Tag Archives: universal

A polite letter to Therese Coffey [TRIGGER WARNING]

Phillip Herron.

[Yes, this article comes with a trigger warning as it discusses matters which some people may find extremely upsetting.]

Dear Ms Coffey,

Please take a good, long look at the image accompanying this. It is the last photograph of Phillip Herron, taken minutes before he took his own life.

Mr Herron died because your employees at the Department for Work and Pensions could not be bothered to take their fingers out of their collective posteriors long enough to pay him the Universal Credit he was owed. He would undoubtedly be alive now if they had.

No doubt the DWP officers concerned would say they did not need to pay Mr Herron as Universal Credit is paid in arrears and his five-week wait had not yet ended. They were “only following orders”, they will say, echoing the so-called Nuremberg Defence that did not protect any German soldiers who were prosecuted for ensuring the deaths of so many people during World War II.

You, together with previous Work and Pensions secretaries, and many other Conservative MPs past and present, justify the wait with the mantra that delaying payment for more than a month prepares claimants for the world of work, but we all know that is not true.

It attacks their mental health. It causes depression and despair, and ultimately can lead to suicidal thoughts. Mr Herron’s death is a matter of Conservative government policy.

When he died, he had just £4.61 in his bank account and debts of more than £20,000 that were escalating due to that five-week wait for Universal Credit.

£20,000 is not a substantial sum of money in this day and age. I know you have said it is in interviews, but just take a look at your own bank balance. You probably consider that to be small change; the kind of pocket money you might spend on a night out.

It is one-sixth of the pay rise you will receive next year, just for being a member of Parliament.

It could have been handled. There are ways to ensure debt can be paid off within a reasonable period of time, no matter what the debtor’s means. But Mr Herron could not see that because your system forced him to concentrate on the negative aspects of his situation.

He saw no way out because you denied it to him. So he took his own life. His blood is on your hands. I understand DWP jargon describes that as a “positive benefit outcome”.

Now his three young children must go through life without a father – because that is what you demanded.

Their upbringing is likely to be a much greater burden on public funds than paying his Universal Credit claim – because that is what you demanded.

And there are countless others in the same predicament right now – because that is what you demand.

Your system does not help anybody. It pressurises them; it brutalises them; it forces them to consider the unthinkable – because that is what you demand.

It does not matter whether you spoke the words. You ordered the death of this man.

Please make a copy of his photograph and put it on your wall. Then, every day, when you come into work, you can spend time looking at it – and try to find a way to justify the fact that you caused him to die.

You can find more information – and more than 18,000 comments from members of the public – in this Facebook post.

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Coffey tells people earning less than minimum wage to take Universal Credit or blow their savings

Therese Coffey: if she’s an example of Tory ‘levelling up’ then we need to get rid of them for the sake of the nation.

If you can’t see what’s wrong with the pictured evoked by the headline, it’s simple: nobody should be earning less than the minimum wage.

There’s a reason it’s called the minimum. It is the legal limit below which no employer should be paying anybody.

But the Johnson government’s Work and Pensions Secretary – who should know this – didn’t.

Therese Coffee really is a waste of a Commons seat.

On Sky News yesterday (October 14), she refused to answer when Kay Burley repeatedly asked her if she could live on £5.84 an hour.

Instead, she said people could claim Universal Credit to have that amount topped up (after the obligatory five-week wait, but she didn’t mention that).

Or those with more than £16,000 in savings – which she described as “substantial” although This Writer is sure she and her fellow Tory ministers would consider it a pittance – could drill into that money until it is gone.

What a charmer. Here she is, avoiding the question:

And here’s the backlash:

(For those who can’t read images, Cleverly tweeted that, at elections, Labour think you’re an adult at 16, but when it comes to bus travel you’re not an adult until 25 – to which The Daily Politik responded that, when it comes to paying taxes, the Tories think you’re an adult at 16, but you don’t qualify for an adult minimum wage until 25.)

Meanwhile, the Tories have used the Covid crisis give huge amounts of cash to firms run by their chums, avoiding the normal tendering process. One such firm is paying people the equivalent of £1.5 million per year – each – to do nothing.

That is what the Conservatives call “levelling up”: they take your cash and use it to further enrich their friends.

