Jobseekers forced onto the streets under cruel Tory benefit sanctions regime

Tough rules which see claimants punished for missing just one job centre appointment are inconsistent and have become a postcode lottery, the Public Accounts Committee found

Jobseekers have been forced onto the streets under the Tories ’ cruel benefit sanctions regime, a devastating report has warned.

Tough rules which see claimants punished for missing just one job centre appointment are inconsistent and have become a postcode lottery, the Public Accounts Committee found.

 Sanctions “have increased in severity in recent years and can have serious consequences”, say MPs as they urge officials to launch a review.

Committee chairwoman, Labour MP, Meg Hillier said: “Benefit sanctions have been used as a blunt instrument by Government. “Sanctions and exemptions are being applied inconsistently, with little understanding of why.”

Jobseekers can be slapped with sanctions which can see their handouts withdrawn for a variety of “offences”. They include turning down positions, missing appointments and failing to look for work.

A typical sanction lasts four weeks and means a Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant loses around £300. The benefit is worth up to £73.10 a week.

The Department for Work and Pensions imposed 400,000 sanctions on benefit claimants in 2015, the most recent statistic available.

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/jobseekers-forced-onto-streets-under-9858386

Teenager desperately seeking work took his own life after being ‘belittled’ by Jobcentre staff : Daily Mirror. — DWPExamination.

David Brown, 18 was under ‘immense pressure’ from the Department of Work and Pensions who were going to stop benefits unless he did more to find work as welder. A football fan who desperately wanted a job took his own life after being ‘belittled’ by Job Centre staff, his inquest heard. David Brown, 18, seeking […]

via Teenager desperately seeking work took his own life after being ‘belittled’ by Jobcentre staff : Daily Mirror. — DWPExamination.

Just About Managing? Tens of thousands of us are sinking.

This was posted on Mumsnet:

“Last week, I reached crisis point.

It feels like this has been looming since I was sanctioned in 2013. Following my sanction, I struggled with depression and agoraphobia brought on by anxiety. I started overeating and put on weight. It’s been a long road back to work and full health – I now work part-time, but my income is not always enough to pay my bills. Bit by bit, I have been sliding into debt.

Then a delayed benefit payment due to a computer error led to bank charges, which put me overdrawn. When it came to going shopping I had no money for food. With no opportunity to get help from family I turned to my housing association. I was given a voucher for the local foodbank, but it didn’t open for a few days so I had to wait. That afternoon, my electric ran out so I sat there in the dark, feeling very alone, with no food to eat, and memories of my sanction filling my mind.

I was sanctioned for not looking for work. Fair punishment you might think, but the reason I wasn’t job hunting was because I was doing a two-week training course in a neighbouring town, leaving home at 7am and returning home at 7pm. I had been instructed not to jobsearch or sign on during that time, but later another adviser disagreed. I lost my £71 a week Jobseekers Allowance for four weeks.

I went without electricity, heating and food for most of the sanction. It climaxed on Christmas day. I spent it watching happy families walk past my window, while I sat silently, dealing with diarrhoea and waiting for it to get dark so I could try to sleep. It wasn’t until I received a Christmas card from a relative with £20 in it that I was able to eat and buy electric for the meter.

Less than two weeks later, I was told by the same Jobcentre adviser that I needed to learn a ‘work ethic’ – something clearly not demonstrated by my 20-year work history. She put me on mandatory work activity – workfare – which meant working full-time for free for four weeks in order to receive my benefits. Effectively, I was being punished for being sanctioned. I didn’t argue with her. Instead I went home, emptied the bathroom cabinet of the various pills I had stored away and tried to end my life. Less than a year before I had been earning £35k at a university in London.

The papers are filled with news about so-called JAMs. These six million families who are ‘just about managing’ will no doubt be hoping that the government will fulfil its promise to make their lives better. But there is another group of families who have lost that hope.

In the run-up to the Autumn Statement, the papers were filled with news about so-called JAMs. These six million families who are ‘just about managing’ will no doubt be hoping that the government will fulfil its promise to make their lives better. But there is another group of families who have lost that hope. They are the ones who have been on the receiving end of harsh cuts to their income, through austere welfare cuts. Most of them also work but live in fear that the government will make their lives even harder.

