First published a few years ago but nothing much has changed.
I notice a young homeless girl living on the street. She has her blankets and bags next to her ready for the night ahead. She should be excited about life but instead she looks lost. She has a can of beer next to her, she says to numb the pain and cold.
She’s sat with a group of men, also homeless but seems detached from them. I ask her if she is ok, and she says that she is and that there’s safety in numbers. She needs to keep safe. As a woman living on the streets life can be very dangerous. Even if you don’t like the people you are sitting next to you stay with them she says. They are her protection.
She wants to make enough money for a b&b for the night, but says she has given up all hope of finding a permanent home because she has addiction issues and feels unable to deal with them. She will one day she says. After saying this her facial expression changes as worry weighs down heavily on her mind. A weight that she feels can’t be lifted at the moment.
Whilst we are talking a young man rushes past, earphones on looks anxious. Perhaps late for an appointment. He doesn’t notice the homeless girl sat near him. He’s self consumed with himself and his journey. She says that she sees this all the time.
Her wish, she says is that people would be nice to one another. She would like more people to say hello, but they don’t and she looks down again.
A lady walks past walking her dog. People stop and compliment her on her dog. They don’t notice the young girl, but they notice the dog. I feel that this is rather sad. A vulnerable human life appears to be less important.
A teenage boy stands next to the homeless girl. He says hello to her and asks her if she would mind if he plays some music and starts rapping. She welcomes it.
His rapping consists of the story of his life, that he has encountered prejudice, loss and also some lovely things. People start to give him money, but instead of keeping it himself he gives it to the homeless girl. He tells her that she is important, that she is loved and not to give up.
He tells her that one day, life will get better because his did. She smiles and thanks him. Maybe, just maybe that one act of kindness gave her the strength to carry on. I’d like to think that she kept warm for that night.
As reported by Benefits And Work the EHRC (Equality And Human Rights Commission) has broken its promise to investigate the role that the DWP (Department of Work And Pensions)have played in the deaths of vulnerable claimants. This has left the DWP not needing to answer any questions as to the role that they played in their deaths
Instead the EHRC are now asking the DWP to create new policies in relation to claimants with mental health issues and learning difficulties. This will replace the promised investigation.
This is despite promises made by the EHRC in 2019 that they would start an investigation into the deaths of vulnerable claimants.
The EHRC used the pandemic as an excuse to not start the investigation.
The Commission has now declared that it only intends to enter into a Section 23 agreement under the Equality Act 2006. This will oblige the DWP “to commit to an action plan to meet the needs of customers with mental health impairments and learning disabilities.”
Keep in mind that the DWP are a much larger organisation that receive more funding than the EHRC. This will no doubt result in the DWP will dragging their heels in creating so called policies that will be nothing more than good intentions that probably won’t be actioned upon.
Whilst I don’t have any details as to why the EHRC have changed their minds I can say that at best they’re very niave putting far too much trust in the DWP to do the right thing.
The DWP has an appalling track record of discrimination against vulnerable claimants, ignoring their basic human rights and making life extremely hard for them.
Despite my disappointment with the EHRC’s decision I’m not surprised. The DWP will do anything to avoid any actions taken against them making promises that they’ve got no intention of keeping whilst doing the bare minimum to comply.
Once again thanks go to Benefits And Work for their hard work and inspiring this article.
A huge thanks to everyone that likes, shares, reads and supports both my blog and campaign.
I don’t receive any payment for the work that I do and it’s a struggle to say the least.
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The DWP is effectively trying to block essential and possibly life-saving university research. This research undertaken by Glasgow University with it’s purpose is to find out whether there is a link between benefits sanctions, ill health and suicide.
The research involves Glasgow University linking anonymised DWP data with NHS records. This could and most likely reveal that people that have been sanctioned have been prescribed antidepressants and people that already have existing conditions have resulted in their health declining. The research will also reveal the figures for those attempting to take their own life and sadly for those that have taken their own life.
When Glasgow University informed the DWP that they were starting their research in 2019 the DWP suggested that they would support the project. However since the project began the DWP have continually placed barriers up to try and stop this research to continue.
This comes as no shock to campaigners like myself. The DWP know how badly sanctioning people affects both their physical and mental health..
The DWP have spent years giving excuses to Glasgow University demanding that the research needed tighter security which they complied with. After these measures were put in place the DWP moved the goal post again insisting that Glasgow University must apply for permission to do the research all over again.
This has caused huge delays for the project. Professor Nick Bailey stated that the research should have been completed in 2020, but it has yet to start.
The chair of the Commons work and pensions committee, Stephen Timms told the Guardian “This emerging pattern of obstruction suggests that a culture of secrecy is entrenched in DWP. It must wake up to the harm that it is doing and commit to a new spirit of openness.”
There’s little doubt that the government will either delay or prevent any project that reveals the reality of how people suffer when they’ve been sanctioned.
