Tag Archives: sanctions

25 jobseekers for every job on Tory government’s own website

Do the Tories really intend to penalise people for failing to get work – according to Universal Credit rules – when there are so few jobs available?

Thanks to Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, and their government’s inability to manage Covid-19 properly, there are now 2.3 million UK citizens claiming Universal Credit.

Sanctions have been reimposed so they must follow the rules and go after the jobs that are available – no matter how unsuitable, or indeed distant.

The situation is absurd – as the Frank Zola blog pointed out while revealing that current figures on the government’s own jobsite mean 25 people are available for every job.

That’s not taking into account regional issues – the jobs are unlikely to be in the same places as all the people available for them.

What a ridiculous situation. And to think only last December people trusted the Tories.

Source: Absurd as 2.3 million Universal Credit claimants required to chase “90,939 Jobs” on DWP Jobsite (findajob.dwp.gov.uk) | Frank Zola

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Hypocritical Tories verbally attack human rights abusers – but go on selling them weapons

Dominic Raab: his pretty words about human rights mean nothing, now that his colleague Liz Truss is selling bombs to Saudi Arabia again.

How utterly disgusting.

The Conservative government has made a great show of imposing sanctions on human rights abusers – while still selling weapons to the same people so they can continue abusing others.

The UK’s poor excuse for a Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, announced sanctions against individuals in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Myanmar and North Korea including asset freezes and travel bans, imposed immediately.

“Those with blood on their hands won’t be free … to waltz into this country, to buy up property on the Kings Road, do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge, or siphon dirty money through British banks,” Raab told parliament.

Oh, really?

What about the leaders of Saudi Arabia which – as a nation – has been harming human rights left, right and centre?

The Tories have just finished a review of that nation’s behaviour – forced on it by a court ruling that suspended arms sales there.

They are resuming sales of arms to Saudi Arabia despite having found “credible incidents of concern”.

The Tories said even though they represented “possible” breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL), the UK government viewed these as “isolated incidents”.

What utter drivel. The Tories just want to give Saudis more weapons to continue bombing Yemen into the Stone Age (for example).

Indeed, pathetic self-serving cheese-loving International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said as much:

“The undertaking that my predecessor gave to the Court – that we would not grant any new licences for the export of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen – falls away.”

Since the bombing of Yemen started in March 2015 the UK government has issued export licences worth £5.3 billion, including £2.5 billion of licences relating to bombs, missiles and other types of ordinance.

In one stroke, she made a nonsense of her colleague Raab’s statement that “global Britain will be an even stronger force for good in the world, in the years ahead”.

“Stronger”? You have to be a force for good in the first place – and that clearly isn’t true.

Remember also that the UK itself is guilty of “grave and systematic violations of human rights” in its treatment of sick and disabled people, according to the United Nations. The Tories haven’t lifted a finger to stop those violations in four years since the finding was announced.

This Writer supposes that the government had to find something to do with all the weapons it won’t need for the UK’s own armed forces, now that they are being trimmed down almost to nothing.

Defence chiefs have drawn up plans to slash the army by a quarter and reduce the Royal Marines to a bit part as part of Boris Johnson’s defence and security review.

In the worst-case scenario:

• Army manpower would fall from 74,000 to 55,000

• The Royal Marines commando brigade would be disbanded, losing its artillery, engineers and landing craft. Royal Navy minesweepers would also face the axe

• The RAF would shut several airbases and shed its fleet of Hercules transporters.

There are other cuts but those are behind The Times‘s paywall. The government’s own website doesn’t seem to have this information.

The defence cuts would make the UK ripe for attack, of course, should any aggressive country feel like it; these cuts are an offence against the government’s first responsibility, which is to defend the UK’s people.

But Boris Johnson isn’t interested in that. He’s too busy raiding the national piggy-bank for all it’s worth.

