People are dying as a result of austerity

As we move towards the general election, we are paralyzed by what is probably the biggest single issue affecting ordinary people in the country: austerity. We are unable to fully understand both the economic madness of austerity and the true scale of the human cost and death toll that ‘fiscal discipline’ has unleashed.

Since coming into power as Prime Minister, Theresa May has made a strategic decision not to use the word ‘austerity’. Instead she has adopted a more palatable language in a vain attempt to distance herself from the Cameron governments before her: “you call it austerity; I call it living within our means.”

The experience of countless thousands of people is precisely the opposite: people are actively prevented from living within their means and are cut off from their most basic entitlement to: housing, food, health care, social care and general protection from hardship. And people are dying as a result of these austerity effects. In February, Jeremy Corbyn made precisely this point when he observed the conclusions of one report that 30,000 people were dying unnecessarily every year because of the cuts to NHS and to local authority social care budgets.

But this is really only the tip of the iceberg. The scale of disruption felt by people at the sharp end of these benefit reforms is enormous.  Countless thousands of others have died prematurely following work capability assessments: approximately 10,000 according the government’s own figures. People are dying as a result of benefit sanction which has fatal impacts on existing health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Austerity is about dismantling social protection. The crisis we face in social care is precipitated by cuts to local authority funding.  In the first 5 years of austerity, local authority budgets were cut by 40%, amounting to an estimated £18bn in care provision.

A decade of cuts, when added up, also means that some key agencies that protect us, such as the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency will have been decimated by up to 60% of funding cuts. Scaling back on an already paltry funding in these critical areas of regulation will lead to a rise in pollution related illness and disease and will fail to ensure people are safe at work.

The economic folly is that austerity will cost society more in the long term.  Local authorities are, for example, housing people in very expensive temporary accommodation because the government has disinvested in social housing.  The crisis in homelessness has paradoxically led to a £400 million rise in benefit payments.   The future costs of disinvesting in young people will be seismic.

This is an extract from an article from nakedcapitalism.com. Read the whole article here: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/05/government-austerity-demands-die-within-means.html

Grandfather took his own life because DWP said he’d been overpaid – but wouldn’t reveal the amount

THE grieving family of a former coal miner who took his own life after being investigated by benefit fraud officers believe he would still be here if he had been told him how much money he needed to repay.

James ‘Jimmy’ Ballentine overdosed on prescription drugs on the day of his twin grandsons’ fourth birthday earlier this year – leaving beside him a suicide note to loved ones which read: “Sorry son you will have to bury me…forgive me leaving you with my debt, cannot take it anymore.”

The proud 60-year-old had months earlier learned he had over-claimed benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after receiving a letter from the Fraud Investigation Team.

Son Dale Ballentine, 34, told The Northern Echo that while making a new benefits claim late last year he declared he had savings of £7,000.

The father-of-two, who suffered from depression and other mental health issues including schizophrenia, was told he had been over-claiming for a decade as there was a means-tested £6,000 savings cap.

It is understood Mr Ballentine made efforts to find out how much money he owed but was unable to get an answer.

Dale, 34, said: “This is the whole point of our grievance – is if they told him up front (what he owed) I really believed he would have paid it, that would be the end of it and he would still be here.”

read more here: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/24/grandfather-took-his-own-life-because-dwp-said-hed-been-overpaid-but-wouldnt-reveal-the-amount/

Gran suffered heart attack at job centre meeting – but was too scared to leave as she feared losing benefits

The incident echoes the hit Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake, where the lead actor suffers a heart attack on the way to a job centre meeting and dies

A gran suffered a heart attack during a job centre employment meeting but said she was too scared to get up and leave – for fear of ­losing her benefits .

The incident echoes the hit Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake, where the lead actor suffers a heart attack on the way to a job centre meeting and dies.

Grandmother Salena Hannah, 50, claims she had the seizure during a Jobseeker’s Allowance appointment, but was ignored by the “callous” interviewer. Salena said she dreaded falling victim to the Tory sanction scheme, introduced in 2012, which can involve a reduction in benefit – often to zero – and range from one week to three years.

Sanctions are enforced if the Department for Work and Pensions decides a person has not met the requirements for receiving JSA. Salena said the incident happened earlier this month.

She explained: “I had been suffering with chest pains for about two weeks and took a couple of sprays of GTN spray, to help with my angina, before I walked in to meet my interviewer. My job is under 16 hours, so I am forced to attend regular meetings, or my benefits might be stopped.”

