The coalition’s benefit sanctions regime, under which more than 1 million jobseekers had their unemployment benefits stopped last year, has spawned hundreds of documentary accounts of claimants being penalised for capricious, cruel and often absurd reasons.
The recent MPs’ inquiry into sanctions heard copious evidence of claimants being docked hundreds of pounds and pitched into financial crisis for often absurdly trivial breaches of benefit conditions, or for administrative errors beyond their control.
A typical example is the following anonymised list of sanctions reported by food bank clients to the Trussell trust charity:
- Man who missed appointment due to being at hospital with his partner, who had just had a stillborn child.
- Man sanctioned for missing an appointment at the jobcentre on the day of his brother’s unexpected death. He had tried to phone Jobcentre Plus to explain, but could not get through and left a message which was consequently not relayed to the appropriate person.
- Man who carried out 60 job searches but missed one which matched his profile.
- Man had an appointment at the jobcentre on the Tuesday, was taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack that day, missed the appointment and was sanctioned for nine weeks.
- Man who secured employment and was due to start in three weeks. He was sanctioned in the interim period because JCP told him he was still duty bound to send his CV to other companies.
- Young couple who had not received any letters regarding an appointment that was thus subsequently missed. Their address at the Department for Work and Pensions was wrongly recorded. They were left with no money for over a month.
- One case where the claimant’s wife went into premature labour and had to go to hospital. This caused the claimant to miss an appointment. No leeway given.
- One man sanctioned for attending a job interview instead of Jobcentre Plus – he got the job so did not pursue grievance against the JCP.
- Man who requested permission to attend the funeral of his best friend; permission declined; sanctioned when he went anyway.
- A diabetic sanctioned and unable to buy food was sent to hospital by GP as a consequence.
Sometimes sanctions have a bizarre, nightmarish quality, such as this one, reported by Highbridge and Burnham-on-Sea food bank and cited in a recent Church Action on Poverty report:
We had a number of customers who had been sanctioned including one guy who had been sanctioned for being late for his appointment at the jobcentre because the queue was so long it took him to past his appointment time to be seen. He was sanctioned even though he had arrived at the jobcentre in plenty of time.
Originally posted on Rockinpaddy:
After a day in the House of Commons & Lords, it feels right to share this press release from Inclusion London which we were happy to pass over to those I met today….please share. I was honoured to help break the news along with others fighting so hard in the #SaveILF campaign:
EMBARGOED until 00.01 Wednesday 25/03/2015
UK Disabled people appeal to the UN over Independent Living fund closure
A complaint to the United Nations was today launched on behalf of disabled people in the UK whose rights have been breached by the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The ILF, which is the subject of an on-going and desperate battle between disabled people and the Department for Work and Pensions (1), is high on the priority list for disabled people deciding how to vote at the forthcoming election. The complaint brought by Inclusion London (2) on…
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This appears to have been sent to pop star Zayn Malik from the DWP’s official account:
Single parent? Attend the Jobcentre and get referred to social services as a troubled family. New trial at Ashton Jobcentre.
Originally posted on The poor side of life:
Yesterday I heard something very disturbing. A lady contacted me, she was very upset. She attended the Jobcentre for her signing on appointment and was confronted with something totally unexpected. She’s a very intelligent lady and thankfully she acted quickly and appropriately. She said hello to the advisor or job coach as they call them now. I don’t know why because they don’t coach you into anything except desperation. She’s been attending a mandatory work related course and had despite this completed all her Job searches correctly. The meeting then took a totally different atmosphere. The advisor suggested to her that she should be willing to get involved with a trial that they are running with Tameside Council. They are asking single parents to be assigned a social worker and a key worker so they can keep an eye on her… The reason for this? Because they said she hadn’t…
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Readers, Jeremy Clarkson is reportedly expected to be sacked by the BBC today.
Same Difference has been campaigning for his sacking for years.
Perhaps because of his unneccessary reference to Gordon Brown’s partial eyesight.
Perhaps because of his description of a Ferrari as having ‘special needs.’
Or perhaps because of his ‘Elephant Man’ jibe?
The simple fact is this- we here at Same Difference have spotted and highlighted Clarkson’s disablist comments for a long, long time. But the BBC barely blinked- until now.
Even now, he is not facing the sack for a disablist comment. However, we here at Same Difference believe that the BBC without Jeremy Clarkson in it will be a much less disablist place.
So we hope for his sacking today- whatever the reason, it will be a significant victory in the fight against disablism.
Benefits and Work is continuing to receive reports of medical assessments for ESA and PIP not being carried out correctly.
Missing ESA50 forms
Following a recent article on the issue, we have now heard from over a dozen people who have been asked to attend a work capability assessment without first completing an ESA50 form.
People who challenge Maximus about the lack of an ESA50 claim they have been given explanations such as:
“Not everyone will get a form.”
“One isn’t needed in your case.”
“You don’t need to fill one in.”
In most cases, however, people have not queried the lack of a form, even if worried and puzzled by it.
One member rang Maximus and insisted that they wanted to complete an ESA50 and would download one, complete it and forward it. They did exactly that and the health professional had it there when they had their assessment.
In another case a member who had an assessment without being sent an ESA50 was afterwards contacted by a decision maker who was unhappy about the lack of a form. The decision maker insisted on sending out a new form and beginning the assessment process all over again.
We’re now taking this issue up with Maximus and we’ll let you know what response we get.
Meanwhile, we wouldn’t advise anyone to attend a WCA without completing an ESA50, even if you have to download it yourself and take it in on the day.
If you complete it using our guides it really does help ensure that you give accurate evidence both in the form and at your medical.
In addition, we have also heard from three members whose PIP report carried out by Capita doesn’t give the type of qualification held by the health professional. Instead, in the box for ‘Type of professional’ it simply states ‘Health professional’.
We’re not sure if this is now standard practice, but we don’t think it is in any way acceptable and we’ll be talking to Capita about it. We’ll let you know what they say.
We haven’t heard from anyone else whose medical was cancelled because all the venues were too far away, but we have heard from several people who had to travel upwards of forty miles for their assessment. We’d be interested to hear from more readers on this issue.