Welfare Reforms: People Suffering Mental Health are the Hardest Hit


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:

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:

‘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”


‘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.



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


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.

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.

Martin Rust, 36 years old. A schizophrenic man who killed himself two months after the government found him fit to work.

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

See the complete list which includes people with other conditions who have of course been treated shamefully by this vile government.

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.

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

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.

‘Damning’ research on WCA deaths is ‘timely’ reminder of government’s shame

The latest news concerning benefits


Related Links

Equality 4 Mental Health


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

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.


Death and the State: How DWP sanctions snuff out Lives

Known number of deaths while claiming incapacity benefits nears 100,000


Please Sign Petition: Equality 4 Mental Health


Every day, though, sometimes more than once a day, sometimes all day, a coppery taste in my mouth, which I termed intense insipidity, heralded a session of helpless, bottomless misery in which I would lie curled in a fetal position on the sofa with tears leaking from my eyes, my brain boiling with a confusion of stuff not worth calling thought or imagery: it was more like shredded mental kelp marinaded in pure pain. During and after such attacks, I would be prostrate with inertia, as if all my energy had gone into a black hole.
Les Murray, Killing the Black Dog: A Memoir of Depression

An apt description of the misery of depression which is perhaps the most common of all mental health problems. Without exception mental illness is a serious and significant disability, it is long-term in many cases, often chronic becoming worse as time goes on, most particularly if left untreated. Did you know that by 2020 mental illness will be the biggest cause of mortality.  Yet understanding and treatment of this condition is neglected.

Please read the following rticle from the Huffington Post and sign the petition

Equality 4 Mental Health

Equality 4 Mental Health is a cross-party, cross-society campaign aimed at persuading the government to help reduce the suffering of those with mental ill health by increasing investment into the provision of mental health services.

I joined this campaign because it’s appalling that there isn’t parity between mental and physical health.

Any professional in the field will tell you that any activity in the brain affects the entire body, so why is there such a stigma if the most important organ in your body is malfunctioning? The research into Alzheimer’s and dementia is one of the most prevalent problems of this decade and these are brain diseases so why should depression or bi-polar be any different? Why is it that they’re discriminated against? The waiting lines for mental illness are endless, whereas, if you suffer from a physical illness you will certainly be seen.”


Please sign the following petition.

Equality for mental health is a cross-party, cross-society campaign aimed at persuading the Government to help reduce the suffering of those with mental ill health by increasing investment into the provision of mental health services.


Please share this petition widley.  Please tweet #equality4mentalhealth and help spread the word:

Be sure to read the petition information along with a list of ten concerns regarding mental health. I think an additional concern should be included, namely the DWPs shocking treatment of mentally ill people concerning benefit sanctions – more than 100 people with mental health issues have their benefits sanctioned every day. There were almost 20,000 benefits sanctions received by people who were out of work because of their mental health last year Without a doubt benefit sanctions are damaging mental health and the government refuses to examine the effect of its benefit sanctions system on the mental health of people who are affected by it.

Check out the comments section in the Huffington Post article where a parent has shared her experiences with the difficulties of trying to get a diagnosis and treatment for her very sick daughter.

“My daughter was diagnosed with ASD when she was thirteen, it took two years to get a diagnosis, during which time her mental health deteriorated so dramatically that by the age of fourteen she had symptoms of a psychosis. We had to take her to A and E to receive emergency treatment because even whilst she was classed as an emergency, the waiting time for a referral to CAHMS was six weeks. She was desperately ill and suicidal (because of disturbing intrusive thoughts) but we were told if we couldn’t cope, we should phone an ambulance and they would try to find her a hospital place, which could be anywhere in the country (even though there was the right facility just five minutes drive from us, there were no beds) If no beds were available nationally, she would be taken to a police station. We were determined not to let this happen and thankfully once the medication began to work her condition stabilised. She was later diagnosed with OCD which presents symptoms of a psychosis in severe cases. The tragedy is she suffered for a long time: not days, weeks or months but years. I can’t help but think all this was preventable, because she was eleven years old when I first went to my GP and spoke to him about her increasing levels of anxiety and social isolation. She is slowly getting better now but her childhood has been lost and the scars are permanent.”