I am not alone in receiving a sanction. Since the Conservatives were elected in 2010 until June this year around three million individuals have received eight million sanctions. Some may have been able to overturn the decision, but more wouldn’t. The 3m figure doesn’t include family members – mostly children – who are also affected by sanctions. For children living in sanctioned households, schools and foodbanks have become a lifeline, with teachers reportedly using money meant for education to buy food and clothing.

read more here: http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/guest_posts/2792299-Guest-post-I-had-to-use-a-foodbank-so-many-people-arent-just-about-managing

Young black people on benefits have highest rates of sanctioning, but who cares?

This is from http://www.philipfthomas.com

I spent most of yesterday going through the written evidence submitted to the Commons Select Committee on Work and Pensions for its review of benefit sanction policy, Beyond the Oakley review. The government originally set up this review in the light of concern about the increased rate of JSA sanctions in claimants on mandatory back to work schemes after the coalition government came to power in 2010.

Since then, the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has carried out two inquiries relating to benefit sanctions, a report on the Role of Jobcentre Plus in the Reformed Welfare System, in addition to the Beyond the Oakley Report.

I was specifically interested in the latter, because of written evidence from John Longden, a personal advisor at Salford Jobcentre. If you haven’t come across, then I strongly recommend that you read it [i]. It nails the lie that I, Daniel Blake is a “worst case scenario”.

……………..

In fact there is evidence that young  people claiming JSA are twice as likely as older people to be sanctioned. Figures released by the Trust for London and New Policy Institute in 2015 examined sanction rates by age and ethnicity in the Capital [iii].

In 2014 young black people had the highest sanction rate of any ethnic group, with  8.9% of  Black Caribbean (18 – 24 years) JSA claimants being sanctioned. The rate was almost 8% for Black African and other Black claimants, all double the rate of older  claimants. For all young people, black claimants had higher  sanction rates  that white claimants by 2.2%.

read more here: http://www.philipfthomas.com/index.php/blogs/42-black-people-on-benefits-twice-as-likely-to-sanctioned-but-who-cares

 

How disabled benefit claimants are being set up for sanctions

Yet another disabled JSA claimant is told that his jobcentre no longer has specialist support for disabled jobseekers:

(You can read earlier stories on this same issue here and here):

Last week, I spoke at length with a 66-year-old woman who accompanies her son to his JSA signon sessions at a West Midlands jobcentre.

Her son has serious depression. His mental health condition can be so severe that he struggles to leave his flat and panics if anyone comes to his home. “That’s why I go to the jobcentre with him – because he just wouldn’t go. [If people don’t attend] then of course they get a sanction and they get no money.” This woman is her son’s appointee. He was receiving employment and support allowance, but was found fit for work after a work capability assessment. He is now on jobseekers’ allowance and is supposedly being “helped” to find work by his jobcentre and the DWP.

The problem is that this “help” is becoming very hard to find. At his most recent jobcentre meeting, this man and his mother were told that the disability employment adviser they’d been seeing for support was no longer working in that role at their West Midlands jobcentre. DEAs are/were jobcentre advisers who had extra training and time to support disabled claimants. DEAs are being removed from jobcentres. “She told me that she’s no longer the disability adviser, because they’ve stopped them. They’ve put her on the front desk with all the others. So basically, they’re disregarding disability now.” Her son has a sick note to excuse him from jobsearch activities for a set period of time. His mother said the adviser told her son that he might feel better and more able to look for work after the sick note expired. And there you have it: disability support at jobcentres for people who claim JSA and have serious mental health conditions.

There are two issues here.

Read more: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/11/how-disabled-benefit-claimants-are-being-set-up-for-sanctions/

His diabetic mother was found dead in her home after being sanctioned for being in hospital with heart problems.

This was posted on Facebook today.

Peter Urbacz

My mother Ruby Urbacz age 59 was found dead at her home on the 6th September as a result of a heart attack. She had been admitted to hospital a 01/08/15 for chest pains where they found she had had three minor heart attacks. Even though my mother had poor mobility , type 2 diabetes, very basic numeracy and literacy skills and mental health problems including depression, she was deemed “fit for work” by the DWP. She was put on JSA and hounded to show evidence of looking for a job she struggled to write a shopping list and thus constantly worried about money and if her benefits would be stopped.

