Benefit Sanctions

Please watch the following videos about Benefit Sanctions. Why am I writing about this now? It seems to me that much of the publicity concerning the unfair treatment of benefit claimants is dying down, forgotten, swept under the carpet. I came across this video quite by accident and just had to blog about it. It is good that this young man spoke out despite the consequences, more people need to do so. If you work in a job centre and unfairly sanction benefit claimants you are part of a great injustice which should not be tolerated in any modern progressive society.

If you have received a benefit sanction you can get help here:
https://gingerbread.org.uk/content/2080/If-you-receive-a-sanction?gclid=CMzwpoGV09ECFUcQ0wodTb0BAQ

The videos below shed light on the injustice of benefit sanctions

What I learned working in a UK job centre #WeAreAllDanielBlake

“With the new and acclaimed Ken Loach movie I, Daniel Blake finally hitting screens, here is why I believe we need a strong and supportive welfare system. My story includes experience both of signing on and working in a UK job centre. This is why I am Daniel Blake.”

Why I Am Daniel Blake

“This is my experience of the welfare system, and why I’m not ashamed of it. Please make and share your own videos about your own. We are all Daniel Blake.”

“I am Daniel Blake” refers to the movie I Daniel Blake: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfilms/film/i_daniel_blake

I am Daniel Blake – and there are millions more like me

“What kind of person are you if you aren’t angry, devastated, furious, howling when you leave the cinema after seeing Ken Loach’s Palme D’Or winning film, I, Daniel Blake?

If you aren’t angry that Stephanie Bottrill deliberately walked in front of an articulated lorry on the M6, after her benefits were sanctioned, what kind of person are you?

If you aren’t angry that Linda Wootton died within weeks of being assessed fit for work, as her letters from the Department of Work and Pensions were delivered to her hospital bed, what kind of person are you?”

Read More:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/22/i-am-daniel-blake-millions-like-me-jack-monroe-ken-loach This article is well worth taking the time to read for its invaluable insight of what it is like in the UK if you are unfortunate not only to not have employment but to be sick and disabled.

The film I Daniel Blake is once again highlighting the plight of people on benefits and hopefully revives public awareness of this great injustice.

The 2017 award for outstanding British film has gone to I, Daniel Blake at the Baftas.

“Winning the BAFTA for Best British Film, Loach used the platform to speak out both against the current state of the benefits systems – which forms the underpinning theme of his film – and the Government’s reversal on its promises to accept thousands of refugee children fleeing the terrors of Syria and other deadly conflicts.”

BAFTAs 2017: Watch Ken Loach’s passionate attack on the Government’s ‘disgraceful’ treatment of refugees

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/baftas-ken-loach-i-daniel-blake-acceptance-speech-refugees-syria-government-benefits-a7576676.html

Is the film accurate?

The deaths, sanctions and starvation that prove I, Daniel Blake is accurate – despite what some critics say

Read the complete article:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/i-daniel-blake-accuracy-ken-loach-benefits-sanctions-deaths-iain-duncan-smith-toby-young-a7384581.html

I, Daniel Blake is a realistic depiction of life on benefits. Isn’t it?
Frances Ryan

“Accusations that the film is inaccurate are part of the ongoing attempt to dismiss what is being done to vulnerable people in Britain’s toxic social security system.”

Read the complete article
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/16/daniel-blake-realistic-life-benefits – Includes video the real Daniel Blakes

Clearly “I Daniel Blake” is an accurate depiction of how people on benefits are treated and the hardships they endure.

For anyone who does not know, and frankly I rather suspect many people are unaware of this unfair treatment of people on benefits including sick and disabled people on ESA, Sanctions are a form of punishment – there can be no other word for it – for people who have infringed on DWP rules. Such as failing to turn up for appointments even if there is a reasonable excuse and the person has telephoned to explain, being late for appointments even if only by a minute or two , or the claimant has been determined to not have made sufficient job applications. As a penalty for these supposed infringements, most of which are in themselves unjust and unreasonable, the claimant’s benefit is stopped for a minimum of four weeks !  In some cases benefits have been sanctioned for three years.

If goes without saying that sanctions result in much suffering and lead to poverty, hunger debt, homelessness, an increase in depression and other ill-health even suicide and crime in order to survive. One shocking case is that of  David Clapson, who died penniless and starving without even the money to pay for his electricity to keep his fridge running in which he stored his insulin, and this is the reason he died.

Here is another example of an ex soldier sanctioned unfairly
http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/ex-soldier-darren-veal-loses-universal-credit-after-failing-to-make-jobcentre-meeting/story-29939999-detail/story.html

Below is a list of some of the more unreasonable and unfair benefit sanctions.  There are many more, as so many of these injustices go unreported.

