DWP, ATOS, MAXIMUS AND CAPITA: TORY STATE ASSASSINS
THERE IS NO GREATER SCRUTINY BY A VICOUS AND FASCIST UK (tory) GOVERNMENT THAN WHEN YOU BECOME RELIANT ON WELFARE CLAIMS.
YOU WILL BE SPIED ON AND EVERY SINGLE TRANSACTION SCRUTINIZED TO GIVE THEM THE EXCUSE TO REMOVE THE PITTANCE THEY DISH OUT
AFTER MAYBE DECADES OF GRAFT EXPECTING SOME SUPPORT WHEN YOU BECOME ILL OR DISABLED.
The middle class are about to discover the cruelty of Britain's benefits system
Many of those MIDDLE CLASSES might now regret having voted the tory mafia back into power.
A decade of cuts has ripped apart the safety net. People on decent salaries hit by the Covid-19 fallout are in for a shock
Millions of people are about to discover something they didn’t know about British life. There is no longer a safety net. People who have paid tax and national insurance for years and never been near the social security system will be turning to it in their hour of need; yet far too late, like trapeze artists falling through the air, they will find that the net beneath them has been lowered dangerously close to the ground and is badly torn.
If these people once believed relentlessly misleading tabloid tales of benefit scroungers, they will have a rude awakening. They will find that when Iain Duncan Smith turned the screw on social security in 2012, he was right to warn claimants: “This is not an easy life any more, chum.” As if it ever was.
Many new arrivals will join the 60% of claimants falling into debt and rent arrears while waiting for payments
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has done well to honour 80% of wages for those “furloughed” from shut-down businesses – up to £2,500 a month. No one knows how many that covers and at what cost, but it was a macroeconomic necessity. One worry is the incapacity of the HMRC workforce, with 15,600 staff cut and 157 local offices with local knowledge closed: can they pay the wage subsidy to companies in time to save them? Many firms could still close, sending millions into unemployment.
The 15% self-employed are urgently seeking a matching plan, with the Treasury under intense pressure for a rapid response. Most of the self-employed are low-paid: their median income is just £10,000, according to Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Some won’t qualify, if they have earning partners. But many will have been forced into sham “self-employment” by tax-cheating companies. They will be desperate – and angry. The Resolution Foundation wants them paid 80% of average earnings over the past three years – or they will work through illness, rather than starve on £94 a week sickness benefit, says the RSA Populus poll.
Let’s hope that injustice is fixed. But even then, watch the shock as millions fall on the untender mercies of the Department for Work and Pensions, to discover what happened to benefits in the past decade. While never over-generous, by 2010 Labour had greatly lifted living standards for low earners, especially for children: Gordon Brown’s tax credits raised a million children and a million pensioners out of poverty. Since 2010, according to new research by Kerris Cooper and John Hills, a professor at the London School of Economics, children have lost a quarter of the support they had; chancellor George Osborne and his successors took out a staggering nearly £40bn from benefits. Never “all in this together”, Osborne justified it by raining down abuse on low-paid families. The hypocrisy: as the current editor of the London Evening Standard, he ran Christmas collections for poor families! The Resolution Foundation predicts a third of children falling into poverty by 2023.
Some cuts were secretive, uprating benefits by a meaner CPI not RPI inflation rate, a four-year freeze, and axing council tax support. Some made a noise – such as the bedroom tax, costing some families £14 week for a spare room. An early case was a Hartlepool family whose empty room belonged to their recently deceased 10-year-old. Housing benefit for renters was cut brutally. Introducing the two-child limit was exceptionally unjust.
New claimants confronting universal credit’s obstacles may join the half who find themselves propelled to food banks. Many new arrivals will join the 60% of claimants falling into debt and rent arrears while waiting at least five weeks for first payments. As with HMRC, a stripped-down DWP workforce is at risk of being overwhelmed. Some talking to the Treasury are shocked to find its staff clueless about the meanness of a benefits system they have cut and cut again. That explains Sunak’s sudden extra £20 a week and slight easing of housing benefit: they had no idea.
Torsten Bell, head of the Resolution Foundation, says people on £50,000 salaries have been anxiously asking him about benefits rates. They’re in for a shock, he says. Unlike the previous tax credit system, universal credit only allows savings of £6,000 (it takes steep deductions from savings up to £16,000). People hoping this is only temporary will be distraught at having to use up their rainy-day funds, often saved for years for a deposit on a home. The foundation is lobbying urgently to have this savings means-test dropped.
Hills says a couple with two children will get £266 a week. And take from that £115 – the average amount that housing benefit falls short of rental payments. Many new claimants will run up rent arrears. Expect them to plunge immediately into poverty, miles below the £384 minimum income standard for a family of four, says Hills.
Some singles will get a shock too. Under-35s will be living on £73, and only funded for a room in a shared flat, in the cheapest third of rentals in the area.
Many who see themselves as middle class will confront the reality of Britain’s nonexistent safety net. It is, says the IFS’s Paul Johnson, “extraordinarily low”. One piece of advice from all these experts I’ve talked to: apply immediately, to limit these delays and debts. “Too many will wait, borrow from family, deny it’s happening to them, feeling the stigma. Apply at once,” says Torsten Bell.
These millions discovering DWP brutality at first hand will no longer be deceived by the old poison shaming those on benefits as loafers, frauds and “not people like us”. Benefits offer penury, not a life of Riley. Rishi Sunak has been lavishly praised, not least for his empathic language: “We will be judged by our capacity for compassion”. But his compassion will be judged by how far he keeps benefit rates below the most basic poverty line.
Outcry over £1m bonus for the tory state assassins the DWP bosses who cut benefits causing poverty, depression,
suicide and death
How many £thousands bonus do these evil fuckers get for each death caused by their psychological
and financial torture of the poor and disabled?
Poverty has soared under the Tory Government but DWP civil servants have pocketed extra cash
Senior officials at the Tory Government’s benefits-cutting department have pocketed over £1m in bonuses.
Civil servants were rewarded for their performance, even though critics believe the DWP has increased poverty.
SNP MSP Shona Robison said: “This is a really bad look and the UK government should look twice at a system that rewards senior officials while punishing those dependent on their service.
“After a decade of Tory austerity, families in Scotland deserve better.”
The DWP has been at the forefront of the Cameron, May and Johnson Governments’ drive to cut social security.
Universal Credit was supposed to streamline the benefits system, but it was underfunded and ended up plunging people into debt.
Lifeline benefits such as child benefit were frozen at the same time as taxes were cut for the rich.
Disabled people also had to pass strict ‘fit to work’ tests that were overseen by profit making companies.
More than 4million people in the UK are trapped in deep poverty and child poverty levels in Scotland have soared to 240,000.
However, top DWP mandarins have pocketed bonuses for their efforts.
In 2017/18, senior officials scooped £595,392 in “end of year” top-ups and another £544,745 in the following year.