Sadly so far this is but one of only two comments which shows just how much the general public give a damn about mental illness.

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) in many cases is a severe and an incredibly disabling condition. The World Health Organisation rate OCD as one of the top 10 debilitating illnesses.

Regarding the above comment it has to be said that getting a diagnosis can be one of the greatest hurdles to receiving appropriate support and treatment. Even a few decades ago someone with OCD would likely be told that they suffered from anxiety without the more definite and precise diagnosis of OCD. Without a diagnosis not only is it difficult to get the correct therapy but the person themselves, relatives or significant others can do little accurate research into the problems the sufferer is experiencing or learn how to best support the sufferer. Moreover getting benefits is much more difficult without a formal diagnosis. I know of someone who went for several years simply being told that her obsessions and compulsions were due to anxiety and it was not until the person was admitted to a mental hospital did she receive a formal diagnosis.

Few people understand the misery of mental illness, the loneliness, the isolation, the hopelessness and the despair unless they themselves suffer in this way. Sympathy is lacking, ignorance abounds. People who suffer with mental health problems are among the most vulnerable in our society. Yet few people speak out on their behalf. A sufferer of any mental health problem, be it agoraphobia or schizophrenia, often do not have the where with all to seek treatment or stand up for their rights and this latter is mostly likely why this evil government has focused its attention on picking on the mentally ill in their endeavours to reduce the benefit bill.

Please take action and sign the petition and get others to do so.

Related Links

My son’s struggle with OCD showed me the unfairness people with mental illness face

“My insight from our experience is of how mental ill health, left untreated, robs the person of happiness and has a profound impact on families.”

Read the complete article:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/04/ocd-mental-illness-services-wellbeing-families?CMP=share_btn_tw  – Note in the article that unlike people with a physical illness sufferers of mental health conditions do not get a right to choose where they get treatment  – it was excluded from the legal right of choice.

Mentally ill girl’s two days in police cell ‘heartbreaking’

“A mentally ill teenager who was held in a cell for two days due to a lack of hospital beds suffered “heartbreaking” failings in her care, her mother says.

The 16-year-old girl was arrested in November and later sectioned. But, with no bed available, she spent two days in a cell at Torquay police station.”

“When I walked in and saw her lying there, on that floor… heartbreaking,” she said.

“She was on a blue thing on the floor – it’s not even what you class as a police bed.

“She needed the right help. The police, I can’t fault them, they did an amazing job looking after my child.”

Read the complete article:

Public figures sign letter seeking equality for mental health

Self-harm by mental health patients in NHS has risen by 56%, figures show

A selection of quotations concerning mental illness

Though many schizophrenics become curiously attached to their delusions, the fading of the nondelusional world puts them in loneliness beyond all reckoning, a fixed residence on a noxious private planet they can never leave, and where they can receive no visitors.
Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity

It seemed to me the basic definition of mental illness, this persistent, painful inability to simply be with someone else. It might be lifelong, or it might descend like a sudden catastrophe, this blankness between ourselves and the rest of the world. The blankness might not even be obvious to others. But on our side of that severed connection, it was hell, a life lived behind glass. The only difference between mild depression and severe schizophrenia was the amount of sound and air that seeped in.
Tracy Thompson, The Beast: A Reckoning with Depression

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. 
John Milton, Paradise Lost

UN Inquiry into Human Rights Violations Against Disabled People

The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life . . . the children; those who are in the twilight of life . . . the elderly; and those who are in the shadow of life . . . the sick . . . the needy . . . and the disabled.”
Hubert Humphrey

This news has been around for a few days and somehow I missed it. I cannot however let this great news go without mention.