A Selection of Especially Stupid Benefit Sanctions

http://stupidsanctions.tumblr.com/

Take Action

Please sign the petition:

Benefit Sanctions Must Be Stopped Without Exceptions in UK

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/benefit-sanctions-must-be-stopped-without-exceptions-in-uk

“I Daniel Blake”,Ken Loach’s BAFTA winning masterpiece is out now on DVD & Blu-ray. 

Here is the official Trailer:

More Information

Despite all the evidence to the contrary the government continue to claim that sanctions work

“Even more shocking is the claim that Sanctions, can be handed out indiscriminately simply to meet job centre targets

Read More:
Jobcentre ‘hit squads’ set up benefit claimants to fail, says former official
Bosses accused of setting targets for sanctions, while unscrupulous staff targeted weak and vulnerable customers
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/20/jobcentre-hit-squads-benefit-claimants-sanctions

Why sanction benefits when there’s no proof the harsh approach works?

“The National Audit Office (NAO), fulfilling its invaluable role as the voters’ official fact checker, reports today that – surprise – government policy is once again evidence-lite. This time the policy in question is benefits sanctions, which has caused so much misery in the past five years. No one, it turns out, actually measures whether the government gets value for money from sanctioning benefit claimants if, for example, they miss an interview at the jobcentre, nor even whether sanctions actually do what they are supposed to do and improve attendance rates at jobcentres.”

Read More:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/30/benefits-sanctions-imposed-proof-work-welfare-nao-jobcentres

Benefits sanctions: a policy based on zeal, not evidence

“Most damning of all is the unravelling of the claim by ministers that sanctions are instrumental in getting people into work. This was a fragile claim to begin with: the DWP’s own advisers have pointed out that there is no evidence to support it. Employment companies running the DWP’s work programme warned last year that for most jobseekers, sanctions actually made getting a job harder.”

Read More:
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/30/benefits-sanctions-a-policy-based-on-zeal-not-evidence

Benefits sanctions don’t work and plunge claimants into ‘hunger and depression’, National Audit Office finds

The benefit sanctions system has become a ‘postcode lottery’ and is doing more harm than good, according to the public spending watchdog
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/benefits-sanctions-plunging-claimants-into-hunger-and-depression-cuts-dwp-government-theresa-may-a7446166.html

 

Another Vicious Attack on UK Benefits

We are a step closer to the end of the welfare system in the UK as this vile government once again deals a savage blow to sick and disabled people as £30 is cut from Employment and Support Allowance ( ESA), a benefit given to disabled people in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) whom the government considers may be able to work at some future time. I must point out that many in this group deemed fit to work at some point are not necessarily able to do so and are in many cases seriously sick and disabled.

The planned cut was delayed by peers in the House of Lords but finally and inevitably this government got it’s own way and yet another social injustice comes into being which will seriously affect the lives of people for whom day-to-day existence is already a huge struggle as the existing benefit is already inadequate. The government says that the cuts will incentivize disabled people to work!  Disabled and sick people may well wish to work but are too ill to do so, incentives, or more like coercion,  cannot make seriously ill people work if the are just too sick or disabled to do so. In fact charities have warned that the cut will make it more difficult for people with illness or disability to find work and many struggle to afford the basics of food, heating and shelter even on the current rate of benefit.

“We’re deeply disappointed that the Government is pushing ahead with its plans despite opposition from the House of Lords and many MPs.

“Half a million disabled people will be affected by this proposal – losing around £30 a week – at a time when they are already struggling to make ends meet.

“Reducing disabled people’s incomes won’t incentivise them to find a job. It will just make life harder
Elliot Dunster Scope

More information

Tories force through ESA disability benefit cuts as Lords run out of options to block them

“One peer described today as a “black day for disabled people” as Peers were forced to accept cuts to Employment Support Allowance”

Cruel cuts to benefits for sick and disabled people will now go ahead, after Lords were forced to back down in their opposition to Government plans.

Ministers were twice defeated by Peers over plans to slash Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week.

But the measure was today pushed through the upper chamber, in what Lord Low described as a “black day for disabled people.”

Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan Smith wants to cut sick and disabled peoples’ ESA from £102.15 to £73.10 a week from April 2017 – equal to jobseeker’s allowance – if they are deemed fit for “work-related activity”.”

Read More:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tories-force-through-esa-disability-7512289

The government are simply hacking away at our welfare system bit by bit until it exists no more and the progress of the last sixty or so years will be gone and forgotten.