Source: UK on collision course with Saudis over new human rights sanctions | Law | The Guardian

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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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Covid-19-related Universal Credit claimants will face sanctions for first time

If you’ve claimed Universal Credit as a result of the Covid-19 crisis – brace yourself!

From June 30, you’ll be under threat of sanction if you can’t prove you’re actively seeking work.

The Tory government is reimposing the threat of sanctions as it lifts lockdown restrictions – because Boris Johnson and his cronies intend to use the stick to get us back at work rather than the carrot.

Many businesses laid off their workers rather than try to pay their contribution to the government’s furlough scheme, and former employees may be – justifiably – unsympathetic to the idea of going back to work for those treacherous employers.

Some of those businesses may decide to re-employ workers with less pay and worse conditions than prior to the crisis, claiming that they don’t have the wherewithal to make a better offer.

Without government sanctions to support them, it is likely that their former employees would give them the cold shoulder and wait for something better to come along.

I mean, who would want to go back to work at a Wetherspoons pub after the way that firm’s employees were treated?

But if it’s a choice between working there for a pittance or receiving nothing – because the government will refuse to pay Universal Credit to people who turn down the offer… you see how it works?

It all adds up to a very nasty betrayal of working people by a government that owes us all better.

Oh yes – don’t forget that the Coronavirus hasn’t gone away. In fact, if schools are any yardstick, the disease will go back to spreading exponentially among anybody who does go back to work.

This also appears to be part of the Tory plan – which never wavered from the ridiculous “herd immunity” fantasy of early March, it seems.

While other countries have used their lockdowns to eradicate Covid-19 from within their borders, the evidence suggests that the Tories only wanted to slow down its progress through England.

With the partial lifting of lockdown, we see that the Tories believe English hospitals will be able to cope with new cases – and with new deaths.

Bear in mind the words attributed to Dominic Cummings, which I seem to recall were: “If a few old people die, who cares?”

Your problem is that these people were voted into power with a massive majority and cannot be moved.

If they’re happy to kill you for the sake of a wild half-cocked theory, then you are going to die. Ask your Tory friends why they voted for that.

Sanctions on benefits will return on Tuesday after a three-month freeze, as lockdown easing sees job centres open.

In March, the government said people on benefits and Universal Credit would not be penalised for 90 days if they failed to look for work, due to coronavirus.

Labour has called for an extension to the ban, saying there is an “unemployment crisis looming”.

But Work and Pension Secretary Therese Coffey said the return of “claimant commitment” rules was “essential”.

You may find this comforting:

Good luck holding the Tories to that!

Source: Coronavirus: Benefit sanctions to return as job centres reopen – BBC News

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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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Promises on disability and social security show Labour has listened

The Labour Party has paid attention to the people and published a manifesto that promises to end many of the injustices that the Conservative government (with the Liberal Democrats between 2010 and 2015) introduced.

This Writer feels duty-bound to tell you that reading the chapter on Social Security was an uplifting experience on many levels, as so many of the subjects This Site has highlighted have been tackled.

Labour will scrap the Department for Work and Pensions. This Site said the DWP had become so badly damaged by the culture of persecution instilled in it by Tory ministers from Iain Duncan Smith onwards that the only option was to dissolve it and start again. It will be replaced with a new Department of Social Security.

Labour will scrap Universal Credit. Since it began to be developed, This Site has highlighted the fact that UC was a hugely-expensive disaster – a position that was proved when it was implemented; instead of providing a convenient all-in-one safety net for people facing hard times, it has instead deliberately pushed them into poverty. It will be replaced with a new system, to be developed carefully, intending to end poverty by guaranteeing a reasonable standard of living.

While this new system is being prepared, Labour will introduce interim measures to end the cruelty imposed by the Conservatives (and Liberal Democrats), all of which address complaints raised by This Site and others:

Labour will end the so-called “digital barrier” that obstructs people who have trouble coping with computers and the internet from claiming benefits. It will offer telephone, face-to-face and outreach support.

Labour will end the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments.

