Tuesday, 25 June 2019

The barbaric Tory sanctions regime is still going on


The draconian Tory sanctions regime is callous, shockingly ineffective, economically unjustifiable, and deadly.

The stated purpose of the DWP Sanctions regime is to shock benefits claimants into putting more effort into looking for work by consigning them to periods of absolute destitution.

The Sanctions regime hit its peak between 2012 and 2015 during the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition, with up to 90,000 people per month hurled into absolute poverty, and never fewer than 30,000 people per month subjected to either Jobseekers or Universal Credit sanctions in the austerity coalition era.

The sanctioning rate has dropped off since the Lib-Dems left government, but there are still thousands of people per month receiving letters like the one above, and being forced to go through lengthy (and expensive to the taxpayer) appeals processes, or just give up fighting against a system that's designed to abuse them and live in extreme poverty for as long as it takes.


Callous

Excerpt from a 2014 Johnny Void article
about Jobcentres rewarding staff for 
high sanctions rates.
We know that during the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition Jobcentre staff were given mandatory targets to sanction a set percentage of claimants per week, in order to get the unemployment figures down (people subjected to sanctions aren't counted as officially unemployed).


It's beyond obvious that Jobcentre staff ended up targeting the mentally ill and severely uneducated by sanctioning every minor error, or deliberately giving them impossible tasks to comply with (like two appointments at the same time so they miss one and get sanctioned).

It's just so much easier to target the vulnerable than it is to expend significant amounts of time and energy on catching the tiny minority of die-hard benefits scroungers who know exactly which hoops to jump through to avoid losing their payments.


Perhaps most shockingly of all, the Liberal Democrats have openly bragged about how they helped the Tories make this sanctions regime even more draconian, in return for 5p charges on plastic bags.

Ineffective

We know from extensive research that sanctions are a massively counter-productive method of encouraging people into work.

Just think about it for yourself. If you had your income reduced to just £5.82 to last an entire month, how would you afford to print CVs, travel to job interviews, clean your clothes, eat properly so you can concentrate on making a good impression?

Multiple research papers have found that the victims of DWP sanctions ended up suffering extreme poverty, ill-health, mental distress, and resorting to survival crime like shoplifting.

Yet the Tories persist in using these sanctions (which disproportionately hit disabled people) under their warped belief that you motivate the poor to work harder by making them poorer, while you motivate the rich to work harder by giving them ever more lavish handouts and tax breaks!

Deadly

It's no exaggeration to say that sanctions are deadly. The most notorious example was the death of the ex-serviceman David Clapson who died of diabetic ketoacidosis in 2016 after being left penniless by sanctions and having his insulin supply spoiled because his electricity supply was cut off.

Although the most high-profile case because of the campaigning of his family members, David Clapson is far from the only example, with dozens of people having been driven to suicide after suffering sanctions.

Economically unjustifiable

Three years ago the National Audit Office found that the benefits sanctions regime costs more to administer than it will ever save in reduced benefits payments.

This means that the Tories have actually been using public funds to treat people in this despicable manner, and they've continued doing so despite knowing that it's a total waste of public money.

These Tory devils know perfectly well that sanctions don't work, yet expect the rest of us to actually subsidise their barbaric treatment of vulnerable and disabled people through our taxes because they apparently get some kind of kick out of it.

It would be bad enough if they were behaving like this in order to save a few million quid, but they're not saving anything, it's actually costing us fortunes to subsidise their system for treating vulnerable people in this disgusting way!

Conclusion

Even if you're the kind of person who doesn't care about all of the evidence that sanctions are unspeakably cruel and demonstrably ineffective, or that they're disproportionately used against vulnerable and disabled people, or even if you're completely indifferent about all of the suffering, misery, and death this barbaric regime has caused, surely you can't believe that it's a good or sensible use of public funds?

Surely you can't approve of the money you pay in taxes being used to subsidise a system designed to make vulnerable and disabled people suffer absolute destitution?

Surely you can think of better uses of your money than that, even if it's just being allowed to keep a bit more of it in your own pocket?


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9 comments:

PaddyT said...

They do it because they can and the "I am all right Jack" chorus applaud

Caratacus said...

Individual people at every level of the DWP are directly responsible for levels of misery not seen in this country possibly for over 100 years. They should be named and shamed publicly, via social media if necessary - it shouldn't hurt them, they haven't a conscience anyway so they are impossible to shame.

Many, many people – as yet blissfully unaware of what is approaching with the speed of an express train – are going to be hurting a lot in the near future. The problem is simply outlined: at the moment if someone is in receipt of three or four different benefits and one of them isn’t paid for some reason (a computer glitch, perhaps, or a savage case of the old Farmer Giles blessing the fundament of some clerical officer in the DWP) then it is possible to rub along on the remaining benefits until matters are resolved. With UC, if that is withdrawn there is absolutely nothing coming in, zilch. Given the mastery of HMG’s involvement with IT, there is going to be real trouble out there once UC is rolled out across the land.