Jobseeker’s allowance of just £ 73.10 is not adequate for the unemployed to live on, it is not adequate for disabled and sick people to live on. No one can exist on such a small income. While greedy MPs many of whom are millionaires accept huge pay rises they dock the income of people who are already poor and struggling to make ends meet. It is disgusting, bloody outrageous and I cannot understand why few voices are raised condemning this injustice! As a result of government welfare reforms it’s a frightening time to be sick and disabled in today’s UK. What is even more frightening is the lack of support from the public as so few speak out against this gross injustice to our most vulnerable citizens, rather in the same way that few spoke out against the Nazis attack on disabled people prior to World War 2. The UK is a rich country, the problem is the wealth is in the hands of a few greedy individuals and things have to change, it is not right that some people accrue millions and are fabulously rich while others have nothing, are hungry, cold and often destitute. Four more years of this hell and we can wave goodby to the our welfare system and turn the clock back to Victorian times

We must not allow this to happen. Make your outrage known –  if you are not outraged why not????? This could happen to anyone at anytime, sickness and disability can befall us unexpectedly, no one is exempt from this possibility.

Please Take Action

Click the link below for a list of the names of all the MPs who forced these cuts through and voted for this unfair reduction in income to vulnerable people. If one of them is your MP or even if they are not please write and tell them what you think concerning this deeply unfair and unjust cut in benefits for people who are sick and disabled. Please write to as many MPs as you can, politely but strongly convey your outrage

These are all the MPs who voted to force through the ESA disability benefit cut:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/esa-wrag-disability-benefit-cut-disabled-mps-vote-tories-iain-duncan-smith-a6918556.html

Please click the above link for the complete list and write to as many MPs as you can

You will find contact details of all MPs on the list by clicking the link below:

Contact your MP
http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/

Be sure to write to David Cameron:
http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/mr-david-cameron/1467

Email Number 10

“The Prime Minister’s office is interested to hear from you and you can email us using the link above. All emails are read and we will do our best to ensure you receive a response. Where appropriate, we will forward your email to the relevant government department for the matters you raise.”

You can also write to the following address:

10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/prime-ministers-office-10-downing-street

Not all Tory MPs approve the cut

Tory MP Heidi Allen explains why she’s defying her party to oppose ESA benefit cuts
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-mp-heidi-allen-explains-7480573

Tory MP defies Iain Duncan Smith to vote against ESA welfare cuts – and begs colleagues to join her
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-mp-defies-iain-duncan-7480632

If you look at the list of MPs Heidi Allen’s name is not included. This gives some small hope that even for Tory MPs there is a limit to which they will not go beyond. So it is worth writing to MPs on the list.

In the comment section of the Independents MPs list someone raises the following question:

Although this cut will only impact on new claimants, how long until we’re all re-assessed and found fit-for work?

This is something I have considered myself and no doubt everyone on ESA will be thinking along the same lines. Will future assessments be rigged to make sure people are found fit for work so when they next apply for ESA they will only get it at the reduced rate.

Here is more of this person’s comment

They’ve already attacked means to appeal and financial support during appeal, many of us can’t claim JSA due to severity of our disabilities, and now even if we get back on ESA we’re going to see a huge loss to our income. Just remember that £30 is a LOT of money to us…for example after paying minimum to priority bills that would leave me with ZERO for food, travel to appointments, assistive technology, etc. so how does that help me into work?! 

Is This the Face of a Just Society

“You put the small thief in prison, but the big thief lives in a palace.”
Graham Greene, Orient Express

17543330588_bb7f24b846_b

Queen – It’s Time for a Republic

If we don’t stand up to this government,more people are going to descend in to poverty, and worse, and this country will sink in to totalitarianism faster than you can say ‘Iran’.

Source:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/november5/17543330588/in/dateposted/

Frankly I despair if people cannot appreciate the grave social injustice of our monarchy, any monarchy, when the vast majority of the population struggle on meager benefits which have been savagely cut and facing further cuts, low wages, zero hours, benefit sanctions, high rents, the bedroom tax, the soaring cost of living…

If only this pampered over privileged puppet of the ruling classes spoke out for the people maybe, just maybe all the years of living off the state could be forgiven.

On 27th May last year,  the state opening of parliament, this automaton sat on her throne and read a prepared speech that condemned thousands to poverty and the scrapping of the human rights act. She did so with her usual robotic emotionless voice, without expression or remorse.

Why I have to ask?

The Queen is over eighty years old, but what has she got to show for her life? What good has she done? What difference has she made? Has the world been improved by her presence? She has so much power why does she not wish to be remembered in history as having stood up for what is right instead of being an accomplice to some of the greatest social injustices of modern-day Britain.

I am fascinated in some bizarre way, what makes a person of this calibre tick. This woman could have with but one act of decency in her entire life swept away this abhorrent government by refusing to read out this speech, a speech which has condemned many to more deprivation and misery and which will bring in an era of injustice hitherto not seen in our life time.

Prior to the election there was rumour that the Queen would pull out of giving the speech if Cameron tried to lead the country with a minority government. Sad isn’t it that she couldn’t consider pulling out of giving the speech because of the harm it will do to British citizens. The woman is either a coward or she condones the proposals of this vile government.

