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

 

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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.