More than half of people driven by acute poverty to apply for emergency food aid are there because of delays, sudden cuts or sanctions imposed on welfare payments, according to new research
The Trussell Trust’s findings are a direct challenge to the coalition government’s insistence that the meteoric rise in the numbers of food bank users is unconnected to the cuts to the social security system, and is only linked to the growth in provision.
The charity, which runs the country’s largest network of food banks, analysed more than 900 different users at a range of facilities across the country, as well as conducting 40 more in-depth interviews and 178 different caseloads from people accessing one of their advice services.
Up to two-thirds of those analysed by the study, which was commissioned by the charity along with the Church of England, Oxfam and the Child Poverty Action Group, said they were waiting for their benefits which had been delayed, because they had been sanctioned by jobcentres or because they had been suddenly hit by the so-called bedroom tax.
“The promise of a social security safety net that is there to protect people at times of crisis is something that can, and must be, preserved and protected. Food banks, whilst providing a vital and welcoming lifeline to many, should not become a readily accepted part of that formal provision,“ the study says.
The Trust has handed out food parcels to at least 913,000 people from 2013-2014, a threefold increase. The Trust says those figures are a low estimate for the numbers suffering from acute personal finance crisis, many more are likely to be relying on help from friends or neighbours.
Read the rest of this Huffington Post article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/11/19/food-bank_0_n_6183928.html
Today we met at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for our regular Thursday demonstration. Nothing unusual at that. We are there every week to support the victims of the Jobcentres cruel sanctioning regime. What was unusual was that we were missing a regular attender. A member of the public that often attended our demonstrations. A nice quiet man, well mannered and very unassuming. He can see the injustice of the system. He had however passed a message onto us saying that he couldn’t attend because the Jobcentre staff had threatened him with sanctions for attending. He would however join us at our meeting after the demonstration away from the Jobcentre. When he joined us I quickly interviewed him and here is a transcript of that interview. In his own words. I cannot name him because he is scared. Hes been threatened by the Jobcentre.
“I walked into the Jobcentre for my…
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The latest Government statistics show that people claiming the disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are having their financial support cut more and more frequently.
The figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that there were more than three times as many sanctions in June 2014 compared to June 2013.
These figures relate specifically to people in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA, who are expected to undertake certain activities in order to receive their benefits. The number of people in this group has actually fallen by more than 10,000.
Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, the mental health charity, said:
“We’re very concerned that an increasing number of people on ESA are having their benefits stopped, despite the fact that there are now fewer people in the WRAG. We know that around half of people in the WRAG need support because they have mental health problems, but over 60 per cent of sanctions are imposed on this group.”
“It is unjustifiable that people with mental health problems are being disproportionately affected by this increasingly punitive system. This confirms our fears that people are being pressured to undertake activities that are inappropriate for them and are not having their mental health properly taken into account.”
read the rest of this article here:http://streetskitchen.co.uk/?p=1468
Amid angry scenes in Parliament, Labour MP Debbie Abrahams referred to a study which suggests 500,000 sanctioned people were excluded despite not finding work
Iain Duncan Smith came under fire today after a study suggested cruel benefit sanctions may be helping the Government massage jobless figures.
Campaigning Labour MP Debbie Abrahams asked the Tory Minister how many people were excluded from unemployment figures after being sanctioned but not going into work. The MP was referring to an Oxford University study – seen by the Daily Mirror – which suggests the figure could be as high as 500,000.
In angry exchanges at the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Mr Duncan Smith described Ms Abrahams’ claims as “ludicrous”.
But the MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth hit back: “People have died after being sanctioned, Minister.”
“No, I don’t agree with that,” Mr Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, retorted.
read the rest of this article here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ids-government-under-fire-massaging-4575637
“Eating, sleeping and cleaning are not priorities at the moment” admits Beverly Clark, who says she has nowhere to live after being evicted by Milton Keynes Council.
“We use public toilets to clean and if we have a bit of spare money, we’ll rent a cheap hotel room for a bit of luxury – but that’s a rarity.
“We barely sleep because we’re scared, and it’s hardly comfortable.