I am pleased to learn that the United Nations is carrying out an  inquiry into “systematic and grave violations” of  the human rights of disabled people by the Tory government here in the UK? Though I knew that the UN were undertaking an inquiry into the UK’s human rights violations in this regard I did not know that it had finally been confirmed.  According to a
spokesperson from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) the UN inquiry “will examine the vicious and punitive attacks on disabled people’s independent living as well as the cuts which have seen so many placed in inhuman circumstances and has led to unnecessary deaths.”

From Disability news Service

Confirmed! UN is investigating UK’s ‘grave violations’ of disabled people’s rights

“The United Nations is carrying out an unprecedented inquiry into “systematic and grave violations” of disabled people’s human rights by the UK government, Disability News Service (DNS) can finally confirm.

DNS revealed last August that the UK appeared to have become the first country to face a high-level inquiry by the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD).”

Continue Reading:

In the meantime keep campaigning, writing letters and signing petitions such as the one below:

“Leaving people with no means of feeding themselves, keeping warm and keeping essential electrical appliances working is unconscionable and has no place in a civilised and rich society such as Great Britain.”

Too many people have die and suffered. Act now and Implement these Select Committees recommendations.

Please read more and sign the petition:

It is claimed that the government ignores petitions, whether of not this is true it is still a good idea to sign and voice your opinion, it shows the level of public feeling regardless as to whether or not the government decide to ignore petitions or letters or any other form of protest.

The treatment of sick and disabled people, and the unemployed and low paid for that matter, here in the UK during this and the previous Tory government, aided and abetted by the Lib/Dems, is shocking and now that they have the majority is getting ever more abusive and punitive.

“Many disabled people are facing a multitude of attacks on their human rights and living standards. It is rarely just one or two issues per person. This is the crucial point in the current retrogression of the human rights of disabled people – attacks are being carried out in every area of our lives.”

“There has been a massive rise in the numbers of disabled people being sanctioned and left reliant on food banks, and the increasing levels of malnutrition people are suffering due to increased poverty,”
DPAC spokeswoman quoted in Herald Scotland

Along with unfair assessments, cuts and sanctions is the Nazi style campaign to vilify benefit claimants labelling them “scroungers “and “Skivers”. This is outrageous and unethical treatment that has to stop now, such treatment of the most vulnerable in our society has no place in the UK, one of the richest nations in the world. Shame on Cameron and IDS who have violated the human rights of sick and disabled people causing deaths and unimaginable misery. I hope now that finally they will get their comeuppance and that the main instigators Cameron and IDS and all those who enthusiastically supported them will finally be recognised for the evil and vile people that they are and that this grave injustice will end once and for all.

Thanks to the grassroots campaigning organisation DPAC who have tirelessly petitioned the UN to launch an inquiry when charities for the disabled and the Labour party have done so little.

Read more information about the inquiry

So DPAC triggered the UNCRPD inquiry but what does it really mean?http://dpac.uk.net/2015/09/so-dpac-triggered-the-uncrpd-inquiry-but-what-does-it-really-mean/

Maybe just the news alone that the UK government is under investigation by the UN will raise public awareness regarding the violation of human rights concerning people with disabilities.

Other hope comes in the form of Jeremy Corbyn who says Labour would now oppose all the Tories welfare changes, including the benefit cap

Opposition to welfare cuts

“Labour will oppose the Welfare Bill in full. We oppose the benefit cap. We oppose social cleansing,” 

“We will bring the welfare bill down by controlling rents and boosting wages, not by impoverishing families and socially cleansing our communities.”


Below are links to articles and personal accounts of the reality of how Tory benefits cuts have affected the most vulnerable in our society. Ignored for the most part by mainstream media these stories need telling again and again and should not be allowed to fade into obscurity. The fact that 25 percent of people who are entitled to vote voted Tory either means that 25 percent of our fellow citizens don’t give a dam about the shocking treatment of people who are unfortunate to a have to depend on benefits, including disabled and sick people, or they are ignorant of what is happening. A third possibility of course is that those who voted Tory believed all the anti benefit propaganda spewed out by biased right-wing media.

Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show

“Nearly 90 people a month are dying after being declared fit for work, according to new data that has prompted campaigners and Labour leadership contenders to call for an overhaul of the government’s welfare regime.”

“…7,200 claimants had died after being awarded ESA and being placed in the separate work-related activity group – a category which identifies claimants who are unfit to work but may be able to return to work in the future.”

Read more:

UK Welfare Reform Deaths ~ Updated List ~ October 21st 2014

Updated tragic list of welfare-related deaths of UK’s sick and/or disabled people. This is the tip on the iceberg:

They shall be remembered forevermore.

Read the entire list, more people have died since the list was last updated and there is no doubt that more people have died who have not been included on the list. This is only the tip of the iceberg!

Personal accounts

Chronically-ill dad kills himself with electric saw after fearing his sickness benefits would be changed again

Glenn Harris, who couldn’t work because of lupus and auto-immune disease, was “profoundly worried” about having to go through the reassessment procedure

“A chronically ill dad of two committed suicide with an electric saw because he was scared his benefits would be changed again, an inquest heard.”

Read More:

Confessions of a Pariah

“My personal story is just one of millions, millions of stories of no real significance to anyone in power but of very real significance and worth in human terms. What the government is doing is not saving the country from austerity but smashing the lives of millions. Disabled, vulnerable and poor people are being portrayed as feckless workshy scroungers, social pariahs who need teaching a lesson. It is an ideological Conservative dismantling of the welfare state, destruction of the health service, marketising social housing and higher education that is hurling this country back into an economically and socially divided nation.”

Read More:

Shocking Benefits Story Exposes Britain’s ‘Barbaric’ Welfare System

“I became badly psychologically ill a few years ago at 17, diagnosed with major depression and general anxiety disorder which developed further into physical conditions and eventually made life impossible to function most days.”

Read More:

People with mental illnesses have seen their already difficult lives deteriorate as a result of welfare reforms.

Sanctioned Jobseekers With Mental Health Problems Are Not ‘Vulnerable’, Says DWP

“Requests for hardship payments may be made by people who say they have a mental condition. A person will only be a member of a vulnerable group if the condition causes limitation in functional capacity because of a physical impairment.”

It continues: “It is extremely rare for a mental condition to produce a physical impairment that limits or restricts functional capacity but it can happen.”

http://www.welfareweekly.com/sanctioned-jobseekers-with-mental-health-problems-are-not-vulnerable-says-dwp/ – please be sure to read the above in full. To comment fully on the outrageous claim that mental illness does not limit functional capacity and vulnerability would need a separate entry. Mental health conditions to name but two of the most obvious and most common, agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder OCD, can incapacitate sufferers in such a way that they can no longer leave their home, sometimes not even one room. Sufferers of conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can be even more severely affected. Indeed mental illness can be physically incapacitating in the extreme, such as a person with depression may become catatonic. Even if this was the case people still have to feed themselves, keep warm, pay their rent and so on. Mental illness is a profoundly disabling condition which can prevent a person from functioning in any capacity whatsoever. How the hell can you work if you cannot get out of bed incapacitated by depression or you cannot leave your home as a result of agoraphobia?In fact in some way those with a mental health condition may be more vulnerable because it is far less easy to fight for your rights when your mind is in turmoil as a result of delusional thinking and or anxious fearful thoughts, when thought processes are numbed by depression or you are stuck in the turmoil of compulsive behaviours incapacitated by fear and dread.  A sufferer of a mental illness often finds it difficult to communicate either by talking or writing, a phone call can be a monumental ordeal of stress and anxiety. Few understand the effect of mental illness on the entire life of a person who suffers in this way and how added stress can exacerbate symptoms. Publilius Syrus once said that “pain of the mind is worse than pain of the body” and in many ways this may be so, it most certainly can in some cases be just as incapacitating though in a less obvious way than a Physical  disability.

Disabled and sick benefit claimants are not alone in their suffering as low wage earners are now much worse off since Osborne’s Budget.

