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?! 

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:
http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/confirmed-un-is-investigating-uks-grave-violations-of-disabled-peoples-rights/

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:
https://www.change.org/p/rt-hon-david-cameron-mp-implement-the-recommendations-of-the-benefit-sanctions-policy-beyond-the-oakley-review

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.”

http://www.aol.co.uk/news/2015/09/15/jeremy-corbyn-slams-poverty-denier-david-cameron-in-blast-at-free-market/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cuk%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D383187

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:
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figures

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!
http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2014/10/21/uk-welfare-reform-deaths-updated-list-october-21st-2014/

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:
https://welfaretales.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/chronically-ill-dad-kills-himself-with-electric-saw-after-fearing-his-sickness-benefits-would-be-changed-again/

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:
https://apootler.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/confessions-of-a-pariah/

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:
http://www.welfareweekly.com/shocking-benefits-story-exposes-britains-barbaric-welfare-system/

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

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-date/work-capability-assessment.html#.VWw_0KDqYo4.wordpress

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.

Join the Day Of Action Against Maximus, March 2nd

Attacking people with disabilities is the lowest display of power I can think of
Morgan Freeman.

maximus A5 leaflet front  06

Please make a note in your diaries to join The Day Of Action Against Maximus

Maximus is the new Work Capability Assessment (WCA) contractor taking the place of ATOS  to conduct the deeply unfair WCA for sick and disabled people.

These crude and callous assessments have been used to strip benefits from hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people after a quick computer based test ruled them ‘fit for work’.  A growing number of suicides have been directly linked to this stressful regime, whilst charities, medical staff and claimants themselves have warned of the desperate consequences for those left with no money at all by the system.

In a huge embarrassment for the DWP, the previous contractor Atos were chased out of the Work Capability Assessments after a sustained and militant campaign carried out by disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters.  In a panicky effort to save these vicious assessments Iain Duncan Smith hired US private healthcare company Maximus to take over from Atos this coming April.

This is not the only lucrative contract the Tories have awarded this company.  Maximus are also involved in helping to privatise the NHS, running the Fit for Work occupational health service designed to bully and harass people on sick leave into going back to work.  Maximus also run the notorious Work Programme in some parts of the UK, meaning that disabled people found fit for work by Maximus may then find themselves sent on workfare by Maximus.  There is no greater enemy to the lives of sick and disabled people in the UK today than this multi-national poverty profiteer who even are prepared to run welfare-to-work style schemes for the brutal Saudi Arabian government.

Read More including details of the day of action:
http://dpac.uk.net/2015/01/disabled-claimants-welcome-to-maximus-march-2nd-everywhere/

Details of local Events

Planning for the Day of Action to Welcome Maximarse to their new role as assessors for the cruel and hateful WCA is taking shape, and we now have local actions planned forBalham, Brighton, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow, Ipswich, Lincoln,  Manchester,  Reading, Sheffield, and of course Maximus HQ in central London.

Read More:
http://dpac.uk.net/2015/01/maximus-day-of-action-2nd-of-march-list-of-events-around-the-uk-scrapwca/

Keep an eye on the above page – “we will keep it updated with locations all over the UK where actions are planned, and details of new actions are coming in to DPAC central thick and fast so keep an eye out for updates.”  Includes  details of how to set up an event in your locality it there is not one where you live. Also online action planned. So do check this page out every so often.

Twitter hash tag ‪#‎ScrapWCA‬

Download the above leaflet and others:
https://twitter.com/hashtag/scrapwca

DPAC on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/dis_ppl_protest/status/555868168481038337

More information about the detrimental effects of the WCA and also the misery and suffering as a result of sanctions for non compliance, which many mean being sanctioned and loosing at least one month’s benefit for, in some cases, being as little as one minute late for an interview with your Jobcentre adviser!

Don’t consider for one minute that Maximus may not be like ATOS , it is a foregone conclusion that they are indeed as bad if not worse than ATOS.  The following helps to confirm this:
The senior civil servant previously responsible for government policy on the notorious “fitness for work” test could start offering advice on the same issue to his new private sector bosses within weeks.
http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2015/01/former-wca-boss-free-advise-maximus-fitness-work-test-within-weeks/

The is no doubt concerning the misery and suffering inflicted upon vulnerable people as a result of the WCA, thousands have died as a consequence, many as a result of suicide.

The WCA is not suitable for its purpose and needs to be scrapped

List off those who have died as result of government reforms including the WCA

Terry McGarvey, 48. Dangerously ill from polycytheamia, Terry asked for an ambulance to be called during his Work Capability Assessment. He knew that he wasn’t well enough to attend his WCA but feared that his benefits would be stopped if he did not. He died the following day.

Elaine Lowe, 53. Suffering from COPD and fearful of losing her benefits. In desperation, Elaine chose to commit suicide.

Mark Wood, 44. 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.

