Today the UK news services are reporting on the plight of 12,000 people left without electricity over Christmas because of the damage to electricity pylons caused by the recent big storms and high winds.
Unreported in today’s news the far larger number of households without electricity, gas or food because of deliberate government policy compounded by administrative error in the Department of Work and Pensions.
The DWP announced over Xmas that 32,000 people would not receive their benefits as expected before Christmas because of an administrative error. Many of those 32,000 people have households to feed, so there are far more than 32,000 people affected by this. Many were already on the edge of extreme poverty.
Then there’s the people whose benefits have been ‘sanctioned’ by the DWP as a result of Government directives. Sanctions mean that all benefit moneys are removed for a period of at least 4 weeks, rising to 3 years. People being sanctioned are amongst the most vulnerable in the country, with the mentally ill, the disabled, and those with poor English skills being disproportionately affected.
The government has admitted that half a million people were sanctioned last year, so there must be tens, and possibly hundreds, of thousands of unemployed, sick and disabled people that have not been in work or receiving benefits over this christmas period. Many of these people have children, equally affected.
Add to these those people who have been misidentified as fit to work by the massively flawed ‘Work Capability Assessment’ system, and lost their sickness benefits. Since October, people who disagree with the results of their assessments and appeal are receiving NO MONEY AT ALL in sickness benefits, and are being told to sign on at the Job Centre for Unemployment benefit (JSA), whilst the DWP reconsiders their case. If people are too sick to work, they do not qualify for JSA, and many have been left with no income at all for an indefinite period. News of the first suicides and deaths are beginning to trickle through.
So 12,000 people are without electricity due to flooding over Xmas and this is news, the prime minister goes to visit flooded areas, investigations are promised.
Over 50,000 households are without electricity, gas or food over the same period due to government policies and errors, and it’s not even mentioned.
Here’s some of the comments that have been making their way to my facebook feed today, Friday 27th December.
“Can u help plz i was due my esa today and nothing in my bank and have no food or electric anymore i live in southend”
“Dwp are closed till Monday. Iv had the same thing and tried ringing them”
” i got £20 to last me until thursday 9th and i have a 2 year old son”
“My son had no money at all for 4 weeks now, first 2 they sanctioned him for something, last 2…we have no idea he just received nothing”
“We’ve got no money, the DWP error has affected us. The gas and electric is about to run out and we have very little food. It’s friday afternoon, is there anyone we can contact or ring to help us? We don’t have enough food for three days.”
“Hello there I live in London and currently claim the assessment rate of ESA (disability benefit) I was due payment wed 25th but obviously with that being Xmas day my payment should of gone in Xmas eve. However today is 27th and still no payment I have no gas of electric not to mention food is there no emergency number to call them on if I have to wait till Monday well il prob die by then”
“My money of jsa has not gone in today what do I do as job centre is shut”
“No one is at dwp today im in the same boat and tried calling. They are closed till Monday”
” I’m in receipt of JSA and was due to be payed today. With it being Christmas I was told that I’d be signed on automatically and that my payment would go in as normal, it hasn’t. I wouldn’t be bothered normally, but it’s been almost a month since I’ve had any money…. Just wondering if there’s anything I can do as everywhere is closed for Christmasm”