Tag Archives: starvation

As Johnson plans a new national lockdown, Universal Basic Income is back on the agenda

Money: Three million people went without because Rishi Sunak refused to try a Universal Basic Income pilot scheme in May. More than a milliion children will go hungry over Christmas because Sunak wants them to starve; will he force starvation onto millions of adults as well?

Rishi Sunak is facing renewed demands to pilot a Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme in the UK, after it was revealed his boss Boris Johnson is considering another national lockdown to try to halt the march of Covid-19 across the UK.

Johnson – and Sunak – rejected those demands back in April, and millions of people fell through the gaping holes in their support packages for people who were financially disadvantaged by the lockdown.

The Financial Times reported that more than three million people went hungry back then – as This Site pointed out in this article.

Meanwhile, Spain launched its own version of UBI in July, amid much discussion in the UK media. Those right-wing sources have been very quiet about it ever since, which suggests that it has been a success and they don’t want you to know.

The letter from the Cross-Party Parliamentary and Local Government Working Group on UBI has been signed by 520 elected representatives.

It says: “Millions of people have fallen through the cracks of the government’s support packages.

“The pandemic has left countless families facing poverty and extreme hardship.

“Many civil society leaders believe that Universal Credit, which has itself been linked to high mortality rates, is ill-equipped to support people through the financial insecurity arising from the recession we are about to enter.

“Economic shocks from financial, social and environmental crises are likely to continue for decades to come.

“Now is the time to act.

“The creation of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) – a regular and unconditional cash payment to every individual in the UK – could be the solution.

“A UBI would build resilience into our society and our communities, while providing the stimulus we need to rebuild our economy.”

I like this bit, which uses the Tories’ own slogans to make its point [I’ve bolded them up for clarity]: “It would level up towns and cities across the UK, allowing us to build back better.”

“With unemployment set to increase amid a shrinking job market, we urge you not to underestimate the wider costs to society of rising poverty and joblessness. These include the ripple effect of increased mental and physical health expenditure, as well as higher policing costs exacerbated by poverty. These will far exceed the costs of putting in place a Universal Basic Income.”

Back in April, the Tory excuse for avoiding UBI was that it discourages people from seeking work, but This Site revealed at the time that this is nonsense; it means people don’t have to take jobs for employers who undervalue the work they do.

Perhaps the Tories are more concerned that, having squeezed the economy so hard over the last 10 years in order to take money from working people and give it to their exploiters employers, there may not be enough to pay those who are willing to work the amount they demand, if others take the option of subsisting on the absolute minimum instead.

That’s their quandary; they have made it for themselves.

Sunak and Johnson have already caused a public relations disaster for their government and the Conservative Party by demanding that poor children be forced into starvation over the Christmas school holidays.

The choice before them now is between starving huge numbers of the population at large and causing a slight financial inconvenience to employers who happen to be Tory doners.

I don’t think they’ll make the right decision. Do you?

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Court showdown for DWP over Errol Graham – who starved to death after his benefits were axed

Errol Graham: he starved to death after the Department for Work and Pensions cut off his benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will have to answer questions in court about the legality of its safeguarding policies after a family challenged it over the death of a vulnerable man.

The DWP ignored its own safeguarding advice to deprive Errol Graham of his benefits, This Site reported previously.

Left with no income, Mr Graham starved to death.

He had been receiving incapacity benefit, and then ESA, for many years as a result of enduring mental distress that had led to him being sectioned.

The DWP stopped Mr Graham’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) entitlement – and backdated that decision to the previous month – after making two unsuccessful visits to his home to ask why he had not attended a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) on August 31, 2017.

He had not been asked to fill in an ESA50 questionnaire, though.

The government department managed to stop an ESA payment that had been due to be credited to his bank account on October 17, the same day it made the second unsuccessful safeguarding visit.

Its own rules state that it should have made both safeguarding visits before stopping the benefits of a vulnerable claimant.

Not only that, but the DWP had needed – but failed – to seek further medical evidence from Mr Graham’s GP, in order to make an informed decision about him.

In fact, it seems this would not have made much difference as Mr Graham’s GP had not seen him since 2013, or recalled him for vital blood tests or issued prescriptions since 2015, despite medical conditions including significant, long-term mental distress and hypothyroidism.