Read More Stories

UK Welfare Reform Deaths ~ Updated List ~ October 21st 2014:
http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2014/10/21/uk-welfare-reform-deaths-updated-list-october-21st-2014/

Here is another tragedy, another suicide of a man with mental illness:

Sanction and suicide:
https://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/sanction-and-suicide/

Obtained under the freedom of information act it has been revealed that the DWP has investigated 60 deaths linked to cuts in benefits and the refusal of ESA as a result of the WCA declaring them fit for work

It has emerged that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out 60 reviews into deaths linked to benefit cuts in the past three years. Shocking cases reveal a spike in suicides and health deterioration resulting from cuts.

In some cases, deaths appear to be caused by a refusal of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Other deaths of predominantly disabled claimants resulted from claimants being found “fit to work” by a Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
http://rt.com/uk/206247-benefit-cuts-related-deaths/

This is just the tip of the iceberg as untold thousands more have suffered serious detriment to their lives because of these vile reforms. There are no doubt many many more cases that go unreported.

It is sickening that the lives of chronically ill and disabled people should be made even more wretched by this morally bankrupt government’s vicious and grossly unjust welfare reforms and that few people speak out. Certainly not the media who have done much to support the government in what I believe is the slow and systematic dismantling of our welfare system. Where is Labour in all this? With the exception of the bedroom tax mainly silent. Though there is evidence that Labour will continue with this deeply unfair assessment:
https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/taking-the-wca-back-to-the-bad-old-days-why-sick-and-disabled-claimants-should-fear-a-labour-government/

Even if you manage to fulfill the criteria to claim ESA that is not the end of the matter, you can be stripped of your benefit as a result of unfair sanctions particularly if you are mentally ill. It has been shown that people with mental health conditions are sanctioned disproportionately.

According to welfare weekly 100 mentally ill people are sanctioned everyday:

100 Sickness Benefit Claimants With Mental Health Problems Sanctioned Every Day

Benefits claimant judged as unfit to work due to mental health problems are more likely to have their benefits stopped by sanctions than those suffering from other conditions,

Homeless charity Crisis warned in 2014 of a “shocking increase” in the number of ESA sanctions. In the first three months of 2014 alone, 15,995 disabled people had their benefits docked, compared with 3,574 during the same period the previous year.

Whilst it isn’t possible to say how many of these ESA claimants also suffered from mental health problems, disability is often accompanied by mental health issues – such as anxiety and depression.

According to the DWP data, the most common reason for being sanctioned is that a person has been late or not turned up for a Work Programme appointment

http://www.welfareweekly.com/100-sickness-benefit-claimants-mental-health-problems-sanctioned-every-day/

Read Mikes Story:

Mike found himself in court for stealing just £ 7.45 worth of food:

Mike had lost his job a few months earlier and had been stuck on a bus unexpectedly delayed by road works.

He was ten minutes late for his appointment at the Jobcentre and as a punishment he was sanctioned for four weeks – that means he lost all his income for a month.

Three weeks into the sanction he had nothing, he was ill, he missed the local foodbank’s weekly opening day and eventually he stole some food because he hadn’t eaten in four days.

Read more:
http://www.itv.com/news/2015-01-20/the-most-vulnerable-claimants-are-being-punished-for-minor-mistakes-over-benefits/

If you think that such an extreme sanction is a mistake then think again.

In the same article:

Harsh punishment for minor mistakes

When people hear stories like Mike’s they are tempted to believe that this must be a mistake and that it’s not how the system is intended to function.

However, looking closely we see that punishing minor mistakes extremely harshly is core to the sanctions system.

Please read the full article if you haven’t done so already:
http://www.itv.com/news/2015-01-20/the-most-vulnerable-claimants-are-being-punished-for-minor-mistakes-over-benefits/

It is likely that mentally ill people are more often sanctioned as they as a result of their illness are less likely to fight back, raise  an objection or cope with finding help and advice. Mentally health conditions are far more incapacitating  than many people realise, take the most common condition of depression, a disorder that can render a person unable to get out of bed feed or care for themselves let alone challenge such unfair decisions. Another common mental health problem is anxiety which may be so severe that the suffer may be prevented from leaving the house let alone arrive on time or at all for an appointment, such as an agoraphobic for example.

Here is an example of what happens to mentally ill people

“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.

Caught in a bureaucratic nightmare without any guidance, David was too ill to speak to advisors.”

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

Though the issue of sanctions may seen like a separate matter,  this particular grave injustice stems from the accumulating impact of Tory welfare reforms which are effecting the most vulnerable and which need to be scrapped. Getting the WCA scrapped would be a good start.

Labour have already stated that they’re going to be tougher on benefit recipients than the Tories so it is unlikely that there will be any changes from them.

The Tories will not scrap the WCA  because it’s doing exactly what it was designed to do and that is to deprive people of their sickness benefits and eventually to do away with the welfare system.

I very much doubt that unless we robustly demand change that change to this inhumane system will ever come about.

