Tag Archives: unjust

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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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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Unemployment figures are a sanction-based stitch-up, research shows

Iain Duncan Smith: He's proud of the sanctions regime he introduced, in which Job Centre staff are expected to use possibly-fraudulent means to push people off benefits - and he doesn't care how many people they harm.

Iain Duncan Smith: He’s proud of the sanctions regime he introduced, in which Job Centre staff are expected to use possibly-fraudulent means to push people off benefits – and he doesn’t care how many people they harm.

The Coalition government will be crowing about the latest drop in unemployment today – according to official statistics. What a shame it’s all a load of bunk.

New research by Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has shown that only around one-fifth (20 per cent) of people who have been sanctioned off of Jobseekers’ Allowance have actually found work, leaving 1.6 million in limbo; they’re off the benefits system but researchers can only surmise that they are relying on food banks.

(Isn’t the Coalition government desperate to discredit food banks? Are ministers determined to drive the out-of-work population to starvation?)

This suggests that official Office for National Statistics figures are inaccurate. The latest batch – out today (January 21, 2015) – claim that unemployment dropped by 58,000 in the three months to November last year, when it totalled 1.91 million.

How can we trust these figures when it has been claimed there’s a sanction-based stitch-up going on?

The new figures are from the same ONS that is claiming wages are rising above inflation. Oh really? The figures show average earnings (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.8 per cent, which is more than the CPI rate of inflation – but not more than RPI, which is a more accurate measure of the costs affecting households.

What happens to those figures when executive pay is taken out of them? What’s the average for employees?

The revelation that sanctions have created a huge underclass of people – who have been refused benefits by Iain Duncan Smith’s homicidal system – casts all the ONS statistics into doubt.

If 1.6 million people are being denied benefits, that doesn’t stop them being unemployed.

Therefore the true unemployment figure should be almost twice as high as stated, at a massive 3.51 million.

That’s before other elements, such as the Work Programme, have been taken into account!

And what about the hidden cost of sanctions – to other taxpayer-funded services?

Professor David Stuckler of Oxford University explained this to The Guardian: “If, as we’re finding, people are out of work but without support – disappeared from view – there’s a real danger that other services will absorb the costs, like the NHS, possibly jails and food support systems, to name a few. Sanctions could be costing taxpayers more.”

Debbie Abrahams is a member of the House of Commons Work and Pensions committee, which was due to take evidence on benefit sanctions today. She told the paper: “This government has developed a culture in which Jobcentre Plus advisers are expected to sanction claimants using unjust, and potentially fraudulent, reasons in order get people ‘off-flow’. This creates the illusion the government is bringing down unemployment.”

[Image: The Void.]

[Image: The Void.]

Finally, there is the revelation that “physical punishment is now built into the benefit system, with sanctions both known and intended to cause a deterioration in health, says the DWP rule book”. Visit the Void blog for further details.

The evidence is stacking up, and shows that the Coalition government has falsified the figures to a shocking extent.

Any new government entering office after the general election will face an uphill struggle simply to uncover the depth of the depravity currently taking place.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Let’s support people who stand up against bad government

A principled stand: Dr Gordon Gancz, of Oxford, is fighting the government's plan to sell his patients' confidential records to private companies for profit.

A principled stand: Dr Gordon Gancz, of Oxford, is fighting the government’s plan to sell his patients’ confidential records to private companies for profit.

A refreshing change seems to be sweeping through local news media here in the UK, with stories starting to appear about people who are fighting unjust behaviour by the government.

The rest of us should support this.

For example: Workington woman Jeanette Johnston, 29, had a job until recently but has been forced to give it up due to congenital health problems which mean she has already had a kidney removed and will need a heart and lung transplant in the future.

She had been receiving Disability Living Allowance but this was stopped last August after aids including bed ladders were fitted at her home, following recommendations from an occupational health expert.

DWP advisors told her that the benefits would stop until she was reassessed for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – and she has now spent half a year waiting for that appointment.

Jeanette’s tale raises several questions. Why does it take so long for anyone to have the now-legally-demanded medical assessment of their disabilities? Could it be because benefits are stopped until those assessments take place, and it is a chance for the government to claim benefit savings? This seems extremely likely.

Also, Jeanette’s benefit was stopped after living aids were installed in her home on the advice of an occupational health expert. The government has just announced a plan to let employers send occupational health experts to advise workers who are off sick for more than four weeks. Does this signify an intention to deprive people of sickness benefits?

Finally, we should note that Jeanette’s condition is serious, involving a heart condition – and it is entirely possible that the stress of trying to make ends meet could worsen her health enough to hospitalise her or even end her life. Is this the government’s intention? If so, then we should all be asking questions about criminal intent.

