20,000 signatures reached
To: Department of Work and Pensions UK
Benefit Sanctions Must Be Stopped Without Exceptions in UK
Stop the benefits cuts and sanctions
Why is this important?
Absolute poverty, as in having no money at all, is all-encompassing, meaning it is almost impossible to think about anything else and it impacts on every area of life. Relationships with family and friends fracture, self-esteem is demolished, emotions range from stark terror to utter despair. Poverty removes the freedom to act rationally and assess situations in the long term and so creates its own vicious trap.
Such is the psychological anguish of long term poverty that some people will spend money on drugs or alcohol rather than food just to block out a few hours of their life. Poverty therefore leads to more poverty, ill health and increasing isolation. Poverty leads to family breakdown, which leads to homelessness, to addiction, depression, self-harm, poor health, mental illness and so on until the individual is shattered beyond repair.
In a society where there is no common land, it is a form of torture to deliberately inflict this state of being on anyone. Even the most ardent supporter of cut throat capitalism must, if they have any humanity at all, accept that to consciously reduce people to begging, sleeping in the streets or attempting suicide is a cruel and degrading punishment. We do not treat the vilest of child killers like this in prisons, yet to be poor, and unable to find a job, is now to face the full force of state inflicted economic terrorism.
Punishing Poverty is a report published last week by Citizens Advice and which is based on a national survey of those who have had benefits stopped or sanctioned for not meeting the endless ‘work related activity’ conditions imposed by Jobcentres. Hundreds of thousands of claimants have faced sanctions varying in length between four weeks and up to three years. These sanctions are often imposed for the most trivial of reasons and as this report exposes, quite often for circumstances that are entirely beyond the claimant’s control. It is not just unemployed claimants who face sanctions, but increasingly sick and disabled people and single parents with children over the age of five.
The results of the survey portray a truly horrific account of the destitution and human misery that this regime has inflicted on people. Stories of families ripped apart, pregnant women left without food, those with dietary needs due to health conditions becoming sick, mental health deteriorating, suicide attempts and people forced to beg or go through bins to find food.
These stories are not the inevitable consequence of economic crisis, the UK is still one of the richest countries in the world. They are not even the necessary end result of austerity, belt-tightening can take place without the poor being driven into the ground. Benefit sanctions barely save the tax payer a penny such is the cost of policing and administering the system.
As the Citizens Advice report reveals you do not even have to be guilty to face a sanction. There are countless tales of benefits being stopped due to a mistake by the Jobcentre, or because a claimant faced unavoidable circumstances such as travel delays, hospital appointments and even job interviews which caused them to be late to an appointment with their advisor. It is the widespread, seemingly haphazard nature of the regime which forces all claimants into a state of perpetual fear. The threat of the dreaded brown envelope through the door from the DWP is a feature of life on all benefits, a daily reminder that you are only ever a heartbeat away from complete destitution.
The report states that sanctions should only be used as a ‘last resort’, as if the horror show they’ve just revealed is acceptable in some cases. Few would argue against an administrative check. But beyond that, benefit sanctions must be brought to an immediate end with no exceptions.
The welfare state is not a political weapon to stigmatise or scapegoat people, force down wages and pursue a work makes you free ideology. It should exist as the opposite, to empower, provide dignity and even act as a force against poverty pay – saying to grasping employers that there is an alternative for people if all you’ve got to offer is shit wages.
The full report can be downloaded at: http://sdrv.ms/1c48ECq and a full reasoning can be read at: https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/benefit-sanctions-are-state-terrorism-and-must-be-stopped-without-exceptions/
How it will be delivered
By email or, with supporters, in person.