Job Seeker’s Allowance for the unemployed is paid at up to £73.10 a week, while Universal Credit claimants have to wait five weeks for their first payment.
Robison added: “It beggars belief that DWP chiefs are taking big handouts while families across the country are struggling due to sanctions and the rollout of Universal Credit.”
Labour MSP Mark Griffin said: “Under the Tories we have witnessed our social security system being cut to the bone, with those most in need hit hardest. Senior civil servants, who implemented these policies, receiving such huge bonuses year after year is shocking. However, it is those who brought those policies into being, the Tories, who must shoulder the blame for their cruel cuts.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “As is standard practice across the Civil Service, only staff performing well in their role receive a bonus. All payments follow strict Cabinet Office rules.”
Tory state assassins the DWP still behind mass suicide figures
Mass murder using financial and psychological torture has led to thousands (not dozens as reported) taking
their lives yet England votes the very murdering bastards back in to continue their reign of terror.
Digital technologies are employed in the welfare state to surveil, target, harass and punish beneficiaries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable among them
Government spying a key element in withdrawing support for the tiniest of infringements while the
multi-billion pound tax dodgers get away scot free. The same technology being used on divorcing men
‘Digital welfare state’: big tech allowed to target and surveil the poor, UN is warned
UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty says in devastating account big tech companies are being allowed to go unregulated in ‘human right free-zones’ and not held accountable
Nations around the world are “stumbling zombie-like into a digital welfare dystopia” in which artificial intelligence and other technologies are used to target, surveil and punish the poorest people, the United Nations’ monitor on poverty has warned.
Philip Alston, UN rapporteur on extreme poverty, has produced a devastating account of how new digital technologies are revolutionizing the interaction between governments and the most vulnerable in society. In what he calls the rise of the “digital welfare state”, billions of dollars of public money is now being invested in automated systems that are radically changing the nature of social protection.
Alston’s report on the human rights implications of the shift will be presented to the UN general assembly on Friday. It says that AI has the potential to improve dramatically the lives of disadvantaged communities, but warns that such hope is being lost amid the constant drive for cost cutting and “efficiency”.
Big tech companies are being allowed to go unregulated in “human rights free-zones”, welfare budgets are being decimated and new penalties are being imposed for non-compliance on people who may be digitally illiterate or lack access to the internet. In the UK, he notes, 12 million people, or one in five of the population, do not have essential digital skills needed for modern day-to-day life.
Alston writes that “crucial decisions to go digital have been taken by government ministers without consultation, or even by departmental officials without any significant policy discussions taking place”. As a result of the absence of accountability, “digital technologies are employed in the welfare state to surveil, target, harass and punish beneficiaries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable among them”.
A New York-based lawyer, Alston has become a piercing critic of inequality and disdain for basic human rights. In June 2018 he caused major ructions with the Trump administration by reporting that it was cruelly forcing millions of people into deprivation with its tax cuts for the rich. He went on to anger the British government with his damning report on austerity in the UK.
Now he is likely to displease several governments who will find his report uncomfortable reading. He says that the normal state of affairs whereby governments are accountable to their citizens has been turned upside down by the introduction of automated decision-making and the removal of human discretion from welfare systems.
“In such a world, citizens become ever more visible to their governments, but not the other way around.”
Alston’s report also tears a strip out of Big Tech companies who he says are acting as forces unto themselves. The advent of the digital revolution has allowed the private sector to appropriate huge swaths of welfare state almost without public comment.
He points to examples from around the globe of companies involved in welfare systems: Net 1’s subsidiary Cash Paymaster Services together with MasterCard were initially involved in South Africa’s social grant distribution system which raised privacy concerns because of its biometric data collection. In Australia, Indue and Visa helped introduce cashless debit card trials, and IBM was central to the multimillion-dollar Sams system in Canada, the US, Germany and New Zealand.
The report states that in many schemes, the role and responsibility of these corporations are opaque, rendering public accountability impossible. “A handful of powerful executives are replacing governments and legislators in determining the directions in which societies will move and the values and assumptions which will drive those developments,” Alston writes.
Looking to the future, the UN monitor calls for Silicon Valley to be made accountable through regulation. The self-regulation that has been permitted in the big tech sector, uniquely so among major sectors of the economy, must end and technology companies must “legally be required to respect applicable human rights standards”.
That includes addressing the increasing use of data matching that is used to punish and criminalize low-income people. It also involves bringing under control the “evermore refined surveillance options that enable around-the-clock monitoring of beneficiaries”.
The UN report was drawn from Alston’s country visits to the UK, US and elsewhere as well as 60 submissions from 34 countries. He concludes on a rallying note, saying it is not too late to drop the obsession with fraud and the “undeserving poor”.
Instead of inflicting misery on millions, digital technology could be used as a force for good. It could “ensure a higher standard of living for the vulnerable and disadvantaged, devise new ways of caring for those left behind. That would be the real digital welfare state revolution.”
Damning suicide of autistic man blaming DWP after benefits slashed before death
The tory state assassins the DWP with more blood on their hands
Ayman Habayeb's badly decomposed remains lay in a cupboard in his flat in Milton Keynes for nine months before they were finally found.
An autistic man who took his own life after the DWP cut his benefits left a damning suicide note blasting the system, his devastated parents say.
Ayman Habayeb's badly decomposed remains lay in a cupboard in his flat for nine months before they were finally found.
In his note, the 28-year-old, who was diagnosed with autism and depression, wrote that he was no longer able to pay rent or afford food after his benefits were halted, and he feared he would end up living on the street.
He claimed bosses at the Department for Work and Pensions had ignored his needs and "terminated" his benefits just to save the Government money.
He also told how he was tired of "dealing with paperwork, making phone calls and feeling anxious every day about whether I am going to be homeless".
His benefits were halted late last year and his parents say his debts were mounting and he was threatened with eviction.
Mr Habayeb, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, was found dead at his home in August - nine months after he died - when housing association officials called to evict him due to unpaid rent.
His parents, who claim he was failed by the system, said they later checked his computer and found a suicide note explaining how he planned to end his life.
It was written during the summer of 2018 before Mr Habayeb is believed to have hanged himself in November last year.
He wrote: “My only income has been employment and support allowance benefits as I am unfit for work. On August 15 2018 the Department for Work and Pensions decided to terminate those benefits.
"This means I am no longer able to pay rent or afford food.
“I decided that I would not bother fighting this, and will exit instead. I have written this page to explain my decision to friends and to answer anticipated questions.”
Mr Habayeb, who was estranged from his parents, told how he was ordered to attend a “work capability assessment” and refused.
He added: “I attended one before. The outcome was they reduced my benefits and completely ignored my needs.
“If the DWP are not going to understand that my condition is immutable, then I am not going to play along.
“Such assessments are obviously not meant to help the disabled stay on benefits but to instead save the government money.”
