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Imagine the dog is a DWP benefit advisor and the cat is Steve Pogson [Image: @zboah on Twitter].

Universal Credit – in particular the contradictory advice being given to claimants by apparently-clueless ‘advisors’ – is driving people to suicide, as Steve Pogson’s account demonstrates.

But the Conservative minority government will not pause the rollout of the critically-flawed system, indicating that they are perfectly happy for it to harm the poor – exactly the opposite of the reason the welfare state was created.

Here’s the Manchester Evening News:

A bereaved dad has told how battling with the ‘chaotic’ Universal Credit system in the wake of his daughter’s death helped push him to the brink of suicide.

Steve Pogson suffered a breakdown a year ago and since then has tried twice to claim benefits designed for people too unwell to work.

But faced with the new Universal Credit roll-out he says confusion, contradictory advice, endless expensive phone calls and repeated delays ultimately contributed to him trying to take his own life.

Steve, 50, from New Islington , has suffered depression and anxiety all his life, but had held down a successful civil service career until tragedy hit.

“When my daughter died in a car accident – my only child – I threw myself into my work rather than address that, but eventually a few years later it just overwhelmed me.

“I lost my job due to having a breakdown and last October just climbed into my bed and used my savings and credit card to get by.”

After six weeks he eventually applied for Universal Credit after being advised by an official that Employment Support Allowance – which is intended for people unable to work due to illness or disability – had now been rolled into it.

But after being bounced backwards and forwards between the departments and repeatedly ringing the government’s 0345 number, his back-dated ESA claim was eventually rejected, despite a letter from his GP stating that he had been unwell.

Worried about his rising levels of debt, he then forced himself back into work, while also embarking on a frustrating appeals process that is yet to be completed.

Eventually his mental health took another turn for the worse.

“I managed to work through until August but this time I attempted suicide, because of the spiralling debt situation, plus the Department for Work and Pensions situation, plus the bereavement,” he said.

Last month, once again unable to work due to his second breakdown, he applied for Universal Credit again and once more got conflicting advice – told by some officials that it included ESA and by others that it was separate.

Note: You may be wondering why the image accompanying this article is of cute furry animals. It refers to a tweet by This Site’s good friend and fellow campaigner Samuel Miller:

Fair comment, I thought. Let’s try attaching images of cute animals to stories of the Tories’ “calculated cruelty” over benefits and see if attitudes change.


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