You may have seen the reviews for the new Ken Loach film Daniel Blake. It reduced hardened film critics in Cannes to tears with its story about the cruelty that Jobcentres and the DWP dish out to ordinary people throughout the country.
What is very interesting to know that Ken Loach sent researchers to interview people working in the DWP, some at senior levels. Many of these anonymous whistleblowers told Ken Loch’s interviewers that policies implemented by the government and the DWP were deliberate, and indeed those high up within DWP circles stated that they intend them to be so. So much so, that Ken Loach himself felt confident enough to accuse the government of cruelty on a national scale.
We now know that from hard to access DWP death files, that warnings were being repeatedly sent to the top, and ministers ignored this and chose to carry on. The fact that poor people would die was part of a cost saving plan and still is. We have said from the start that there is nothing unintended about anything that they implement, amid the fact that DWP staff themselves told Ken Loaches team proves it.
Steven Crabb told the select committee last week that nobody should criticise DWP policies unless they had been to a Jobcentre and met claimants. Well unlike the ignorant collaborators on the select committee, we have been doing just that at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for nearly two years. We meet the real Daniel Blakes every week, and we spend a lot of the time trying to fix your ruthless policies and your predecessors also.
Mr Crabb, take Liam, a young lad who was autistic. You didn’t need to have qualifications to see that he needed extra help, and any job coach should have noticed this. He had been sanctioned four times for reasons that he clearly didn’t understand. These sanctions occurred after both himself and his mother had informed the job coach that he was autistic.So by breaching both the equalities act and the 2010 autism act, Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre have broken two laws for the price of one! Quite an achievement in itself!
We also met a young ex solider. He was an impressive young man, and very proud of his service in Afganistan. The Jobcentre had sanctioned him, and hadn’t informed him of his rights regarding his housing benefit. He was due to be evicted that afternoon. He told us that his only option would be to commit a crime such as criminal damage to get police station bed and breakfast later that day.
Ken Loach said that his film should make everyone angry, and hopefully encourage people to take action. Well, if you are moved by his film Daniel Blake and want to do something then this is what you can do. You can tell your MP, appeal every sanction or come and join our group every Thursday or any other group in your local area.
We are the UKs longest running Jobcentre campaign that has run constantly every week. And we have been doing this for nearly two years now. We are outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre every week between 10-12. Come and see the reality for yourselves. We would invite the entire DWP select committee, but we know that those cowardly collaborators wouldn’t bother to show up. But everyone is welcome.