Labour will reintroduce fortnightly payments, to help people manage their money.

Labour will end the Tory sanction regime.

Labour will scrap the benefit cap.

Labour will end the two-child limit on benefits and scrap the so-called ‘rape clause’, which it describes (as I do) as “immoral and outrageous”.

Labour will pay the child element of benefits to the primary carer, to ensure that women are no longer forced to stay in abusive relationships by the system.

The changes won’t just extend to Universal Credit, though.

Labour will end the Bedroom Tax and increase the Local Housing Allowance to protect people against the threat of eviction.

And the party will reform the benefit system to end its punishment of people with long-term illnesses and disabilities:

Labour will end the “dehumanising” Work Capability Assessments and PIP Assessments.

Labour will stop benefit assessments being contracted-out to private companies and ensure that all benefit assessments are carried out by DSS employees in future.

Labour will increase Employment and Support Allowance by £30 a week for people in the Work-Related Activity Group, reversing the Tory cut.

Labour will raise the basic rate of support for children with disabilities to the same level as Child Tax Credits.

Labour will give extra support to severely disabled people without a formal carer, so they can meet the extra costs they face.

Labour will increase Carers’ Allowance to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance. This is the only measure that This Writer thinks is inadequate. Having been a carer, I know that CA is a pittance, but an increase of a few pounds a week is unlikely to help much. More harmful is the fact that, if a carer earns more than a set amount (around £120 a week), the entire allowance is cancelled. It would be better to introduce a taper, so that the amount of CA is reduced according to the amount a person earns.

And Labour  will help disabled people who want to work by bringing back specialist employment advisors, introducing a government-backed Reasonable Adjustments Passport scheme to help people move between jobs more easily, and reviewing support for disabled people at work, including the Access to Work scheme.

These are all terrific policies.

They make Labour the obvious choice for voters who are currently claiming unemployment, sickness or disability benefits.

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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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‘Cause for concern’ after Dundee Job Centre sanctions most clients in Scotland | Evening Telegraph

Protesters hand out leaflets outside Dundee Job Centre to raise concerns and make people aware of the recent cuts and benefits changes.

Campaigners are calling for answers after clients of Dundee’s job centre were revealed as the most sanctioned in Scotland.

Jobcentre Plus, at the city’s Wellgate Shopping Centre, has issued 8,999 of the measures since October 2012, with 382 handed out in the last year alone.

Critics say sanctions — stopping or cutting claimants’ benefits if they fail to meet agreed commitments, or miss appointments — can plunge already vulnerable people into crisis.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) bosses have been urged to explain why the Dundee office has given out around 2,300 more than the second highest, Aberdeen’s Ebury House, and a staggering 5% of all those issued nationwide.

Source: ‘Cause for concern’ after Dundee Job Centre sanctions most clients in Scotland – Evening Telegraph


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Benefit sanctions on North Wales job seekers ‘hitting most vulnerable’ – like everywhere else, then

North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd: He's right, but he's very late coming to his conclusion.

North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd: He’s right, but he’s very late coming to his conclusion.

This is how the Tories are getting away with their attacks on benefit claimants – everyone thinks it only happens to other people.

People in North Wales didn’t start having their benefits sanctioned unjustly when Plaid Cymru started running its study – the DWP has been carrying on in this entirely scurrilous manner for years, just as it has everywhere else in the UK.

And yet the Daily Post gets to report the Plaid Cymru findings as though it never occurred to anybody that it could happen in North Wales.

I’ve got news for you, fellows: It is happening everywhere in the United Kingdom.

You probably know somebody who is suffering the effects of it.

You may even be suffering it yourself, and just haven’t been notified (a common DWP dirty trick).

Wake up. Your Tory ministers don’t take money from people who deserve to lose it…

Like common thieves, they’ll take money from anybody if they think they can get away with it.

More than 17,000 people in North and Mid Wales had their benefits stopped forcing some to turn to food banks and loan sharks – only for the decision to be later overturned, it has been revealed.

