Tag Archives: conditionality

Take part in the online day of action against Universal Credit sanctions

Today – July 1 – conditionality and sanctions return to the UK’s benefit system.

This means the two million people who signed up for Universal Credit because of the Covid-19 crisis will now be expected to show they are looking for work, and will be sanctioned if they fail to do so.

For the first time, they will experience what – for example – people with disabilities have suffered under the Conservatives for the last 10 years.

Some people are about to be rudely awakened from their previous complacency, I reckon!

Perhaps they would like to take part in this national day of action, organised by one of the larger representative organisations for people with disabilities, DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) under its banner of the Scrap Universal Credit Alliance (SUCA).

Here’s what they’re about and what you can do:

There is now overwhelming evidence of both the serious harm that the sanctions regime inflicts on the most disadvantaged members of society and the fact that sanctions are punitive and counter-productive to the aim of getting people off benefits and into work.

Join the Scrap Universal Credit Alliance in our demands to:

#EndConditionality

#ScrapSanctions

#NoMoreBenefitDeaths

Ways you can get involved:

  • Get active on social media at 12 lunchtime on 1 July using the above hashtags and directed @DWP @justintomlinson @theresecoffey . You can find a list of findings, facts, stats and links for reference here: https://dpac.uk.net/2020/06/sanctions-findings-facts-stats-and-links/
  •  Write to your MP asking them to put pressure on the government not to restart conditionality and sanctions.
  • We encourage people to write to their MPs.
  • Write to your local paper
  • If you think you may be affected by conditionality restarting and putting your safety at risk because you still need to shield, it may be worth gathering what medical evidence you have (for example if you received a letter or correspondence from the NHS telling you to continue shielding until the end of July) and pro-actively sending it in to your job centre/adding it in to your Universal Credit journal. It is difficult to know what to do given the complete absence of information from the government.

Source: National [online] day of action against sanctions – 1st July – DPAC

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Suspend benefit cap to protect disabled people in coronavirus crisis? It’ll never happen under Tories!

She’ll never support it: Therese Coffey’s record suggests she is not sympathetic to disabled benefit claimants.

It’s a good, solid, practical suggestion: with disabled people most at risk of financial loss during the coronavirus crisis, the government should suspend the penalties it has imposed on them in the last 10 years.

These include the benefit cap and the “two-child policy” for benefits relating to children.

Also suggested by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is conversion of the Universal Credit advance loan into a non-repayable grant.

In fact, the DBC requests the suspension of all debt repayment deductions from UC.

And the organisation calls on the government to suspend work-related conditionality and associated sanctions for those receiving benefits.

Other proposals include a call to give higher priority to resolving technical and capacity issues in the benefits system, as well as providing clear guidance for making both a digital and non-digital claim for UC. This is practical as the Department for Work and Pensions has been swamped with claims after the coronavirus lockdown began.

And there is absolutely no hope that the government will grant – or even seriously consider – any of these requests.

The Tories have turned the benefit system into a very efficient device with which to persecute people with disabilities.

They seem to see the coronavirus as a handy aid to this cause, with hospitals already being told to ration ventilators to those with a better chance of surviving – which is prejudicial against the disabled.

In fact it would be easy to see the crisis as providing the Tories with an opportunity simply to continue their hate campaign by other means.

When the final figures are summed up, it will be interesting to see what proportion of the dead happen to be disabled.

Source: Coronavirus: Suspend the benefit cap during crisis to protect disabled people, charities ask – Mirror Online

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It’s David Gauke and the government that need to change their behaviours, not poor people | Politics and Insights

The state of this:

We have been over this ground time and time again.

The Tories are misusing ‘nudge’ theory to justify their claim that people will do what they want, if given the appropriate… incentive.

But they have plenty of information proving that it doesn’t work in this case.

The only reason Tories continue to deny the evidence is: They want to.

They want people to suffer.

They want people to starve.

And they want people to die.

Why is this such a hard thing for voters to understand?

David Gauke claims that the government’s harsh sanctions regime is to ‘change the behaviours’ of people who need to claim support from the welfare state. This is the welfare state that everyone, including those needing support, has funded through the National Insurance and tax system. Gauke clearly thinks that starving people and making them destitute will somehow punish people into working more. He’s riding the fabled rubber bicycle.

A vast amount of empirical evidence indicates that when people can’t maintain their basic living requirements – fulfilment of basic physical needs for food, fuel and shelter, which every human being has – then they simply will not have the capacity to fulfil higher level psychosocial needs, and that includes looking for work.

Gauke tried to imply that more people are working and this is somehow linked to the punitive conditionality regime. However, he chose to completely ignore comments outlining how more people have become homeless, now face soaring debt and face more risk of experiencing mental health problems because of sanctions.

If Gauke was remotely interested in ‘getting it right’, he would have surely paid a little attention to this and other important research findings. However, he seems very happy to operate from within his own and his party’s state of perpetual confirmation bias.

It’s hardly surprising that an authoritarian government using psychological coercion on the poorest citizens by inflicting extreme punishments – in making food, fuel and shelter (basic survival needs) entirely conditional on citizens’ absolute compliance – is causing serious harm and psychological distress to those citizens.

Source: It’s David Gauke and the government that need to change their behaviours, not poor people – Politics and Insights


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Is Iain Duncan Smith legalising breach of contract?

Iain 'Daftie' Duncan Smith before a previous hearing of the Work and Pensions committee.