Mr Habayeb also described how he was wary of the mental health system after he voluntarily went to Campbell Centre, an acute inpatient mental health unit in Milton Keynes.
He wrote: “If I am accepted, I will have to stay up to 28 days of six months in a boring and cramped environment surrounded by very damaged people...
"After which, it will be determined that I no longer need 'treatment and will be allowed to leave, wasting the hospital's time'."
He added: “I will likely be homeless or starting from zero again, and the vicious cycle will begin anew.”
He also wrote: “I cannot be bothered to fight this any more. I am out of energy. I only exist to do what I want to do.
"Dealing with paperwork, making phone calls, and feeling anxious every day about whether I am going to be homeless are things I do not want to do.”
His notes revealed he had attempted to hang himself on three occasions between 2016 and 2018, but had "failed with panic" each time.
A week on from his funeral, Mr Habayeb's parents, Fuab and Annabela, said they had fought for six years to see him after he told social workers he did not want any contact with his family and his wish was granted.
His grief-stricken dad told the Milton Keynes Citizen: “He did not have the mental capacity to make that decision.
“If we had been allowed to see him we would have helped him and his life could have been saved.”
The parents have said they hired a solicitor but claim the court refused to hear the case.
The local authorities would not give them any information about their vulnerable son because he was an adult, they added.
It is understood that Mr Habayeb had ended his contact with social services before his death.
He was found dead after housing officials' knocks went unanswered.
Police broke down the door and found his badly decomposed body.
It is believed he had hanged himself, his father said.
There was a pile of unopened post relating to his debts and eviction and notes from the social services saying they had called but he was out, the parents said.
Mr Habayeb was last seen alive in November 2018, according to his parents, who have questioned how he wasn't discovered sooner.
They have demanded a full safeguarding investigation by Milton Keynes Council which has launched a serious case review.
An inquest into Mr Habayeb's death is due to take place in December.
A DWP spokesman(ANONYMOUS) said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Habayeb’s family and friends at this difficult time.
“We are committed to ensuring that people with health conditions get the support they need.
“Suicide is a very complex issue and while the inquest examines this tragic case, it wouldn’t be right to draw conclusions.”
A spokesman for Milton Keynes Council added: “This is a tragic situation. We, like all agencies who gave support, will be involved in a formal review.”
Social security: can we undo the damage of welfare reform? VIDEO
Brutal mistreatment of men under a draconian tory boot
Richard Smith and Stephen Smith(No relation)
The harsh reality of men's brutal mistreatment under a draconian tory boot is laid bare
with the cases of only two of the millions of men ruthlessly persecuted for daring to rely
on the state for assistance while in dire circumstances. Trivial excuses used
by the state assassins the DWP to sanction and block payments of any kind while these men
were in dire straits.
Anyone who claims to vote for a political mafia that murders through stealth
are no better than the worse form of ugly inhumanity now being played out across
every town and city within Britain and reminiscent of Victorian and Dickensian
times when abject poverty and homelessness was the norm.
Stephen Smith's weight dropped to six stone during a recent hospital stay
and was denied crucial benefits and told to look for a job despite
severe health problems that left him looking like he is wasting away at just six stone.
Richard Smith said his £200-a-fortnight payments were stopped after he missed his
appointment with the authorities - because he was in hospital.
He fears he could soon lose his home after he has not been paid his benefits for six months.
Britain's enemy is not Russia but its own ruling class, UN report confirms
As the UK political establishment rips itself to pieces over Brexit, a far greater crisis continues to afflict millions of victims of Tory austerity.
A devastating UN report into poverty in the UK provides incontrovertible evidence that the enemy of the British people is the very ruling class that has gone out of its way these past few years to convince them it is Russia.
Professor Philip Alston, in his capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, spent two weeks touring the United Kingdom. He did so investigating the impact of eight years of one of the most extreme austerity programs among advanced G20 economies in response to the 2008 financial crash and subsequent global recession.
What he found was evidence of a systematic, wilful, concerted and brutal economic war unleashed by the country's right-wing Tory establishment against the poorest and most vulnerable section of British society – upending the lives of millions of people who were not responsible for the aforementioned financial crash and recession but who have been forced to pay the price.
From the report's introduction:
"It…seems patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty. This is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes to see the immense growth in foodbanks and the queues waiting outside them, the people sleeping rough in the streets, the growth of homelessness, the sense of deep despair that leads even the Government to appoint a Minister for Suicide Prevention and civil society to report in depth on unheard of levels of loneliness and isolation."
Though as a citizen of the UK I respectfully beg to differ with the professor's claim that such social and economic carnage seems "contrary to British values,"(on the contrary it is entirely in keeping with the values of the country's Tory establishment, an establishment for whom the dehumanization of the poor and working class is central to its ideology), the point he makes about it being "obvious to anyone who opens their eyes," is well made.
For it is now the case that in every town and city centre in Britain, it is impossible to walk in any direction for more than a minute before coming across homeless people begging in the street. And the fact that some 13,000 of them are former soldiers, casualties of the country's various military adventures in recent years, undertaken in service to Washington, exposes the pious platitudes peddled by politicians and the government as reverence for the troops and their 'sacrifice,' as insincere garbage.
Overall, 14 million people in the UK are now living in poverty, a figure which translates into an entire fifth of the population. Four million of them are children, while, according to Professor Alston, 1.5 million people are destitute – that is, unable to afford the basic necessities of life.
And this is what the ruling class of the fifth largest economy in the world, a country that parades itself on the world stage as a pillar of democracy and human rights, considers progress.
The values responsible for creating such a grim social landscape are compatible with the 18th not 21st century. They are proof positive that the network of elite private schools – Eton, Harrow, Fettes College et al. – where those responsible for this human carnage are inculcated with the sense of entitlement and born to rule ethos that defines them, are Britain's hotbeds of extremism.
"British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed to instill discipline where it is least useful, to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping with today's world, and elevating the goal of enforcing blind compliance over a genuine concern to improve the well-being of those at the lowest levels of British society."
Here, set out above in bold relief, is the barbarism that walks hand in hand with free market capitalism. It is the same barbarism that was responsible for pushing post-Soviet Russia into a decade-long economic and social abyss in the 1990s, and the values that have pushed 14 million people in the UK into the same economic and social abyss in our time.
Austerity, it bears emphasizing, is not and never has been a viable economic response to recession in a given economy.
Instead, it is an ideological club, wielded on behalf of the rich and big business to ensure that the price paid for said economic recession is borne exclusively by those least able to bear it – namely, the poor and working people. It is class war by any other name, packaged and presented as legitimate government policy.
However, in Britain’s case in 2018, this is a war like no other because, as Professor Philip Alston’s report lays bare, only one side in this war has been throwing all the punches and only one side has been taking them.