A study by Plaid Cymru revealed 36,905 people were subjected to sanctions on their job seekers allowance (JSA) between 2012-2015 – but 17,596 of those sanctions were overturned on appeal or cancelled due to errors.

Plaid Cymru regional AM Llyr Gruffydd said the system meant often “vulnerable people” were being “left high and dry”.

Mr Gruffydd believes this questions the validity of the penalties, which are applied if claimants fail to complete agreed tasks with Job Centre staff.

Source: Benefit sanctions on North Wales job seekers ‘hitting most vulnerable’ – Daily Post

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Tories’ ‘tails’ are ‘tweaked’ over non-response to benefit sanctions review

Tail in the telling: Speaker John Bercow said Labour's Owen Smith was trying to "tweak the government's tail" over its "shoddy" response to a report on benefit sanctions.

Tail in the telling: Speaker John Bercow said Labour’s Owen Smith was trying to “tweak the government’s tail” over its “shoddy” response to a report on benefit sanctions.

The Conservative Government released its response to a major review of its policy on benefit sanctions today – so quietly it almost qualifies as silence.

Fortunately for those affected, there is a vocal Opposition Party sitting in the House of Commons once more, and even Speaker John Bercow agreed that the way the matter had been handled offered a “prime-time opportunity to tweak the Government’s tail”.

The government was responding to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report, Benefit sanctions beyond the Oakley Review, which set out more than two dozen recommendations for changes to benefit sanctions and the policies behind them. None have been implemented.

This Writer has joined with campaigner Maggie Zolobajluk and Gill Thompson – whose brother died after his benefits were sanctioned – to petition the government to implement just two of these recommendations – to offer hardship payments from the first day of a benefit sanction, and to launch a broad, independent review of the sanctions regime. You can sign the petition here.

In a written response, DWP minister of state Lord Freud managed to avoid addressing any of the recommendations made in the report.

Instead, he took the opportunity to announce that the government intends to test a system of warning before any sanction is imposed.

“At present people are notified of a sanction and it is imposed immediately afterwards. In some cases, claimants go on to challenge the decision and the sanction may be overturned. We will trial arrangements whereby claimants are given a warning of our intention to sanction and a 14 day period to provide evidence of good reason before the decision to sanction is made. During this time, claimants will have another opportunity to provide further evidence to explain their non-compliance. We will then review this information before deciding whether a sanction remains appropriate,” he stated.

He added that the government would consider – mark that word; only consider – extending the definition of “at risk” groups used for hardship purposes to include those with mental health conditions and those who are homeless. This would mean that they could seek access to hardship from day one of a sanction being applied – but only if the government goes beyond consideration and actually implements the change.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith raised the issue in the House of Commons today (October 22). He said to the Speaker, John Bercow [boldings mine]: “May I ask for your guidance on how we might secure an opportunity for the House to question the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about the desperately inadequate response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee report on the extraordinarily important issue of benefit sanctions?

“The response has been snuck out this morning in a written statement; it is four months late; and it does not appear to address any of the principal recommendations.

“In particular, it does not address the recommendation on an independent review into the matter of those people who have died while subject to benefit sanctions. That is an extraordinarily shoddy way for the Government to behave.

“May I also ask for guidance on whether the Select Committee might, under the new Back-Bench business procedures, seek time to debate the issue and question the Secretary of State on why he has snuck out this response and why it is so poor?”

Mr Bercow’s response was that he believed Mr Smith knew exactly how to go about obtaining a debate: “I have a hunch that he simply wanted a prime-time opportunity to tweak the Government’s tail.”

Mission accomplished, then!

One does wonder how much inconvenience the government would suffer by having its tail tweaked. Considering the release, yesterday, of a DWP advert featuring a bizarre horned creature representing the government, talk of it having a tail would suggest that the Conservative Party is trying to depict itself as the devil incarnate – a pointless exercise, as we already know this to be true.

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