Anyone who can attend or support the day of action please do so, you do not have to be sick or disabled, a carer or in any way personally affected. We are all in it together, a now infamous term used by a truly deplorable human being (Cameron) that in this instance is nonetheless true. Think about it all those of you who imagine that by denying sick and disabled people a decent standard of living you will somehow be better off –  pay less taxes or social security.  On the contrary you will be disappointed. If this is what you expect you are delusional, naive at best, stupid at worst. Consider one day it could be you or a loved one. With the exception of those born with disabilities I very much doubt that those who are sick or disabled today ever thought that this would happen to them. Old or young one never knows if or when one may be rendered disabled or chronically sick. Do you really want to destroy  the only means of living provided by the welfare system for the thousands of us who are unfortunate to be sick or disabled. What kind of person condones such an inhumane notion, what kind of person promotes such a state of affairs where disabled people will be left to fend for themselves relying on handouts from relatives or charities.  What kind of person stands by and allows this to happen?

It is sickening that in a modern society that a tiny minority have the power to being about such appalling devastation, misery and suffering into the lives of the most vulnerable in our community.  Even more shocking is the number of people who have swallowed hook line and sinker the Nazi Style Tory propaganda labeling benefits claimants as scroungers.  As a consequence few stand up in defence of this grave social injustice which has come to the attention of the UN, though it has to be said the UN appear to be doing very little about it other than to cite it for the human rights violation that it is.

Other Related Information

A very interesting document. Please read… And please share…..

“Today I received a very interesting document. It consists of the governments latest plans regarding sanctions. It makes very interesting reading. That is if you don’t get too angry and stop reading. For this reason I have taken out the “worst” bits. I shall put a little explanation alongside each one. Sources of this document etc shall remain nameless but you need to read this and share it.

LIE!!….Sanctions make people too scared to live, too scared to do anything but what the Job Centre tell them to do. SANCTIONS KILL.”
Read More:
https://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/a-very-interesting-document-please-read-and-please-share/

Britain’s benefits sanctions: ‘My brother’s gone. We can’t bring him back, but we can’t let this go on’
Read More:
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/dec/17/benefits-sanctions-gill-thompson-cathie-wood-vulnerable-claimants

Maximus: The Company That Dare Not Show Its Face #ScrapWCA:
Read More:
https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/the-company-that-dare-not-show-its-face-how-maximus-plan-to-hide-their-involvement-in-the-work-capability-assessment/

Also from the Void  –  (A Good source of information concerning benefit reforms and other related issues)

Benefit Sanctions Will Cause A Deterioration In Health And That’s OK Says DWP Rule Book
https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/benefit-sanctions-will-cause-a-deterioration-in-health-and-thats-ok-says-dwp-rule-book/

Cuts to employment and support allowance ‘considered’:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29821696

 

Disclaimer:

I am not responsible for any of the advertising that may appear on this blog.

Reasons Not to Vote Tory: Violations of Disability Rights as a result of Benefit Reforms

A few years ago who would have thought that the UK would come under the scrutiny of the UN in regard to human rights violations against sick and disabled people?

During the lead up to the next election here in the UK I am going to include a series of entries under the simple heading: Reasons Not to Vote Tory. These periodic postings will as the title suggests concern the many reasons why we should not vote conservative in the next election. Each post will centre on one issue beginning today with the shocking fact that sick and disabled people are suffering and dying as a result of the present government’s welfare reforms.  Always though keep in mind that the Tory’s were invariably aided and abetted by their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats without whose support many of their draconian polices could never have been implemented.

“For a government to be so implacable in insisting on its course of action without any resort to due care and attention is appalling.

“The breaches are now so blatant, the fact that people are dying and the coroner’s courts are recognising suicides or lack of care as direct results of benefit reform… there is a limit to how much can be said without anybody listening, and if it has to be from outside the country, so be it.”
Julie Newman, acting chair of the UK Disabled People’s Council

15032839585_fd63f7c776_h

This issue has certainly not gone away. Still every week I hear of someone who has committed suicide due to some aspect of benefit or service cuts – and that’s just the very few that are ever reported. Many more people are in dire poverty due to cuts – and to needless sanctions. The Jobcentre has targets to move people off of benefits whether it is justified or not. Usually not. And the consequences are appalling.

Many of our politicians and many civil servants need literally imprisoning for their part in fueling mass poverty and in particular for their responsibility for so many deaths.
Flickr user Byzantine_K

Credit Poster: Flickr user Byzantine_K
https://www.flickr.com/photos/november5/15032839585/  – larger sizes available of this and other posters with a creative commons license, ideal to spread the word about the coalition’s treatment of sick and disabled people and other issues. You would be amazed at how many people have fallen for the government’s scrounger propaganda, a deliberate and shameful Nazi Style campaign designed to turn people against the most vulnerable in our society.