Because he had lost his entitlement to ESA, Mr Graham’s housing benefit was also stopped.

When bailiffs knocked down his front door to evict him on June 20, 2018, they found a dead body that weighed just four and a half stone. The only food in the flat was a couple of out-of-date tins of fish.

Mr Graham was 57 years old.

Now, solicitors Leigh Day tell us:

“Mr Graham’s son’s partner, Alison Turner, has been granted permission to a full judicial review challenging the legality of the current safeguarding policies and the failure of the DWP to review and revise those policies as promised at Errol’s inquest.

“Alison will argue that the safeguarding policies are unlawful as they create a significant risk of breaching the human rights of vulnerable individuals like Errol and she will seek a declaration that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey, has unlawfully breached her legitimate expectation that a review would be carried out resulting in revised policies.

“Following the Court Order the DWP now has 35 days to serve her Detailed Grounds and Evidence defending the safeguarding policies and explaining why Ms Coffey has not reviewed and amended those policies as promised at Errol’s inquest.”

Yes, there was an inquest – at which the Assistant Coroner decided not to write a “Regulation 28” report demanding changes to DWP safeguarding procedures to “prevent future deaths” because the DWP claimed it was already completing a review of its safeguarding, which was supposed to finish last autumn.

No such review has ever seen the light of day.

The court has ordered that a two-day hearing be listed to consider the case.

Ms Turner said: “Errol had a long history of serious mental illness which left him severely incapacitated. When the circumstances of his death came to light we had hoped – and from what the DWP stated at the inquest, we had expected – that the department would review their safeguarding policies and involve us in that review.

“But, incredibly, that has not happened. We deserve answers and those answers need to be public for the sake of other families and other vulnerable benefits claimants who suffer similar mental health difficulties.

“No one else should be put at risk in the same way Errol was because adequate safeguarding measures are not in place.”

Ms Turner is represented by Tessa Gregory, who said: “Our client believes that the DWP’s current safeguarding policies are not fit for purpose as they expose vulnerable individuals to a significant risk of harm, as was so tragically illustrated by Errol’s death.

“The DWP committed at Errol’s inquest to reviewing the applicable policies but two years after his death and one year after the inquest, nothing has changed.

“Our client therefore feels she has been left with no option but to bring these proceedings to … force the Secretary of State to take steps to ensure that no other families have to suffer in the terrible way her family has.”

Source: Family Of Errol Graham Granted Permission For Judicial Review Against DWP

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Try telling Errol Graham that ‘Black Lives Matter’. Oh you can’t – he’s dead

Errol Graham.

What? You think Errol Graham only died because he was ill? Your Conservative government is multiply-prejudiced and can ensure that people die for any number of trumped-up and ridiculous reasons.

Consider this:

Fair point?

Errol Graham was starved to death by a prejudiced Conservative-run benefit system.

My report on Mr Graham states:

He had been receiving incapacity benefit, and then ESA, for many years as a result of enduring mental distress that had led to him being sectioned.

The DWP stopped Mr Graham’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) entitlement – and backdated that decision to the previous month – after making two unsuccessful visits to his home to ask why he had not attended a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) on August 31, 2017.

He had not been asked to fill in an ESA50 questionnaire, though. Why not?

The government department managed to stop an ESA payment that had been due to be credited to his bank account on October 17, the same day it made the second unsuccessful safeguarding visit.

Its own rules state that it should have made both safeguarding visits before stopping the benefits of a vulnerable claimant.

So the Tories cut off his benefits early, after a botched benefit reassessment procedure.

Here’s the clincher:

On an ESA form years before, he had told the DWP he could not cope with “unexpected changes”, adding: “Upsets my life completely. Feel under threat and upset…”

He said: “Cannot deal with social situations. Keep myself to myself. Do not engage with strangers. Have no social life. Feel anxiety and panic in new situations.”

The DWP had needed – but failed – to seek further medical evidence from Mr Graham’s GP, in order to make an informed decision about him.

In fact, it seems this would not have made much difference as Mr Graham’s GP had not seen him since 2013, or recalled him for vital blood tests or issued prescriptions since 2015, despite medical conditions including significant, long-term mental distress and hypothyroidism.

It was known that Mr Graham’s condition made him fear contact with people he did not know – like benefit assessors who turned up on his doorstep unannounced. But they still did it. And they still demanded that he attend a work capability assessment in a place full of people he did not know, without even having sent him a benefit claim form first.

