Focus On Benefit Cuts and Sanctions
Benefit claimants Assessed as ‘fit for work’ are dying within six weeks of assessment
Thousands of sick benefit claimants are dying within six weeks of being wrongly assessed as “fit to work”, a North-East MP claimed yesterday, during a commons debate in which he called for an independent assessment of the Coalition’s welfare policy.
Ian Mearns, Labour MP for Gateshead, blamed the Government for the misdiagnosis at least 10,600 sick and disabled people in just ten months, who then quickly died. He said: “Four people a day are dying within six weeks of being declared fit for work under the work capability assessments. It is scandalous.
Mr Mearns said the figure of 10,600 deaths, after unsuccessful claims for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), covered the period January to November 2011. And he added: “This Government has repeatedly refused to release updated 2013 figures for deaths within six weeks of an end of an ESA claim.”Stop the benefits cuts and sanctions says Citizens Advice Bureau 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. 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 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 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. Benefit sanctions must be brought to an immediate end with no exceptions. The full report can be downloaded at: http://sdrv.ms/1c48ECq10 Facts About Benefits Britain
1) A TUC survey showed that people think around 41% of benefits go to the unemployed, the real figure is 2.6%. (1)
2) 42% of the Welfare Bill goes to pensioners, 21% goes to people in low paid work. (2)
3) Nearly 80% of JSA claimants stop claiming within 6 months. (3)
4) Of the 7.8 million families receiving child benefit, 1.2 million have more than two children. (4)
5) A TUC survey found that people think around 27% of welfare is lost to fraud – the real figure is only 0.7%, around £1.2 billion. (5)
6) Around £17 billion of benefits that people are entitled to goes unclaimed every year. (6)
7) Immigrants are 60% less likely to claim benefits than a British-born person. (7)
8) 64% of families receive benefits – that’s 20.3 million families. (8)
9) The UK spends 12% less on benefits per head than France does, and 19% less compared to Germany. (9)
10) 93% of new Housing Benefit claimants in 2010 and 2011 came from working people, as UK housing costs are the 3rd highest in Europe. (10)