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Is #BorisJohnson thinking of another #lockdown so people can die – alone and uncounted – at home? Will #KeirStarmer support this?

Johnson v Starmer: in Prime Minister’s Questions they make a show of opposing each other but when it comes to depriving people of vitally-needed funds, it seems they are equally homicidal.

It seems Boris Johnson is considering a new tightening of restrictions on the public, in an effort to turn back what he has now acknowledged as a second wave of Covid-19. But is there an ulterior motive?

The first national lockdown he imposed, back in March, meant many people died alone at home – unnoticed by the authorities who were struggling to cope with hospital admissions or by neighbours, friends and relatives who were under what amounted to house arrest.

Here’s one such example:

Notice that this death was not due to Covid-19 infection. It was due to denial of Universal Credit. The lockdown meant this person was unable to seek or secure any help at all.

Remember that Universal Credit sanctions were suspended after the lockdown started, but there was no amnesty for those who were already under sanction.

How many more deaths were there? I don’t know, but to demonstrate that this wasn’t an isolated incident, here’s another:

Ms Farrell added the following:

Yes – Johnson does have blood on his hands, and will have more to wash off if he imposes any further lockdowns without checks on vulnerable people, including those who are being denied benefits.

But that blood should be shared with all those who rejected the idea of a Universal Basic Income for everybody, at least during the lockdown.

This would have ensured that nobody fell through the cracks in provision – as the examples above show obviously occurred.

Labour leader Keir Starmer was among those who opposed the establishment of a UBI – and may therefore have to join Johnson in the virtual washroom, soaping the blood off himself.

A friend of This Site made the point in a tweet responding to his attempt to publicise his virtual conference, Labour Connected:

He’ll do neither. His inactions so far indicate that this Red Tory leader wants vulnerable people to die, just as much as Johnson does.

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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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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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Prejudiced Tories are unfairly denying benefits to people whose relatives die of Covid-19

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Sanction centre: it isn’t a sanction as such, but anyone receiving compensation for the death of a relative due to Covid-19 will be automatically denied state benefits.

Doesn’t this show how sly, sneaky and underhanded Boris Johnson and his Tory friends are?

If any low-paid frontline NHS and social care workers die of Covid-19, their relatives are entitled to claim a £60,000 lump sum under a Tory compensation scheme.

But if they are already claiming benefits and they do this, they will lose their entitlement to those benefits, meaning they could not claim Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.

Some of you might think that’s fair; £60,000 is a lot of money, after all.

But this is at a time when Boris Johnson has been dishing out huge sums – £563,400 to consulting firm McKinsey for ‘advice’ that is likely to see the new National Institute for Health Protection sink without a trace, £150 million on face masks that can’t be used, an unspecified amount to Public First for the ‘A’ level results fiasco. Why should benefit claimants lose out when these fat Tories are making such a killing?

Perhaps more to the point, other compensation schemes such as those for the Windrush scandal and the Grenfell Tower fire do not affect entitlement to state benefits. Why should this be different?

The Tories have no answer to this question. Their spokesman is quoted as saying, “It has always been one the central principles of Universal Credit that decisions on awarding the benefit should take into account individuals’ existing ability to meet their basic needs, so that we maintain our focus on supporting families in most need.”

But the Windrush and Grenfell schemes are exempt from being taken into account.

It seems the Tories have created a hierarchy of merit – and relatives of Covid-19 victims have been ruled undeserving, even while ministers’ cronies are mopping up the last coppers from the Treasury that Johnson has emptied.

Source: UK families bereaved by Covid-19 lose eligibility for welfare benefits | Universal credit | The Guardian

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Tory ‘rape clause’ starts to fall apart: how can a woman be denied benefit for being raped in the wrong order?

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“Punish the rapist, not the victim”: Campaigners against the so-called ‘rape clause’ have been trying to overturn the rule for years.

We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

The experience of the lady involved in this story shows that the Tories are discriminating unfairly between rape victims.

They’re saying that a person can have two children and still receive the child element of Universal Credit for a third born of rape, only if it was the third, and born after April 2017.

This clearly discriminates against mothers who have had first or second children as a result of rape, because they are then forbidden from claiming the child element of UC for a third child that they wanted.

Both situations involve two children not born of rape and one that is, but only one qualifies for the benefit.

That is unfair.

