The assault on the poor and disabled

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The assault on the poor and disabled - Page 7 Empty The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by skwalker1964 on Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:48 am

First topic message reminder :

I reblogged this post in 'honour' of the Tory party conference and Ivan asked me to post it here, too. You can find the original post complete with links at: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Here are two true stories:

A friend of mine once picked up a hitch-hiker at a motorway service station. The bloke looked a bit down on his luck, so my friend asked what his story was. The guy said he’d been living in service stations, bathing in the shower facilities at lorry-driver stops, for several days as he tried to make his way from one end of the country to the other to where a hotel job was waiting for him if he could get there. He’d lost all his benefits and had no way to get the money to take a train or bus.

My friend gave this man all the money he had in his pocket, which was £60. The man seemed genuinely overwhelmed and grateful, seemingly unable to believe that someone would give him a fairly serious amount of money within minutes of meeting him, on the basis of the story he’d just related.

I asked my friend whether he thought the man had been genuine, or might he have been ripped off? His answer was that his gut instinct was that the man was for real – but that if he wasn’t, he’d rather be conned than be hard-hearted and risk ignoring someone in genuine need.

By contrast, the incredibly rich (some $287 billion in today’s money) industrialist Andrew Carnegie once famously said that it would be better for the world if a rich man threw his millions into the sea rather than give any to the ‘unworthy’. To be fair to Carnegie, he gave away a vast proportion of his wealth – but the rich and privileged have a long history of presuming that, from their pinnacle of wealth and comfort, they are able to decide who is ‘worthy’ and who isn’t. The concept of the ‘deserving poor‘, by denoting that some poor are by definition not deserving, has resulted in great suffering while allowing the wealthy to feel satisfied with their lack of concern or action.

The current crop of Tories are truly in line with their predecessors in this regard – except that they’re even worse. Even though they can’t possibly be ignorant of the consequences, they push this line in the most cynical way, with the aim of dividing the British public, fooling the undiscerning into allowing or even approving of policies aimed at stripping the vulnerable of crucial protections. And for the basest of reasons – for short-term political gain (persuading some people that the Tories are ‘at least doing something about something!’), and to release even more public funds that can be channelled into tax-cuts for the already-rich or even greater profits for private corporations.

With their limited moral imagination, the Tories really only know two tactics. Both are calculated to appeal to the baser instincts of the small-minded and thoughtless: fear and vilification. There may be different facets or manifestations – they might try to invoke suspicion, or envy, or to dehumanise or caricature one set of people to get another set to back their policies – but the roots are the same.

I’m working on a post about economic fear and the way that’s fostered by government spokespeople and tame media, but it’s proving to be quite a big project and I’m not going to be online much over the next few days, so it will be a little while in coming. But the other tactic – vilification or demonisation of the vulnerable or resistant – is so plain that this post almost writes itself. Whether explicitly or in the omission, the Tories are at it constantly.

Just in recent weeks, we’ve had:


  • Iain Duncan-Smith accusing Britons of not working hard enough, while bare-facedly distorting figures on fraudulent claims for disability benefit (claiming a 30% fraud rate when in fact it’s bare over one percent) to gain public support for his hateful Welfare Reform Act.


  • A smug Frances Maude announcing that the bottom 10% of civil servants has a year to improve or be fired – conveniently leaving out the fact that if everyone in the civil service was a workaholic genius, there would still be a bottom 10%. Being at the bottom doesn’t mean you’re incompetent or unproductive. He insists that this is not an ‘attack’ on the civil service, even though at the same time he’s making cuts of 25% in civil servant numbers and talking of removing any terms and conditions that are better than those of the private sector that the Tories and their pals have already robbed.


  • Andrew Lansley calling on doctors not to take industrial action and having his department and tame journalists conduct an orchestrated propaganda campaign to persuade the public that doctors are rich, privileged, selfish and uncaring of their patients (‘After all’, he might as well say, ‘we’ve robbed the rest of the public sector, why should doctors be any different?’) This in spite of the fact that the doctors’ pension scheme is not in shortfall and that the Health Secretary, having specifically abdicated his legal responsibility for healthcare provision in his new Health & Social Care Act, is really not entitled to comment one way or the other, let alone to impose new pension terms.