With Christmas season upon us, the scale of human suffering across the UK ensures that the elaborate ad campaigns inviting us to shop and indulge to our heart’s content – ads depicting the middle class dream of affluence and material comfort – take on the character of a provocation. In fact, they call to mind the truism that wars take place when the government tells you who the enemy is, while revolutions take place when you work it out for yourself.
In austerity Britain, who the enemy is has never been more clear.
Even UN admit misery inflicted on British population
The deliberate targeting of the poorest and most vulnerable
sections of society by the tory scum and filth
UN envoy blasts UK government for 'great misery' of austerity
In damning report, UN envoy accuses UK government of 'denial' over widespread social implications of fiscal programme.
Successive UK governments over the past decade have inflicted "great misery" on millions of Britons with "punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous" austerity policies, according to the United Nations' poverty envoy.
The critical remarks on Friday came amid deep political turmoil in the UK over its looming departure from the European Union - or Brexit, as it is widely known - and growing economic worries over the prospect of a disorderly exit from the bloc.
In a damning report, Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, lambasted poverty rates in Britain's age of austerity as a "social calamity and an economic disaster".
"Fourteen million people, a fifth of the population, live in poverty. Four million of these are more than 50 percent below the poverty line, and 1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basic essentials," Alston said, citing figures from the UK-based Social Metrics Commission and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation charity.
"The experience of the United Kingdom, especially since 2010, underscores the conclusion that poverty is a political choice. Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so," he added.
Over the past eight years, consecutive governments led by the country's Conservative party have enforced widespread austerity measures as part of efforts to reduce Britain's national debt levels in the wake of the the financial sector's implosion in 2008.
The protracted British strategy of budget cutting - although not as draconian as in other EU countries, such as crisis-hit Greece - has seen funding for local authorities and public services slashed and welfare provisions dramatically cut back. According to the Local Government Association, between 2010 and 2020, local councils in the country will have lost 60p ($0.77) out of every £1 ($1.28) the government had provided for services.
"Libraries have closed in record numbers, community and youth centers have been shrunk and underfunded, public spaces and buildings including parks and recreation centers have been sold off," Alston said in his 24-page report.
But in recent months, the government has been cautiously signalling a "light at the end of the tunnel" for the country's public finances, pointing to declining debt levels and the continuous drop of the budget deficit - from almost 9.9 percent in 2009-2010 to 1.9 percent this year - amid the increased focus on spending cuts.
In late October, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said in his annual budget speech - his last before Brexit - that "the era of austerity is finally coming to an end".
Hammond's October 29 announcement came three weeks after earlier claims by Prime Minister Theresa May that austerity was "over" and "better days" were ahead for the world's fifth largest economy.
But critics have pointed to the shutting down of public institutions, soaring homelessness rates, rising food bank use and projected rises in poverty rates as evidence of the austerity programmes devastating social implications.
In his report, Alston accused authorities of remaining "determinedly in a state of denial" over the impact of their fiscal approach.
"The costs of austerity have fallen disproportionately upon the poor, women(Yet most of Britain's homeless are MEN????), racial and ethnic minorities, children, single parents, and people with disabilities," he said.
"In the area of poverty-related policy, the evidence points to the conclusion that the driving force has not been economic but rather a commitment to achieving radical social re-engineering," he added.
In response to a request for comment on Alston's report, the UK's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) quoted an unnamed government spokesperson as saying that it "completely" disagreed with the envoy's analysis.
"With this government's changes, household incomes have never been higher, income inequality has fallen, the number of children living in workless households is at a record low and there are now one million fewer people living in absolute poverty compared with 2010," the spokesperson cited by DWP on Friday said.
"We are absolutely committed to helping people improve their lives while providing the right support for those who need it," the spokesperson added.
Also on Friday, May, who has come under intense public scrutiny and parliamentary pressure over her draft Brexit deal, announced the appointment of a new government minister to head the negotiations with Brussels. Stephen Barclay was named Brexit secretary, replacing Dominic Raab who was one of the several ministers to quit on Thursday over the proposed withdrawal agreement.
The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, nearly three years after 52 percent of Britons voted in favour of ending the country's 43-year membership of the 28-member bloc during a deeply divisive referendum.
Kartik Raj, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, called on the UK's leaders to heed the UN envoy's report despite the ongoing political unrest.
"Professor Alston's excoriating analysis of the UK government's failures to tackle poverty makes for devastating reading," Raj said.
"The government needs to sit up and pay attention to what he has said at this crucial time, not hope that his recommendations get buried in the nonstop rolling news coverage of Brexit," he added.
DWP spies strip multiple sclerosis sufferer of £20,000
Anyone not as yet dependent on UK welfare needs to know the extremes the DWP assassins will go
to justify stripping away payments and a sanctioning system that leaves the vulnerable and
disabled homeless and penniless.
Tory sanctions driving victims to destitution and suicide
Figures show link between benefit re-assessments and suicides
Government figures suggest a link between welfare re-assessments and suicides, an MP said today.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out investigations into 60 cases where benefit claimants are said to have taken their own lives.
Labour's Diana Johnson said the figures cast doubt on claims that there is no link between suicide and welfare re-assessments, with DWP carrying out the internal reviews in the last five years.
The number of investigations has been falling each year, with ministers insisting the matter was taken extremely seriously.
But the figures have reignited the debate on how DWP treats vulnerable benefit claimants.
Ms Johnson said: "Ministers have repeatedly claimed there to be no link between suicide and welfare re-assessment whenever figures have come to light.
"This parliamentary answer to me blows this claim out of the water.
"If there was no link, there wouldn't have been 60 reviews of suicides in the past five years.
"I am appalled that these figures have remained unpublished for so long."
A written parliamentary question from the Hull North MP has revealed that DWP carried out 15 internal reviews into suicides or alleged suicides of so-called DWP "clients" in 2012/13.
Fourteen reviews were carried out in each of the following two years, with 11 reviews in 2015/16.
This then fell to six last year.
"Families who've been left in the dark need to know everything the DWP knows about these cases," Ms Johnson said.
"Most importantly, we need a welfare system that supports, rather than victimises, the poorest and most vulnerable in our society."
In his answer to Ms Johnson, work and pensions minister Damian Hinds said the internal reviews were carried out in relation to suicides or alleged suicides.
He had previously told Labour MP Luciana Berger: "Suicide is a tragic and complex issue which we take extremely seriously.
"If information is received that a DWP client has attempted or completed suicide and it is alleged that DWP activity may have contributed to this, we carry out an internal review to establish whether anything should have been done differently."
Assessment for benefits has been an ongoing controversy for DWP, particularly the effects they can have on those with mental health issues.
Samantha Nicklin, head of campaigns at charity Rethink Mental Illness, said there was never a simple explanation for why people decide to take their own life.
She added: "What we do know is that people with mental illness consistently find the welfare benefits system - the interview, the sanctions, the number of assessments - stressful and harmful to their health.
"Currently the system is fundamentally unsuited to supporting people living with mental illness.
