Tag Archives: sanction

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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Benefit sanctions have NOT been suspended – as Universal Credit claimant found out the hard way

Remember when we were all told benefit sanctions would be suspended for three months during the coronavirus lockdown?

That seems to have been a lie, as 23-year-old ‘Ben’ discovered after waiting a month for a payment:

Ben, 23, had been sanctioned earlier in the year for being unable to find work, however, like payment holidays for homeowners and furlough for the employed, he believed the freeze would be lifted to support struggling households during the pandemic.

Last Thursday, [his] family who had waited an entire week to do their food shop, were sent a statement for £0 via the online portal.

It left them devastated – and worried about how they would survive the current crisis.

He has been directed to take out a hardship loan instead, it seems. This means he will be forced to pay back any money he takes out, over a very long period of time – probably forcing him into further debt and hardship.

It seems that this is the Tories’ plan.

The Daily Mirror says the DWP has now “clarified” the terms and conditions of the freeze on sanctions:

The department said sanctions that were already in place prior to the coronavirus outbreak will continue to apply.

Under the terms of the freeze, benefit and universal credit claimants will not face new sanctions for three months, the DWP said.

So claimants under sanction will have to fend for themselves with no money – after being led to believe that they would be helped.

This is particularly worrying for people with disabilities who, historically, find it particularly hard to cope with sanctions even in normal times.

But the situation has worked out okay for Ben and his family – after learning that a newspaper had taken an interest in his case, the DWP reinstated his payments and gave him £1,600.

This Site’s advice remains the same: if you need help, get in touch with a national newspaper.

Source: Universal credit claimant sanctioned for not being able to find a job during lockdown – Mirror Online

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Ministers STILL won’t assess impact of benefit sanctions – in case it PROVES a link to suicide?

Mims Davies: Not only does she not know the effect of benefit sanctions on claimant’s mental health; she doesn’t care.

This isn’t the first time the Department for Work and Pensions and the Tory ministers running it have turned down a demand to assess the impact of benefit sanctions on claimants.

They’ve been doing it for years.

But it’s nice to see that public disgust with the implication behind it is growing.

Employment minister Mims Davies responded to a Parliamentary question on the subject, said no assessment has been made of any link between benefit sanctions and mental health problems in claimants, including suicidal tendencies.

But look at the reactions – like this, from Manzoor Ali, director of Barakah Food Aid, which offers donated goods to people struggling to make ends meet:

“People are committing suicide, or on the verge of suicide. Once this sanction comes in, they’re left with no money. It becomes this rollercoaster of a journey. It creates more problems for them,” he said.

“Their benefits are completely cancelled so they’ve got literally nothing coming in. It can take four to six weeks. Sometimes they’ll get an emergency loan, but that is then immediately taken out of their benefits once it’s reinstated. It’s a vicious cycle.

“Some of the people tell me they’re on the verge of calling it a day they don’t know how much longer they can take it. It’s unbelievable.

“The number of children I’m seeing who are just silent. Many are going to school without breakfast. This issue is going to have a future impact – the children will grow up with mental health issues.”

Wow.

Research by Salford City Council in 2016 found that  sanctions were “devastating” for claimants and could lead to suicide. It was ignored.

Leading psychologists urged ministers to immediately stop the practice or risk soaring rates of mental health problems – in 2017. They were ignored.

report by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute in March 2019 found that universal credit was “ruining lives” with burdensome red tape for people with mental health issues, and called for an end to sanctions for those in crisis who can’t attend job interviews. It was ignored.

The DWP did pledge in 2013 to review the policy of suspending benefits “on an ongoing basis”, but a report by the Work and Pensions Committee in 2018 found that no such evaluation had been carried out and the government subsequently had “no idea how many people were suffering” as a result of the policy.

The only possible conclusion is that the policy is doing exactly what the Tories want and that mental suffering leading to suicide is the intended aim.

That is not the policy of a government that has the interests of its people at heart.

I wonder how anybody could ever believe that.

Fortunately, it seems only a dwindling number of people still do.

So, I’ll tell you what.

Why not share this article, and see if we can increase the number of people who don’t believe the Tories any more?