  • David Cameron underlining again that the Tories are on the side of ‘strivers’, thereby saying that they’re not on the side of anyone who can’t strive, or who simply wants to live a decent, balanced life.


  • Iain Duncan-Smith (again!) announcing plans to remove benefits from anyone who dares strike against the removal of pay, pensions, conditions and protection that is now the norm for the treatment of ordinary working people.


  • Claims by Communities Minister Eric Pickles, vocally supported by Housing Minister Grant Shapps and many others, and by the right-wing press, that the UK has 120,000 ‘problem families’ who cause 80% of societal problems, even though not one of the criteria used to decide who is a ‘problem family’ relates to criminality, but instead refer to poverty and physical or mental illness.


  • Endlessly repeated soundbites about ‘benefit scroungers’ to justify capping housing benefit, even though the vast majority of people receiving this benefit are working, but can’t afford outrageous rents.


  • Cameron and others vilifying transport workers for daring to plan industrial action during the Olympic Games money-making exercise, even though industrial action is really their only negotiating weapon and it’s perfectly sensible for them to aim it at the periods when it will be most effective. The Tories really do want a workforce that’s powerless to stand up for itself.


I could go on, but I want to keep this post to a readable length.

The aim of all these policies and pronouncements is very clear: persuading whichever sections of the public that are not affected by a particular measure that those who are affected are not worthy of support, and definitely not worthy of help.

The consequences of these and other Tory measures are not hard to imagine – and they’re already being played out. Disabled, ill or mentally ill people spend their days in fear at the prospect of having their benefits stopped because they’re ludicrously assessed as fit for work, while some even attempt or commit suicide. People are forced to accept part-time ‘work’ that offers few (or even zero!) hours while the government crows that it has reduced unemployment; jobless people are forced to work for free and sleep under bridges by companies who ruthlessly exploit them to maximise profit. And so on.

In this context, it’s patently clear that the Tories’ policies, attitudes, sleaze, self-enrichment and their unholy alliance with powerful corporate and media interests show that they are not fit to judge a vegetable show, let alone judge whether a vulnerable person is ‘worthy’ of help.

Fortunately, we get to choose whether we believe them. To choose whether we agree with the kind of approach to life that says that, while no system is perfect, it’s much better to err on the side of goodness than of suspicion and selfishness, that it’s better to set up or protect systems that protect the genuine many than one which might prevent a very few ‘playing the system’ but that also strands people in genuine need in a situation of despair. We have the privilege of deciding what kind of society we want to be.

From everything I’ve written, you’ll probably have guessed that I absolutely agree with my friend, rather than with Carnegie, about which side it’s better to err on. But Mr Carnegie did say something that I agree with very much:

‘A man who dies rich dies disgraced’

In our current government, and in the people who support and fund them, we have a lot of walking ‘disgraces in the making’. Let’s think for ourselves, see them for what they are, and not make it easy for them to become even bigger disgraces than they already are.
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Post by Ivan on Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:25 pm

Heart attack victim in cash axe shock
 
by Robbie Gill
 
"A man forced to give up work with heart problems had his benefits axed for failing to complete a capability assessment... after suffering a heart attack during the examination.

The man, who received employment support allowance, was required to attend a work capability assessment to assess his suitability for work. During the appointment he was told he was having a heart attack, forcing the nurse to stop the assessment.

Two weeks later he got a letter from Jobcentre Plus saying he had withdrawn from the assessment and was being sanctioned. The man took his case to Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams."

 
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Post by Ivan on Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:23 pm


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Post by Phil Hornby on Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:17 pm

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Post by oftenwrong on Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:25 pm

The words "Tory" and "sensitivity" cannot both occur in the same sentence.
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Post by Ivan on Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:11 am

People stripped of benefits could be charged for challenging decision
 
People who have been stripped of benefits could be charged by the government for trying to appeal against the decision to an independent judge.
 
Critics say the proposal, contained in an internal DWP document leaked to 'The Guardian', would hit some of the poorest people in Britain, who have been left with little or no income.
 
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I wonder which of the usual suspects will get the contract to run the workhouses if the Tories win next year - G4S or Serco?  Evil or Very Mad
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Post by boatlady on Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:28 am

Earlier this week figures showed that in the past year nearly 900,000 people have had their benefits stopped

That's about the number of men women and children exterminated at Treblinka - an interesting parallel there.