They treated him unfairly. Isn’t that the whole point of the Black Lives Matter movement – that people of colour are treated unfairly?

As a result, he starved to death.

And the only reason we know this is his Housing Benefit was cut off at the same time as ESA, so he stopped paying rent. His body was found by bailiffs entering the house to repossess it.

The Tory-run Department for Work and Pensions would never have checked up on his well-being.

We already knew this. When I submitted a Freedom of Information request to find out how many people had died after the Tory government had cancelled their sickness benefit claims, the Department for Work and Pensions said it was unable to provide information for anyone whose claims had been cancelled more than two weeks before their deaths. It is government policy to leave these people to fend for themselves with no support at all.

Of course, leaving someone to starve to death in their home is not as dramatic as beating them to death on the street (or asphyxiating them, in the case of George Floyd).

But it is still prejudicial treatment.

So, what is the current outcry saying, if it does not include sick/disabled people like Errol Graham in its outrage?

Is it really saying some black lives matter more than others?

Let’s change that.

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Families are going hungry because of Conservatism, not the coronavirus

Tories harm children: the coronavirus is just the latest excuse they’re using.

Why should we be surprised? The Tories have a history of lying when they say we’re all in it together.

It seems our caring government has engineered the coronavirus crisis to ensure that the number of households with children going hungry has doubled since lockdown began.

Millions of people are struggling to afford basic food items as parents lose income and both the school meal voucher scheme and food banks are overwhelmed:

New data … has revealed that almost a fifth of households with children have been unable to access enough food in the past five weeks, with meals being skipped and children not getting enough to eat as already vulnerable families battle isolation and a loss of income.

The strain on larger families, single parent homes and those with disabled children has been immense. A reported 30 per cent of lone parents and 46 per cent of parents with a disabled child are facing food insecurity and finding it difficult to manage basic nutritional needs at home.

With schools no longer providing a reprieve for children reliant on free breakfast clubs and school lunches, poorer families are at crisis point.

A government scheme to give pupils food vouchers worth £15 a week until schools reopen has been beset with problems, with many parents unable to download the vouchers or redeem them in supermarkets.

According to the Food Foundation, of the 621,000 children who were accessing free breakfast clubs before the pandemic, only 136,000 are being provided with an alternative. However, 31% of children entitled to free school meals are still not getting any substitute, leaving more than 500,000 children going without.

Food banks have been overwhelmed with demand during the lockdown. Last Friday, the Trussell Trust reported an 81 per cent increase in people needing support from its food banks at the end of March compared with the same period last year.

Demand from children for food-bank services had also increased by 121 per cent. The Independent Food Network reported a similar surge, with a 59 per cent increase in demand for emergency food support between February and March.

This is not an accident. The Conservatives are deliberately using the pandemic to punish the most vulnerable in society yet again – and to bring those who had been more secure down to the same level.

It’s ironic. Many of these families are likely to have voted Conservative in December, thinking they were bringing stability and security to the country.

Instead their votes have doomed their families – and themselves.

No doubt they’ll convince themselves that starvation is the price they’re paying to be free of the virus.

But Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock look very well-fed to me.

There is no need for anybody in the UK to go hungry. There hasn’t been any reason for hunger here since the 1950s.

The coronavirus isn’t causing it.

The Conservatives are.

Source: Exclusive: almost a fifth of UK homes with children go hungry in lockdown | Society | The Guardian

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Is Plymouth the first city to report widespread STARVATION due to Tory policies?

I, Daniel Blake: in Ken Loach’s film, a single mother starves herself to feed her children. Eventually, desperate to eat, she rips open a tin of cold beans in a food bank and eats it. That scene is being repeated regularly, in real life, according to staff at the food bank in Plymouth.

This report on Plymouth Live should be shocking – but is it?

Some of us have lived with the consequences of Conservative government benefit deprivation for years, and have recorded many, many deaths arising from these cruel and unnecessary policies.

Now the food bank at Plymouth is reporting widespread starvation throughout that city.

The report states that more than a third of food voucher recipients there are children.

And some are in work that does not pay enough for them to afford food after paying off other household bills – once again proving false the Tory claim that the best way out of poverty is employment.