"We hope that the next government will use this opportunity to conduct an overhaul of the system, including the nature of the assessments, to ensure that people are not needlessly penalised and everyone can get the support they need."
Last year campaigners led by the Disability News Service successfully appealed to a tribunal that these internal reviews should be made public.
Recommendations from these reviews showed that DWP staff repeatedly failed to follow strict guidelines on how to support benefit claimants who had expressed thoughts of self-harm or threatened to take their own lives, which were introduced in 2009.
More people come forward in the DWP ‘Kill Yourself’ scandal
On 28 February, The Canary reported the case of a woman who claimed an assessor working on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) asked her why she hadn’t killed herself yet.
Since we published that report, several people have approached us claiming the same thing happened to them. In this follow-up, we are publishing several of their testimonies. We have also spoken to Atos, the company which carries out assessments for the DWP. And in a separate report, we have discussed these claims with the President of the British Psychological Society, Peter Kinderman.
Several people contacted us with similar stories to Alice Kirby’s. Most have asked that we do not mention them by name. The majority of them said they feared it could affect their claims.
I was asked by a woman at the Atos PIP interview: ‘Why haven’t you killed yourself yet?’ I remember it very clearly. I left the room in tears and had my PIP cut. I was too afraid to complain in case they took all the money off me.
I got asked why I hadn’t successfully committed suicide yet. Was it because I was trying to con benefits? Then when I was sanctioned from ESA, the woman who phoned me to tell me said that if I had been more suicidal I would have had more hospital visits for injuries sustained. Because I didn’t have (how many?) hospital stays because of suicide attempts, they judged I wasn’t sufficiently suicidal to warrant sick benefits and she ruled I was fit for work.
I have on-going physical conditions that resulted in me having to give up most of my work due to illness. The depression and severe anxiety developed due to on-going work capability assessments and constant threat of suspension of benefit.
I then had to go to the job centre. That is a whole other story of horrific humiliating degrading bullying. Deliberately designed to guide you to suicide
I was asked if I’d thought about killing myself and then asked how I would do it. That was PIP. Have brain injury, constant anxiety attacks, and my meds for depression were increased today by doc. Didn’t score a single point. Nothing awarded. Have an ESA one to get through one week today. Absolutely dreading it.
The assessor asked about my depression and I said that most days it’s like a darkness over me, my mind races along and I just couldn’t focus on one thing, other days I feel so lost and useless, with worry about coping with daily things and life in general and with all my different illnesses. She asked have I ever tried to take my life? I said yes, on several times. She said what stopped me? I said what. She said why didn’t I just get it over with? I just couldn’t cope with her asking me stuff like that. I just couldn’t stop crying, and she ended the assessment, and reported lies to DWP, that I didn’t want to carry on and she felt I was managing OK. She left me in pieces. Now I have to appeal the decision to not give me the full disability.
Having recently had my WCA, I can confirm these questions are being asked. In my case, I was asked “Have you ever attempted suicide?”, then ” When?”, followed by “What did you do?”. The next question was “What is stopping you trying again?”. I also had this at my previous WCA. If you give a reason why you haven’t tried again, they decide you’re fit enough to go back to work. You then have a choice of signing on as available for work, or fighting them. If you choose to fight, you can’t sign on as available for work, because it will go against you. So your only option is to go back on assessment rate of £57 per week, quite difficult.
First stage of fighting is asking for a mandatory reconsideration, which you only have one month to do. If this fails, you can then apply for an appeal. Only if the Courts and Tribunal Service agree you have grounds will you then be allowed to appeal. It took nearly twelve months between submitting my appeal and getting a decision, just twelve months ago.
Here I am again, going through the WCA, and awaiting their decision, even though the tribunal judge, a proper high court judge, told them not to assess me again for a minimum of two years.
I was at my ESA assessment in Poole, Dorset, summer 2016. I was suffering from suicidal depression and cluster headache (aka suicide headache). The interview was on the third floor. I opened the window to alleviate headache symptoms and he started making jump jokes and asking why I didn’t? IN FRONT OF MY SUPPORT WORKER!!!
She wanted me to make a complaint but my mental health couldn’t take more conflict. I had gassed myself in a tent only 8 weeks previously.
I’ve just read your article on ESA and Atos. I went for a medical assessment on the 21/2 2017 and I was also asked why I hadn’t taken my own life yet. I have never felt so belittled. I wasn’t examined either, just asked questions.
The Canary asked Atos whether asking people why they hadn’t killed themselves yet was a standard question:
This is not a standard question, however it is important to note our health professionals should be assessing this particular risk of all claimants who present with mental health conditions.
Our trained and qualified health professionals have a duty of care to all claimants and so should this topic arise in an unprompted way during wider assessment discussions, our staff are trained to sensitively ascertain the nature of a person’s mental wellbeing.
If a level of risk is identified we would then be required to share this with an independent medical health specialist.
The Canary asked the DWP three questions about our previous report. The DWP also told us that the healthcare professionals who carry out the assessments are supported by ‘mental health champions’ who have relevant mental health work experience.
1) Will the DWP look into these claims?
We are not aware of any complaints made to either DWP or our contractors on this issue, but would investigate any allegations thoroughly.
2) Is the DWP happy with Atos assessors asking questions that psychologists claim these assessors are insufficiently experienced to be asking?
All PIP assessment providers receive training on mental health conditions, including suicidal issues.
3) Was the DWP already aware that Atos staff were asking people why they hadn’t killed themselves yet?
Healthcare Professionals receive training in order to conduct functional assessments on behalf of the DWP and their training includes conducting a mental health assessment which may, if appropriate, include questions about suicide or self-harm.
The DWP has made it clear that there has been no complaint so far. Atos said the same thing in reply to our original report. But fear of sanctions meant that most people who approached The Canary requested anonymity. And this same fear may be preventing people from making formal complaints.
The testimonies suggest that inadequately trained staff are asking inappropriate questions of people with disabilities. These questions are disturbing people so much that it’s affecting their ability to deal with the assessment properly; and making them afraid to speak out.
As such, it may be time for the DWP to stop waiting for a complaint and look into the matter itself.
– If you are having a mental health crisis or are feeling suicidal, contact The Samaritans.
– Write to your MP to voice your concerns about the way the DWP and Atos handle these assessments.
Graeme Ellis exposes the lengths the tory mafia will go to cause untold harm to
the sick and vulnerable
Welfare rights experts have produced evidence that backs up the findings of a Disability News Service (DNS) investigation into the lies told by healthcare professionals in their disability benefit assessment reports.
Last week, the two-month investigation revealed how assessors working for the outsourcing companies Capita and Atos – most of them nurses – had repeatedly lied, ignored written evidence and dishonestly reported the results of physical examinations.
The investigation suggested a serious, institutional problem that stretched across the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and its contractors, whose staff carry out face-to-face assessments of eligibility for personal independence payment (PIP).
