European Committee of Social Rights declares levels of benefits in the UK are ‘manifestly inadequate’

January 2014

European Social Charter

European Committee of Social Rights

Conclusions XX

-2 (2013)


17.   Article 12 .Right to social security

Paragraph 1    Existence of a social security system    ……………….

19.     Conclusion

The Committee  concludes that the situation in United Kingdom is not in conformity with Article12§1 of the Charter on the ground that:

the minimum levels of short-term and long-term incapacity benefit is manifestly inadequate;

the minimum level of state pension is manifestly inadequate;

the minimum level of job seeker’s allowance is manifestly inadequate

read the entire report from the European Commission of Social Rights here:

MPs to probe Government’s savage benefit cuts

The Mirror reported how diabetic ex-soldier David Clapson died destitute at 59 without benefits after being sanctioned by the Job Centre for missing one meeting

MPs are to hold a new inquiry into the government’s brutal benefit sanctions regime – following a campaign backed by the Daily Mirror.

It has been triggered by Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, who called on the Work and Pensions Select Committee to investigate after the Government refused an inquiry.

The move follows a 200,000-strong petition set up by Gill Thompson in July following the death of her diabetic brother David Clapson at the age of 59. David, a former soldier who served in Northern Ireland, died destitute after being sanctioned by the Job Centre for missing a single meeting.


read the rest of this article by Ross Wynne Jones in the Mirror here:

7 Facts You Need To Know About Workfare

Originally posted on REALFARE:

Image: Brighton Benefits Camapign

Image: Brighton Benefits Camapign


Workfare schemes have been tried out in countries such as Australia, USA, Canada and places in Europe since the 1990’s, with dismal results. Research in Australia found that workfare had an insignificant effect on reducing long-term unemployment and was “ineffective” in finding sustainable employment.

The UK government commissioned it’s own international research into workfare before introducing the schemes and the findings were as follows:

“There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work.  It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers”

“Workfare is least effective in getting people into jobs in weak labour markets where unemployment is high.”


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So what stopped you from killing yourself, then?

I accompanied someone to an Atos assessment today. His documentation mentioned that he had suicidal thoughts. The assessor asked a series of very probing questions that I was very uncomfortable with. He wanted to know what actual actions my friend was planning when he thought of suicide, how and where his suicide attempts were made, what stopped him from going through with it, what he was thinking about, why he was so depressed. The upside of this was that after 20 minutes of this the assessor said he had enough evidence and did not need to ask about my friend’s other conditions. I am hoping there was enough there to get him put straight into the support group, where he needs to be. But I am very concerned now about his state of mind after the assessment.

In cases like this a person is being put at immediate risk by talking about things that are very distressing to someone that is not even a mental health practitioner, or they will not get the benefit that they need. Should I have intervened and challenged the young man asking these questions, and run the risk that my friend would fail the assessment because he had not convinced the assessor? I’d greatly appreciate people’s comments on this.


Going private? My reply to a job offer from a private health company

Originally posted on MUCK:

What the heck is this? I’ve been trying and failing to stop the government from privatising the National Health Service for years, and now a private healthcare company has contacted me about a job!

The email from Care UK says they are “seeking a Media Relations Executive for our Head Office based in Colchester and your skills and experience appear to be a good match.” Huh? They are offering a “competitive salary, 25 days holiday and corporate discounts.”

Here’s what I have replied:

Dear Laura,

Thank you for your unexpected email about the Media Relations Executive job with Care UK. I am very interested. Since Care UK is possibly the leading private healthcare company making inroads into the NHS, I would relish the opportunity to publicise what it does – indeed, this is precisely what I was trying to do in my previous job as information officer for Keep Our…

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Food, clothes, transport, beds, ovens: the aid schools are giving UK pupils

Headteachers are breaking the rules to feed children and their families because they say they cannot ignore the signs of poverty


Fiona Gittings, a headteacher in a large primary school in the south of England, is talking about a child whose mother was recently refused asylum. The family was homeless and had been moved from place to place. Finally, they were put in a hostel so far from the school that transport costs were prohibitive. “Being in a hostel was terrifying and utterly unsuitable for the children,” says Gittings. “Carrying on coming to this school, where he was well settled, was so important for that child – it was the only stability he had.”

So Gittings dipped into an emergency fund she has created to pay for a bus pass for both mother and child. She set up the fund a few months ago with £500 of her school budget, £500 from her parent-teacher association and £500 from the church. She knows she can’t continue to pay for their travel though: one adult and one child bus pass for a month comes to about £100. So eventually the child may be forced to move to a new school.

It’s not the first time Gittings has helped poor families out. “This mum had no money – she was literally begging and borrowing to pay for two bus rides across the city to get her child to school. I told her to ask me if she needed help. She’s desperate and she was utterly mortified, but I am so proud that she felt she could come to me.”

But bus passes are the least of it. Gittings lists other recent payments she has made from the emergency fund: new bunks for two children when their beds were destroyed in a domestic violence incident; £12 to a mum heading to court who thought she’d have to pay for a non-molestation order (she brought the money back); a bed, a table and a chair for a boy living with his dad where there was no furniture other than a sofa in the flat. Then there’s £30 to £50 food money every few weeks to a “very proud” grandmother looking after a young boy. “I couldn’t trust the mum not to shove it up her arm, but the nan I could.”

Read the rest of this article here:


You must do your JSA jobsearch online, even though we know you can’t

This is from

…………….Eddie must go to the jobcentre every fortnight to sign on and to show that he’s searched for at least 14 jobs. This post will show you how difficult and pointless this jobsearch exercise is for him. One of Eddie’s main problems is his struggle to read and write. He can write letters out if people tell him which ones to choose (for example, he asked me how to spell “Customer Service Advisor” when applying for one job, then wrote it as I spelled it out), but has trouble with more complex words. He also finds computers challenging. He doesn’t have a computer at home, which means that he rarely uses one. He wasn’t sure what a browser was when I took my laptop around to his flat to help him with his jobsearch (you’ll see some of this in the videos below).

Nonetheless, a couple of weeks ago, Eddie’s jobcentre adviser instructed him to choose and apply for at least three jobs online as part of his fortnightly quota………..

Read what happened next in the full article on Kate Belgrave’s blog here:

Benefit sanctions often to blame for increase in food thefts, says police commissioner

GOVERNMENT ministers in denial over links between benefit changes and shoplifting must “wake up and smell the coffee,” according to a North-East police commissioner.

Durham police and crime commissioner Ron Hogg has raised concerns over benefit changes and sanctions leading to an increase in poverty, with people often committing offences simply to live. Mr Hogg said the rising demand for food banks is evidence enough to show the impact austerity measures have had on those struggling to make ends meet.

 Speaking during a visit to the Food Store at King’s Church, in Whessoe Road, Darlington, he said: “If they have been sanctioned for 13 weeks, how are they supposed to feed themselves? What greater evidence do they need?The fact that we need food banks is disgraceful, but what they are doing here is fantastic. It cannot be right that so many families in a town like Darlington are relying on this just to feed their family.


Read the rest of this article here: