This isn’t the first time the Department for Work and Pensions and the Tory ministers running it have turned down a demand to assess the impact of benefit sanctions on claimants.
They’ve been doing it for years.
But it’s nice to see that public disgust with the implication behind it is growing.
Employment minister Mims Davies responded to a Parliamentary question on the subject, said no assessment has been made of any link between benefit sanctions and mental health problems in claimants, including suicidal tendencies.
But look at the reactions – like this, from Manzoor Ali, director of Barakah Food Aid, which offers donated goods to people struggling to make ends meet:
“People are committing suicide, or on the verge of suicide. Once this sanction comes in, they’re left with no money. It becomes this rollercoaster of a journey. It creates more problems for them,” he said.
“Their benefits are completely cancelled so they’ve got literally nothing coming in. It can take four to six weeks. Sometimes they’ll get an emergency loan, but that is then immediately taken out of their benefits once it’s reinstated. It’s a vicious cycle.
“Some of the people tell me they’re on the verge of calling it a day they don’t know how much longer they can take it. It’s unbelievable.
“The number of children I’m seeing who are just silent. Many are going to school without breakfast. This issue is going to have a future impact – the children will grow up with mental health issues.”
Research by Salford City Council in 2016 found that sanctions were “devastating” for claimants and could lead to suicide. It was ignored.
Leading psychologists urged ministers to immediately stop the practice or risk soaring rates of mental health problems – in 2017. They were ignored.
A report by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute in March 2019 found that universal credit was “ruining lives” with burdensome red tape for people with mental health issues, and called for an end to sanctions for those in crisis who can’t attend job interviews. It was ignored.
The DWP did pledge in 2013 to review the policy of suspending benefits “on an ongoing basis”, but a report by the Work and Pensions Committee in 2018 found that no such evaluation had been carried out and the government subsequently had “no idea how many people were suffering” as a result of the policy.
The only possible conclusion is that the policy is doing exactly what the Tories want and that mental suffering leading to suicide is the intended aim.
That is not the policy of a government that has the interests of its people at heart.
I wonder how anybody could ever believe that.
Fortunately, it seems only a dwindling number of people still do.
So, I’ll tell you what.
Why not share this article, and see if we can increase the number of people who don’t believe the Tories any more?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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