buy another pair.

Q2 Why have we i.e. teachers’ got to be social workers because you
are denying benefits? Do you realise the devastation you are
causing to the most vulnerable because of sanctions, etc? Because
it’s a proven fact:
• Parents’ can’t feed their children or put clothing on their backs
• Take them to school due to lack of money
• We can’t find school places for families constantly on the move –
we have refused a lot of families a school place that moved because
of the bedroom tax.
• Our social workers’ are frazzled and overworked because we have
to keep asking for their help for our pupils whose families are on
sanction.

Q3 Are the DWP going to pay schools for the disruption you are
causing parents’ and the whole teaching profession?

Q4 I realise your motto is make work pay and the taxpayer shouldn’t
have to fit the bill for those that don’t want to work,
notwithstanding this, I and my colleagues are taxpayers and you are
making our lives very stressful and our jobs much harder with your
draconian measures and teaching isn’t the only profession to be hit
by problems caused by sanctions/denying benefit (a neighbour of
mine is a paramedic who recently had to attend to a
diabetic-disabled person that hadn’t eaten for 3 days because he’s
disability had been stopped and he’d no money and this isn’t an
isolated case) so my question final question is why are you
needlessly sanctioning people? And have you any idea what effect
you’re having on
(i) Children?
(ii) The teaching profession?
(iii) The medical profession?
(iv) Social Workers?
What do you think this is costing the taxpayer? And society in
general?

Yours faithfully,

This is a real freedom of information request from

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/the_effects_of_sanctions_on_the

Please copy and send to your MP, House of Lords, local/National newspapers/TV-blog it and anything else you can think of…

 

Jun 242012
 

What follows is a personal account of the experience of one person and what it is like to be unemployed and disabled in Tory Britain. It shows the contempt that people are treated with by some so-called work program providers engaged by their Tory friends and paid for by the taxpayer.

This example shows quite clearly what we all knew: that people are not being supported under this Tory regime, rather they are being belittled humiliated and having legal rights under the Equality Act ignored. At the same time they are being driven towards new or further mental health issues resulting in suicidal tendencies for some.

The fact that this example features the A4e Company run by disgraced multimillionaire Tory darling Emma Harrison speaks volumes.  Ministers ended the A4e contract for the Welfare to Work scheme in May this year under the shadow of a range of accusations, arrests and resignations within the company.

Karen wrote to DPAC so that her story could be shared –we believe this inhuman treatment and worse is happening to many people under this Tory regime. She says:

Background

I finished University in 2002 and was sent toQueenAlexandraCollege. I signed on in 2004, before that I had long term problems with health and eyesight. I had specialist help from Action for Blind People who were instrumental in getting me a voluntary placement at aBirminghamCollege. Although it was two years before I got a paid contract there. I was supported in furthering my skills and gaining more qualifications as well as experience. In 2009 government cuts meant I was unemployed again. Action for Blind People got me some courses under the advisors discretionary fund. However, I was summoned to the jobcentre and informed I was to be put on flexible new deal with A4e in 2010. I was stopped from seeing Action for Blind People and the placement they were arranging fell through as a result.

A4E and the constant threat of sanctions

I informed A4e that I needed large print documents, but they continued to send out small print documents which were illegible to me. The first contact given for at A4e was not contactable so I went to my job centre and asked for someone else. A4e said they’d send someone out but I had already arranged a lift to their offices. When I got in the office they presented me with a form to fill in, in small print. I told them I couldn’t see it and asked them to photocopy it, but they didn’t enlarge it. I was then taken to a very public area where there were other clients and I was asked humiliating personal questions. For example: are you a drug user? What medication do you take? and so on, at no time was I informed that I didn’t need to answer these questions.

I was then called over to see a woman, let’s call her Ms Harris. The first thing she said was:

If I were you I’d go on the sick.

This would have meant that I was off their books. I told her I wanted to work, at which point she became very rude and then refused to reimburse my travel costs. I explained that I needed large print documents, Ms Harris and her manager barked at me that they didn’t need to provide me with anything! Then they amazingly proceeded to threaten me with sanctions.

Three months passed. I decided that if they couldn’t provide reasonable alterations, equipment etc.   I wasn’t going to sign it or do it. They threatened me with their sanctions again and put me through a psychometric test. Once again, no attempt was made to provide for my reasonable alterations. In the end I showed the A4e worker how she could enlarge the screen this for others that might need it, after I’d worked it out for myself-they didn’t have a clue nor care. I think I skewed the results so badly that they didn’t bother me for a while, until I received a call from Ms Harris, she informed me about a teaching job. However, when I told her that I didn’t have a teaching qualification, she got aggressive. I later learned that she had immediately got in touch with the benefits office in an attempt to impose sanctions again. To be fair they did provide training in CV writing-that was great as they told me to leave my degree off the CV! In the end they submitted the CV I had done while at Action for Blind People and claimed credit for it.