Time to end this grave injustice.

The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual.
Henry David Thoreau,

Things must change

Watch the video of the demonstration that took place on 27th March 2015 against the governments austerity measures:
http://www.channel4.com/news/protesters-gather-after-queens-speech-to-fight-austerity

Up coming protests and other information

Check out the The Activist’s Calendar

Community Organisation

A calendar of protests, rallys, sit-ins, strikes, petitions, occupations, meetings, talks, film screenings & all other forms of non-violent direct actions.
https://www.facebook.com/theactivistscalendar  – note this comment :

They have us all in the prisons of our work, working to pay off imaginary debt that we get deeper into as prices rise and wages fall. No wonder more were’t there. And with the met jack boots there to kettle and arrest i can understand even more. I despair sometimes as the game has been rigged so well now that apathy and sheer exhaustion has created the perfect environment for the authoritarian barstards to push through the worst modern tyranny in this ruined country.
Benjamin Fastidious Tyler

The Activist Calendar on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/actvstscalendar

Related links

How The Royal Family Is Destroying Britain
http://sabotagetimes.com/life/how-the-royal-family-is-destroying-britain

Royal family expenses: Taxpayers pay 56p each for upkeep of monarchy – and royals insist it’s ‘value for money’
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cost-of-royal-family-rises-twice-as-fast-as-inflation-9563293.html

The Injustice of Food Banks

food-bank

No Matter where you go it is difficult to escape or avoid any of the great social injustices here in the UK, one of the reasons that I cannot understand the lack of outrage concerning many of these grave social wrongs to which most people remain oblivious. Why aren’t people marching in their thousands, even their millions, down to parliament and demanding the Tories get out of government, demanding a cessation of the unfair treatment of people on benefits –  the sick and disabled, the unemployed and the low paid – an end to austerity, and tax evasion by corporations, to name some of the most prominent of injustices in the UK today.

One of signs of these injustices concerns the proliferation of food banks.

My husband and son enjoy visiting old churches and other historic buildings and in many of these churches you will find a collection point for local food banks, which shows that the problem is more serious than we are led to believe if we are under the impression that it is the Throstle Trust alone which distributes food to poor people here in the UK. You would also be amazed at the places you come across that collect for local people who cannot afford to buy food most likely as a result of low wages and Tory welfare reforms including benefit sanctions, and other austerities. In some cases these may be quite affluent areas of the country, such as the Cumbrian Lake District.

According to research by the independent two thirds of people relying on food banks  blamed benefit sanctions, while 12 per cent said cuts to welfare were the reasons that they were forced to use food banks. Low wages are also to blame.

The fact that people here in the UK one of the richest countries in the world need to reply on food banks or go hungry shames us. The fact that few people question this outrage shames us.

Food banks supply food for three days only  – this applies to The Throssle Trust food banks, I have no information concerning other food banks.

Though food banks are of great importance, as they fill the crack left by this great social injustice here in the UK where people go hungry while shops are bursting with food in abundance, the fact remains that people here in one of the richest countries in the world are struggling to feed themselves and their families.

Learn more about The Trussell Trust
http://www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-projects

In the year after we celebrated the Queen becoming the longest reigning monarch, exceeding the reign of Queen Victoria, perhaps we should also note that for many people here in the UK food banks, as a result of government policy, are returning us to the Victorian age of poverty and destitution.

In one of the richest countries in the world, why are we tolerating a situation where food banks are needed? The Tories have dragged this country back to the Victorian era, while their donors and corporations are not even paying their taxes,  poor, sick and disabled people are being driven to poverty and degradation. This shames every one of us who is content to let this happen, though there surely can be few of us who are not somehow affected by what the Tories have done since they came into power.

The three main reasons people are referred to food banks are 1) benefit delays, 2) low income, and 3) benefit changes.

If people were paid a living wage and not exploited with poor wages then benefits for working people would not need to exist in the first place, benefits that are in any case so inadequate and may be sanctioned at any time for no good reason. Low wages and inadequate benefits drive people to use food banks. In a just society where sick and disabled people were getting enough income to live on, food banks would not be needed. It is only since Tory welfare cuts have food banks risen to the enormous extent that they are today.

Please speak out against this grave social injustice and write to your MP today

Contact your MP
http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/contacting-your-mp/

Latest news concerning food banks

Welcome to the bank where financial advice is free – it’s a food bank
http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/jan/30/financial-advice-food-bank-struggling-people-guidance

This is all well and good but for people who are on sanctions with zero money coming in or a very low-income managing money advice is irrelevant of course – you cannot manage what you do not have.Benefits even when receiving the full rate and these days few people are, are grossly inadequate.  Advice to people under the threat of sanctions of course is a good thing as is help and advice applying for what puny benefits are available. But although well meaning and in many cases a great asset to many, the real solution is to do something about benefits cuts and low wages.

