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Damian Hinds, defending a sanctions regime that removed disability benefit from a man because he was incapable of reading the instructions the DWP sent him [Image: BBC].

Damian Hinds, defending a sanctions regime that removed disability benefit from a man because he was incapable of reading the instructions the DWP sent him [Image: BBC].

Oh, Britain. Look what you elected.

Yesterday we found out the following:

A severely disabled man had his benefits cut because he didn’t respond to a letter even though he is blind.

Alan Moody, 60, was declared unfit to work by his GP 10 years ago after being diagnosed with cerebellar atazia – a rare genetic brain condition.

Despite this, Alan – from Stanley, Co Durham – was summoned to a Department for Work and Pensions’ work capability assessment to qualify to receive Employment and Support Allowance of around £450 a month.

One of the effects of his condition is blindness and because of this he did not read the letter sent to him by the DWP.

As a result of his non-reply the DWP took the decision… to stop paying the allowance.

On the very same day we learned about the sanction system’s spectacular failure, a DWP minister was telling Parliament there was nothing wrong with it.

Work and Pensions Minister Damian Hinds, answering the second reading debate on the Benefit Claimants Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill, talked it out, meaning there was no time for a vote and the Bill was not allowed to progress:

Evidence does show that sanctions have a positive effect, he says.

The government ensures that claimants are made aware of the availability of hardship payments, and that these are made within three days, he says.

Mr Hinds says the existing legislation refers to “causes” rather than “reasonable causes” so that discretion can be used to assess whether a person has failed to comply with a condition of their benefits.

As he launches into a line by line response to the bill, the Deputy Speaker calls the debate to order.

Debate on the bill ceases at this point, and although Ms Black asks debate to resume in February, it is unlikely there will be any private members’ time left to return to the bill.

The Bill had been tabled by the SNP’s Mhairi Black, and was supported by Labour – whose Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams spoke in support of it.

She said the sanctions system was a “nonsense” and a “punitive regime”.

Others acquitted themselves much more poorly, like Tory David Nuttall, who allegedly shouted out that benefit claimants were “terrified they might get a job”, then proved less-than-courageous himself by refusing to defend the claim after being challenged over it.

Put it together and any fool can see that the Conservative Government is a national embarrassment that defends incompetence and punishes the worthy. Why did you elect it, Britain?

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