Elsewhere – in Oxford – a local doctor is defying plans to collect patients’ confidential information and sell it to businesses.

Vox Political has reported on the plan many times in the past, focusing on patients’ right to ‘opt out’ of the scheme, called variously the Health and Social Care Information Centre, the General Patient Extraction Service or simply care.data by the government.

The records are said to be ‘pseudonymised’ by the government – an attempt at hiding patients’ identities that, in fact, allows anyone buying the information to work out the personal details of everybody on the list if they so choose.

Oxford GP Dr Gordon Gancz said: “It removes my right to protect my patients’ confidential information.” He has vowed to take the government to court if it takes action against him.

Both of these stories have been reported in the local press, where the online versions have ‘comment’ columns to which readers can post opinions. It seems likely that the papers involved will also have letters pages.

If you believe that the delays caused by the government disability assessment system are dangerous, you can say so – directly, to the newspaper. If you believe that Dr Gancz is right to protect his patients, you can say so – directly, to the newspaper.

I’m not going to urge you to go and do it because – as we all know – the Department for Work and Pensions took a previous comment of this kind as evidence that I was co-ordinating a campaign of harassment against it (new readers: this is not a joke!) and a future such incident would not help anyone.

But it seems likely that a few words of support for these people, in the pages of their local paper, might help rouse other readers into declaring their own opinions.

It is easy to keep people quiet about controversial changes when they think they are the only ones who are concerned; it’s not so easy when people have evidence that others feel the same way.

What are you going to do?

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Bedroom tax condemns homes to demolition because they are too expensive for families

The obvious solution: The government should be helping build new social housing - not forcing the demolition of what little there is.

The obvious solution: The government should be helping build new social housing – not forcing the demolition of what little there is.

If the government really wants to make larger social accommodation available to overcrowded families, why are housing associations knocking them down?

They have to go because the Bedroom Tax has made them too expensive, according to The Guardian.

The story, published yesterday, is another nail in the coffin of Iain Duncan Smith’s credibility. It doesn’t matter how many polls the Conservatives produce to support their claim that people agree with them; in practice, it simply doesn’t work.

Housing associations are finding three-bedroomed properties impossible to maintain. They cannot let them out, sell them or keep up with the costs of keeping them while they are empty.

All of this has serious implications for the Coalition government that voted the Bedroom Tax onto the statute books as part of Mr ‘Returned To Unit’ Smith’s hugely unpopular – and now proving to be unworkable – Welfare Reform Act last year.

On Tuesday, MPs will debate the future of the Tax, when Labour members are expected to vote for its immediate repeal. Senior Liberal Democrats are also believed to have doubts – The Guardian (again) has quoted Danny Alexander’s father as saying it is “particularly unfair”.

Labour’s Rachel Reeves has overcome a shaky start in her role as shadow Work and Pensions Secretary to get right on-message with this. According to The Guardian report, she said: “This incompetent and out of touch government seems oblivious to the perverse and costly consequences of this unjust and unworkable policy.

“Not only is it hitting 660,000 vulnerable households, including 440,000 disabled people; the costs to the taxpayer are mounting as people are pushed into more expensive private rented accommodation while existing social homes are left vacant.”

Of course, Dear Reader, she’s right. You read it here first – all the way back in October last year.

Surely it makes more sense to have someone living in these properties, rather than losing them altogether? Does the government have an answer for this?

Apparently not. A government spokes-robot trotted out the same tired nonsense we’ve all come to despise: “The removal of the spare room subsidy is a necessary reform that will return fairness to housing benefit. We’ve been clear that hardworking people should not be subsidising tenants living in properties that are too large for their requirements.”

Let’s all remember that there never was a spare room subsidy for the government to remove. It never existed. Therefore its removal is not a necessary reform; it can never be vital to remove something that is fictional. Also, the removal of a fictional thing cannot restore fairness anywhere.

Hard-working people probably shouldn’t be subsidising tenants who are under-occupying, but then hard-working people were never the only ones paying for this to happen. Everybody in the UK pays taxes one way or another – even children.

And while we’re on the subject of what hard-working people subsidise, why is it bad for them to help people stay in the social housing that was originally allocated to them, but good for them to help massive corporations keep their payroll costs down by paying tax credits, housing benefit and council tax reduction costs for people earning less than the Living Wage? Why is it good for them to pay the cost of MPs’ energy bills as well as their own?

“Consent from the Homes and Communities Agency is required before any social housing provider can dispose of a site on which social housing stood and will ensure that public investment and the needs of tenants are protected,” the robot continued, but we should all know that this will be no obstacle.

Demolition of social housing means land becomes available for private developers to build new, luxury homes for the very rich.

That’s where the big money is.