“We’ve given up everything. It’s a nightmare, [my daughter] Deryn can’t go to college and I can’t look for a job in these conditions. It’s a never-ending cycle. I can’t win.”
For the last two months, the pair have tended to park their blue Ford Mondeo in supermarket car parks, where they feel safer, beneath the bright lights. Quieter, darker areas are just “not safe for two girls to be sleeping alone in a car.”
Beverly, 38, and 17-year-old Deryn, found themselves without a home after falling behind with the rent on their council-owned Bletchley home. The pair were evicted from Cherwell House, Derwent Drive, on Wednesday, September 3.
Beverly said: “We have nobody. I have no family here. I am my own support network and my daughter’s support network.”
According to Milton Keynes Council, Beverly has made the pair “intentionally homeless” by failing to pay the rent for the 10 months she and her daughter resided at the two-bedroom flat since December 27, 2013.
By her own admission, Beverly, who says she suffers with depression, did not fill in the required housing application document in time, nor chase up its whereabouts when it apparently went missing.
A spokesman for the council told MKWeb: “We have tried very hard to help Ms Clark, who did not make any rent payments for the duration of her tenancy, despite our repeated efforts to work with her, and help her. There is a discretionary housing payments scheme, but we will only normally assist people to whom we have a statutory duty to house. Because of the issues with Ms Clark’s tenancy, we found her to be intentionally homeless, and therefore not eligible for help from this fund.
An expectant mother of two was left with no money to buy food or heat her home after having her benefits stopped due, she says, to her inability to use a computer.
Angela Foley, from Menzieshill, who is nine weeks pregnant and has two children aged eight and 10, was sanctioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after failing to properly use the agency’s online Universal Jobmatch system to try to find work. Despite pleas to the DWP on Friday, the 28-year-old was left in tears after being told she would not be given a hardship allowance to see her and her children through last weekend.
Campaign group Scottish Unemployed Workers Network (SUWN) put her in touch with a Dundee foodbank scheme and organised food parcels. Dr Anthony Cox from the SUWN said: “A letter of appeal against her sanction was handed in and she was forced to go through the rigmarole of applying, again, for hardship allowance, but was told an interview could not be arranged until Monday.
“Angela had no money and no food to see her, her unborn child and her two young children, through the weekend. We were able to ensure that the Taught by Muhammad food delivery team would deliver a food parcel to her home on Saturday.”
Angela said: “I’ve only got my child benefit to live off, and with it being so close to Christmas and everything, I’m struggling as it is. I’ve also had problems paying for the gas and electricity — when the gas runs out you can’t bath the kids or even heat up food.”
Mr Cox says on Monday staff were apologetic and a hardship allowance was quickly organised. However, he claimed they were told she had not actually been fully sanctioned but was subject to a “discontinuance of entitlement”, which he says is a “back-door method of stopping claimants’ benefits” while not being counted as a full sanction.
Whistleblower says her job was box ticking, sanctioning sick people who had little chance of employment, and she wasn’t able to treat clients as human beings
A scandalous picture of suffering, trauma and destitution is painted by a former Work Programme adviser who was tasked with getting claimants off the employment and support allowance (ESA) sickness benefit.
Speaking to the press for the first time since she quit the job last year, Anna Shaw (not her real name) says: “Some of my clients were homeless, and very many of them had had their money stopped and were literally starving and extremely stressed. Many had extreme mental health conditions, including paranoid schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar disorder and autism. One guy [diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and homeless] came to see me for the first appointment and mentioned that he had not eaten for five days. I offered him my lunch, thinking he would refuse it out of pride, and he fell upon it like a wild animal. I’ve not seen a human being eat like that before.”
Shaw can only speak out anonymously, because when she resigned, after just a few months in the job, her employer made her sign a confidentiality clause. She believed that the majority of her ESA caseload of about 100 clients were not well enough to have been on the government’s welfare-to-work Work Programme, but should instead have been signposted to charities that could support them with their multiple problems. “Almost every day one of my clients mentioned feelings of suicide to me,” she says. Shaw says she received no training in working with people with mental health issues or physical disabilities.
read the rest of this article from the Guardian’s Society pages here: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/05/work-programme-adviser-box-ticking-sanctioning-sick-people#start-of-comments