Minimum-wage families would be £2,038 a year richer if George Osborne’s Budget had never happened


Well I could go on, there are so many sad tragic stories so much suffering and despair. I doubt if anyone has read all the above. There are many stories as their are injustices as the Tory government carry on with their destruction of our welfare state and if no one stands up to them things will continue to get worse and more lives will be ruined and more people will die. This is not the society we want for ourselves, for our children or future generations.

Reasons Not to Vote Conservative in the General Elections 2015: The Injustice of Benefit Sanctions

“I am not surprised people want to kill themselves. People are now being given sanctions for the most minor things. They make you feel worthless, I felt unworthy being a student and thought I should be working like other non-disabled students can manage.”
Julia a student with autism

If you can’t read the text, click on the image to view the full size


Six of many examples of the ludicrous reasons in which people have had what is often their only source of income taken from them for months – and even longer. Sanctions have led to hunger, homelessness and suicides.

The Jobcentre is sanctioning people to maintain targets set within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), not in the majority of cases because of any wrongdoing by the claimant. Benefit sanctions were once almost unheard of.

Read more and access larger sizes


One of the most inhumane actions taken by the coalition government is the introduction of punitive benefit sanctions.

Unfair Benefit sanctions have driven people into poverty, destitution, despair and suicide. Benefit sanctions are one of the main reasons people have to resort to food banks. Such treatment of vulnerable people – namely the unemployed claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and sick and disabled people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) who are consigned to the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) – is not worthy of any civilised society, it is not worthy of the UK.  The present government has come under the condemnation of the UN for the present vicious welfare reforms which have left sick and disabled people with a lower or no income. The introduction of ever more punitive sanctions adds further to the misery and suffering that has resulted from the coalitions welfare reforms.

Anyone claiming JSA or are assigned to the WRAG can be sanctioned from anything up to one month to three years!

“In the Northeast alone “At any one moment in time, 30,000 people are being sanctioned …”


* A Hartlepool woman who broke an appointment because she was “burying her grandfather and had been at his deathbed for week”.

* A Sunderland man who was told “an asthma attack is not a good reason for missing an appointment”.

* A Middlesbrough woman who forgot an interview because it was “the day her father died”.

* A man in Bishop Auckland constituency who was a collecting a sick daughter from school and was accused of inventing a “fictional child”.

Julie Elliott, the Labour MP for Sunderland, said: “For people to be treated in this inhumane way is wrong.””

Read More:

Read accounts concerning the detrimental effects of benefit sanctions

Where did we go wrong? Why has starvation, suicide and poverty become the norm? More sanctions.. sanctions kill.

As you know every week we hold a demonstration outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. We believe that the cruel sanctioning and the cruel benefit reforms that are affecting thousands of people up and down the country everyday. Once you start hearing the real stories and the way that they are affecting people in your local community you cant help but feel their pain in some way. Sometimes we cry whilst we are being told of a persons death, sometimes we go home and cry. Today was one of those days. I woke up wanting to change things, but sadly realised that I cant change much apart from peoples minds once they read my blog. I opened my emails and read some stories that have been sent to me, They want their news to be shared but sadly not always their names. You see they feel victimised already and don’t want to be persecuted anymore. Here are a few of their stories. Please read and share.

Continue reading:

As incredible as the following may seem one unfortunate person was sanctioned for three months for making a spelling mistake!!!!!!

Sanctioned for making a spelling mistake.

You couldn’t make it up… Well actually it’s become the norm to be sanctioned for making a spelling mistake. A gentleman who spoke to us on our Thursday demo told us that he was put on a three month sanction at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for making a spelling mistake. He wasn’t given a chance to correct it, or a chance to explain it. He was told very bluntly “we are sanctioning you for spelling this word incorrectly on a form. This will prevent you from getting work so therefore is a sanctionable offence”. This man received a three month sanction for this so called offence. No one bothered to ask him if he was dyslexic or had any other issues which may have prevented him from spelling the word correct. Neither is it a crime to spell a word incorrectly. Indeed we are all human and are prone to making mistakes.