And never forget: there is plenty of money available – larger employers in particular are simply keeping the majority of it for themselves.

The psychological harm caused by this enforced starvation is clearly demonstrated by reports that people receiving parcels after days without food are bursting into tears, devouring food the instant they have it.

It’s a classic “softening up” technique, often used by torturers to make their victims more pliable.

And the Tories will have known this from the moment Iain Duncan Smith imposed Universal Credit on the first pilot area, many years ago.

But “softening up” for what? It can’t be for people to accept even less; when you already aren’t receiving enough to survive, there isn’t far to go.

So we are left with the uncomfortable reality:

Universal Credit is being used by the Conservatives to send perfectly good people to early graves.

Can anyone prove me wrong?

Source: Families in Plymouth are so poor they’re actually starving – Plymouth Live

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What’s worse – the fact the Tories left a 64-year-old man to starve, or some of the reactions to it?

[Image from Pride’s Purge, using material from Terry Craven’s Facebook page.]

I was shocked when I saw the images above – as I expect you may be, if you are seeing them here for the first time.

They are of a 64-year-old man living in Birkenhead, here in the UK. He had been left to starve by the Conservative government’s barbaric mockery of a benefit system until, at the time these images were taken (Christmas Eve, 2018), he weighed just six stone, had contracted pneumonia and was “at death’s door”.

Employment law advisor Terry Craven provides the full story on his Facebook page:

“Please spare a thought for this 64 year old severely disabled client of mine? Please share this post to see if we can garner a response from the Tories although I doubt we will.

“My client was thrown off ESA by ATOS 18 months ago. Since then, he has been expected to sign on. Obviously, he’s been sanctioned and forced to go hungry. so much so he weighs 6 stone. On Friday [December 21], not surprisingly he was at death’s door with pneumonia. Fortunately, I was able to get him into hospital. Evidently, his left lung was full of fluid with his right not much better. He’s now on the mend.

“He has been unable to heat or look after his home properly because his health has deteriorated which I suggest is obvious from the photographs. He lives in one room of his 3 bedroom house he rents from a private landlord. It is rat infested, he cannot use the toilet nor is he strong enough to put water in a kettle. He relies on bottled water. I am making efforts to have him rehoused in sheltered accommodation. However, I think he may have to go into a nursing/residential home in the interim.

“Birkenhead Benefits Centre has ignored my continuous pleas for help, heartless bastards!

“Well here’s wishing May, IDS, Esther McVey a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The one thing which is certain is my client will not have one thanks to their evil, Dickensian policies. I hope they all rot in hell for the sickness, death and hunger the Tories have heaped on disabled people since 2010. My Christmas wish is for a general election and a Corbyn/McDonell government.”

By now, you may be even more appalled than when you saw the images. But there is an even more horrifying aspect to this story – the reaction of some members of the public.

Initial responses were as one might have expected from members of the public faced with such a shocking revelation of the reality of Conservative benefit policies:

But others were not so sympathetic. What kind of person writes the kind of comment provided by “dorsetphill”, below?

How about the abhorrent attitude of “Crantastic”, here?

I tend to agree with Ezzie Wilfred. Anyone reacting with such a lack of simple human compassion has been damaged by the Conservatives too – just not in a way that is as visible as the 64-year-old in the photographs, who is another victim of attempted Tory chequebook euthanasia.

The constant drip-feeding of Tory propaganda against benefit claimants, the sick and the old has desensitised these people. I would say they may even be suffering from a form of sociopathic disorder.

Or they may be trolls who have been paid to tweet poison at us, in order to “nudge” public opinion into line with what the Tories want. Judging by the fact that both the offensive accounts mentioned above have been around for many years but neither has many followers, this seems likely.

The best thing to do when encountering accounts like these is to block them.

Theresa May announced a crackdown on social media abuse in February last year, but these people are still here.

You may come to a conclusion about the reason for that. I could not possibly comment.

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Remember Mark Wood? Tories have QUADRUPLED the number of people likely to die like he did

Mark Wood: He died of starvation several months after his ESA was stopped without warning by the DWP.

Mark Wood: He died of starvation several months after his ESA was stopped without warning by the DWP.

Mark Wood starved to death four months after the then-government sickness benefit assessor, Atos, found him fit for work.