More months passed and I was transferred to Beacon Centre for the Blind. It was not taken into account how I would get there, I got lifts mostly, but trying to get travel costs reimbursed was still made as difficult as possible. At this time my mental health issues had been worsened by the treatment at A4e. I told A4e I couldn’t use buses (I had had some training before going to A4e but it was a bad experience and really didn’t work). A4e thought this was an opportunity to belittle me and humiliate me, telling me I was missing out. By the next meeting they made their contempt even clearer:

Look you’ve been sent here, you’re better off than others: stop complaining!.

If you don’t like it, don’t sign on-nobody is forcing you to claim JSA are they!

I was then sent to the Job Centre. They told me to sign for the work program, if I didn’t …then – you guessed it: I would be sanctioned.

I am now with Action for Blind People again, the people I have had a ten year relationship with, they saw the mess I was in and helped me loads. I am also now seeing a specialist mental health nurse and psychiatrists for the suicidal feelings.  I avoid signing anything and am terrified of going to the job centre now, after my experience.  In fact, I am starting to be scared of going out at all. Sometimes, I’ll pretend to be sick so I don’t have to go out of the house. For example I live with my parents and they often go to see my nephew-I just can’t face leaving the house. It’s the same when I have the chance to go to my brothers.

Complaint

I put a formal complaint in to the Independent case examiner. They believed that it was acceptable for A4e NOT to provide large print documents, despite the Equality Act. The job centre still doesn’t provide large print documents. I have to ask each time and explain again and again. I’m close to the end of my tether with it all. I finally got my travel expenses 12 months after that first meeting with A4e, after my formal complaint. They were paid on the 1st April.

 

Apr 022012
 

Boris claimed he was too busy to turn up at a London mayoral ‘hustlings’ organised by user-led organisations Inclusion London and Transport for all (TfA) to listen to disabled people.

However, Boris can find the time to go to another ‘hustlings’ event organised by the big disability charities including RNIB, Leonard Cheshire Disability and MENCAP. The charities have not invited user-led disabled peoples’ organisations to attend. The big charities continue to speak FOR disabled people with no mandate to do so and continue to exclude disabled people from talks with local and national governments as always.

DPAC asks: How much longer will user-led organisations and disabled people continue to be silenced by the multi-million pound charities?  How much longer will people support the big disability charities without realising that they are acting in their own interests? Already Disability Works UK (a consortium of charities  claiming a turn over value of £654.4 million) run workfare for disabled people, risking sanctions and loss of benefit for the very people the charities claim to ‘help’.  They claim they dont do sanctions but this is because they pass on the names of people to DWP so that they can do them.

Boris may be too busy to notice or simply not care- disabled people of London should care and make sure that his arrogance towards disabled peoples’ issues and the real problems we face translates into a ‘no vote’ for Boris in May.

Click on link to read the story of the snub by John Pring:

http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2012/03/anger-over-boris-snub-for-user-led-question-time/

 

Mar 032012
 


Disability Works UK is a not-for-profit consortium of eight national disability charities that have come together to provide tailored employment support to disabled people. Disability Works UK is not involved in the delivery of the government’s Workfare scheme.

Disability Works UK has secured a number of sub-contracts to delivery the Work Programme; the government’s employment initiative aimed at supporting long-term unemployed and disabled people into work. This programme is not related in any way to the Workfare scheme.

Through the Work Programme, Disability Works UK provides tailored support and training, including interview practice, skills development, help with job applications, CV writing and in-work support. We also work with employers to ensure that people are well supported in their roles.

Given the combined expertise of our members, we feel that we are ideally and uniquely placed to be able to offer disabled people high quality support that meets their individual needs. We are engaging with the Work Programme to ensure that people receive this tailored support, which we know works; and to give disabled people the best possible chance of success of securing a job.

DWUK believes that sanctions do not incentivise disabled people to look for work, nor do they give them the confidence to do so. DWUK will not be directly involved in delivering sanctions. This will continue to be the role of the DWP via Job Centre Plus.

Disability Works UK includes: SCOPE, MIND, MENCAP, Leonard Cheshire, Action for Blind People (RNIB)

http://www.disabilityworksuk.org/

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