Britons driven to food banks by poverty seen as ‘collateral damage’ by DWP, says Trussell Trust
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britons-driven-to-food-banks-by-poverty-seen-as-collateral-damage-by-dwp-says-trussell-trust-a6794101.html

Related Links

Trussell Trust Scots food bank referrals top 60,000
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-34849661

Benefit sanctions hit 100,000 children – time to rethink sanctions
http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/rethinksanctions

Dear Richard Littlejohn: Please Don’t Pretend That Hunger and Poverty Are Not Real, Right Here, Right Now
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sarah-chapman/foodbanks-richard-littlejohn_b_8123772.html

Food bank use is “strange” during an obesity crisis, claims Tory health minister
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/food-bank-use-strange-during-6911248

Welfare Reforms: People Suffering Mental Health are the Hardest Hit

1200px-Cmglee_Cambridge_Jobcentre_Plus

There as been a delay in recent weeks in publishing many of my posts here on this blog due to health and other problems and I am now in the process of trying to catch up. Therefore this and other articles yet to be published which were written prior to Christmas may seem like old news, however in many cases the problems discussed have merely slipped into the back ground as others have taken their place. I have decided to publish many of these articles as more often than not it is helpful to remind people of some of the great injustices in our country and indeed worldwide.

Most certainly the subject of this post has been mentioned before but it can’t hurt to bring up this issue again, an issue that has not been resolved though the attention may have diminished.

“Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping. The fact that this system punishes people for the symptoms of their illness is a clear and worrying sign that it is fundamentally flawed,
Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church

“We’re very concerned about the number of people having their benefits stopped. This causes not just financial problems but added emotional distress. It’s unjustifiable that people with mental health problems are being sanctioned disproportionately compared to those who have another health problem.

“Stopping benefits does not help people with mental health problems back into work. In fact, it often results in people becoming more anxious and unwell and this makes a return to work less likely. Sanctions are based on a false assumption that individuals lack motivation and willingness to work, but it’s the impact of their illness and the environment in which they are expected to work which actually present the toughest challenges. That’s why they should only be used as a last resort, when someone simply refuses to engage.”
Paul Farmer, CEO of mental health charity Mind

Mental health sufferers are facing a nightmare of existence as a consequence not only of the devastating affect of their conditions but as a result of welfare reforms which are targeting them in recent months, destroying already difficult lives. The government targets mental health sufferers as they are among the most vulnerable in our society.

Why mentally ill people are an easy target for the Tories

“Mind has emphasised how Iain Duncan Smith’s supposed attack on “scroungers” has turned into an attack on the mentally ill. His staff were sanctioning and removing their benefits at a rate of 100 a day.

The prejudice of Conservative officialdom is that they are lazy rather than sick. They punish them and then they fail them. Almost 150,000 people with mental health problems have been placed on the work programme – only 5% have been helped into work.

“…I believe government and the NHS bureaucracy targets the mentally ill because people suffering – if I may use the word – from autism or schizophrenia, and the depressed and the mentally broken, rarely vote.”

Continue reading the following pre-election article:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/12/mentally-ill-people-easy-tory-target

Also the government attacks mentally ill people simply because they are less able to fight back as a result of their condition which unlike the physically disabled effects their thinking processes. Suffering from the delusions of schizophrenia or bipolar or the incapacitating fear and stress of an anxiety disorder such as OCD or agoraphobia or the misery of depression it is not easy or sometimes not even possible to possess the wherewithal to challenge the social injustice of welfare reforms or the lack of treatment and services. Many people with mental health issues or autism may not be able to even pick up the phone and talk to someone, or think coherently to write or otherwise communicate. A person with severe depression may not even leave his or her bed let alone challenge such complex social injustices ignored by a good majority of the population.  This does not mean to say that the physically ill have an easier time though unless additionally afflicted with a mental health condition, or later become so afflicted as a result of welfare reforms, may be more able to get the help they need fighting welfare cuts and sanctions, including more sympathy which is often lacking towards the mentally ill.

I have personal knowledge of someone who has AS Asperger Syndrome anxiety and depression whose mental health has significantly deteriorated as result of Government welfare reforms and the Work Capability Assessment’s (WCA) requirements and frequent assessments. Simply attending the interview is an ordeal of anxiety and stress. Months ahead of his scheduled Maximus interview he is becoming increasingly more anxious and his already existing depression is deteriorating further. His Psychologist and GP says he is not well enough to work, but this gives him no comfort, no sense of security because he knows that their opinions may not be taken into account. The DWP requirements are seriously damaging this person’s health with the consequence that he increasing less and less fit to work.