Read the 11 most senseless benefit sanctions:

Worse hit by sanctions and rarely defended are people with mental health conditions many of whom have been unfairly and disproportionately sanctioned.

A Government That Permits The Psychological Torture Of Benefit Claimants Does Not Give A Fuck About Mental Health

This Government do not give a shit about people with mental health conditions, and neither did the last one.  Whilst politicians of all parties offer soundbites and fake sympathy the treatment of people with a mental health condition by the benefits system now amounts to little more than psychological torture.

This is not hyperbole.  Whilst the medical establishment has stood ildly by, and mental health charities have veered between mild disapproval and outright collaboration, the DWP has lanched an all out war on the most marginalised people in society.

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Revealed: Inhumane Treatment Of UK’s Disabled & Poor By Department For Work And Pension

The following blog appears to show that, after blogger Jules Clarke contacted his MP, Iain Duncan Smith admitted in writing to the MP that the DWP sanctions people with “learning difficulties or mental health problems.” Both disabled and non-disabled benefits claimants are most at risk of having their rights eroded if they’re on Jobseeker’s Allowance, and especially if they’re coming off the Work Programme.

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Benefit sanctions and absurdity: will public attitudes change

It’s always worth reminding ourselves just how draconian and irrational, not to mention pointless, sadistic, and avoidably counterproductive the benefit sanctions regime can be, not least because, as my colleague Patrick Wintour noted this week:

“The issue is one that all political parties are reluctant to take up, partly because public opinion is thought to be hostile to “benefit scroungers”


Is this the kind of Britain in which we want to live where people are hostile towards benefit claimants, the kind of Britain were people are impoverished by unfair benefit reforms including sanctions. Sickening that both of the major political parties consider that the continued persecution of benefit claimants and the imposed drastic decrease in benefit payments as a result of cuts and sanctions are seen as a vote catcher.

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I would like to say that the best action is not to vote Tory which is indeed a necessary action if we are to ever bring about change concerning benefit sanctions and other unfair reforms.  However it is unclear what Labour intend and with the exception of abolishing the bedroom tax it looks increasingly that nothing much will be done to undo the vicious and unfair welfare reforms of the last five years.

We must demand a more fair system that allows those who through no fault of their own as a result of long term sickness, disability or unemployment to receive benefits which provide a decent standard of living. Bullying people to find work that they are too ill to do or to find jobs that simply don’t exist is unacceptable and it has to stop now, but unless more of us speak out nothing much of anything will ever change. The present government and to a lesser extent the previous one have done a thorough job of turning public opinion against benefit claimants, a tactic used in prewar Germany

Here is the latest outrage

David Cameron To Force NEETs To Carry Out 30 Hours Of Community Work A Week ‘From Day One’


Related Links

Sanctions and the charity shop.

Entre staff under pressure to strip claimants of benefits for no good reason, North East MPs claim

Iain Duncan Smith to accelerate benefit reforms to stop Labour reversing them

Updated list of deaths due to welfare reforms





Confirmed – The FULL Impact of Cuts Disabled People Face

Please read about the effect of welfare reforms on sick and disabled people since the coalition government introduced their vicious benefit cuts.

Below is a cross post from Sue Marsh originally posted on Dairy of a Benefit Scrounger.

(Comments and other information follow).

Confirmed – The FULL Impact of Cuts Disabled People Face

Since the coalition came to power, sick and disabled people have claimed we are being fundamentally harmed by the coalition welfare reforms. Not scroungers or skivers, but  people living with long term serious illnesses like me, or who live with physical disabilities. Adults AND children. Young and old. People with terminal conditions, people with kidney or heart failure, people waiting for transplants and even people in comas. None have been spared. The government repeatedly assure you they have.

The government have of course denied that they are putting an unreasonable share of austerity cuts on us. Repeatedly and often aggressively. This is how they respond to the UN of all people :

Since 2011, almost every main voice involved in the services and systems that support sick and disabled people have argued that we must know how all of the changes TOGETHER have affected us so particularly.

