Tag Archives: worry

The mentally ill are bearing the brunt of benefit sanctions in Wales

A poster against benefits sanctions in Salford.

People with mental health problems in Wales are being punished for their conditions by benefit sanctions – or the threat of them, according to research by a group of Christian churches.

Two-thirds of those who are sanctioned in Wales are unfit for work because of mental health problems – more than in the rest of the UK. It is likely that the sanctions add to the worry and stress which already cause terrible difficulty for these people.

The information is revealed in the Welsh Data Supplement to the report Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions, which will be launched in the churches’ tent at the National Eisteddfod in Meifod on Wednesday (August 5), starting at 1pm. The event will hear the stories of some of those who have suffered from sanctions.

In his Preface to the report, the Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, states: “The results are shocking: large numbers of people, particularly those judged unfit for work due to mental health problems, are being punished … by the withholding of their income.”

Chair of Synod Cymru of the Methodist Church, Revd Jennifer Hurd, added, “Over a third of those who are told they may be sanctioned in fact find their sanction is cancelled because of a bureaucratic error. But in the meantime, they will have suffered additional unnecessary stress and anxiety, waiting to find out if their support is to be cut off.”

Moderator of the United Reformed Church in Wales, Revd Simon Walkling, said, “This is a shocking report, and confirms what churches find in their work on the ground with food banks, debt counselling services and other projects helping those in need in their communities. That is why our churches have said that in Wales, as in the rest of the UK, it is time to rethink benefit sanctions.”

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Chances of Labour-SNP alliance are dwindling due to nationalists’ own strategy

SNPlogo

Now even shadow cabinet members are speaking openly against any alliance with the SNP, post-election.

Vox Political has previously reported on Labour backbenchers’ concerns that any link with the Scottish nationalists would make a future Labour government vulnerable to a partner who would walk out when it best suited them – and least suited Labour.

Now it seems this concern has spread to shadow minister. Andrew Rawnsley has reported in The Guardian: “A growing number within the shadow cabinet … are urging a much more emphatically anti-SNP message.

“One of them says that Labour now needs to say ‘loud and clear’ that it would not treat with the nationalists as ‘a party that wants to tear the United Kingdom apart’.

“Another agrees: ‘We’re going to have to say no deal with the SNP.’

“It is also necessary, they argue, to disabuse Scottish voters of the notion that voting SNP will give them a perfect world in which David Cameron is thrown out of Number 10 and Scots hold sway at Westminster.

“Senior Labour figures also contend that striking any sort of bargain with the SNP would be such a strategic mistake that they should never countenance doing one anyway.

“Says a member of the shadow cabinet: ‘If we do a deal with the nationalists, my fear is that it will not just be the end of the Labour party in Scotland, it will be the end of the Labour party in England.’”

This is bad news indeed for supporters of the nationalist party, who were banking on being able to tell Scottish voters that Labour was a spent force in their country – and then convince them that voting SNP would give them a strong voice in an alliance with the same party in Westminster. It isn’t logical, but that’s what they’ve been saying.

And the nationalists are now finding themselves in bed with the Conservative Party, in their attacks on Labour.

North of the border, the SNP tells voters Labour is too similar to the Tories (this is, of course, a lie).

South of the border, the Tories are telling voters Labour is too willing to ally with the nationalists.

The two claims are mutually exclusive. A party that was similar to the Tories would never ally with the SNP, and the SNP would never ally with a party that was similar to the Tories.

But that doesn’t matter because they are being made to different sets of voters. It’s only when these fictions are presented side-by-side that they look as ridiculous as they really are.

Either way, the result will be the same, if voters are persuaded by these false arguments. As Rawnsley writes: “The Tories and SNP suggest that a vote for the nationalists will be a vote for a Labour government. The reverse is much more likely to be the case.

“What a mighty irony it would be if voting SNP were to put David Cameron back in Downing Street.

That outcome might secretly delight the leadership of the SNP.

It is rather more doubtful that it would please many of the Scots currently saying they plan to vote nationalist.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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