Here’ s an idea, why not print a few out and stick in public places, for example on the doors of public toilets for a captive audience. (Please use only blue tack or other method which does not damage surfaces.) People need to know what is happening to genuinely sick and disabled people in our society as a result of Tory Benefit reforms.

Below is a list of some of the deaths that are connected to welfare reforms, there are thousands more.

Some Welfare related deaths:

Nick Barker – RIP

Former sheep farmer, Nick had a brain haemorrhage which left him struggling to walk. The father of two shot himself after the DWP claimed he was fit to work. Recording a suicide verdict, coroner Michael Oakley said the benefits assessment was key to the tragedy.

Robert Barlow – RIP
Robert worked as a Government scientist but gave it up when diagnosed with severe cardiomypathy. The DWP deemed him fit to work. He died penniless under 2 years later.

Cecilia Burns – RIP
Cecilia had cancer. Atos called her in for one of their assessments. The DWP declared her fit to work, but she appealed the decision. She died shortly after winning her appeal.

Read More:
https://welfaretales.wordpress.com/category/death-after-fit-to-work-decision/

As a result of ATOS work capability assessments People with serious health problems and disabilities have been declared fit for work.

…a 39-year-old woman from Livingstone with a brain tumour was fit to work just weeks before she died and a double heart and lung transplant patient from Essex dying nine days after being declared well enough for employment.

Colin, 59, from Flint, worked in the steel industry for more than 25 years, before a car accident and a nasty fall down the stairs finally forced him to give up work. His left hip and leg are so damaged that he is in constant pain and uses a stick to walk. But Atos assessors said he was fit to work, leaving him to live off Red Cross parcels while he waited for the reassessment.

Read more:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-claimants-lose-all-their-income-under-disability-benefits-reform-9107586.html

People with serious disabilities and health conditions are being left for weeks with no financial support as a result of Government changes to benefit assessments.

Under new rules implemented by the Tory government

…anyone wanting to appeal a decision that they are fit to work first has to have all their paperwork looked at again, while receiving no sickness benefits. The Citizens Advice Bureau believes this will result in thousands of people being wrongly forced to survive on no income at all.

The Government said that this “mandatory reconsideration” would cut down on bureaucracy and take just two weeks, but some disabled and sick people are being wrongly assessed and left with no support for months on end.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-claimants-lose-all-their-income-under-disability-benefits-reform-9107586.html

The UN are investigating the UK welfare reforms.

The above and other Benefit reforms have resulted in a UN investigation.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has opened an investigation into the recent welfare reforms instigated by the present government. Concerning disability rights the UK, which once led the way internationally for decades, is now, thanks to the Tory government, set to be the first country to be investigated for violations regarding disability rights.

Disabled activists have welcomed the UN’s apparent decision to launch an inquiry into allegations of “grave or systematic” violations of its disability convention by the UK government.

Disability News Service (DNS) revealed last week that the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) appears to have made the UK the subject of its first inquiry into alleged violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Read More:
http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2014/08/activists-welcome-un-inquiry-decision/

According to the declaration of human rights:

  • (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  • (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 25 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ – clearly the government are in breach of this article and and many others as you will see if you read the entire declaration.

As a result of benefit reforms many disabled people are facing absolute poverty, a far cry from the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being...

Reforms such as the bedroom tax, unfair Work Capability Assessments with seriously ill and profoundly disabled people being declared fit for work, benefit sanctions for people on Employment and Support Allowance and other unfair reforms have left thousands in poverty, hopelessness and despair.

According to Disability News Service the figures show that 2,882 decisions were made to sanction claimants of employment and support allowance in December 2013, rising to 3,750 in January 2014, them 4,698 in February and 7,507 in March, an increase of nearly 580 per cent since March 2013.

Sanctions in some cases can mean no income – no money for food, gas and electricity, rent and so on.
“Sanctions are cruel and can leave people utterly destitute – without money even for food and at severe risk of homelessness. It is difficult to see how they are meant to help people prepare for work.
Matt DownieDirector of policy and external affairs, Crisis quoted in ‘Shocking increase’ in ESA sickness benefit sanctions:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28776102

Over ten thousand people have died after being found fit for work, still others have taken their own lives as a result of fear, anxiety and stress as a consequence of vicious welfare reforms and unfair assessments. Untold thousands more have suffered serious detriment to their lives because of these  reforms. According to the DWP’s own figures 10,600 people died during the months of January and November 2011. There are no records for 2012 and 2013. Therefore the number of deaths are much higher.

The list of injustices to sick and disabled goes on, for instance DLA (Disability Living Allowance).

Thousands will lose benefits as a result of the change from DLA to PIP including
100, 000 people in Scotland where a roll out of PIP began in January of this year..

Scottish ministers said the Personal Independence Payment, which replaces disability living allowance, would result in thousands losing benefits.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-28766917

Well I could go on the list of injustices is extensive. Even if there were no other reasons not to vote Tory or Liberal Democrat surely the coalition’s treatment of sick and disabled people alone is enough not to vote for either of these right-wing parties whose interests are only for the rich and privileged in our society.

