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Alok Sharma – what a stain on humanity!

In that, he is typical of MPs who work at the Department for Work and Pensions, it seems. Just look at Esther McVey.

Last week, Mr Sharma defended the imposition of sanctions on people claiming sickness and disability benefits, saying of people on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) that “to impose a blanket ban which exempts all disabled people from any form of conditionality would be doing this group a great disservice”.

He also said that ministers “do not think it would be appropriate” to introduce a blanket ban on all sanctions and conditions for disabled people awaiting their work capability assessment (WCA) under the new Universal Credit, even though such a ban is in place under the existing ESA system.

Oh, really?

Faith Hurford, of Hillesley near Stroud, suffers with a range of medical conditions for which she is claiming Universal Credit (migrated from ESA, it seems).

She has been turfed out of her home after her benefit was sanctioned – in accordance with Mr Sharma’s wishes – because she arrived at a meeting a little late.

According to Mr Sharma’s reasoning, it would be doing Ms Hurford “a great disservice” to have allowed her to keep her home – after the DWP forced her to undertake a 15-mile journey that her health could not accommodate.

She had to stop for a rest, and that is the reason she was late. According to Mr Sharma, being ill was not a good enough excuse for failing to attend a meeting in which she would have been expected to prove she was ill.

Why does the Work and Pensions Committee – to whom Mr Sharma was attempting to justify this contradictory and deliberately harmful behaviour – continue to tolerate such twisted, nonsensical reasoning?

Still, Ms Hurford should probably consider herself lucky.

What about the case of cancer sufferer Lynne Campbell – who has been denied both Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit because the benefit assessor who visited her decided she was “not in enough pain”?

It seems the Department for Work and Pensions should submit itself to one of the rebranding exercises that government departments periodically undergo.

As its aim now seems to be the infliction of the most possible pain, I suggest the new title should be “Department of Sadism”.

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