I hope someone takes a case through the courts. Perhaps this is a job for public interest solicitors like Leigh Day, who seem to have done very well with other benefit-related cases recently?

Then, with luck, we’ll be able to force the Tories to u-turn on this despicable rule that humiliates women who have already suffered too much.

Source: DWP denies mum Universal Credit for her child because she was raped in the wrong order – Mirror Online

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Will glue company come unstuck over ‘two weeks without pay’ offer to Universal Credit claimants?


Why is the Tory government allowing this?

A glue company called Bond It has advertised jobs via Universal Credit work coaches – which may sound great in these recession-ridden times.

There’s only one catch:

The firm is asking UC claimants to do the work without pay for two weeks.

Not only that, but the job does not appear on Bond It’s own site, nor is its two-week unpaid “trial” mentioned on any other site that advertises jobs.

As Ben Claimant points out below, it is specifically for Universal Credit claimants.

And your Tory government supports this behaviour.

Your Tory government considers anybody on Universal Credit to be available to companies to work for nothing –

That’s slave labour, by the way!

– simply because they have to claim a so-called benefit that pushes them into poverty as a condition of claiming (that’s the intention of the five-week wait before payments begin), that punishes them if they are paid at irregular times of the month for the work they do, and that punishes them if they are unable to secure better-paid work.

Strangely, Labour has managed to actually ask the government what’s going on…

… although it is doubtful anything will come of this.

The story in the New Statesman article refers to a person who was already claiming UC, so is familiar with its injustices already.

But millions of people have signed on as a consequence of Covid-19.

I hope they get job offers like this.

It will show many of them what they’ve been supporting all these years.

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DWP rejection of benefit increase call proves conclusively: we’re NOT ‘all in it together’

The Department for Work and Pensions has rejected a call by its own advisors to increase benefits and help two million people get through the Covid-19 crisis.

The Tory government promised to increase the amounts of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits payable to claimants, way back in March.

But people on the so-called “legacy” benefits like Employment and Support Allowance have been denied the same courtesy.

Ministers said this is because it would take too much time to implement.

What – a few keystrokes on a computer takes too much time to implement? I don’t believe it.

How do they manage the regular annual upgrades, then?

This Writer reckons the intention all along was to give a false impression to normally-working people who were thrown onto UC by the Covid crisis, that the benefits system provides an ample safety cushion to claimants in need. It doesn’t.

People on the “legacy” benefits already know the system is set up to punish people for being out of work, and therefore are deemed not to need an increase that is only for show, while the Covid contingent is claiming.

In other words: the Covid-related benefits boost is just another public-relations scam.

Getting people through the crisis is only its secondary function.

Its main purpose is to reassure Conservatives in the electorate.

If it dupes enough Tory voters into continuing to vote Tory, it will have done its job.

Source: DWP rejects own advisers’ call to up benefits to help two million through coronavirus pandemic

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Edinburgh demo follows Esther McVey’s vile defence of the ‘rape clause’

Demo: SNP MP Alison Thewliss has stood up against the ‘rape clause’ before.

Scots have organised a swift response to Esther McVey’s defence of the ‘rape clause’ at Holyrood earlier this week.

If you don’t know what she said and why it was so despicable, you need to read this article.

The quick version is: Esther McVey provoked outrage by claiming that forcing rape survivors to recount their ordeal in order to access benefits will give them an ‘opportunity to talk’.

Here’s the response from the people of Scotland – and This Site approves most strongly:

Activists are stepping up the pressure on the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to scrap the rape clause.

A demonstration will be held on Thursday 19 April at 5.30pm, on The Mound, Edinburgh, one year on since its implementation.

It comes as work and pensions secretary Esther McVey told the Scottish parliament’s social security committee that the rape clause “provided an opportunity” for sexual assault victims and described victims talking about their rape to DWP staff as offering “potentially double support.”

An organiser responsible the protest said: “Esther McVey’s appearance in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee, illustrated the alarming lack of understanding about the complexities and reality of sexual violence. No woman should be forced to choose between disclosing rape possibly for the first time ever and poverty. It is a disgrace.”

Alison Thewliss MP, who has campaigned against the clause from the beginning, said that charities and other agencies have warned that these measures will push thousands into poverty, and be hugely damaging to women.

Source: Rape clause protest to take place in Edinburgh


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