What about Labour? Why not write to your MP or Milliband and ask him or her what they intend to do to rectify the injustices of the present government.

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

At the time of writing as far as I am aware with the exception of the bedroom tax Labour have been quiet on the matter.

The UK has a long way to go concerning its treatment of the disabled and human rights in this regard are not as good as they once were. In some cases there are shocking discriminations which have been around for a long time and about which few people are familiar for instance regarding the abortion act:

The 1967 Abortion Act permits babies to be aborted right up to the moment of birth if the baby has a ‘serious’ disability? – See more at: http://prolife.org.uk/2009/01/aborting-disabled-babies/#sthash.2E8F9hWX.dpuf

Related Information

Number of Sick And Disabled Claimants Facing Sanctions Triples In Just Six Months:
http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/number-of-sick-and-disabled-claimants-facing-sanctions-triples-in-just-six-months/

Never Forget, it is David Cameron Who is Ultimately to Blame for Welfare Reform Deaths
http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/never-forget-it-is-david-cameron-who-is-ultimately-to-blame-for-welfare-reform-deaths/

Mark Unravels After Sanctions: “The process left me feeling Suicidal”
http://annmcgauran.org.uk/2014/08/19/mark-unravels-after-sanctions-the-process-left-me-feeling-suicidal/

KB’s list. ”Benefit Reforms Death Scandal Must Stop”
https://www.facebook.com/pages/KBs-list-Benefit-Reforms-Death-Scandal-Must-Stop/144196972397240

Stop Workfare : Action Week 29th March-6th April

The wealthy have never liked to pay for the labor that enriches them. Ever since slavery was eliminated, they have been trying to keep it as close to slavery as they can without violating the slave laws.
Michael Moore

welcometoworkfare

Would you like to work for thirty hours each week for no pay. No of course not, such an idea is unacceptable. Yet the government are demanding that the unemployed work this number of hours for their benefit. Jobseekers allowance is not a wage, it is paid for one purpose only and that is to support those who are unemployed whilst they look for work. It is not payment for work. If it were the payment would be ridiculously low and therefore unlawful. On the lowest rate of £56.25 per week for those between the ages 16 to 24 it would amount to working for about £1.90 per hour. Not enough for even a single person to live on, let alone anyone with a family – by age twenty-four of course a man or woman could well have a family to support. It is inadequate as a benefit, it is inadequate as a wage.

In reality Workfare schemes are exploitative systems of free labour often undertaken whilst working for some of the biggest retailers in the UK, such as Tessco, ASDA and Boots. Charities have also taken part in these schemes, most notably the Salvation Army who were once the champions of the poor and the downtrodden. Oxfam have decided not to participate in the government’s workfare schemes because it undermines their work with the poor here in the UK. A sign of the changing times: when I worked for Oxfam a couple of decades ago their work did not include poor people here in the UK. There wasn’t the need.

Take Action

Please join Boycott Workfare’s action week to bring an end to forced unpaid labour here in the UK.

Our action can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting forced unpaid work and make sure this new scheme falls flat on its face. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 29 March-6 April.

Read more and take action: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3353

Included in the above link are a number of actions you can take, please don’t feel overwhelmed, take as many actions as you can, even if it is to write only one letter or e-mail to participating councils, charities and businesses. Their is something everyone can do from writing letters to picketing retailers such as Peacocks.

This link will take you to a list of companies and organisations known to have used or be using Workfare
http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=16

Among other actions the next link will provide you with a template letter for you to download which you can adapt to send to companies profiting  from workfare and also a template letter which you may adapt and send to your MP along with their contact details
http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=82n  – You can also  download a poster such as the one above to print out or put on your website or blog or share on Facebook.

There are more actions you can take further down

Remember workfare affects us all. If you loose your job and claim Jobseekers allowance you could be required to participate in Workfare. If you are claiming Employment and Support Allowance ESA and have been allocated to the Work Related Activity Group WRAG  you may be sent to Workfare. Workfare is not voluntary. All three political parties consider it right to force people to work for no wages, so nothing will change after the next election. Workfare does not help people to find jobs. Workfare increases the already over inflated profits of big companies and Work programme providers, it gives millions of the tax payers’ money to the one percent while depriving the 99 percent of a decent standard of living and quality of life. In some way or another we are all affected, even if not personally you are likely to know someone who is, maybe a loved one such as a son or daughter,  a sibling, a friend even your granny – if you are of working age you are not exempt.

More about Workfare

Here in the UK Workfare refers to government schemes whereby welfare precipitants must undertake work in return for their benefit payments or risk losing them. For example, people on one Workfare scheme,  Mandatory Work Activity MWA, can be compelled to work without pay for a month or have their benefit cut for up to three years. As already mentioned it is not only unemployed recipients of Job seekers allowance who are forced to take part in Workfare schemes,  but sick and disabled people may also have to join the Workfare programme if they have been assigned to the WRAG of  ESA

Mandatory Work Activity will be replaced by the government’s new Help-to-Work scheme  from April 2014 .