For people with mental health problems the anxiety and depression made worse by such ordeals often remains long after the ordeal is over which means their overall condition may deteriorate and escalate. Mentally ill people are fragile and any added stress is a serious detriment to their health.With regard to sanctions there can be few things worse than not knowing where your next meal is coming from or whether or not you can pay your rent and as a consequence be out on the streets homeless and destitute. This is so for everyone but even more so for people who as a result of their mental health are less able to cope with the consequences or know what to do or where to turn. Often having few if any friends or supportive family members they can become quickly isolated.

Certainly people with mental health conditions wish to work but for many of them to do so they need enormous support which is not forthcoming. The work place is not an easy environment these days even for those not afflicted with mental health conditions, it is an unforgiving, uncompromising, demanding and exploitative environment and not conducive for those who suffer in this way. Certainly exploitative work fare and apprenticeship schemes are a detriment to anyone’s sense of well-being , there is nothing more depressing than to be exploited and have no say in the matter, to work for next to nothing and not be able to do anything about it must be a serious detriment not only financially but emotionally for anyone but even more so for those with a mental illness. Mental illness is a profound disability, it is a serious medical condition, though it is rarely refered to as such, there is little understanding, respect and support in society in general for mental illness even less so in the work place.

Here is how government polices are destroying the lives of those with mental health problems.

Benefit Sanctions:

It is a shocking fact that people with mental health conditions are much more likely to be sanctioned than someone with a physical illness or disability. Sixty two percent of people who are sanctioned have a mental illness.

How benefit sanctions punish people with mental health problems the hardest

“It’s hard enough dealing with a mental health issue – but it’s made much worse if you’re not able to work.

David (not his real name) suffers from schizophrenia and receives two types of income support to help him live while he deals with his illness. He was sanctioned twice in 2013 for not attending work focussed interviews and appointments due to his deteriorating health.

He was even sanctioned while he was very ill in hospital, and forced to rely on his family for food.”

Continue reading:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/ampp3d/how-benefit-sanctions-punish-people-5005786

‘My mental health deteriorated rapidly’: the real impact of benefit sanctions

Edited extracts of written evidence to a recent House of Commons work and pensions select committee on the impact of benefit sanctions”

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/27/mental-health-benefit-sanctions-work-and-pensions-select-committee

‘Benefit sanctions harmed my health’

‘Benefit sanctions harmed my health’

The inflexibility of the benefit sanctions system is leading to people having their support taken away unfairly, according to Labour MP Rebecca Long Bailey. Opponents claim it can be unfair and penalise the most vulnerable in society. Hayley Dunn and Lee Curry share their experiences.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p031ss4x

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34158176

Read how the government have driven people to suicide

New data: More than 100 people per day with mental health problems are having their benefits sanctioned

http://www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases/new-data-more-than-100-people-per-day-with-mental-health-problems-are-having-their-benefits-sanctioned

Even if the claimant has not previously suffered with a mental health condition the stress as a result of the requirements of ESA as a member of the work activity group have brought about mental health issues in people that previously did not have them such as Catherine, a sufferer of ME who now suffers with severe anxiety as a result of unfair expectations by the job centre and sanctions. Listen to her story here:

Sanctioned: Catherine’s Story

List of people who have died after being declared fit to work updated October 2014

Many of the people included in the following list where mentally ill or became mentally ill as a result of the government’s vicious reforms including:

Mark Wood. Found fit for work by Atos, against his Doctors advice and assertions that he had complex mental health problems. Starved to death after benefits stopped, weighing only 5st 8lb when he died.
Mark Wood: ‘Sweet and gentle’ 44-year-old man with mental health problems ‘starved to death after benefits cut’

Paul Reekie, 48, the Leith based Poet and Author. Suffered from severe depression. Committed suicide after DWP stopped his benefits due to an Atos ‘fit for work’ decision.
http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/books/this-lost-genius-the-legacy-of-the-late-scottish-poet-paul-reekie-1-1667694

Leanne Chambers, 30. Suffered depression for many years which took a turn for the worst when she was called in for a WCA. Leanne committed suicide soon after.
http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/body-found-river-wear-leanne-1418087

Martin Rust, 36 years old. A schizophrenic man who killed himself two months after the government found him fit to work.
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/heartbroken-dad-blames-benefits-axemen-2292176

David Barr, 28. Suffering from severe mental difficulties. Threw himself from a bridge after being found fit for work by Atos and failing his appeal
http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/news/norwich_man_killed_himself_over_back_to_work_fears_1_1358116

See the complete list which includes people with other conditions who have of course been treated shamefully by this vile government.
http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2014/10/21/uk-welfare-reform-deaths-updated-list-october-21st-2014/

The shocking fact is despite all the government rhetoric that work is good for mental health generally speaking the opposite is true. The sad thing is that a person with a mental health condition can rarely get a job or cope with holding a job for very long.

Sanctions do not help people into work in fact the opposite is true, yet the government refuse to look into this.