I suppose, following the introduction of a fee for employment tribunals, we could have predicted this completely indefensible proposal
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Post by Phil Hornby on Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:38 pm

I am not in any way a fan of such action , but I can see a need fast developing for a dose of civil disobedience.

Something must be done soon to seek to halt the ever-increasing cruelty by this government which is becoming more obscene by the day...
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Post by Phil Hornby on Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:28 pm

The Tories New Benefits Appeal System in Action

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" Case dismissed you miserable wretch - now that'll be £125, plus VAT, of course..."
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Post by oftenwrong on Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:48 pm

" Case dismissed you miserable wretch - now that'll be £125, plus VAT, of course..." Costs awarded to the DWP on Scale One, to be deducted from the appellant's children's benefits entitlement.
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Post by Ivan on Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:03 pm

UK austerity measures likely to hurt society's poorest, says OECD
 
Poverty will become ever more entrenched in Britain if the government does not maintain social spending to protect the most vulnerable, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned.
 
The Paris-based organisation said austerity measures and benefits cuts were more likely to hurt the poor in the UK than in most other OECD countries because its benefits system is more strongly targeted at low income groups. The OECD noted in its ‘Society At A Glance 2014’ report that the pace of cuts will intensify between now and 2015.
 
The report says: "Freezing or capping benefit levels and changing the way benefits are adjusted over time means that living standards of people more dependent on benefits will fall relative to the rest of the population. This might entrench poverty for families who depend on income support."
 
A rise in youth unemployment and poverty in recent years also suggested the government needed to do more to help young people leaving education. Young people are at greater risk of poverty than before the crisis: the share of 18-25 year-olds in households with incomes below half the national median has climbed in most countries – by 5% in Estonia, Spain and Turkey, by 4% in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and by 3% in Greece and Italy.
 
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Post by oftenwrong on Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:42 pm

That can't be right, the Chancellor told us only today, in his budget speech, that the gap between rich and poor is now smaller than it had been at any time under Labour.
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Post by bobby on Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:15 pm

ow said:  That can't be right, the Chancellor told us only today, in his budget speech, that the gap between rich and poor is now smaller than it had been at any time under Labour.
 
If that is the case, perhaps some of the rich Tory Bastards will now vote Labour, for them surely it would make sense. But Then again perhaps Gideon is lying.
.
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Post by Phil Hornby on Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:30 pm

Yes, it's Shapps' Beer & Bingo Time...



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Post by bobby on Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:55 pm

Looking at the picture, do you think someone may have just kicked him in the nuts.
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Post by boatlady on Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:50 pm

We can always hope
 Very Happy 
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Post by Phil Hornby on Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:10 pm

If so, it wasn't sufficiently hard, given that he is still standing...       Shocked
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Post by Ivan on Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:50 pm

oftenwrong wrote:-
the Chancellor told us only today, in his budget speech, that the gap between rich and poor is now smaller than it had been at any time under Labour.
A report published by Oxfam last year found that the UK is rapidly returning to Dickensian levels of inequality.
 
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The Tories wouldn't lie to us, would they?  Twisted Evil
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Post by boatlady on Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:35 pm

I think I'd be more inclined to believe Oxfam
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Post by Ivan on Fri Mar 28, 2014 5:55 pm

Think welfare spending is spiralling out of control? You're wrong
 
Extracts from an article by Ha-Joon Chang:-
 
"The British, having supposedly invented the modern welfare state (a debatable proposition), have the mistaken notion that they have an exceptionally generous welfare state, as evidenced by the widespread worries about 'welfare scrounging' and 'welfare tourism'. However, measured by public social spending (e.g. income support, pensions, health) as a proportion of GDP, Britain's is not much bigger than the OECD average; 24.1% against 22.1% as of 2009. And the OECD includes among its 34 members a dozen or so relatively poor economies where the welfare state is much smaller for various reasons.

Even when it comes to income support for the working-age population, the UK is not a particularly generous place. In 2007 it spent 4.5% of GDP for the purpose. This was only slightly above the OECD average (3.9%) and way below other rich European economies: the figures were 7.2% for Belgium, 7% for Denmark, 6% for Finland and 5.6% for Sweden.