A New scheme “Community Work Placements”launching on 1 April 2014 will force claimants to work for six months without pay. Six months – 780 hours – is more than twice the maximum community service sentence.

More Action for you to take

There are in addition to the above schemes less obvious Workfare programmes such as Traineeships,  a crafty way of introducing workfare for private companies. Unemployed people between the age of 18 and 21 will be forced to attend either a Traineeship, other unpaid work experience position or face a Community Work Placement.

Please read the following from the Void:  Let’s Make Shoezones’s Workfare Scheme Fall Apart Faster Than Their Shoes

Shoezone are in the firing line on social media over their use of unpaid workers after@boycottworkfare tweeted the latest list of companies using Traineeships to avoid paying their staff.

Traineeships are the latest attempt by the Tories to introduce workfare for private companies by stealth.  There is no pretence that Traineeships will lead to a real job with proper wages.  According to the DWP these schemes, which can involve up to six months of unpaid work, are to ‘prepare’ people for becoming Apprentices, at below the minimum wage.

Read more and take the recommended actions:

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/lets-make-shoezoness-workfare-fall-apart/

Traineeships are not apprenticeships. Note the comment in the above article from a representative of Shoe Zone concerning  what “training” young people can expect if they work for free at Shoezone : “greeting customers and assisting them with their purchases, training on the till, dealing with stock replenishment and deliveries, and general tidying and store presentation.”

Does that sound like an apprenticeship to you? Not wishing to demean shop work as I have been employed myself in retail, but no way is this kind of work an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships when I left school were for skilled trades such as a car mechanic or a hairdresser. Apprentices where never paid well but they were paid and apprentices learnt a trade, a skill. Work in retail as a sale assistant is not an apprenticeship. For my first job in retail I received a proper wage, it may have been slightly less than for a more experienced member of staff, but it was a wage nonetheless and after a short time of only a few months I was paid a full wage. I was trained on the job. The above “skills” can be learnt in a couple of weeks or so most likely less, as for deliveries and replenishments these would be specific to shoe Zone and not applicable else where.

Please be sure to click the link above and take action such as : Boycott Shoezone, “tell them what you think on twitter @Shoezone and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/shoezone “

Workfare in all its guises is an unjust scheme which benefits the rich by providing them with profit as a result of compulsory free labour, it is a means of coercing the poor by threatening them with the removal of their benefits without which they cannot provide food for themselves or their families, or heat their homes or pay rent – not that the meagre benefit adequately covers these costs of course but to find yourself with no money at all is unthinkable.It also means less paid jobs are available for the unemployed and it undermines wages. For example last Christmas ASDA sent home paid staff and replaced them with people forced to work for nothing on the workfare scheme.

Workfare is slave labour, it is unethical, exploitative and not worthy of any modern socially progressive society which considers itself just .

There are a number of workfare schemes
Help to Work Scheme: 2 Minute Guide:
http://www.money.co.uk/article/1009976-help-to-work-scheme-2-minute-guide.htm – provides basic matter-of- fact  information

Read more about Workfare from Boycott Workfare
http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=663

It is not only private businesses and charities who take advantage of this pool of free labour, councils across the country have made use of half a million hours of unpaid work as a result of this unfair system. Newport council has used 112 people, mainly in its street cleaning and rubbish collection department for about four weeks at a time. Scarborough council has used 120 people. Bexley borough council in London has taken more than 100 unpaid placements.
Read More
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jan/02/councils-benefit-half-a-million-hours-unpaid-labour-foi-request

Please help the Workfare Action Week by clicking the following link if you have not already done so and take as much action as you can.
http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3353

And please spread the word.

Man Dies of Starvation: Yet Another Victim of the Government’s Callous Treatment of Sick and Disabled People

Shocking news: it has recently come to light that a man with Asperger syndrome and a number of mental health conditions has died of starvation – that’s right died of starvation in the sixth richest country in the world.

He died four months after most of his benefits were stopped and he was left with just £40 a week to survive on.

How bad does it have to get before someone does something to stop the onslaught of abuse and the violations of human rights here in the UK. The UN is aware of the situation yet continues to do nothing. Increasingly the public are aware of what is happening yet do very little either not giving a dam about the welfare of their fellow humans beings or they still continue sucking up the insane prattle of the Tories warped ideology disseminated by vile right-wing newspapers propagating the government’s Nazi style propaganda against the sick and disabled.

The government here in the UK are in violation of article 25 of the bill of human Rights which states:

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

– yet no action is taken.

Why was this allowed to happen? Why has a person starved to death in a country Cameron described recently as “wealthy”, here is what Cameron said after visiting communities affected by the floods:

“My message to the country today is this. Money is no object in this relief effort, whatever money is needed for it will be spent. We will take whatever steps are necessary”. “we are a wealthy country and we have taken good care of our public finances”.

