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A poster against benefits sanctions in Salford.

Is it because the BBC’s drama Casualty ran a storyline about malnutrition caused by benefit sanctions last night (Saturday)?

Whatever the reason, today’s Observer carries a welcome story highlighting the fact that people have been pushed to suicide as a result of benefits sanctions “in austerity Britain”.

The article states that the Department for Work and Pensions is investigating 60 claimant suicides with possible connections to benefit sanctions. It continues: “This week the [Commons] work and pensions select committee will hold its first oral evidence session for its inquiry into benefits sanctions policy following last year’s limited Oakley review.

“Many of those visiting Salford Central food bank, run by the Trussell Trust, have experienced benefits sanctions. The refuge provides half a tonne of food each week to Salford’s residents and was expected to have fed more than 3,500 individuals by the end of 2014. More than 60% of those who come there have had their benefits sanctioned, according to an internal report by Salford city council. The report concluded that sanctioning could lead to extreme hardship, reliance on loan sharks, shoplifting and depression.”

This is a welcome admission by the mainstream media that there is a serious problem with the Conservative-led Coalition Government’s benefits policy.

At a time when the Tories are planning to cut back spending on benefits even further, let us hope members of the reading public can draw their own conclusions about the “compassionate Conservatism” that David Cameron was trying to push on The Andrew Marr Show this morning.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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