His death was never entered in Department for Work and Pensions death statistics as it did not happen within two weeks of his claim being cut off. So the DWP could deny responsibility, even though he plainly was not fit for work when he was assessed.

Now it seems government policies are deliberately sending thousands of people to die the same way – poverty-stricken malnutrition.

Perhaps ministers think they have found a way to make the deaths look coincidental?

Consider: Government policies make people too poor to eat, so they either starve to death at home like Mr Wood, or they become a burden on an already-overworked National Health Service, forcing it further towards collapse.

If they live, they have helped push the NHS further into difficulty that can be used later to justify a switch to insurance-based private health; if they die, they cease to claim state benefits.

It’s easy to understand that this is how Jeremy Hunt and Damian Green think.

The number of people so ­malnourished they need hospital treatment has QUADRUPLED in 10 years.

In a shocking indictment of the nation’s food poverty , more than 16,000 cases of malnutrition were reported in hospitals in England last year, an average of 45 every day.

More than 900 of these cases were classed as severe – meaning patients were in danger of starving to death.

But these alarming NHS figures are just the extreme tip of an iceberg of misery and deprivation as GPs treat thousands more poverty-stricken patients for malnutrition.

Campaigners blame spiralling food prices, falling wages and ruthless benefits cuts and sanctions.

Source: Shocking rise in Brits being admitted to hospital because they are MALNOURISHED – Mirror Online

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‘Sanctions, starvation and evictions are not entertainment. People are dying’

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Are you as utterly sick of televised ‘poverty porn’ as you should be?

Night after night, main offenders Channel 4, Channel 5 – and even the BBC – flood their schedules with nonsense films designed to misinform the public about the lives of the deprived and enlist your collusion in their demonization and destruction.

It’s time somebody put a stop to it, and the United Disability Resistance Movement (UDRM) wants your help to achieve this.

“Some of us have recently been looking at asking our members to write a … letter to the individual members of OFCOM about the media portrayal of benefits ‘scroungers’,” wrote a UDRM representative in a message to This Blog yesterday.

“We think all should unite, able and disabled against the media rhetoric and narrative.

“At UDRM we are convinced that, if all protest groups worked together, we would stand a much better chance of changing things because we all want the same thing in the end. We believe there’s strength in numbers and we are already working with some other groups under the banner of ‘Unite and Fight’.”

The group is asking for anyone who agrees that ‘poverty porn’ should be stopped to send a copy of the following letter to one, many or all of the Ofcom members listed below, indicating their support for the points it makes, in a short campaign over two days between Saturday and Sunday (August 8-9).

It’s up to you.

Here’s the letter. Please consider joining this campaign.

Dear [insert name],

I am writing to complain about the number of programmes on mainstream British television and radio and in British print media at the moment which vilify, target and demonise people who are claiming welfare benefits.

People are being mocked and their struggles are being seen as entertainment when, in fact, it is day-to-day existence for many and not a fictitious variation of shows such as ‘Big Brother’. Sanctions, starvation and evictions are not ‘amusing’ or a joke, they are a reality for many and are horrifying in their brutality. People have died.

Programmes such as ‘Benefits Street’ and ‘Benefits Britain, Life on the Dole’ perpetuate the myth that claiming welfare benefits is a lifestyle choice. Vitriolic articles by so-called commentators such as Katie Hopkins incite hatred. Benefit claimants, migrants and job seekers are being portrayed as scroungers who have chosen a lifestyle of inactivity and modern-day begging. This is not the case. People claim benefits because there is nothing else they can do. People claim benefits because they were born disabled or have become sick later in life. People claim benefits because they have lost their jobs and have been unable to secure a new role. People claim benefits because employers are paying minimum, starvation wages and they cannot afford to feed and clothe their families. People claim benefits because they need help. People claim benefits because they have no choice. This is not entertainment, this is disgusting, this is frightening; this is tragedy.

Further to this, ‘Poverty Porn’ has alarming knock-on effects on the way people who have no choice but to claim benefits to survive are viewed. The result of this misinformation is the alarming increase in hate crime against those who are claiming benefits. Spying on friends and neighbours is encouraged. covert filming and recording is rife. According to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2014 there was a 213 percent increase in the number of prosecutions for hate crime against disabled people. In 2011 the report, ‘Ready Willing and Able’ highlighted the fact that 38 percent of the general public perceived disabled people to be a burden on society. On 24 April 2015 the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein compared British print media’s attitude to migrants to propaganda in 1930s Nazi Germany.