It will continue to be the case until politicians stop ignoring the immense suffering of thousands of people. Although there are some politicians that don’t ignore this such as Debbie Abrahams who regularly speaks and campaigns against the cruelty of the DWP and their policies.
Ignoring the suffering of thousands of people will result in thousands more deaths. What is needed is for the opposition to start actively opposing the government on DWP related issues.
This isn’t likely to happen in the near future and MPs like Debbie Abrahams are loan voices in parliament trying extremely hard to change things. In the absence of this sadly DWP related issues and problems are going to get worse.
What is needed is for the opposition instead of concentrating about the ‘world of work’ they need to also concentrate and campaign on behalf of those unable to work.
Something has to happen and soon. With energy bills set to rise again in April and people already struggling I fear that thousands will die as a result of being cold and hungry.
It’s impossible to budget money when you have none in the first place
The conservative government has blood on their hands and they’ll never be able to wash it away.
A massive thank you to everyone that subscribes, reads and shares my articles. This makes a massive difference and it raises awareness.
This week was the first aniversary of my sons death. I’ve found it very hard to cope with but I’m still here.
Thank you to Benefits And Work for uncovering this story and for the hard work that they do.
I don’t receive any payment for my work and to say it’s a struggle is massive understatement. I’m reliant upon donations to continue to blog and campaign.
If anyone would like to donate and can afford to there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
A huge thank you to everyone that has helped me. You’ve literally kept this going and I’m eternally grateful.
Well who’d have guessed that the government would find £2 billion from their magic money pot to inflict even more cruelty to disabled and ill claimants.
Thanks to Benefits And Work who have uncovered the first details of the new assessment contracts for PIP, ESA and UC claimants.
These shiny new contracts will split the UK into five regions which will involve over £2.8 billion being given to the private sector over a period of five years. This is supposedly to allow the DWP to decide how these assessments will take place through telephone or face-to-face assessments.
I add that as usual this will be decided ignoring the actual physical and mental needs a claimant might have.
Under the new claimant Functional Assessment Services (FAS) system as it is titled, the UK will be divided into five regions from 1 August 2023:
Lot 1 – Northern England and Scotland 647,600,000
Lot 2 – Midlands and Wales 473,400,000
Lot 3 – South West England 338,000,000
Lot 4 – London, South East & East Anglia 396,800,000
Lot 5- Northern Ireland 105,100,000
In each region, a single company will be chosen to carry out all the PIP, ESA and UC assessments.
So basically money talks regardless of already vulnerable claimants needs. Whoever puts the best tender in wins the contract.
Call me old fashioned but the wellbeing and needs of individuals should always be put first. Instead they companies with no medical knowledge and experience to assess already vulnerable people.
They will be allowed to decide if a person disabled enough to claim their rightful payments regardless of having no medical knowledge of their needs.
Basically claimants life’s are once again in the hands of these so called assessors.
The total value of the contracts that will be given is £2 billion firstly to rise to £2.8 billion if the DWP chooses to extend the contract for an additional two years.
You can bet that they’ll choose to extend these contracts, afterall it’s beneficial for the government to extend them.
There’s always room for extending cruel systems such as this. What the government won’t tell you is that they want as many people as possible to be declared fit for work. It doesn’t matter of they’re fit or able enough to do so.
The Scottish government will be taking over PIP assessments itself in advance of August 2023.
There will be some claims that are already underway that will still be dealt with by private sector assessors.
The bid winners will be paid first for a ten month ‘implementation phase’. This will ensure they will have fully trained their staff and have acquired suitable premises. It also will give them the chance to implement their IT systems before going live.
As we already know the DWP never make any system uncomplicated though. To prove this the DWP will provide one IT system for PIP claimants and a separate system for ESA and UC claimants.
The DWP have already warned potential providers that changes might take place place throughout the life of the contract.
These changes may include alterations in the ‘channel mix’ as the DWP call it.
An example being “change in proportional requirements relating to virtual assessments and face to face assessments. They could for example change requirements such as 60% face-to-face to 20% assessments.
It is very clear that the DWP and not the assessment providers that will decide which proportion of claimants receive a telephone or face-to-face assessment.
This makes it clear that assessment providers will be working to meet targets for types of assessment. This will completely ignore the fact that some claimants are obliged to have an inappropriate method of assessment.
As you can see none of this will be beneficial for anyone that claims ESA,PIP and UC.
As these systems are target driven the assessors will be more concerned with meeting targets than the wellbeing of anyone being assessed.
I don’t have to tell you how much distress is caused by cruel systems like this especially if they’re target driven. Who remembers Sandra’s Stars?
We must remain vigilant because as we know from past experience the government will try to put in legislation and plans without our knowledge.
You can do this by sharing information online on your preferred social media provider, emailing mine and likewise blogs to people that might need informing
As we quickly approach Christmas and a cold hungry winter once again the DWP are going to bring back the cruel sanction system.
They never miss a chance to make Christmas even more harder do they.
Sanctions relating to the claimant commitment had been suspended due to the pandemic.