The frequently used argument against the welfare state is that it reduces economic growth by making the poor workshy and the rich reduce their wealth creation, given the tax burden involved. However, there is no general correlation between the size of the welfare state and the growth performance of an economy. To cite a rather striking example, despite having a welfare state that is 50% bigger than that of the US (29.4% of GDP as against 19.2% of GDP in the US, in 2009), Finland has grown much faster."

 
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Post by oftenwrong on Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:12 pm

Precisely. The nation's wealthiest want to be able to extract the maximum benefit from a stable economy and a compliant workforce, without making a corresponding contribution by way of equitable taxation. That attitude is exemplified in their half-hearted support for the EU, which is essential for Trade but carries inconvenient obligations.
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Post by Ivan on Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:06 am


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Post by boatlady on Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:01 pm

It is right that Esther McVey is probably going to lose her seat at the next general election - couldn't happen to a better person
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Post by bobby on Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:24 pm

Wot is someone goin to hack her bum off?
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Post by boatlady on Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:13 am

lol! lol! Very Happy 
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Post by Ivan on Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:12 pm

Anti-Slavery International accuses the government of hypocrisy for promoting workfare at the same time as condemning modern slavery.
 
It’s remarkable that, in spite of its stated ambition to become a world leader in the struggle against slavery including a new 'modern slavery bill', the British government continues with its 'workfare' schemes to force labour from vulnerable workers for the benefit of wealthy businesses”, said Adrian McQuade, Director of Anti-Slavery International. He added: “It represents the British government failing in its responsibilities towards its own citizens and undermining its stated principles to boot.”
 
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Post by oftenwrong on Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:30 pm

Now oysters dear, if you are ready
We shall begin the feed
(FEED!!)
Oh yes ah, the time has come my little friends
To talk of food and things
(Of pepper corns and mustard seeds
And other seasonings
We'll mix 'em all together
In a sauce that's made for kings
Kaloo Kalay we'll eat today
Like cabbages and kings!!)

I, I wait for you I, oh excuse me
I deeply simplisize
For I've enjoyed you company
Oh much more than you realize
"Little oysters, little oysters??"
But answer there came none
And this was scarcely all because
They'd been eaten
Every-one !
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Post by Ivan on Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:40 pm

Sadly, this accurate Wikipedia entry has now been amended.  Shocked 
 
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Post by oftenwrong on Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:46 am

Not a dry eye in The House!
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Post by sickchip on Thu May 01, 2014 3:20 am

The fact is posh, mainly southern, privileged, aristo, Bullingdon boys are murdering poor, mainly northern, under-privileged, poorly educated, down on their luck and life chances people from the lower classes - with the assistance of henchmen / yesmen like Iain Duncan Smith.

I imagine they see it as some sort of 'cleansing'
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Post by sickchip on Thu May 01, 2014 3:39 am



It is a miniscule % of the unemployed who are long term unemployed. In today's job market - where temporary work / agency work is becoming the norm for the general workforce, it is obvious many people will be in and out of work fairly frequently. The point is most unemployed people are simply needing help, via welfare, between jobs - they are honest people doing what they can to survive on poor wages under a neo-liberal business model that has created this job environment to benefit shareholders / the minority.

- as for those few % who choose to 'sponge', and waste their lives: all nations will always, regardless of any measures, have a percentage of lazy, feckless persons. Unfortunately, and if we're civilised, we have to accept that and tolerate it - the alternative is to starve people.......do we really want to opt for cruelty over humanity?
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Post by Penderyn on Sat May 03, 2014 4:59 pm

Well said!   Anyone who doesn't want to work is ill, and should be pampered and made much of till he feels better!
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The assault on the poor and disabled - Page 7 Empty Food poverty in Cornwall, national relevance

Post by buckspygmy on Mon May 12, 2014 12:03 pm

I have been asked by the Truro Diocesan office to get this video as wide and audience as possible.
 
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Post by oftenwrong on Mon May 12, 2014 3:49 pm

Where do you start.... ?

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Post by woolyback on Mon May 12, 2014 8:18 pm

oftenwrong wrote:-
Where do you start.... ?
 