Anonymous said...

These actions are financially pointless and are an ideological policy. Done to please their own core vote. Put dramatically they are killing the poor, disabled and vulnerable for their own amusement. There is simply NO other reason.

I worked in the Civil Service when Tax Credits were brought in by the then Labour Government. This also was pointless, they were WELL warned by the Civil Service AT ALL LEVELS that the system was difficult to operate and that moving EVERY SINGLE CLAIMANT across from the old system to the new on ONE DAY would result in the system crashing - they (the politicians) didn't listen and that's EXACTLY what happened. Monies were paid out on trust (political decision) rather than have a form processed (even in a local office) People could ask for money and be given it, no one was to question anyone asking for money (political decision by politician who CAUSED the problem) This resulted in MASSIVE overpayments of TCs to people who, mistakenly or otherwise, received money they shouldn't have got, because no Civil Servant was ALLOWED to ask even basic questions. this entire blunder was blamed on the Civil Service. The forms were made deliberately difficult to understand, to put of claims. And it was made all too easy to overclaim, again to put people off claiming. Like the UC forms they were all designed by the 'Nudge Unit'

I was involved in the tail end when overpayments had to be claimed back. The amounts were sometimes massive and the reasons that some happened were totally understandable. Any commercial organisation wouldn't have gotten away with this.

But please (looking to another commenter) DON'T blame ANYONE in the Civil Service. Firstly, no one in the Civil Service gets to make decisions on policy. These decisions are made ONLY by the government of the day. There is no way to reinterpret that which has been put into LAW by a government and, as a Civil Servant and secondly, you MUST adhere to the Civil Service Code. This means you have to carry out your job to the best of your ability in accordance with the wishes of the government of the day. It's an essential kind of impartiality that means even Tories in the department will (genuinely) do their VERY best to carry out instruction from a Labour government and vice versa.

The people to blame for the Tax Credits debacle are the same ones to blame for the Universal Credits problems and foodbanks and everything else. That is to say it is the fault of the government which introduces it. ALL of these policies are designed carefully and with a LOT of consideration to the outcome. you may think it's some kind of mistake that people are put into extreme poverty by UC, you're wrong. Every outcome is deliberate - this is their ideology, they think the unemployed, sick, disabled and vulnerable are 'lazy' and that taking away their necessary safety net (for which they have paid) will solve the problem of unemployment, sickness and disability as perhaps somehow those people are either too lazy or are 'pricing themselves out of work' (Thatcher was fond of saying that one, wasn't she?)

So, PLEASE don't blame the messenger (DWP in this case) blame the politicians who make these laws. And NO jibes about 'following orders' either. I have personally (like many others) received memos from politicians telling me to carry out acts that were at least immoral, definitely improper and probably illegal - they had no qualm about putting it in print! Like most others, I refused to do those things, they could not force us to do anything like that. There IS a limit, although, if it purports to be assisting people we cannot refuse to do it unless it is obvious from the outset that that assertion is deceit...

Caratacus said...

Dear Anonymous - I understand your plea not to blame civil servants but must disagree, strongly. If you were issued handguns and your orders from the politicians or senior DWP included the command to shoot every third claimant, would you have done it? Of course not. There would have been mass revolt over such a disgusting doctrine. It is just a question of degree and the fact that sanctioning in particular and UC in general can be masked under the heading "administrative change" that allows people to follow instructions they know will cause distress and worse. The effects are the same.

One of the reasons that the elite sociopaths stay in power is that they find it easy - and always have - to find people who are prepared to do the nasty stuff for them. We've all seen them: the pasty-faced bullies who will issue a fine to an old granny for littering when a scrap of paper falls from her purse but will run a mile from some tattooed thug who fly-tips a ton of rubbish; TV Licensing goons, ditto; airport security staff (but to be fair to them they are like it with everyone - they have Power, you see); and, in the DWP's case, people who have families at home and are presumably nice to their pets, being prepared to sit on their consciences and turn away someone they know will starve. Where is the united two-finger salute? Where is the demand that the politicians think again?

All it takes is for people to refuse to do bad stuff. And breathe ...

Apologies for the rant.

Anonymous said...

Targets for Sanctions haven't existed for at least 3 years now.

Anonymous said...

It's even more abhorrent when you factor in the unemployment equilibrium. They ensure that a significant percentage of the population are in a position where it's literally impossible for them to get a job and then starve or berate them to the point of death for not having one. I wish I was religious; it would be a lot easier to live knowing that these vile bastards will burn in hell for all eternity.

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