We must act to make sure that there are no more Daniel Blakes | Shadow Work & Pensions secretary

161104-daniel-blake-posterAn important commitment to benefit claimants from Shadow Work and Pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams.

Her use of the word “transform” may ring alarm bells, as it is the catchword used by private consultants when they change government systems without making them better.

I’ve known Ms Abrahams long enough to believe she means Labour will change the system for the better.

This is a promise to achieve that – and for government to stop letting UK citizens down. You can hold her to it.

To describe our current social security system, following six years of Conservative ‘reform’, as Kafkaesque sounds prosaic. Yet I, Daniel Blake by Ken Loach shows us how in this case the description rings perfectly true. Despite having been employed as a carpenter his whole working life, Daniel faces a seemingly endless maze of barriers in making his claim for support after suffering a heart attack, with ‘advice’ delivered to him in rushed jobcentre interviews. He is told that he must sign a claimant commitment for jobseekers allowance and spend hours seeking work, despite his doctor stating he is unfit for work and still in recovery.

This is not news to those of us trying to support people through the system. In 2014, a constituent of mine suffered a heart attack midway through a DWP work capability assessment. He was rushed to hospital, only to find a letter telling him he had been sanctioned and his payments stopped for failing to complete the assessment when he arrived back home.

Sadly, his case is one of many thousands that I have received since being elected to Parliament. Loach’s depiction of the frustration caused by a social security system administered through faceless ‘decision-makers’ will be recognised by the many who have, through sickness or ill health, been forced to rely on it. The despair felt by many as their determination to fight the bureaucratic system ebbs away as ever greater hurdles are placed in their way is something I sadly see every day.

I believe there is a better way and a fairer way. I don’t want people who have paid into the system all their life, but then need support having become sick or disabled to be made to feel worthless and dehumanised by a state that should be there to support them.

Labour will transform the whole social security system. But fundamentally, I want to change how our social security system is perceived. The government has used the poisonous “shirker” and “scrounger” language to vilify people on social security as the new undeserving poor.

That’s why I used the trailer for I, Daniel Blake at the start of my Conference speech last month. The film brings the consequences of the Government’s current policies to full public attention. No longer should people who are ill and disabled be left to fight the system alone. We must all stand together to ensure that there are no more Daniel Blakes.

Source: We must act to make sure that there are no more Daniel Blakes

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7 thoughts on “We must act to make sure that there are no more Daniel Blakes | Shadow Work & Pensions secretary

  1. Harley

    Lest we forget…

    It was Labour which initiated the process that led to tragedies like Daniel Blake.

    New Labour ramped up sanctions, brought in workfare, invented “fit notes”, targeted the sick and disabled to be “helped into work” because that was where, potentially, the greatest cuts and therefore savings could be made; ushered the private sector into social security (Atos/Maximus) and associated horrors like the Work Capability Test; involved dodgy and sometimes bogus profit making companies (a4e/Working Links) in its so-called Flexible New Deal, the forerunner to the Work Programme, and, worst of all, brought in dilettante David Freud to single-handedly mastermind a reformed welfare system despite the fact he was a self-confessed died-in-the-wool Tory and had zero expertise in a single area falling under his remit.

    I could go on.

    Under Gordon Brown particularly Labour did some terrible things and announced things even worse – like stripping benefits from teenage mothers unless they agreed to move into communal supervised accommodation, a so-called Foyer, along with their children to make sure that they didn’t get council housing or were able to see their boyfriends, friends and families without scrutiny,

    So whatever you say, Mike, after all that history I still don’t trust the Labour party one little. In any case, based on the polls, Labour won’t have a chance in the foreseeable future to prove that it has changed its spots anyway.

    “A quick update on two polls released today. The regular ICM poll for the Guardian has topline voting intentions of CON 43%(nc), LAB 27%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 12%(+1), GRN 5%(-1). “

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Who do you trust, then?