The extermination of all sycophants would be a good place.
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Post by Ivan on Mon Jun 02, 2014 3:09 pm

The welfare state is not about dependency: it is about opportunity
 
Extracts from an article by Mary O’Hara:-
 
Cameron stood up at a lord mayor's banquet in November 2013 and ostensibly admitted (from an ornate golden throne) that austerity was not an emergency response to testing economic times after all, but a permanent disassembling of the state. Bombastic and buoyed by the recent news of an economic upturn, Cameron uttered the words many felt he had been holding back since 2010, when he claimed that he was imposing cuts out of necessity: "We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently."

What is so rarely understood – and what has been under direct attack during austerity – is that the welfare state is not about dependency: it is about opportunity. Done well, it is a life raft when times are tough and a springboard to better things. The social safety net envisaged at the end of the Second World War, and supported and upheld by successive governments, was designed for that purpose. It was a potent signal that fairness and justice had a central place in our government and our society.

When I was 10, my father became unemployed due to health difficulties within the family. Despite our family's misfortune, we were provided with a council house that meant we had basic amenities like an indoor toilet and bathroom. I had libraries to go to and a nutritious free meal at school every day. I had free eye tests and a subsidised school uniform. I was able to fulfil my potential because the welfare state gave me a fighting chance. I consider myself to be a graduate of the welfare state – and I am proud of it.

 
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Post by oftenwrong on Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:19 pm

When hand-wringing feels inadequate, there are practical ways to relieve children of the brutality of politicians:

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The assault on the poor and disabled - Page 7 Empty Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:36 pm

Over 50,000 households in England were accepted as homeless by their local council in 2012/13 - up 23% in two years.
 
London, home to some of the richest people in the world, had 2,029 individuals sleeping on its streets in just the first three months of this year.
 
Rough sleeping across England has risen by 37% since 2010.
 
The average age of death for a homeless person in 21st century Britain is 47.
 
Then George Osborne will tell us how well the economy is doing…..   No 
 
Some of the reader comments which follow this article are as disturbing as the state of affairs which it describes:-
 
The 'anti-homeless spikes' are just one part of a bleak tale for rough sleepers
 
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Post by oftenwrong on Mon Jun 09, 2014 5:47 pm

The Nation's condition brought about by a Tory-led Coalition during the past four years can be summarised as "Private affluence amidst public squalor."

They have to be replaced by a Labour government in 2015, whatever we might think about that Curate's egg as an alternative.
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Post by boatlady on Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:18 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - The Age of Entitlement - how wealth breeds narcissism'

Quite an interesting piece from the Grauniad, bearing out something I've always felt - worth a read as a partial explanation of some of the forces operating in society at present.
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The assault on the poor and disabled - Page 7 Empty Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:37 am

The American writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, said something similar - several years ago.


Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.
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The assault on the poor and disabled - Page 7 Empty Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:30 pm

The 11 most senseless benefit sanction decisions known to man

- A man with heart problems who was on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) had a heart attack during a work capability assessment. He was then sanctioned for failing to complete the assessment.

- A man who had found a job that was scheduled to begin in two weeks’ time was sanctioned for not looking for work as he waited for the role to start.

- Army veteran Stephen Taylor, 60, had his Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) stopped after he sold poppies in memory of fallen soldiers.

- A man had to miss his regular appointment at the job centre to attend his father’s funeral. He was sanctioned even though he told DWP staff in advance.

- Ceri Padley, 26, had her benefits sanctioned after she missed an appointment at the job centre - because she was at a job interview.

- A man was sanctioned for missing his slot to sign on - as he was attending a work programme interview. He was then sanctioned as he could not afford to travel for his job search.

- Sean Halkyward, 24, said his benefits were sanctioned because he looked for too many jobs in one week.

- Mother-of-three Angie Godwin, 27, said her benefits were sanctioned after she applied for a role job centre staff said was beyond her.

- Sofya Harrison was sanctioned for attending a job interview and moving her signing-on to another day.

- Michael, 54, had his benefits sanctioned for four months for failing to undertake a week’s work experience at a charity shop. The charity shop had told him they didn’t want him there.

- Terry Eaton, 58, was sanctioned because he didn’t have the bus fare he needed to attend an appointment with the job centre.

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