“I was feeling some really bad pains in my chest and I told her at least two or three times that I was in agony, but she was just so callous, she just kept ignoring me. I said I needed to go to the NHS walk-in centre immediately, but it fell on deaf ears. I was living in fear of being sanctioned and just felt trapped. I didn’t think I could leave or I would be sanctioned.”

Salena claims she was forced to endure a 40-minute JSA interview, while sweating profusely and suffering cheat pains. As soon as she left the interview, she went to a nearby NHS walk-in centre, where medics immediately called an ambulance and took her to hospital. Blood tests revealed she had suffered a heart attack and surgeons inserted two stents into her arteries.

She was allowed home after three days, only to suffer serious chest pains an hour later and return to hospital, where three more stents were inserted. She is now recovering at home but is struggling to breath and is constantly weak.

She said: “I was just dreading getting sanctioned. I just would not be able to afford to live if that happened, so pain or no pain, I had to endure that meeting. It is unbelievable how cruel the sanction scheme can be to people like me. It is almost like they are trained to be unfeeling. Is that what Britain is coming to these days under a Tory Government?”

Mum-of-four Salena, from Salisbury, Wilts, is bringing up her two grandsons aged 14 and 10 on her own.

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gran-suffered-heart-attack-job-10458734

The Unwritten Battles of Receiving Disability Benefits Long-Term

…..

“I can control nothing.

I am a long-term sick and disabled single woman. I have four children. I can’t work and will never be able to in a full time sense again. I’m on state benefits. There’s a huge stigma to that fact, despite my best efforts to shake it. I’m a well-educated, smart, sometimes articulate woman who’s fought hard for every last thing, and I’m tired. I’m so tired of fighting for everything, every right I allegedly have. I’m tired of every single thing being a battle. It’s so hard being in my situation; I can’t even explain the constant conflict with the various agencies I deal with, aside from the battles with the general public and their ill informed opinions of people like me.”

Read the full blog post here: https://themighty.com/2017/05/being-on-disability-single-mom/

 

Young couple with no money, no bed and no home forced to sleep in tiny tent in field

Jade Macey, 20, and Lewis Godfrey, 19, have spent the last week bedding down in a field because they don’t have ID documents to show to the council

young couple have been forced to bed down in a tiny tent in a field because they have no home , no bed, and no money.

The pair claim they have received no help after they were unable to present their ID documents to the council because of a rift with their families, which means they can’t go home.

Jade Macey and Lewis Godfrey have been sleeping for the past couple of months in a field in Bishopsworth, south Bristol, near to Lewis’s former family home.

Neighbours are rallying round the couple, providing them with somewhere to store their camping gear during the day, and to use bathroom facilities and hot drinks.

Jade, 20, and Lewis, 19, have both ended up without a home because of family breakdowns – the most common reason why young people end up homeless, reports the Bristol Post.

After months of sofa-surfing, sleeping on friends’ floors and even snatching a few minutes’ sleep in 24-hour McDonald’s restaurants, the couple settled on a tent in the field around a week ago.

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/young-couple-no-money-no-10407877#ICID

Since Theresa May thinks giving people a ‘year off work’ to become carers is a good idea, I’d like to offer a reality check

The Tories’ introduction of employment tribunal fees means that if, at the end of your year, your employer decides to replace you with somebody else, there’s nothing you can do unless you’re prepared to spend around £1,200 and a great deal of time in a legal contest with your former employer. Enjoy the urine, faeces, blood and heightened risk of mental health problems

read more here: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/theresa-may-workers-rights-employment-tribunal-carer-caring-year-off-work-reality-check-a7736926.html

Disabled mum took fatal overdose hours after her benefits appeal rejected

Susan Roberts, who survived four heart attacks, took an overdose and placed DWP paperwork, a Do Not Resuscitate note and her unsent letter on her dresser

A woman whose disabled mum took a fatal overdose hours after learning that her benefits appeal had been rejected has accused the Tories of having blood on their hands.

Susan Roberts, 68, was found dead at home, metres from a heartbreaking 11-page letter she had written to benefits chiefs detailing her suffering.

Hitting out at the Government’s cruel cuts, daughter Hayley Storrow, 47, said: “I just want Theresa May to know that her rules and regime are killing the most vulnerable people in society.

“With the election coming up it is so vital that things change. I feel any vote for the Tories is going to lead to more deaths.”

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/if-wasnt-tory-cuts-mum-10430462

If you are having suicidal thoughts please ring the Samaritans on their free phone number 116 123