Tag Archives: sanction

Woman tests positive for Covid-19 – and is threatened with sanction if she doesn’t attend Job Centre

Habitual cruelty: if you thought the Tories stopped persecuting people with long-term illnesses and disabilities during the Covid-19 crisis, think again.

This is the UK in 2021, summed up in one series of tweets:

I don’t know where this Job Centre is, but its staff are clearly trying to create another Jodey Whiting.

Jodey had incurable conditions – they could only get worse – and failed to attend a benefit re-assessment interview because she was in hospital with a brain cyst at the time.

All her benefits were cut off – even though the interview can only have been to work out whether her conditions had worsened enough for her to require increased payments.

She took her own life soon afterwards. A coroner ruled that it could not be described as suicide because there is reason to believe her action could have been a cry for help.

This Writer has no doubt that Ms Whiting was pushed towards taking her own life by the Department for Work and Pensions.

If somebody on benefits contracts Covid-19, fails to attend a benefit interview, and the DWP cuts off all her payments – in the full knowledge of what happened with Ms Whiting – doesn’t that indicate, to you, that this government department is hoping for the same end result?

It does to me.

Let’s hope it doesn’t get that far.

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Liars about anti-Semitism band together as #LabourConference 2021 demands sanctions against Israel

Louise Ellman: former chair of Labour Friends of Israel rejoins Labour just as the party agrees to demand sanctions against that country for its apartheid policies and mistreatment of Palestinians.

Louise Ellman, who quit the Labour Party in 2019 ahead of a deselection vote in the Liverpool Riverside constituency based on her insistence on lying about anti-Semitism, has rejoined.

The readmission of the woman who was chair of Labour Friends of Israel coincides with the party’s decision to demand sanctions against Israel for its policy of apartheid towards Palestinians. This Writer can’t wait to see what she does when she is called on to support the new policy!

Which side of this embarrassment for Starmer shall we examine first? Ellman.

On the BBC Panorama mockery-of-a-documentary Is Labour Antisemitic? Ellman attacked members of the Constituency Labour Party at Liverpool Riverside, whose Parliamentary seat she occupied at the time.

She told us that while she would come to meetings wanting to discuss domestic issues that are at the heart of Labour’s policy platform (like the NHS), she would be confronted about the Middle East, matters would become unpleasant and people would leave those meetings in tears.

She did not mention the fact that she has been a chair of the Jewish Labour Movement and vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel (she took the chair later), and has been an active spokeswoman in Parliament on issues relating to the Middle East. Nor was it stated anywhere else in the documentary. It seems to me that questions about her opinions on this subject may well be justified in such a situation.

She also lied many times about then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Here’s just one example that led to the exposure of her own dishonesty:

She attacked Mr Corbyn for having attended a meeting in 2010 when Holocaust survivor Hajo Meyer was a speaker. The claim was that Mr Meyer – a Holocaust survivor who was at Auschwitz, remember – was an anti-Semite because he criticised the behaviour of the current Israeli government in no uncertain terms.

Ms Ellman said she had been “appalled” to find out about the event. In fact, it was revealed, she attended it herself and was present during the whole of Mr Meyer’s speech, which was heckled shamelessly by a small but loud group of Zionists. It seems she sat quiet and unmoved throughout this incident and only spoke up about it when she saw a chance to damage Mr Corbyn’s reputation with a false claim.

The ‘trigger’ vote, on whether she would need to seek her constituency’s backing to continue as its Labour candidate, meant a vote of “no confidence” in her was taken off the table.

Ms Ellman had previously refused to tell a CLP meeting whether she would support a Corbyn government. Her resignation seemed an acceptance that her lies had caught up with her and that she would not have survived a ‘trigger’ vote and the selection procedure that would have followed.

Other false accusations by Ellman against Mr Corbyn may be found here.

The attraction to Keir Starmer of welcoming such a liar back into the Labour Party should be clear; Starmer himself has also lied about Jeremy Corbyn – most notably in his reasons for suspending Mr Corbyn after the previous Labour leader responded to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report on whether Labour was “institutionally anti-Semitic” (it wasn’t).

Initially, in explaining Mr Corbyn’s suspension, Starmer had said anyone claiming anti-Semitism in Labour was “all exaggerated” was part of the problem. But Mr Corbyn had not done so. He had – rightly – said that the scale of the problem had been “dramatically overstated”, and provided accurate figures to prove it.

Starmer tried to claim that he had not been personally responsible for the decision to suspend Mr Corbyn (on the same day the EHRC had warned Labour that politicians like the party leader should not interfere with disciplinary decisions) – but former Unite union leader Len McCluskey has said this was not true: “His words were: ‘He put me in an impossible position and I had no choice.’”

More information on Starmer’s lies are here.

The motion supported by Labour conference delegates

demands action that stops “the building of settlements, reverses any annexation, ends the occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza”.

Sanctions should also be imposed to ensure Israel “brings down the Wall [in the West Bank] and respects the right of Palestinian people, enshrined in international law, to return to their homes”, it states.

The motion notes the reports by human rights groups that “conclude unequivocally that Israel is practising the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN”.

I understand that the motion was tabled by Young Labour:

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said the leadership could not support the motion – which is hardly surprising since it puts Keir Starmer, herself and all the other pondslime in a contradictory position:

But refusing to accept the decision is not an option, for a very important reason:

In the Labour Party, the will of conference is sovereign. It is described as “the ultimate authority in the party”.

If Starmer and the others try to act as if the vote hasn’t happened, just because they don’t like it, then they open the door for hundreds of thousands of Labour members to reject the votes they don’t like – such as the changes to leadership election rules or to disciplinary procedures. The result would be chaos.

The only real choice, if they really cannot accept the will of the party, is for Starmer and the others to resign their membership. In Ellwood’s case, that would be hugely ironic.

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Help for benefit claimants as DWP changes tune on hardship payment clawback

Benefit claimants facing poverty because the DWP is threatening to claw back hardship payments they claimed – after being sanctioned – have a ray of hope after a recent court case.

The Department for Work and Pensions has now admitted that any action to take back these payments is discretional and it may waive its right to do so.

The DWP has written an open letter to explaining how Universal Credit (UC) claimants can apply for recoverable hardship payments after a sanction, and the process by which claimants can request that hardship payments are waived.

The change follows a successful judicial review by a client of the Public Law Project (PLP).

The organisation explains the main points of the new process, with important points from DWP’s letter in bold, and PLP’s additions in italics:

  1. When a sanction is imposed the DWP should inform the individual of the details of the sanction(s) in a letter uploaded to the UC journal, along with the option to claim hardship payments. If the individual thinks the sanction is wrong, they can request a mandatory reconsideration from the DWP. If that is unsuccessful, the claimant can appeal the DWP’s sanction decision to the tribunal. There is guidance on challenging a sanction from Citizens Advice and Mental Health & Money Advice
  2. A claimant that receives a sanction can apply for hardship payments by calling the UC helpline. On the call, the DWP official will ask about the individuals’ living costs, so the individual should make a note of these in advance. The individual will need to explain why the sanction has made it hard for them to meet their basic needs (such as food or utilities costs) and what they have done to find other sources of financial support. Citizens Advice have published useful guidance on getting a hardship payment.
  3. Hardship payments are recoverable (meaning the DWP can ask for them to be repaid), and when a claimant applies for a hardship payment the DWP official will ask them to agree a ‘declaration’ that they will repay it once their sanctions are lifted. If  a claimant’s application for hardship payments is refused, this decision can be challenged by making a mandatory reconsideration request to the DWP. 
  4. Once the claimant’s sanction has ended the DWP will take steps to recover the hardship payment by making deductions from the individual’s UC. However, importantly, DWP does have a choice not to recover hardship payments. This choice applies in all cases, including where the individual’s sanction has been subsequently overturned, for example following mandatory reconsideration or a tribunal appeal.
  5. If the claimant cannot afford to repay the hardship payment they can ask DWP for the deductions to be reduced and / or request that the hardship payment be waived in full. This is not affected by the fact that the claimant has agreed a declaration that they will repay the hardship payment.

Getting hardship payment debt waived

PLP has produced a note on how to request a waiver of hardship payment debt and what to do if the DWP refuses.