Yet no money for sick and disabled people cut off without adequate means of support, left to die

Atos Healthcare had assessed Mark Wood, 44 as being fit to work though his GP said otherwise.

At the inquest into Mark’s death his GP Dr Ward told the court:

“He was an extremely vulnerable and fragile individual who was coping with life.
“Something pushed him or affected him in the time before he died and the only thing I can put my finger on is the pressure he felt he was under when his benefits were removed.”

Furthermore Dr Ward testified that he had not been contacted by ATOS or the DWP regarding Nicolas’s medical history. Had they done so he would have said Mr Wood was not fit for work.

Mark’s employment and support allowance ESA and housing benefit were taken away leaving him with just £40 from his Disability Living Allowance DLA. All he had was £40 to pay his rent, heat his home, buy food and clothing and no doubt he had to pay his council tax as so few are exempt now. All of this would have driven a normal person over the edge let alone someone with severe mental illness. Never forget that mental health problems are serious disabilities.

Mark Wood was another victim of the government’s welfare reforms designed to destroy the welfare system and send the country back to darker days long forgotten.

Mark was a vulnerable man who died of malnutrition weighing just 5 stone 8 pounds. He suffered with Asperger’s Syndrome a type of autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias of food, pollution, paint fumes, and social situations. He also had cognitive behavioural problems.

DWP spokesperson has said:

“A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist.”

Considering the above testimony by his GP, the DWP statement is a blatant lie.

Read more about this shocking case: http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/11043378.Man_starved_after_benefits_were_cut/?ref=mr

It is highly likely that a good percentage of those declared fit for work are people who suffer with mental health or a neurological disorders such as Autism. Why? Because this group of people are less able to defend their rights, fight their case or appeal. People with mental health problems are often less likely to cope or find the wherewithal to even understand the complex procedure that is required. Moreover many have no one to help them and the system is ambiguous and complex to fathom, even for a person who does not suffer in this way.

If people with chronic and debilitating physical health conditions and disabilities have been declared fit for work, people with mental health issues are even less likely to get though the WCA or cope with the aftermath of being told they are fit for work. Moreover they’re less likely to gain sympathy or support. Not that physically sick and disabled are getting much in the way of support from the British public either and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety present in the lives of physically ill people as a result of all the worry and stress, consequently adding more misery to already difficult lives.

Where is the public outrage, the sense of social justice? Most people are more interested in what is on TV than what is happening to their neighbour who is sitting in a cold house, facing eviction, hunger and destitution. Sadly TV and sports has become the modern “opiate of the masses”. Though it has to be said that many are facing their own battles as a result of austerity measures and the complex lives we all lead. Even so-called ” hardworking people” if they are low paid may find their housing benefits sanctioned if they cannot show they are looking for a higher paid job .Few people have escaped the onslaught of misery during the past few years except the very well paid and the rich.

Atos is working for the DWP; let’s not forget that, Atos does the government’s dirty work albeit willingly for huge amounts of tax free money, they are nonetheless employed by the DWP to carry out Work Capability Assessments. Therefore whoever replaces them will continue the atrocities against vulnerable people.

Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, said:

“We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Mark Wood.

“Unfortunately this tragic case is not an isolated incident. We hear too often how changes to benefits are negatively impacting vulnerable individuals, who struggle to navigate a complex, and increasingly punitive, system.

“We know the assessment process for those applying for Employment and Support Allowance is very stressful, and too crude to accurately assess the impact a mental health problem has on someone’s ability to work.

“This leads to people not getting the right support and being put under excessive pressure which can make their health worse and push them further from the workplace.

“We urgently need to see a complete overhaul of the system, to ensure nobody else falls through the cracks.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/disabled-mark-wood-starved-death-3194250

Shame on the government. Shame on ATOS who for money destroy the lives of vulnerable people. Shame on the Labour government who have barely even spoke out against the abuse of vulnerable people.

Mark was not the first person to die of starvation, an East Grinstead man has also died of starvation as a result of having had his benefits cut.

A terminally ill man from East Grinstead was found dead in his home following a DWP medical assessment by Croydon based medical company ATOS.

The man aged 63 was found dead after ATOS submitted their report to the DWP stating that the 63 year old was fit and able to carry out manual work in which ATOS made recommendations that his benefits should be stopped in November 2012.

Police state that the 63 year old had died of kidney failure and starvation following the assessment.
Read More

http://uk-condemnation.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/man-63-dies-of-kidney-failure.html

The government and ATOS needs to be held up to account for crimes against humanity.

