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It has been called the “politics of the concentration camp” – not by This Writer, although I’m happy to echo it if you can’t find the original quotation.

The Conservative government’s determination to inflict poverty and starvation on people who find themselves unable to meet its increasingly-extreme demands shows a determination to force the most vulnerable people in our society into conditions that humiliate them, through no fault of their own; de-motivate them, because the constant, ridiculous demands are not intended to lead to any positive resolution; and ultimately, through sanctions, starve them to death.

I wrote about several such cases over the weekend so the memory should be fresh in readers’ minds.

But the Conservatives are unrepentant. Their latest announcement shows that these genocidal deathmongers are delighted with their bloody work and intend to keep the DWP abattoir open until the moment they are removed from office.

The Independent‘s article today (February 11) is mistaken. After nine years it is wrong to say that the Conservatives are “failing” to act over the “grinding poverty” they are forcing on people. That is the intention. They won’t change it because it is doing precisely what it is meant to do. Every death is intended – especially as Tory ministers claim deniability every time they are questioned.

The latest rejection of attempts to mitigate the effects of the Tories’ murderous policies can only be seen as proof of this. The Commons Work and Pensions committee, having given up on attempts to end sanctions altogether, had called for new protections for single parents and people with disabilities and serious health conditions, and a maximum period of two months for such sanctions for the first failure to comply, rising to four and six months for subsequent breaches.

The DWP dismissed those requests out-of-hand.

Also dismissed was an attempt to secure regulations showing that health-related emergencies, childcare failures and transport difficulties amount to a “good reason” to miss an appointment with Job Centre advisors. Clearly ministers don’t want their favourite reasons for inflicting sanctions removed – it might give those in the most serious danger from their policies a chance of survival.

Sanctions are now known to actively harm benefit claimants’ efforts to find work so there is no justification for the Conservatives to cling to them – other than an intention to harm or kill.

And a report by the government itself – sneaked out without announcement last September – found there was “no evidence” that benefit sanctions encourage claimants to get into work or increase their earnings.

Yet still the sanctions continue.

The Tory government accepted a call for a new evaluation of benefit conditionality and sanctions, saying it would focus on whether the Universal Credit sanctions regime effectively “supports” claimants in their search for work. What a curious use of terminology! Punishment never supports anybody.

And the commitment means nothing. Any Tory-run “evaluation” will simply report that the current system does exactly what it is intended to do. This is only true if we accept that the intention is to harm.


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