Minister Refuses To Examine Impact Of Benefit Sanctions On Mental Health

DWP Minister, Priti Patel, refused to examine the devastating impact of benefit sanctions on people with mental health conditions.
http://www.welfareweekly.com/minister-refuses-to-examine-impact-of-benefit-sanctions-on-mental-health/

In addition to benefit sanctions and other punitive reforms mental health services are being cut.

Cuts to UK mental health services are destroying young lives and families

£80m has been cut from the NHS mental health budget for children and adolescents in the past four years, including £35m in the last year alone
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/27/uk-child-mental-health-services-destroying-lives-families

Mental health service budgets ‘cut by 8%’

Paul Farmer, chief executive of of the mental health charity Mind, said: “The treatment gap for mental health is huge – 75% of people with mental health problems get no help at all.

“Meanwhile, many more are being turned away from services when they need them the most, left to cope alone with self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-31970871

‘Damning’ research on WCA deaths is ‘timely’ reminder of government’s shame
http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/damning-research-on-wca-deaths-is-timely-reminder-of-governments-shame/

The latest news concerning benefits

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/08/fit-for-work-tests-double-cost-dwp-disability-cuts

Related Links

Equality 4 Mental Health

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ruby-wax/equality-4-mental-health_b_8459466.html

David*, a father of two from Stroud, Gloucestershire, has watched his teenage son struggle with anxiety and increasing mental health problems after the WCA process found him fit for work. His son’s benefits were stopped six months ago, when he refused to attend a jobcentre.

WCA And Mental Health- A Case Study
http://perfectlyfadeddelusions.com/2015/11/24/wca-and-mental-health-a-case-study/

Fit-for-work tests linked to relapses in those with mental health problems

Tougher “fit for work” tests introduced to assess eligibility for disability benefit have caused relapses in patients with serious mental health conditions, according to a consultant with the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

http://perfectlyfadeddelusions.com/2015/11/25/fit-for-work-tests-linked-to-relapses-in-those-with-mental-health-problems-3/

Death and the State: How DWP sanctions snuff out Lives
http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-2ee4-DEATH-AND-THE-STATE-HOW-DWP-SANCTIONS-SNUFF-OUT-LIVES#.Vg5sSvlVhBc

Known number of deaths while claiming incapacity benefits nears 100,000
http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/08/27/known-number-of-deaths-while-claiming-incapacity-benefits-nears-100000/

Petition : Insist the Government keep its Target to Reduce Child Poverty

Please click the link below to sign a petition to Insist the Government keep its target to reduce child poverty in the UK

https://www.change.org/p/house-of-lords-insist-the-government-keep-its-target-to-reduce-child-poverty-in-the-uk

The Government is planning to give up on its duty to reduce child poverty, by scrapping child poverty targets. – this petition needs around 24,000 more signatures to make a target of 75,000 so please add yours by clicking the above link.

You do not have to live in the UK to sign the petition so please everyone sign and share widely.

If you live in the UK please write to your MP: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/

The news of this appalling development in the never-ending stream of social injustices inflicted on UK citizens as been around a while and somehow I missed it. It is just so difficult to keep in touch with all the detrimental changes inflicted on the most vulnerable.

This outrageous ditching of the targets to remove child poverty by 2020 is in total contradiction of promises made as recently as this year’s new year speech where among other things Cameron pledged to alleviate poverty. His audacious hypocrisy knows no bounds as it is Cameron and his government who have driven people to poverty, destitution, homelessness and the ever increasing reliance on food banks.

In his New Year speech, Cameron said that the UK is in the middle of “one of the greatest reforming decades” in its history and set out four key priorities: tackling the housing shortage, combating extremism, alleviating poverty, and improving social mobility.

“These are the big challenges of our age, some of the biggest our nation has ever faced and this year is a test of our mettle – whether we put up with poverty or put an end to it…”

“For me, there are no new year’s resolutions, just the resolve to continue delivering what we promised in our manifesto,” said the prime minister, naming the problems of low home ownership, poverty, poor social mobility and extremism as his four priorities in 2016.

Read More:
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/01/uk-in-one-of-the-great-reforming-decades-claims-david-cameron

Alleviating poverty must of course include child poverty. The scrapping of the 2020 target is contradictory to such promises that this liar has made throughout his term in office.

Back in October in his speech at the Tory party conference Cameron promised an ‘all-out assault on poverty’. On his first day as leader of the opposition ten years ago he made the same promise ‘the test for our policies will not be how they affect the better off, but how they help the worst-off in our country’.  

This was the kind of promise that brought him to government in the first place, with his so called new brand of “compassionate Conservatism”. Again he repeated the same promise during the first cabinet meeting after the general election when he told his ministers they should aim to “give everyone” in the UK “the chance to make the most of their life”. Children trapped in poverty do not get the chance to make the most of life, no one does.