Everything we rely on has been cut severely – in some cases by up to 40%. Disability benefits, sickness benefits, social care services, housing support, legal aid for tribunals, respite care, the independent living fund, council tax relief, higher education funding, everything.

It is very possible that if you were affected by one of the changes, you were affected by several or even all of them. 
Whilst the government paid lip service to assessing what impact their reforms would have on sick and disabled people, they only did so one by one…


Please continue reading:
http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/confirmed-full-impact-of-cuts-disabled.html  – I had intended to include the entire post however due to technical difficulties I am unable to do so.

Please click the link above and read the entire article particularly if you are sick or disabled and claiming benefits. It has some important information for you.

Please also share and cross post or reblog the above article by using the following link:

My comments and other information

Prior to the election Cameron Said:

“A country is judged upon how it cares for its most vulnerable in society in bad times as well as in good times”.

He also promised that the sick, disabled, the elderly or the poorest in society had nothing to fear if he became prime-minister because he would protect the vulnerable people of Britain.

“I help care for a severely disabled child – my son. It’s what I do at the start of each day. It’s sharpened my focus on the world of care assessments, eligibility criteria, disability living allowance, respite breaks,”

He further explains how his own personal experiences had shaped his views:

“The very painful thing about disability – whether your own or your loved one’s – is the feeling that the situation is out of your control. When the system that surrounds you is very top-down, bureaucratic, inhuman, that can only increase your feelings of helplessness … but I do believe there are moments of despair, helplessness and frustration that could be directly alleviated by the work of government.”

And on yet another occasion he said:

“In the past we used to think of poverty in absolute terms – meaning straightforward material deprivation… We need to think of poverty in relative terms – the fact that some people lack those things which others in society take for granted.”

Finally the UN has judged Cameron and his government as being in violation of the UK’s international treaty obligations to the poor.

In a twenty-two page letter a group of United Nations poverty experts have criticised the coalitions’ welfare reforms. They say that the cuts in benefits break Britain’s international treaty obligations to the poor. The report will be discussed at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in New York, in September.

Who would have thought that our welfare system would come under criticism by the UN. How times have changed in the UK and even more so since the coalition came into power. And to make matters worse there are more cuts to come, more austerity measures aimed at the sick disabled and the poor.

Though these violations of human rights have come to the attention of the UN I rather doubt that anything much will change as a result as yet again Duncan Smith reacts with his usual angry rebuke and denial.

UK ‘sleepwalking into violating disabled people’s human rights’:

Welfare reforms break UN convention and will leave many without crucial help for daily living, say campaigners:

Jane Campbell, a cross-bench peer who is disabled said: “It is both extremely worrying and deeply sad that the UK – for so long regarded as an international leader in protecting and promoting disabled people’s rights – now risks sleepwalking towards the status of a systematic violator of these same rights.”


Related Links:

Read the latest finding that show how hard families have been hit as a result of benefit changes

“Research for the Real Life Reform report was carried out between April and early May and shows that people are dealing with mounting debt, borrowing from loan sharks and turning to food banks.”


The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life . . . the children; those who are in the twilight of life . . . the elderly; and those who are in the shadow of life . . . the sick . . . the needy . . . and the disabled.”
Hubert Humphrey 38th US Vice-President

Benefit Sanctions Killed David Clapson

Please read the following from the Void:

Sign The Petition For An Inquiry Into The Benefit Sanctions That Killed David Clapson

The family of David Clapson – the former soldier who recently died after his benefits were stopped as punishment for missing a meeting at the Jobcentre – have launched a petition calling for an inquiry into benefit sanctions. In his sister’s own words: “My brother, David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier, died starving and destitute because he was penalised by the Job Centre for missing a meeting. “David had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped meaning that he couldn’t afford food or electricity. He was penniless, starving and alone. His electricity card was out of credit meaning the fridge where he should have kept his diabetes insulin chilled was not working. Three weeks after his benefits were stopped he died from diabetic ­ketoacidosis – caused by not taking his insulin. “David wasn’t a “scrounger”. He had worked for 29 years; 5 years in the Army – including two years in Northern Ireland…

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Please be sure to sign the petitions:



David’s sister Gill quoted in the Daily Mirror said:

“I don’t care even if they do not admit it as long as they look at it again in the background.” She added: “If my brother had been a murderer he would have been fed and watered with a roof overt his head. “People talk about human rights but where were my brother’s human rights and dignity? “They took away his rights and dignity.”