It is very clear that the DWP are now back to business including sanctioning sick and disabled claimants.
According to Touch base the DWP are quoted as saying“This week a change was made to bring the obligations in new style JSA and ESA benefits in line with those in Universal Credit”
“This will mean that, as is the case for Universal Credit claimants, if someone in receipt of new style JSA and ESA fails to do what they have agreed to in their Claimant Commitment without good reason – such as having or caring for a child, or a change to a health condition – their payments may be reduced for a set period. This is known as a sanction.”
“All Claimant Commitments are tailored to a person’s personal circumstances and local jobs market, and claimants affected by this change are being informed of the introduction of the new process. Sanctions are only applied as a last resort when a claimant is not engaging with the commitment they have made. If someone disagrees with a decision they can ask for it to be looked at again.”
This is all rather scary as the government have now passed on the onus of sanctioning decisions to the Job Coaches and not a decision maker.
Sanctions aren’t always a last resort decision and I’m speaking from years of experience helping people to appeal sanction decisions. Also since when have the DWP taken children into consideration… They haven’t.
I’m sure that many of you reading this have had so called Job Coaches that take an obvious dislike you you. I’ve also experienced this and I know exactly what it’s like. It’s soul destroying.
I’ve experienced having a Job Coach that clearly hated me. She would find holes in everything that I did and tried to sanction me at every opportunity that came her way.
Luckily I was able to make a complaint about her which involved my local MP.
I changed Job Coaches but she would glare at me every time that I walked past her. I have mentioned this in a previous blog post.
My question is this… How many innocent people are going to be wrongfully sanctioned because of this very reason?
It’s also worrying that there could well be even more sanction targets (offloads). Therefore the need to reach these targets will cause the suffering and distress of thousands of people.
Basically the whole sanctioning process could well be ramped up a whole lot more..
Opinion isn’t fact and there are many valid reasons why a claimant has not been able to to fulfill their claimant commitment.
Illness, lack of money for essentials such as no money to top up mobile phones or to have access to the internet at home.
Access to libraries is fast becoming a rarity these days. The DWP demands that claimants have access to the internet at all times.
Essentialy if an Job Coach decides in their opinion that a claimant hasn’t done enough then they’ll sanction them.
Remember once again opinion isn’t always fact and this is a very dangerous precept to use.
The whole sanction system should be abolished. There’s absolutely no reason why a person should have their very basics for survival to be snatched off them by the click of a button. Which is based upon the opinion of a Job Coach. Remember opinion isn’t always fact.
Whilst we are still in the midst of a pandemic the government and the DWP have now returned to normal. Don’t expect them to care because they obviously don’t.
Keep a good written and digital record (if you can) of everything that you’ve done to fulfill your claimant commitment.
If you’ve been ill or suchlike also try to keep a record of whatever you can to prove that you’ve been ill.
It’s important that you do all this because sanctioning you will be a whole lot harder if you keep a good record of everything.
If you are in the Greater Manchester area please have a look and even join in with Greater Manchester DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) activities. You can find them here at https:\\manchesterdpac.com
Please read, share, tweet and email my blog posts. It helps enormously to get the truth out there.
How am I? I’m ok apart from catching a sickness bug yesterday hence my blog being late. My apologies.
A huge thank you to everyone that has supported my campaign and blog. I really couldn’t have done it without you.
I don’t receive any payment for any of the work that I do. If anyone would like to donate there is a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
DPAC (Disabled People Again Cuts) are holding a series of rallies starting on Friday 24th September at 7.30 to 8.30pm to protest against the terrible treatment metered against disabled people by the government and their allies. They will not be silenced and will be heard.
Join these days of action to see how you can become involved in a full array of resistance demos taking place over the next few weeks including The World Transformed, Peoples Assembly,Manchester DPAC and the Campaign Against Empty Homes.
They will also hear from experts by Experience Commission on Social Security and the New Economics Foundations Living Income Coalition about building towards a better social security system.
Tuesday 28th September at 9.00am there will be an online Twitter storm for everyone to join in online.
Audio riot protest will be taking place at 11.30 am meeting first at Kings Cross Station London and will be live-streamed for everyone to join in. Hashtags to be used are #AudioRiot #20More4All #CancelTheCut
Hashtags to use are #AudioRiot #20More4All #CancelTheCut
It’s hugely important that as many of us attend these days of action as possible in any way that we can albeit online or in person. DPAC are long time friends and supporters of myself, my campaign and this blog. They want change, and they need to be heard by everyone.
DPAC have an amazing track record of holding effective online and physical demonstrations, they aren’t scared of making a noise and being heard.
Please support them if you can.
Please note, a normal blog post will be following this important post. I’ll be updating it with how I’m coping etc.
Please read, share and tweet my blog. Its very important that we continue to get the truth out there.
A massive thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog and campaign. I really couldn’t do this without you.
I don’t receive any funding for the work that I do and to say its a struggle is an understatement.
For anyone that would like to donate theres a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.