      The Tories, under whom the process has become homicidal?

      The Liberal Democrats, who helped them?

      UKIP, who are more right-wing than the Tories?

      Yes, right-wing Labour did terrible things and it has taken some of us many years to persuade the party’s leaders back towards sanity. I can’t say I’ve ever seen your name attached to such efforts (but then, you’re hiding behind a pseudonym, I believe). Labour policy now is hugely different from right-wing Labour policy then. Are you seriously trying to lump Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Debbie Abrahams in with James Purnell and Yvette Cooper?

      Also your reliance on the polls, that have been trashed regularly and with justification on this page and by many other people – including that pillar of the Establishment, Jeremy Paxman – shows that we may easily disregard your comments.

      1. jeffrey davies

        but hes spot on with whot was done under blair and gordons rule hes lost his way thats all mike but realy hope corbyn can make that difference by putting ir right but alass you now he has a uphill struggle with all those back stabbing blairites still left behind untill they deselected whip taking away but corbyn to nice to them they never change and the only way is to rid the party of these greedi mps jeff3

  2. clouty

    This rather direct rant is on Facebook today – all of us know of similar cases.
    WELFARE ADVISOR’S response to I, Daniel Blake
    “I, Joanne Ritson am a welfare rights advisor. I help all the Daniel (& Daniella) Blakes caught up in what Ken Loach has called this Government’s conscious cruelty.
    Conscious cruelty that finds women fit for work for the “crime” of missing Jobcentre appointments whilst in hospital. One woman in a diabetic coma, another with a near fatal dose of pneumonia.
    Conscious cruelty that tells frightened pensioners to cancel their home insurance to pay back pension credit overpayments (due to DWP error) or they will be sent to prison.
    Conscious cruelty that finds a young man fit for work after “recovering from hospital treatment”. (He’d had his leg amputated six weeks earlier).
    Conscious cruelty which (on the 1st anniversary of her husband’s death) takes away a 60 year old woman’s bereavement allowance, makes her go & sign on to look for work and charges her bedroom tax.
    Conscious cruelty which leaves vulnerable people with nothing with which to pay their bills or feed themselves or their families for weeks or months on end.
    Conscious cruelty that wrongly denies old men with terminal lung cancer industrial injuries disablement benefit because removing old, decaying asbestos insulation isn’t classed as “asbestos insulation work” so they “don’t qualify”.
    Conscious cruelty that “loses” paperwork, or delays decision making for so long that people die before they get the money that should rightly have been theirs.
    Conscious cruelty that forces these & many many more of my clients through degrading assessments, pointless mandatory reconsiderations and appeal hearings in the hope that they will give up – which they often do.
    What Ken Loach calls conscious cruelty, the Tories call “making work pay”
    I, Joanne Ritson am a welfare rights advisor.”
    Please feel free to copy & share.

    1. jeffrey davies

      its called culling the stock by benefit denials their aktion t4 plans day in day out we hear the sad tales of suffering by those claiming benefits yet the peasants aint hearing the cries of those who are abused they listening to government retric programs on tv showing the benefit claiments has social scroungers yes you right to show but will the peasants listen not untill it effects them we gone down the road of greed taking there by governments yet we fight we show and hope one day it does get better bugger that alot from mrs davies little boy jeff3

  3. mohandeer

    I just don’t believe that her promises can be relied on. For as long as you have the likes of Yvette Cooper and Ansley in Labour’s ranks – and there are many others who have acted in the same vein, then anything she promises can be overturned by the hard right of Labour. They have not finished yet, in trying to oust him and never will, until he is gone and they have their private club back. Debbie Abrams probably won’t even have a job if it means getting rid of her lets them off the hook with regard her promises.
    I wish it could be otherwise but it is what it is.

  4. mrmarcpc

    All the political parties are as bad as each other, all have a right wing mindset now, such a tragedy about Daniel but the tories won’t care in the slightest!

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