It seems that instead of making the promised changes concerning child poverty by 2020 the government have decided to scrap this target.

All kids count. But the government plans to scrap its own targets to end child poverty. Effectively, they want to give up on the 1 in 4 children growing up poor.

When kids grow up poor they miss out – and so do the rest of us. They miss out on the things most children take for granted, they do less well at school and they earn less as adults. Child poverty costs us £29 billion a year. Making sure every child gets a fair chance in life is the right thing to do and the smartest investment we can make as a country.

Read more:
http://cpag.org.uk/all-kids-count?utm_source=Change&utm_medium=petition&utm_campaign=AllKidsCount

Take Action do not let this vile government get away with yet another grave social injustice, despite all their rhetoric  to the contrary they do not give a damn about the majority of people in the UK. Cameron and his right wing government do not care about child poverty with their policies of benefit cuts that have driven 500,000 more children into “absolute poverty” since 2010 with more than four million children now living below the breadline

500,000 more children in ‘absolute poverty’ since David Cameron became PM as Tories sharpen axe on welfare
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/500000-more-children-absolute-poverty-5947219

Please do not forget to sign the petition:

Insist the Government keep its target to reduce child poverty in the UK

https://www.change.org/p/house-of-lords-insist-the-government-keep-its-target-to-reduce-child-poverty-in-the-uk

More Information

Now you see it…  Now you don’t.  The government’s rustled up a party trick for the kids this Christmas. They’re going to make 3.7 million of them disappear.

Britain’s children aren’t going anywhere, of course, particularly those who are growing up poor. But with a legislative sleight of hand, the government plans to quietly give up on the targets to end child poverty enshrined (with cross-party support) in the Child Poverty Act 2010.

When David Cameron became Tory leader, he wanted to end child poverty. Now he just wants to stop measuring it

Read More:
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2015/12/when-david-cameron-became-tory-leader-he-wanted-end-child-poverty-now-he

In his 2006 Scarman Lecture, delivered as part of this attempt to ‘detoxify’ the Tory Party David Cameron said: “I want this message to go out loud and clear: the Conservative Party recognises, will measure and will act on relative poverty.” But following the 2015 General Election his Government has scrapped Labour’s target for tackling relative child poverty with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith dismissing it as a flawed measure.

Read More:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/10-big-policy-promises-broken-6965585

Warmonger

“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” 
George S. McGovern
 
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Graphic Byzantine_K
 
Looks like this b****** got what he wanted. Safe in his home in the Cotswolds this Christmas while the young die in a war, not for the sake of the people of Syria, not for the sake of people here in the UK, not for the sake of justice but for the sake of greed and power. 
 
“All wars are fought for the acquisition of wealth”
Socrates
 
Most of us wherever we live, be it in Syria, the UK, France, the USA, Turkey … just want to live out our lives in peace. Instead our lives are destroyed by these power hungry sociopaths, mostly as a result of the insatiable quest for power and acquisition. 
 
O soldier who is sentenced by man’s cruel law to forsake his mate and his little ones and kin to go out of the field of death for the sake of greed in its guise of duty.
Gibran Kahlil Gibran, from A Tear and a Smile
 
If this power hungry greed driven sociopath wants air strikes let him be amongst the first. Those who are sent into war, for war is what it is of course, put their lives at risk, it surely goes without saying; these are people whose individual lives matter, not statistics and vagaries but real people. Maybe misguided into joining the armed forces, maybe even willing to do so knowing the full significance of the actions they take. But whatever their reasons their lives are as important as Cameron’s is to him.
 
Also consider the civilian population, the Syrian people, thousands of innocent people will die. A sad day and a shameful one for the UK.
 
I wonder how keen Cameron would be if he like the Kings of times past was expected to lead his troops into battle. Would he be so all fired up to go to war if he had to leave his home and his family and put his life on the line? I doubt it. Like the coward he is he sends others to die with the callous indifference typical of the sociopath that he is.
 
In this time of so called austerity when allegedly there is not enough money to pay for benefits for sick and disabled people or the unemployed, where 3.7 million Children live in poverty and people have to rely on food banks and endless austerity measures such as cuts to public services there is always money for war.
 
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.” 
Dwight D. Eisenhower
 
Here is what Cameron said in October this year:
tumblr_nyr99ecDJH1r6v6bdo1_540
 
The dust had not even settled after the debate –  as the result was announced MPs cheered – as four Tornado jets took off from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, after the vote. 
 
More quotes 
“No war has ever won in the history, because people died in every single war! Where there are deaths, there is no victory!” 
Mehmet Murat ildan
 
My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.”
George Washington
 
“A people free to choose will always choose peace.”
Ronald Reagan
 
“In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.” 
Leo Tolstoy 
 
Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe. ” 
Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire
 
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