Now two separate welfare rights advice organisations say they have their own evidence that confirms many of the DNS findings.
Graeme Ellis , who founded the Lancaster-based social enterprise Here2Support, said he and his colleagues are currently lodging up to 30 PIP appeals a week on behalf of claimants, and “20 to 25” of them involve assessors who have told lies in their reports.
Here2Support has now started requesting some tribunals to call the Atos assessors to give evidence at appeals so they can be questioned about the honesty of their reports.
But on the three occasions they have tried this so far, all have resulted in a DWP decision-maker reversing their decision and finding in favour of the claimant, despite the mandatory reconsideration – the internal DWP appeal – having already taken place.
He said this shows that DWP “know damn well that the assessors are not reporting accurately”.
Ellis said that he has been to many assessments in which the subsequent reports bore no relation to what the assessors were told by the claimant.
He said: “You read the report and your first thought is, ‘It’s somebody entirely different.’ And most of these cases are successful at appeal.”
Ellis and his colleagues do not have the resources to attend many face-to-face assessments themselves, but he has still witnessed this happening himself about eight times in the last three months.
Among the tricks played by Atos, he said, is to force PIP claimants to walk down a long corridor to get from the waiting area to the assessment room.
Even if they are able to make it – and he has seen claimants in such discomfort that they fall against the corridor wall – this does not mean that the claimant can do so “safely, reliably and repeatedly”, which assessors should take into account, he said.
He has also read reports in which the assessor said the claimant walked to the assessment room, even though they arrived in a wheelchair.
Another frequent comment is to say the claimant showed no signs of breathlessness or anxiety, even though they had been in tears during the assessment, he said.
Ellis points out that he has had some cases in which the assessor has produced an honest and accurate report, only for the DWP decision-maker to ignore what had been written.
Asked why there were so many dishonest reports, he said: “There have got to be some [assessors]doing it for kicks, but I think it is the pressure on the employer on how many people they let through.
“DWP deny it, but there is pressure from DWP on Atos and Capita to meet targets.”
And he believes that many of the problems with dishonest reports are the result of last year’s post-budget chaos, in which the government had to perform a u-turn over plans to tighten eligibility for PIP, following the resignation of work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
This left a hole in DWP’s spending plans, Ellis believes, that it has filled by somehow increasing pressure on the assessment regime.
He said: “Because they were unsuccessful in the budget last year with the plans for PIP, I think this is the aftermath.”
It was Ellis who, last spring, embarrassed the Tory party by resigning in disgust at George Osborne’s budget, after voting Conservative for nearly 50 years.
He had been managing the Conservative Disability Group’s website, and left a message on the site, stating: “This website is temporarily closed owing to Disability Cuts.”
Asked whether it was happy for PIP assessors to be questioned by tribunal appeal panels, a DWP spokeswoman said in a statement, released less than an hour before today’s final DNS deadline: “As you’ve not provided the details of these cases, we are unable to look into them.
“However, assessment providers work on behalf of DWP and it is DWP who have overall responsibility for making decisions.
“Therefore, it wouldn’t be appropriate for an assessor to attend a tribunal.
“In many cases, appeals are granted because further medical evidence is provided.”
Evidence of concerns about PIP assessors has also come this week from Southampton Advice and Representation Centre (SARC).
Just before Christmas, SARC published research analysing the results of 100 appeal tribunals in which it supported claimants between August 2015 and December 2016.
SARC’s analysis found that it had been successful in 78 of those cases – although it only takes on cases where it has a reasonable chance of overturning the DWP decision – the highest success rate it has had for any benefit since it was founded 35 years ago.
It has also had three cases in which an initial Atos assessment report led a DWP decision-maker to award the claimant zero points for both daily living and mobility – they need eight points for the standard rate and 12 for the enhanced rate – only for the tribunal to award the claimant the enhanced rate for both elements.
The most outrageous example was that of a claimant who had been awarded zero points after the Atos assessment, only for the tribunal to award them 50 points for daily living and 22 for mobility, while another claimant was awarded 35 points for daily living and 18 for mobility.
Gary Edwards, SARC’s manager, said: “Repeatedly clients tell us and indeed the tribunal panel, that the written records of the assessment do not accurately reflect what they actually recall saying to the assessor.”
He said earlier: “The results we have found raise serious questions about the ability of Atos and point to a wider system failure.
“We have real concern about the suitability in terms of professional experience of their assessors: can a physiotherapist or paramedic seriously understand complex mental health issues? Our research suggests this is improbable.”
Woman with no hands had her benefits stopped because she couldn’t open a letter VIDEO
Ken Loach: Tory government 'callous, brutal and disgraceful' and 'must be removed'
Accepting the award for best British film at the Bafta awards in London, the veteran director says politicians speak for corporations – and film-makers must stand with the poor and vulnerable
Ken Loach has launched an uncompromising attack on the UK government at the 70th British Academy Film Awards.
Speaking as he picked up his award for outstanding British film for I, Daniel Blake, which is conceived as a critique of the current state of the benefits system, Loach touched on accusations by some that his film failed to reflect reality.
Loach thanked his cast and crew, the people of Newcastle and the academy for “endorsing the truth of what this film says, which is that hundreds of thousands of people – the vulnerable and the poorest people – are treated by the this government with a callousness and brutality that is disgraceful.”
Loach continued by making reference to the Tory government’s apparent U-turn on its promise to accept thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing danger in Syria and elsewhere.
“It’s a brutality,” he said, “that extends to keeping out refugee children we promised to help.”
“In the real world,” added Loach, “it’s getting darker. And in the struggle that’s coming between the rich and the powerful, the corporations and the politicians that speak for them, and the rest of us on the other side, the film-makers know which side they’re on.”
Speaking at the press conference afterwards, Loach went further, saying that the government “have to be removed”. He hoped that voters would see his film, but there was little point politicians doing so as “the people actually implementing these decisions know what they’re doing. It’s conscious.”
Their welfare policies, he said, harked back to the Victorian workhouse ethos of telling people that poverty was their fault. “They know what they’re doing. We have to change them; they have to be removed.”
His words were echoed by screenwriter Paul Laverty, who sought to draw attention to the UN’s ruling on the UK’s treatment of the disabled. “They found systematic and gross violations,” he said, before saying the Tories had “denied, spun and tried to discredit” the findings.
“They don’t give a toss,” said Laverty, that “scurvy and rickets” had returned to the country, or that “16,000 people were admitted to hospital last year with malnutrition. We have a moral obligation to do one thing, and that’s get rid of them.”
Meanwhile producer Rebecca O’Brien spoke up for those employees of the Ritzy cinema not being paid the living wage. “We think that’s completely wrong in this day and age.”
Dave Johns, who stars in the film, added he felt I, Daniel Blake “gives the working class a voice back. People haven’t listened to them for 40 years.”