Source: DWP publishes letter on Universal Credit hardship payments – Public Law Project

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Labour bid to gag website raises serious concerns about the party’s leaders

Badge of shame: if you filled a river with badges representing every Labour member expelled under false accusations of anti-Semitism, along with those representing every member who has quit in disgust at Keir Starmer’s dictatorial regime, how many miles would they stretch along it?

An attempt by the Labour Party to gag an investigative website suggests the party is undemocratic and unfit to govern.

It seems Labour’s infamous Governance and Legal unit was upset after The Electronic Intifada reported a decision by two party officials to block a debate on a motion calling for sanctions against Israel, due to the ongoing persecution of Palestinians by that nation’s government and military.

The claim was that it “would undermine the party’s ability to provide a safe and welcoming space” for Jewish members.

This attempt to protect Israel shows that the Labour Party machine is deeply anti-Semitic: it relies on a false equivalence between the decisions of the Israeli government and every Jew on Earth, regardless of their political views.

According to the definition of anti-Semitism that Labour has agreed to support, that is anti-Semitism: all Jews are not to be considered responsible for the behaviour of one group.

Worse still, Labour’s Governance and Legal unit tried to protect the party officials who tried to stop the debate – Hove & Portslade CLP chair Kim Bolton and Labour South East organiser Scott Horner – saying it was neither necessary nor in the public interest for them to be named.

It also claimed that the article had relied on private email exchanges and therefore breached data protection law.

But in fact the article had relied on minutes of a CLP meeting which The Electronic Intifada has now published in its own defence.

It is necessary to know who is spreading this poison in the Labour Party. There is no evidence to support fearmongering about anti-Semitism in the party as a result of a sanction against Israel and the claim that there are now concerns for the officials’ safety is extreme; it seems more likely that this was an attempt to protect them from any backlash within the party’s mechanisms against their inappropriate and undemocratic behaviour.

And this is the final – and most important point – to be made here: the Labour Party is now undemocratic. It does not allow the voice of the members to be heard and does not represent that voice. Instead, it supports the wishes of organisations outside the party.

This means Labour does not represent its own members.

And if it cannot represent its own members, then it should not be allowed to represent the UK as the party of government.

This episode shows that a Labour government – as led by Keir Starmer and following his orders – would not enact policies that are supported by a majority of the UK’s public.

It would act on its own agenda, dictated by groups that do not belong to the party, whose members probably don’t even vote for it.

And that is why nobody should support the Labour Party under Starmer’s leadership. Instead we need to be making lists of members and officials who need to be brought to book, once this vile and shameful era of the party’s history is brought to an end.

Source: Labour Party tries to intimidate The Electronic Intifada | The Electronic Intifada

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Hypocrisy of UK MPs sanctioned for criticising China human rights abuses

Hypocrite: Iain Duncan Smith oversaw the deaths of thousands of unemployed, sick and disabled people who were victimised by his ‘reforms’ to the UK’s benefit system. How dare he criticise another country for doing the same to its people?

Shame on the Tory MPs who are whining because China has sanctioned them for highlighting that country’s abuses of the Uighurs!

Yes, you read that right. Shame on them, because they are hypocrites.

They seem to think it is perfectly reasonable to claim moral superiority over the government of another country for abusing its citizens’ human rights, while turning a blind eye to the fact that they are doing exactly the same to the people of the UK.

Tory MPs Iain Duncan Smith, Nusrat Ghani, Tim Loughton, Neil O’Brien and Tom Tugendhat all merrily voted in support of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that will strip many of us of our human rights – and remove from all of us the right to protest in any meaningful way against further Tory atrocities against us.

Duncan Smith is well-known as an advocate of harm against his fellow UK citizens, having presided over the deaths of many thousands of benefit claimants – that occurred for no documented reason – under the cruel regime he imposed at the Department for Work and Pensions. But now he’s saying

Those of us who live free lives under the rule of law must speak for those who have no voice.

He was quite happy to deprive benefit claimants of their voices – and to look the other way when his policies deprived them of their lives. In their thousands, remember – not just one or two mistakes.

Attacking human rights abuses anywhere else in the world must be, for these people, an act of abominable hypocrisy.