Iain ‘Daftie’ Duncan Smith before a previous hearing of the Work and Pensions committee.

Here’s something mentioned during Iain Duncan Smith’s session before the Commons Work and Pensions committee last week, that doesn’t seem to have enjoyed enough attention: It seems Daftie Duncan Smith wants to legalise breach of contract.

He reckons part-time workers should be sanctioned off their top-up benefits if they refuse extra hours offered by their employer.

The sanctions would apply under the Universal Credit system – which is never going to work anyway – so perhaps this is an inconsequential matter, but it is disturbing that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions understands so little about contracts of employment that he thinks this is a reasonable way to behave.

He told the Work and Pensions committee: “That is being investigated, as to whether we can now work to in-work sanctions – in other words, conditionality – so people get an opportunity to move up the hours if they can, and if they don’t wish to do that, we will see whether or not that system of conditionality works.”

Perhaps he doesn’t realise that some people are only able to work a certain number of hours per week, and that any increase means they will not be able to continue in the job. Perhaps he doesn’t realise that this will make them unemployed, and his “conditionality” prank means that they would be sanctioned off being able to claim benefits for a period of time after that, meaning they would be doubly punished for a situation that was not their fault.

Perhaps he doesn’t care. Yes, that seems more likely.

He certainly doesn’t understand contract law. When two parties enter into a contract of employment, it is a binding agreement on both of them – and if it is not honoured by either party – for example, if the employer tells the employee that their hours of work will be extended, rather than negotiating a change in the contract that is agreeable to both – then that party is said to be in breach of that contract.

And does this not open HM Revenue and Customs up to a potential explosion of Income Tax and National Insurance fraud?

Look at the situation Vox Political reported recently, in which a JSA claimant interviewed for a job lasting 22.5 hours per week and then had to turn it down when managers tried to increase the hours to 40; the employer told the Job Centre and he was sanctioned.

He had his benefit reinstated when he reported the employer for potential tax evasion and then told JSA decision makers what he had done, making it clear that he did not see why his benefit should be docked for refusing to take part in an illegal act.

Did Daftie consider this? Or did he think it would be okay because his government wants to reduce the amount of Income Tax it receives anyway, in order to justify cutting public services or selling them off to fatcat tax-avoiding businesspeople?

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‘Shoestring Army’ to battle government-imposed ‘slavery’ in the courts

Energising: Keith Lindsay-Cameron prepares to take his case to the police.

Energising: Keith Lindsay-Cameron prepares to take his case to the police.

An activist from Somerset is raising his own ‘Shoestring Army’ to crowdsource funds and mount a legal challenge against the government’s new Claimant Commitment for jobseekers, after police said they were unable to arrest Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud for breaching the Human Rights Act.

Keith Lindsay-Cameron, of Peasedown St John, near Bath, was advised to obtain the services of a solicitor and raise a legal challenge in the courts after he made his complaint at Bath police station on Friday (May 2).

He said the conditionality regime that is part of the new Claimant Commitment will re-cast the relationship between the citizen and the State – from one centred on ‘entitlement’ to one centred on a contractual concept in which the government provides a range of support only if a claimant meets an explicit set of responsibilities, with a sanctions regime to enforce compliance.

According to Mr Lindsay-Cameron, this amounts to the reintroduction of slavery. Forced compliance – through the sanctions regime – means people will be denied the means of survival if they fail to meet the conditions imposed on them. Deprivation of the means of survival, he claims, also breaches the act’s guarantee that everybody has the right to life and should not be deprived of it.

“The civilian desk receptionist asked my business and I gave her a verbal breakdown – that I had come to accuse Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud of crimes under the Human Rights Act 1998,” said Mr Lindsay-Cameron, who is better-known to thousands of readers as the author of the A Letter A Day To Number 10 internet blog.

“The Claimant Commitment contract means the loss of access to any benefits if one refused to sign, and benefit sanctions if one was considered to be in breach of the signed contract. Either way, this amounts to forced labour and therefore slavery.

“I was asked for more details and explained that a sanction – loss of benefits – meant the loss of the means of survival. I said we had not come to ridicule the police or to challenge them, but that they existed as our – ordinary folks’ – doorway to justice and that what I was doing there was asking for their help and that I was personally in the system and that we all needed help.”

But a police inspector told the activist, and the small group who attended to show their support, that officers at his station could not deal with the matter.

“I explained the situation and what the coercion of sanctions meant and that this did not constitute anything normal as a civic obligation under the human rights act – and I pointed out that if he made a mistake, he would not face a loss of a month’s income, nor three months’ for a second error or three years’ loss of income for a third infraction,” said the campaigner.

“He explained to me that, under the law, Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud were upholding the laws that they had made and that – whatever I felt about that – they had no case to answer and that his job as a police officer was to enforce the law.

“He said that I would need to obtain the services of a solicitor and raise a challenge in the courts for a judge to decide whether the actions of Duncan Smith and Freud were a breach of human rights.”

He said this process was already under way. The group has bought the internet domain name theshoestringarmy.com and will now start the process of a challenge.

Mr Lindsay-Cameron added that his visit to Bath Police Station was delayed when he stopped to meet a group of homeless people in the churchyard next door, while police were trying to move them on.

“It gave us a bizarre sense of what we were about to embark on,” he said.

“Where do people go, having nothing and welcome nowhere, in the land of the growing dispossessed?”

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