The TUC has stated that “The government’s austerity programme is reshaping the welfare State through cuts in benefits and the privatisation of public services, including health, education and drastically reduced state support. The impact of benefits cuts and of the associated campaign of demonisation of disabled people, the unemployed, migrants, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups has been catastrophic. Crimes motivated by hate have wider and deeper roots, but austerity has made the problems worse.” This is not healthy. This is frightening. This can only lead to the further disintegration of our society.

I am asking OFCOM to look into this trend in the British media to publicise non-stop ‘poverty porn’ in print, on the radio and on television. I am asking OFCOM to do the right thing. I am asking OFCOM to have the courage to say ‘No More’. The public should be shown the true stories of the struggling majority, not the glamorisation of the extreme minority. Over many years the British press has been lauded for its fairness and unbiased reporting. Please do not allow this to change.

Yours sincerely,

[insert your name]

Here is the list of possible recipients:

[email protected], Mehmuda Mian, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

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DWP employees: Do the right thing – because Iain Duncan Smith never will

zIDSmurderer

The effect of Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘welfare reforms’ should, by now, be plain for all to see: Increased poverty – including child poverty, the torture of starvation for people who have been sanctioned off of benefit and cannot afford food, hopelessness, despair, suicide.

We saw the signs as long ago as 2012, when the man we call RTU (Return To Unit) and SNLR (Services No Longer Required) launched his famous rant on the subject against Owen Jones.

This blog reported it at the time: “Irately wagging his finger in Mr Jones’s general direction, he barked: ‘We’ve heard a lot from you. I didn’t hear you screaming about two and a half million people who were parked, nobody saw them, for over 10 years, not working, no hope, no aspiration. We are changing their lives; I’m proud of doing that. Getting them off-benefit is what we’re going to do.'”

Establishment figures like David Dimbleby, it seems, wanted us to take this at face value – that the Secretary-in-a-State was going to put people to work (whether they liked it or not).

Now we know that wasn’t what he meant.

He meant he was going to force people off benefit by perverting the system in the worst way possible. He was going to order his staff to find any slight excuse to inflict benefit sanctions on society’s most vulnerable.

As we read today, “Unlike benefit delays, where in theory claimants can receive backdated payments to cover the period when they were without income, sanctions left already vulnerable recipients struggling with a massive hole in their finances which they had often filled with expensive credit, trapping them in a cycle of debt.”

Iain Duncan Smith has encouraged his staff to sanction people using “unjust, potentially fraudulent reasons”.

He has inflicted torture on the innocent, in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

His benefit assessors practice “chequebook euthanasia” – when claimants say they have suicidal thoughts, they are asked why they have not yet killed themselves.

And sometimes he just condemns people to die in the cold. Note that Job Centre staff – like Nazi soldiers – use the so-called ‘Nuremberg defence’ for their actions; they were “only following orders”.

Take this comparison to its logical conclusion and Iain Duncan Smith may be compared with Hitler; the unemployed, sick and disabled are his Jews, Romanies, sick and disabled; and the whole of the UK is his extermination camp.

But a general election is coming and the Conservatives are not expected to win. Will Iain Duncan Smith take Hitler’s way out?

Fat chance!

He’ll probably try to cover his tracks, too.

So let us appeal to all DWP personnel: Here’s your chance to get something worthwhile from the last five years!

It is time to start copying information. Iain Duncan Smith will want to cover up all his dirty little secrets and it is likely that his shredder will be working day and night if he thinks someone else might discover any inconvenient truths.

If there are any inconvenient truths, then as servants of the country – rather than servants of the Conservatives or the Secretary of State – it is your duty to collect this evidence, preserve it and bring it forward after he has been ousted.

Nobody can order you to do this. Undoubtedly you will be discouraged from doing it; there are likely to be rules that say you must not, invoking the same national interest that Yr Obdt Srvt is invoking here.

This is a matter for your conscience.

Do you think Iain Duncan Smith and his associates should be allowed to go unpunished for the harm they have caused?

Do what you think is right.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Coalition government condemned over sanctions regime that tortures children

A poster against benefits sanctions in Salford.

Around 100,000 children were affected by benefit sanctions between the beginning of April 2013 and the end of March 2014, according to a new report.