Please read More:

Facing the possibility of sanctions?

You can get help from Job Seekers Sanction Advice about what to do if you are sanctioned

We’re a small network of 3 disgruntled ex, Department of Work and Pensions civil servants who left the service for a variety of reasons, not least of which was our dissatisfaction with the pressures being placed on staff to achieve what many of us saw as targets, which were designed in our eyes, to punish people financially for the smallest error or indiscretion. Rather than regard that as the end of the matter, our small group decided to actually do something about the reason for their premature departure from the civil service and with their new found freedom launched Job Seeker Sanction Advice.

Read More: Job Seeker Sanction Advice Home Page

Please read the following if you have not already done so. This is an excellent article which well sums up the shocking situation today here in the UK when benefit claimants are vilified, labeled as scroungers and skivers, plunged into poverty and destitution, even starvation and death. https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/rip-david-clapson-another-man-helped-to-death-by-iain-duncan-smith

As a result of Tory propaganda against benefit claimants we are a divided society where few speak out either against the treatment of the most vulnerable or the destruction of our welfare system. For make no mistake this is the agenda of the Tory’s and maybe even Labour. These are very worrying times, who would have thought that such a violation of human rights and the mistreatment of sick and disabled people and the unemployed would happen here in the UK and that moreover few would challenge this.

Sadly David is not the only one to die after having had his benefits cut off. Recall the case of a man with Asperger syndrome who died of starvation when his Employment and Support allowance was stopped: https://rantingsfromavirtualsoapbox.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/man-dies-of-starvation-yet-another-victim-of-the-governments-callous-treatment-of-sick-and-disabled-people/

Also the case of a man who died of kidney failure and starvation in the affluent town of East Grinstead after his benefits had been cut off.

These are just three cases among many, among thousands who have suffered death, committed suicide, been plunged into poverty, destitution and misery at a time in their lives when they need help and support as a result of loss of income because of unemployment, sickness or disability. The welfare system needs to change to avoid more tragedies of this nature.

Shocking that anyone in this world of plenty dies of starvation but when it happens in the sixth richest country in the world where food is readily available this social injustice seems more shocking. When shops are filled with an abundance of food, when the rich gorge themselves on the access of decadent living it is shameful that a sick person should die or indeed anyone simply on the whim of a government ruling. Benefit sanctions are unjust and mostly issued unfairly. For missing one appointment with his adviser this person lost his life!

More information

Read the heartbreaking story of David Tovey a seriously ill man who was driven to destitution, homelessness and attempted suicide as a result of government reforms.

The reality of the governments welfare reform:

In Memory of all Who Have Died as a Result of Government Welfare Reforms:

On 28th September last year a ceremony of remembrance and solidarity took place in London for all who have suffered and or died after ATOS assessments and as a result of the government’s viscous welfare reforms:
The suffering continues.

Britain’s Welfare  Reforms have come under the condemnation of the UN

Letter by UN poverty experts including Raquel Rolnik blasts welfare reform:

“… a 22-page letter was sent to Karen Pierce, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, criticises George Osborne’s indications that welfare reform will continue until at least 2017. It also criticises the benefits cap and raises concerns about the bedroom tax. The letter says:

‘We would like to bring to your government’s attention information we have received concerning the… impact of reductions in public expenditure, in particular to social security, to an adequate standard of living… and to equality and non-discrimination, especially for people living in poverty.

According to concerned sources, the package of austerity measures enacted could amount to retrogressive measures prohibited under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified in 1974.’