Note also the typical reaction of the bully: these are people who sneered at us for protesting against the Police Bill and then went right ahead and voted to strip us of our rights – but when the shoe is on the other foot and they’re being singled out by China, suddenly they’re whining about how unfair it is.

Boris Johnson is, of course, the worst of the lot.

Despite being omitted from the list of UK MPs selected for sanction by China, he had the cheek to say

Freedom to speak out in opposition to abuse is fundamental and I stand firmly with them.

Fine words from the prime minister whose sickeningly draconian Police Bill strips his own people of that very freedom.

I do not wish to defend China. It’s treatment of the Uighurs is vile and should be opposed by all those of good faith. But these Tories are not opposing China in good faith. They’re trying to steal undeserved good publicity by attacking a country whose human rights abuses are – currently – worse than their own.

But it doesn’t work that way – or at least it shouldn’t.

Any attack on anybody’s rights as a human being is an attack against all of us – everywhere.

Johnson and his other little Tories might think they can take what moral high ground there is to be gained because their abuses aren’t quite as bad. But we know where that thinking leads.

The abuses become worse.

The number of people being oppressed grows.

The UK’s Tory government already fits every description of a fascist state that is worth reading. If you’re not feeling Johnson’s jackboot on your face yet, it’s just a matter of time.

So don’t waste any sympathy on these liars. They don’t deserve it.

Source: Uighurs: China bans UK MPs after abuse sanctions – BBC News

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DWP disabled sanctions extension shows great tragedy is due to timing, too

Habitual cruelty: if you thought the Tories stopped persecuting people with long-term illnesses and disabilities during the Covid-19 crisis, think again.

The Department for Work and Pensions has employed its usual subtlety and tact – and has extended benefit sanctions against people with disabilities in time for the new English lockdown.

People with long-term illnesses and/or disabilities who fail to take part in telephone work capability assessments are now to be sanctioned. The change was brought in on November 2, days before the new lockdown began.

The change has been attacked by mental health charity Mind as an “abandonment of their responsibility to keep people safe”.

Mind’s Ayaz Manji said:

We need to see a compassionate response to this pandemic.

That has to mean removing benefit sanctions and cancelling reassessments for disability benefits so that people with mental health problems don’t face the prospect of going without income this winter.

Sadly, we are not going to see any compassion from the Department for Work and Pensions while it is under Tory control.

The Department has said nobody will be sanctioned without being contacted first – which raises interesting questions if assessors can’t even phone up a claimant properly:

People will be contacted to ask them to explain why they did not, or could not attend or participate in the assessment and where good cause is provided and accepted, support will continue.

We don’t want to sanction anyone and our absolute priority is to ensure people continue to receive the support they are entitled to.

We will contact anyone who hasn’t engaged in a telephone appointment and their support will absolutely continue if they have a good reason for not attending or participating.

We’ve heard it all before. Expect a slew of articles about the DWP failing to follow this simple routine.

Source: DWP extends benefit sanctions against disabled people just as new lockdown begins – Mirror Online

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Inhumanity of the Tories’ Covid-19 benefit sanctions is revealed

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Sanctioned during lockdown: it seems the Tories allowed benefit sanctions to run on through the early lockdown months, meaning people were deprived of cash with no means of supplementing their income.

The Tories took food out of the mouths of more than 36,000 people after they said they had halted benefit sanctions.

Ongoing sanctions were allowed to run on after the Covid-19 lockdown began.

Some of the people affected were left with no money at all, and some had been deprived of their income for nine months.

Official figures show 36,277 Universal Credit claimants were under a sanction in April, as Covid-19 was peaking, when the lockdown was at its height and when there were absolutely no opportunities for alternative income. That comparable with the averages between January and March.

And 25,460 were still under sanction in May.

More than 1,700 of those released from a sanction in May had been on it for no less than six months.

It seems a miracle that many of these people didn’t die of starvation.

Or have they?

Experience shows that the Tories would not check, even if they had been warned that this might happen.

The last thing they want is to actually prove that they have been causing benefit claimant deaths by cash deprivation.

Source: DWP docked 35,000 people’s benefits at height of coronavirus despite ending sanctions – Mirror Online

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Cynical: Tories pilot 30-minute phone appointments for ‘claimant commitment’ interviews – to impose sanctions quicker?