Her benefits were stopped without without any investigation as she missed her jsa appointment whilst in hospital, after her discharge she had received no money for five consecutive weeks of the £50 per week she would have normally received she was also paying £20 per week in bedroom tax. On only £30 per week She could not afford to feed herself properly as bills were her main priority, so was living off food bought from poundland which obviously worsened her diabetes.
She was getting carer visits from the red cross.

After her discharge from hospital. On the the 4th September the carers notes say “Ruby is worried about money, still waiting for benefits to be sorted.” She died less than 48hours later.

I’m writing this not because I want sympathy but to make you aware that Ian Duncan Smith’s policies are directly contributing to the deaths of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Please do not comment with sympathetic messages as this will not change anything, instead share this post and make as many people aware of the contemptuous nature of our self serving government who punish the poor and give to the rich.
Thank you for sharing.

Depth of UK welfare cuts revealed in Sheffield case study

“Households with dependent children, when all the planned cuts have taken effect, will suffer an average loss of £1,690 per year. Lone parents with dependent children will lose over £2,000 per year”

by Simon Whelan
7 September 2015

Research conducted by two British academics offers a citywide snapshot of the large financial losses incurred by the working class under the coalition government.

The research by Professors Christina Beattie and Steve Fothergill of Sheffield Hallam University, “The Impact of Welfare Reform on Communities and Households in Sheffield,” documents the impact of welfare reform on the city’s population. It uses data from official statistics, including Treasury estimates and local social security figures.

While the report notes that the majority of the cuts were imposed by the 2010-2015 Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government, some of the cuts, most notably to Incapacity Benefits, are measures enacted by the previous Labour government. These have only recently taken effect. The latest cuts made to the incomes of the poorest by the new Tory government are yet to be catalogued by academics.

In total, these cuts amount to almost £10 per week off the income of every adult of working age in Sheffield. Sheffield has a population of approximately 560,000 and is Britain’s fifth most populous city.

The authors estimate that the city of Sheffield is losing almost £170 million in benefit income (equivalent to £460 per adult of working age living in the city) once all the government cuts (2013/14) make their impact felt.

The most vulnerable—the sick, the infirm and disabled—will suffer the biggest financial losses because of brutal cuts to Incapacity Benefit, which, just within Sheffield, amounts to losses of £42 million per year.

Workers struggling to survive on poverty wages whose income is subsidised through the Tax Credit scheme will suffer large financial losses, regardless of recent bogus claims of the impact of raising the minimum wage. The failure to link benefit increases to prices, rather than the annual rate of inflation, collectively costs millions in losses to the poorest sections of society.

Unsurprisingly, the impact of the cuts has been uneven across Sheffield, with inner city districts, overwhelmingly working class, hit hardest. Students and some middle class families with children have also been hit through the imposition of student fees and cuts to child benefit.

Households with dependent children, when all the planned cuts have taken effect, will suffer an average loss of £1,690 per year. Lone parents with dependent children will lose over £2,000 per year.

The devastating effects of the cuts are multiplied in households where members are sick or unable to work and affected by the slashing of Incapacity Benefit and cuts to Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit—not to mention the chronic failure of benefit rates to reflect the rising cost of living.

The report, commissioned on behalf of Sheffield City Council, covers the impact of cuts to existing benefits as well as that of new financial sanctions on the poor. These include the loathed “bedroom tax”, a cap on housing allowances based upon “under occupation” of a rented property.

Drastic cuts have hit council tax benefit, housing benefit, disability living allowance, incapacity benefit and child benefit. Benefits like Jobseekers Allowance and other income-based (means tested) benefits have risen just 1 percent, well below the rate of inflation. Cuts to working tax credit fall on households with one or more adults in employment.

The cuts documented by the research, when fully implemented nationwide, will save the government £19 billion. However, these cuts have already been superseded by further savage austerity mapped out by the Tories. These have not yet been the subject of in-depth research.

read more here: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/09/07/shef-s07.html