The tory's murderous trail of the dead goes on and on
Maximus had cut off ill man's welfare payments before his death
Tory assassins Maximus and the DWP still at the mass murder of the vulnerable
Long term sick man, 56, collapses and dies just MINUTES after being ruled 'fit to work' by Jobcentre officials
(and this from the very RAG controlled by Harmsworth that was smearing the vulnerable as scroungers)
A man died of a heart attack as he left a Jobcentre where he'd been forced to sign on after being ruled fit to work.
Lawrence Bond was looking for a job after his Employment and Support Allowance was stopped last July, despite his ongoing health problems.
The 56-year-old suffered a fatal heart attack on January 12 after leaving the Kentish Town Jobcentre - and his grief-stricken family claim the stress of being forced to work led to his death.
Mr Bond's Employment and Support Allowance was cut following a second work capability assessment, set by the Department for Work and Pensions and carried out by private American firm Maximus in July.
He was awaiting the outcome of a second appeal at the time of his death.
His family said he suffered from difficulty breathing and walking, as a result of weight problems, as well as lifelong anxiety.
Mr Bond's sister Iris Green said her brother also had an underlying heart condition.
She also said he held down regular jobs and had been working since the age of 16 when he trained as a car mechanic.
Mr Bond did computer studies and went to companies fixing computers, photocopiers and cash tills but lost his long-term job two years ago after his weight and unfitness made him unemployable.
His family claim he 'turned up at the Jobcentre in a state of distress and anxiety, was again told that he was 'fit to work' and died of a heart attack just after he left'.
Ms Green told the Camden New Journal newspaper: 'I realise that the reception staff have no clinical knowledge or responsibility for doing it, but the rules need to be changed so that they have the right and discretion when they see a human being turning up in physical distress to flag the situation up and ask for urgent re-assessment.'
A spokeswoman for the London Ambulance Service said an ambulance crew, three single responders in cars and an advanced paramedic were sent to the scene in under seven minutes.
'Sadly, despite the best efforts of our crews, a patient died at the scene,' the service added.
An 'ANONYMOUS' spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: 'The local Jobcentre had been supporting Mr Bond and our sympathies are with his family at this difficult time.
'ESA decisions are made following a thorough assessment and after considering all of the evidence, including that provided by a claimant's doctor or other medical professionals.
'Anyone who disagrees with a decision can ask for it to be reconsidered, and if they still disagree they can appeal.'
The tory's assassins the DWP interfered with a sick man's doctors reports that led to his death
Dad DIES 10 months after Job Centre bosses told his doctor not to write any more sick notes.
The DWP wrote to James Harrison's doctor behind his back and declared him fit for work 10 months before he died
A seriously ill dad died just 10 months after Department for Work and Pensions bosses advised his GP not to write any more sick notes for him.
James Harrison had been declared “fit for work” and should not get medical certificates, the letter said.
But 10 months after the DWP contacted his doctor without telling him, James was dead at 55, the Daily Record reported.
His daughter Abbie, 23, said: “It’s a disgrace that managers at the Job Centre, who know nothing about medicine, should interfere in any way in the relationship between a doctor and a patient.
“They have no place at all telling a doctor what they should or shouldn’t give a patient. It has nothing to do with them.
“When the Job Centre starts to get involved in telling doctors about the health of their patients, that’s a really slippery slope.”
Abbie said James had worked since leaving school at a community centre near his home. But his already poor health went downhill after the centre was shut down by austerity cuts.
He had a serious lung condition and a hernia before the centre closed, and developed depression and anxiety afterwards.
Abbie said: “He’d worked all his life. He wasn’t the kind of guy who knew anything about benefits.
“But as his health deteriorated, there wasn’t any chance he could do a job. He applied for employment and support allowance.”
James got ESA but only at the low rate of £70 a week, the same as jobseekers’ allowance. He was then sent for one of the DWP’s hated “Work Capability Assessments” – and declared fit for work.
Despite that decision, Abbie said James remained in constant need of medical help and had to go to his doctor regularly.
But the GP repeatedly refused to give him a sick note, and James began to suspect the Jobcentre were to blame.
Abbie said: “He really needed a note. He was too ill to go to the constant appointments at the Jobcentre and he didn’t want to be sanctioned.
“He became convinced the DWP had been talking to his doctor behind his back.”
Abbie didn’t believe James’s theory at the time and thought he was just confused.
But when she asked to see her dad’s medical records, she found a letter in his file from Julia Savage (A RARE occasion when one of these gangsters is identified), a manager at Birkenhead Benefit Centre in James’s home city of Liverpool.
The letter was addressed to James’s GP. It said: “We have decided your patient is capable of work from and including January 10, 2016.
"This means you do not have to give your patient more medical certificates for employment and support allowance purposes unless they appeal against this decision.
“You may need to again if their condition worsens significantly, or they have a new medical condition.”
PhD student Abbie is furious that James had to waste time at his short doctor’s appointments pleading for a sick line he wasn’t going to get.
And she is sickened by the way the system treated her father at every turn.
She said: “I’d love to interrogate these DWP people the way they interrogated dad – ask them to explain the things they put him through.
“Dad wasn’t well. Who knows, maybe he could have improved if he’d been given some support, rather than subjected to suspicion and scepticism at every turn.”
Asked about the letter, a DWP spokeswoman said: “The GP would have been notified so they know the outcome of the assessment.
“And as the letter says, there’s no longer any requirement to provide a fit note unless the claimant appeals the decision, or their medical condition worsens or they have a new medical condition.”
What the evils of sanctioning has on Britain's vulnerable VIDEO
Ken Loach: life in austerity Britain is 'consciously cruel' VIDEO
Unbelievable that the tory version of Mugabe Kwasi Kwarteng attacks Ken Loach
who exposes the scum and filth attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable sections
of British society. More on this tory bum
Disability campaigner and Conservative MP discuss cuts VIDEO
Tory henchwoman Nicky Morgan tries to justify attacks on the poorest VIDEO
Tory's murderous rottweiller IDS finally quits over vile welfare cuts to the most vulnerable
Iain Duncan Smith resigns - BBC Newsnight
But only after thousands of innocents have died from them
We have been exposing for many years the utter hypocrisy of a tory government responsible for thousands of vulnerable citizens
of the UK being psychologically tortured to the point of death thanks to the evil Eton gangsters Cameron and Osborne using
their whipping boy Iain Duncan Smith and state assassins the DWP, ATOS and now Maximus to crucify the poorest, most disabled and
many with severe mental illness using sanctions that remove in an instant the paltry sum they had been given
to survive on.
NEVER since the Nazi regime has a group been so vilified by the utter scum and filth who claim to be a political
party using the total power of the state to murder with impunity. Thatcher's vile spirit is alive and well
in the hallowed walls of 10 Downing Street when a compliant media holds these evil bastards up as some sort of moral
guardians looking down on the peasants as if they are something to erase from the bottom of their well heeled boots.