Source: Ministers refuse to assess impact of benefit sanctions on mental health despite warnings of links to suicide | The Independent

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Trump trade war threat over tax shows the drawbacks of globalisation

A family at war? They may look and act the same, but that doesn’t mean Donald Trump won’t attack Boris Johnson if he feels like it [Composite: Laura Tisdale/Twitter].

This is awkward, with Boris Johnson desperate to get a trade deal between the UK and the USA.

Donald Trump is threatening reprisals if Johnson goes ahead with a plan to tax US tech corporations like Google and Facebook on profits they make from UK customers.

This Writer understands that it is possible to prevent foreign tech companies from operating in the UK – don’t China and North Korea do this?

But if the UK did this, then the US government could impose crippling sanctions on this country.

The simple fact is that Trump has Johnson over a barrel.

And where Trump goes, others will follow. The loss to the UK’s tax take must be staggering.

And it’s all in line with Conservative economic policy.

Ever since Thatcher, Tories have demanded that businesses across the world must be able to operate across the world if they can, but must be allowed to operate from the country of their choice.

And that’s where they are taxed.

I suppose the answer was to demand that these multinationals set up subsidiaries in the countries where they operated. But wasn’t that the situation before Thatcherism?

It seems the Tories deliberately harmed the UK economy with this policy.

Can anybody explain the thinking that supported this economic disaster?

Source: Trump administration threatens trade war with UK over digital tax plan | The Independent

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If Johnson thinks he can renege on his Brexit deal, he’s about to get a big wake-up call

Thumb up: but if Boris Johnson goes through with his stated intention to renege on his Brexit deal, the EU will probably tell him what to stick his thumb up.

Boris Johnson seems to think he’s the naughty boy of international politics.

You can just hear him: “Bah! I said we’d impose a border in the middle of the Irish Sea – but I didn’t mean it! What a jape! And what are they going to do? Don’t they know we’re British?”

That is precisely the point, of course.

Being British, he is in no position to go disregarding conditions of his Brexit deal.

If he does, he’ll lose something he wants – like… I don’t know… favourable terms on the continent for City financiers?

We were talking about that only last week, when it seemed likely he would sacrifice the UK’s fishing waters for a nibble at EU financial markets.

Now, it seems Johnson will throw the lot up in the air, just to pretend he told the Eurocrats where to go.

Even though he’ll be dumping himself – and all the rest of us – out in the cold.

Of course, there is another aspect to this – that Johnson wants to anger the EU.

Isn’t that the quickest way to the “no deal” Brexit that will (allegedly) pay back certain dodgy funders for their support in getting him installed as Tory leader – and PM?

Source: Brexit: EU threatens Boris Johnson with ‘sanctions’ if he fails to implement controversial Irish sea goods checks | The Independent

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Universal Credit sanction led to miscarriages, drug addiction and jail

In the light of this story, how do Tories justify benefit sanctions, again?

Danielle John, of Wales, suffered a miscarriage at work the day before she was due to attend a Universal Credit interview with the Department for Work and Pensions.

As a result, she was unable to attend the interview and forgot to notify the DWP – justifiably, as any reasonable person would say.

The DWP disagreed.

It seems the decision to take £10.40 per day from her benefit for 229 days – £72.80 per week or £2,381.60 for the whole period – sucked all the hope out of Ms John and she fell back into a life of drugs that she had only recently managed to quit.

She became addicted to heroin again and had eight further miscarriages, according to the Mirror.

That means eight people (at least) have died as a result of the decision to sanction this woman.

And a ninth nearly died – Ms John tried to kill herself at one point.

Apparently the DWP said the sanction was due to eight missed appointments – but Ms John said the appointment after her miscarriage that led to the sanction was the first she missed. There seems to be a slight disparity there!

And now, even though her sanction is over, Ms John is finding it hard to get paid work because she has a criminal record – due to the sanction.

She spent 11 weeks in jail for shoplifting during her time as an addict.

But she is spending her time usefully, volunteering with homelessness organisation The Wallich.

This is a story of one woman’s fall and rise – at least to a level close to where she started.

But it raises a serious question.

How many people, sanctioned off of Universal Credit, have fallen – never to rise again?

Source: Universal Credit hell of mum who suffered eight miscarriages and ended up in jail – Mirror Online

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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