Yet who will speak up for the disabled and the chronically sick including the mentally and neurologically ill whose claims for ESA are being rejected by as much as 40% leaving sufferers traumatised, distressed, depressed, suicidal and in poverty. No one it seems speaks out or at least very few with the exception of individual disabled people themselves and groups such as Spartacus and the WOW petition. With few exceptions even charities do not make any real condemnation of the shocking state of affairs concerning what is happening here in the UK. The salvation Army seems to have set aside its Christian values to support the government’s work for nothing workfare scheme which is not only a great injustice to abled bodied people who are unfortunate enough to be unemployed but many sick and disabled people have been forced to take part under threat of losing their benefit, the only income between them and destitution, hunger and homelessness.

The Salvation army are not the only ones, though an excellent charity the National Autistic society did nothing during the run up to the welfare reform bill being passed into law other than negotiate a few clauses with Freud relating to people with autism. Mind even assisted with workfare though has since pulled out of the scheme. There certainly has been no unified serious effort between the charities to end this misery, I wonder if any of them have even contacted the UN.

Most of the right wing gutter press support the draconian scheme of the government to get as many people off benefits and back to work as possible regardless as to whether to not they are fit to do so. Why ? Because the government want to claw back the money lost in the so called financial crisis which whether it exists or not was not the fault of those who are suffering now to pay for it. Though I think the austerity measures supposedly to pay back the deficit are but an excuse to plunge people into poverty and destroy the welfare system.

And what of Labour – other than promise to end the bedroom tax what have Labour done to defend people on welfare? Other than older party members such as Dennis Skinner so called new Labour have barely raised an objection.

I am appalled that Labour have not condemned in any real way the serious attack on benefit claimants. Thousands of people have committed suicide, many live in fear and dread of insecurity and devastating poverty. Lives already marred by illness and disability and by unemployment have suffered further detriment from the Tory government’s welfare reforms and indeed from Labour who introduced some of the changes such as the unfair Work Capability Assessment WCA and a reduction in the amount paid when Employment and Support Allowance ESA replaced Incapacity Benefit. I clearly recall Toney Blair’s “lounging on benefits” comments which some might say launched the drip feed of the negative scrounger propaganda.

It is a sad day when democracy is allowed to die, when an unelected government of millionaires of over privileged sociopaths determines the future of the masses virtually unchallenged in any real sense save for the ineffectual slanging matches in parliament, none of which have remotely addressed the outrage of social injustice perpetrated against the disabled, sick , unemployed and low paid

Action to take

Write to the UN
Why not write to the UN about the shocking treatment of the most vulnerable in our society, the sick and disabled who have seen their lives destroyed as a result of vicious, unfair and unjust welfare reforms which have resulted in many suicides and people dying as consequence of all the extra pressure brought to bear on lives already blighted by disability and ill health.

You might not get a reply but it is still worth writing, the more letters and e-mail received the more someone will take notice. I wrote a long e-mail. I did not receive a reply and did not expect to do so. But do not be deterred, unless we speak out nothing will happen.

http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=175

Also see

http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=150

http://www.un.org/disabilities/

You can also write to:
His Excellency Mr Ban Ki Moon
United Nations Secretary-General
UN Headquarters
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
USA
E-­mail: sgcentral@un.org

Do not hesitate, yes there are worse things going on in the world but two wrongs so not make a right and human rights violations are violations regardless of degree.

Write a polite letter to your MP and or David Cameron and express your outrage

Mr David Cameron, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/constituencies/witney

Or contact you constituency MP.
http://www.parliament.uk/about/contacting/mp/

Write to trade unions – what are they doing about the benefit sanctions of workers and low pay zero hours – not very much as far as I am aware certainly nothing in support of the sick and disabled who were once workers many of whom were trade union members.

TUC

Trades Union Congress
Congress House, Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3LS
Tel: 020 7636 4030
Fax: 020 7636 0632

To email comments or make an enquiry to the TUC, please email info@tuc.org.uk

The TUC is the primary trade union federation for the United Kingdom.

A list of other trade unions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_trade_unions_in_the_United_Kingdom

Unless we all speak out nothing will change

Here is list of those who do speak out in a meaningful way and where you will find the latest information.

The Void
http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/

Where’s The Benefit
http://wheresthebenefit.blogspot.co.uk/?wref=bif

WOW Petition
http://wowpetition.com/

Dairy of a Benefit Scrounger
http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/?wref=bif

Pride’s Purge ~ an irreverent look at UK politics
http://tompride.wordpress.com/

We are Spartacus
https://www.facebook.com/WeAreSpartacus

Boycott Workfare
http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

There are more no doubt many more including less prominent blogs and websites, such as blogs like this one with few visitors. In the main though the above provide you with up-to-date information. But every voice counts as does every action we take large or small.

Frankly what is needed is a bit of solidarity a united front of the sick and disabled, workers and sympathisers . Too often people are divided such as begrudging money sent aboard and immigrants. Even if no money is sent abroad and no more immigrants allowed into the UK nothing will change, the government are hell-bent on setting the clock back decades and destroying our welfare system.

Related links

Cancer patients ‘forced to work’

http://fermanaghherald.com/2014/02/cancer-patients-forced-to-work/