Isn’t it amazing how the Tories can go straight into action on some plans, while others take forever?

So we see them testing fast-track phone interviews lasting a brief 30 minutes to get up-to-date claimant commitments for Universal Credit claimants.

This is because the Tories promised not to sanction anybody’s Universal Credit payments until up-to-date claimant commitments were established.

They had suspended conditions attached to receipt of Universal Credit during March, meaning that the millions who have claimed the so-called benefit since then have never been subjected to the sanctions that have so badly harmed the finances of so many poverty-lashed claimants.

Well, they’re about to find out what it’s like!

You can tell that the haste with which this measure has been imposed means the Tories are just itching to start taking food out of the mouths of needy people who they can label as undeserving.

In its Coronavirus Touchbase Special, the Department for Work and Pensions promised that nobody would be asked to do anything “unreasonable”, particularly “claimants who are shielding, have childcare responsibilities because of COVID restrictions, etc.” – so you know that these people will definitely be asked to do unreasonable things.

Times may have changed but the Tory-run DWP remains the same.

Source: DWP confirms that it is testing 30 minute telephone appointments for claimant commitment interviews – Rightsnet

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Defence secretary phoned Saudi Arabia to apologise for human rights sanctions – claim

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace: he even looks shifty, doesn’t he?

Typical two-faced Tories – they say one thing to us and a completely different thing to their warmongering buddies abroad.

In this case, it seems UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace phoned up a Saudi defence minister to renew the UK’s support for the regime there and its work – which we must take as including its genocidal war against Yemen.

This happened just one day after the UK announced sanctions on individuals from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

Here’s The Independent:

The UK government privately showered Saudi Arabia’s government with praise a day after publicly criticising its human rights abuses and targeting it for sanctions.

The government was accused of “calling to apologise” to the regime after some Saudi individuals were included on the foreign secretary’s new “Magnitsky Act” sanctions list on Monday.

Defence minister Ben Wallace is understood to have discreetly telephoned his Saudi counterpart on Wednesday to reiterate the UK’s support for the regime and its work.

The call was not publicised by the British government in the UK, but Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency used the opportunity to boast about it in a press statement issued on Wednesday.

“His Royal Highness Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Minister of Defense, received yesterday a phone call from His Excellency British Defence Secretary [sic], Mr Ben Wallace, during which the partnership between the two countries was discussed, especially in the defence field, and the efforts made by the two countries to enhance regional and international security,” according to a statement on the Saudi Press Agency.

Source: UK government accused of phoning Saudi Arabia to apologise after imposing human rights sanctions | The Independent

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Benefit sanctions achieve little more than increasing anxiety and depression – LSE

Benefit sanctions lead to increases in claimants’ anxiety and depression, and a re-assessment of the role of sanctions is needed as the UK slowly emerges from lockdown – according to the London School of Economics.

According to a recent assessment, current sanctions policy can be considered to be ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading’. Importantly, there are straightforward steps that can be implemented to minimise the harms associated with sanctions and to help realise the basic right to a social minimum.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should … assess the impacts of sanctions on health and well-being. Mental health and labour market outcomes are likely to be interrelated; the adverse mental health impacts of sanctions could plausibly affect people’s ability to search for and attain paid work.

There is a need to reduce the length of sanctions and/or the proportion of benefit that is withdrawn… Sanctions are consecutive within Universal Credit, which means that some will be affected by penalties that last longer than the new apparent maximum of 26 weeks.

The hardship payments system is insufficient and also needs to be reformed… Adverse mental health impacts … are observed even though the rate of hardship payments [has] increased. Hardship payments within Universal Credit are awarded for a restricted set of reasons and are repayable, leading to even fewer claimants receiving them than in the past.

The application of sanctions should be limited to a last resort. Initially, Universal Credit operated with a very high rate of sanctions, though this has since been reduced. The low rate could be maintained by implementing a warning system; limiting the number of reasons for which sanctions apply; and establishing clear rules for what constitutes a ‘good reason’ for non-compliance.

Source: The impact of DWP benefit sanctions on anxiety and depression | British Politics and Policy at LSE

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