Scumbag Osborne used IDS to push through his toxic cuts that has ensured vast swathes of the population have suffered
enormous harm to the point that many felt suicide was a better option. Finally this odious scumbag has quit and left
the rest of the Eton mobsters to justify the enormous pain and suffering of those who faced a brutal regime only to
happy to use cuts to finish off those who they view as USELESS eaters.
Tory scum aim to extend murderous sanction system to those who are working
ATOS, Maximus and the DWP are state sponsored assassins for an evil tory regime using a psychological
sanctioning system that triggers suicide in those who lose their only source of income.
THE TORY government been attacked over plans to extend controversial benefit sanctions to claimants with jobs, with critics warning introducing the "shockingly harsh" penalties risks plunging workers into poverty.
A number of pilot schemes are currently being carried out in the UK – including in Inverness – to assess a new scheme which the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) says is aimed at helping workers on low earnings take on more hours and increase their income.
Benefits can be stopped if claimants fail to meet requirements outlined by the DWP – such as missing Jobcentre appointments or failing to show evidence of looking for more work for a certain number of hours a week, on top of their usual job.
The in-work regime, which is expected to eventually apply to around one million people, is being trialled as part of Universal Credit, the new type of benefit which is being rolled out across the country.
The DWP says its aim is “redefining the contract between claimants and the welfare state” and helping work to pay. The radical scheme - one of the first of its kind in the world - means for the first time those in part-time employment will have to meet certain conditions or risk losing support from the state.
But in a series of submissions to the House of Commons Select Committee on Work and Pensions, which is carrying out an inquiry into the "in-work progression" scheme, charities, researchers and campaigners have warned the use of harsh punitive measures risks plunging workers into financial difficulties.
Researchers have uncovered worrying examples of in-work claimants being sanctioned include a man who was 'fined' £70 after missing a JobCentre appointment because he had been called into work by his employer.
Another case involved a woman who was struggling with debt after being given multiple sanctions as she tried to juggle Jobcentre appointments with working part-time and caring responsibilities. She ended up being threatened with eviction from her home.
Dr Sharon Wright, senior lecturer in public policy in urban studies at Glasgow University, is lead researcher of a team at six universities across the UK which is carrying out a five-year study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council into welfare conditionality.
She said the sanctions system being implemented was “quite shockingly harsh” and pointed to examples of cases of in-work claimants being penalised uncovered during their research.
She said: “We had one interviewee who had an appointment at the Jobcentre, but got called into work. He phoned up the JobCentre to rearrange his appointment, they told him it couldn’t be rearranged and then he was sanctioned because he didn’t go.
“So he was actually working and they took £70 off him because he wasn’t there. The idea behind the system is that it is meant to encourage people to work, but it is actually penalising people who are in work, so it is counter-productive – that is partly because of the rigidity of the system.”
Wright pointed out it was also now common for workers to have variable hours, or zero hour contracts that were unpredictable – yet people were being issued with “inflexible” appointments by the JobCentre.
“We interviewed another woman who had been given multiple sanctions – in her case she had caring responsibilities which were unpredictable and she had work that had variable hours,” she said.
“She ended up missing appointments because she was either caring or working and because the sanctions ramp up, she ended up in arrears with her rent and having bailiffs coming to the door and being threatened with eviction.
“That is someone who from her point of view is trying to do all the right things – she is trying to meet her family obligations by doing informal care, she is trying to meet work obligations by going out to work and yet she is finding this rigid system is not taking that into account.”
Wright acknowledged one beneficial aspect of the new system was that workers on lower hours would now be entitled to claim support, which they could not do under the new system - but questioned whether enough was in place to help support claimants to find more hours or better paid jobs.
“There is no system to help people gain confidence or train them or improve their situation in terms of pay or in terms of career progression,” she said. “What is means is heavy pressure on relatively powerless workers – who are part-time workers or low paid workers – to find more work.”
John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, said parents on low incomes would usually take on extra hours whenever they could.
He said: "All the evidence is that given the opportunity and when parents can juggle childcare they take on extra hours, they want to increase their hours at work.
"But there are real structural barriers in terms of the nature of the kinds of jobs that people are in - which mean limited opportunities to increase hours and increase earnings in work - as well as real issues that families face still both with the costs and availability of childcare."
Dickie said there was plenty of evidence of the "devastating" impact sanctions could have on out-of-work benefit claimants, including reducing their chances of getting back into work by removing vital financial support and forcing families to turn to food banks.
He added: "The evidence would suggest [sanctions for in-work claimants] would be completely counter-productive, and there is a very real risk that families – including families with children – will be pushed into even greater financial hardship than they already are."
Other submissions to the Work and Pension Select Committee inquiry include a response from Oxfam, which said financial sanctions should not be included as it was "too blunt an instrument" for dealing with hugely differing circumstances.
Boycott Workfare, which campaigns against sanctions, said extending sanctions to those who are in work will "punish people on the receiving end of the UK's low-pay, no-pay precarious labour market".
Rob Gowans, policy officer at Citizens Advice Scotland, also raised concerns around the use of sanctions, saying many out-of-work benefit claimants had experienced problems as a result of the impact of sanctions.
He said: “We are concerned that introducing this for people who are in work, or in part-time work, won’t really help them find a job and just push them further into hardship.
“We would like to see a full independent fundamental review of the current sanctions regime to see what effect it has and whether it is fulfilling its purpose."
A response submitted by University of Glasgow’s Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, also noted that details of the trials being carried out by the DWP "remain scarce".
Dr Marcia Gibson, research associate at the Unit, said it was standard practice to publish protocols for trials ahead of them taking place.
She said: “If this is not done there is a risk of cherry picking - you are supposed to specify in advance which groups you are going to be interested in and which analyses you are going to run.
“Otherwise you could run many analyses after the fact and pick the findings which suited your particular take.
“If any researcher only publishes the trial findings after the fact and don’t publish their methodology in full, there is no way of knowing if they stuck to their plans or how they recruited people, for example – all kinds of really important aspects of trial design that can influence the findings need to be known in advance.”
did not respond to questions from the Sunday Herald asking how long the pilots would last or if the evaluation of the scheme would be made public.
In a statement, it said workers taking on more hours is being made possible by more generous childcare support under Universal Credit and that certain groups, such as the long-term disabled or recent victims of domestic violence, were being excluded from the trial.
The DWP also said it would support 'hardworking families' but benefit claimants working part-time who could work more have a “responsibility to themselves and the state to take on more hours.”
A spokesman for the DWP (The murderers are never quoted by name and remain anonymous for the crimes against their victims) said: “We make no apology for helping people to progress in their jobs and earn more money.
“This is something the benefits system has never done before, and this kind of criticism completely misses the point of Universal Credit.”
TIME TO END THE ANONYMITY THE STATE MASS MURDERERS ARE GETTING WHO NEED TO BE OUTED FOR THEIR CRIMES