In the same period, nearly seven million weeks’ worth of sanctions were handed out to benefit claimants.

The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, will feature in this evening’s episode of Channel 4’s Dispatches, entitled Britain’s Benefits Crackdown.

The report – Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions – is published today by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church Action on Poverty, the Church in Wales, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church. It contains new data on the severity and length of sanctions under ‘welfare reform’, and on how sanctions affect vulnerable groups such as children and those with mental health problems.

It features the stories of people like James [not his real name] who have had their benefits sanctioned: “During the first three weeks of my sanction I continued to look for work as I was required to.

“By the fourth week, however, I was exhausted, unwell and no longer had it in me. I was not eating as I had no food and was losing a lot of weight. I told the Jobcentre I was unwell through not eating, but was sanctioned for another three months for not looking for work properly,” he added.

According to The Void, Job Centres are being awarded special 'sheriff stars' for meeting sanction targets (that's right - the sanction targets that the DWP keeps insisting don't exist, even after being presented with the proof). Link: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/sandra-gives-the-game-away-jobcentres-given-sheriffs-stars-for-hitting-benefit-sanction-targets/

According to The Void, Job Centres are being awarded special ‘sheriff stars’ for meeting sanction targets (that’s right – the sanction targets that the DWP keeps insisting don’t exist, even after being presented with the proof). Link: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/sandra-gives-the-game-away-jobcentres-given-sheriffs-stars-for-hitting-benefit-sanction-targets/

“Those who already have the most difficult lives are those most likely to be sanctioned,” said Paul Morrison, public issues policy adviser for the Methodist Church and one of the authors of the report. “Sanctions impact disproportionately on young people, care leavers, homeless people, single parents, the mentally ill and those with long term illness. This system causes problems for the very people that most need help.

“But sanctions don’t just have a financial impact. The people we’ve spoken to have told us of the shame, demoralisation and loss of self-worth caused by this system. As Christians we believe that everyone is loved, valued and made in the image of God, and we have a responsibility to challenge any structure or system that undermines that dignity.”

The Churches are calling for a full and independent review of the regime and for urgent reform of the hardship payments system to avoid the deliberate imposition of hunger.

This is worth highlighting – these churches consider the government to be deliberately forcing hunger on people. Doesn’t that run against Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as enshrined in the UK’s Human Rights Act? Human rights campaigning organisation Liberty says this is the case, with this web page quoting a case study that includes “food and drink deprivation”.

In the meantime, they are urging the Government to suspend all sanctions against families with children and those suffering from mental health problems. Most importantly, they say, there needs to be a change of culture, from one of enforcement and punishment to one of assistance and support.

“If you commit a crime, no criminal court in the UK is allowed to make you go hungry as a punishment,” added Niall Cooper, Director of Church Action on Poverty. “But if you’re late for an appointment at the Jobcentre, they can remove all your income and leave you unable to feed yourself or your family for weeks at a time.

Most people in this country would be shocked if they knew that far from providing a safety net, the benefit sanctions policy is currently making thousands of people destitute. This policy must be reviewed urgently.”

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said: “The findings of this report are disturbing. It exposes a system that is harsh in the extreme, penalising the most vulnerable of claimants by the withdrawal of benefits for weeks at a time. Most worryingly, it appears from DWP guidance, quoted in the report, that deprivation and hunger are knowingly being used as a punishment for quite trivial breaches of benefit conditions. Employers would not be allowed to stop someone’s wages for a month the first time they were 10 minutes late for an appointment, but this is the kind of sanction that is being imposed on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, including those with mental and physical health problems.

Here is the DWP’s own guidance to Job Centre officials on the subject. Judge for yourself:

150121dmg-sanctions

The Archbishop continued: “We are concerned that the problem may be even worse in Wales, recognising the higher levels of poverty in this country. No Welsh data, however, is included in the report because despite submitting a Freedom of Information request to the DWP three months ago, we are still waiting for a reply. There is supposed to be a 20-day turnaround period for Freedom of Information requests. We are pursuing this.”

It is clear that the DWP is in breach of the Human Rights Act and is subjecting benefit claimants to torture as punishment for late attendance at appointments.

This report by the churches is to be welcomed. Now, what can they do to punish the government for torturing its own citizens?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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