Ipswich Unemployed Action.

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Government Rejects Benefit Sanctions Inquiry report call to change “inhuman” Sanctions Regime.

with 61 comments

Image result for benefit sanctions uk

 

Our contributors could have already have said the following: “Benefit sanctions found to be ineffective and damaging. Study concludes that punishing claimants triggers profoundly negative outcomes”. (Guardian May 2018)

In fact some people who write here  are in dire straits because of this regime.

But the Government is still turning its face against facts’

Today:

Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, responding to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s publication of the government’s response to its benefit sanctions inquiry, said:

“The government appears to be in complete denial about the impact of its sanctions regime on people’s lives. It is damaging people’s health and well-being and leaving many at risk of destitution.

“There is no evidence that sanctions lead to people finding work that lasts and lifts them out of poverty. This government is so extreme that it has rejected reducing the length of sanctions and is even prepared to consider making them longer.

“The real way to help people into work is through an industrial strategy to deliver jobs and growth and employment support tailored to each person’s needs. Labour will end this government’s cruel and counter-productive sanctions regime.”

11 February 2019 Work and Pensions Committee.

No respite for “victims of a sanctions regime that is at times so counter-productive it just seems pointlessly cruel” in Government’s response

The Committee is today publishing the Government’s response to its report on benefit sanctions. While the Government has finally agreed to evaluate one aspect of the impact of its reforms to conditionality and sanctions – the “only major welfare reform this decade to have never been evaluated”  – it is looking only at their effectiveness in getting people into work. While this is clearly key, as it is the supposed objective of the policy, the Government is still not even considering the impact of sanctions on claimants’ financial and personal wellbeing. The widely reported detrimental impact of sanctions on claimants’ welfare formed the basis of the Committee’s report, when the Chair noted “We have heard stories of terrible and unnecessary hardship from people who’ve been sanctioned. They were left bewildered and driven to despair at becoming, often with their children, the victims of a sanctions regime that is at times so counter-productive it just seems pointlessly cruel”.

Negative impact of sanctions worked against people getting into work

Even confined to the question of impact on employment, the Committee found that the negative impact of sanctions actually worked against people getting into work, to the extent that the Government’s approach appeared “arbitrarily punitive”. No evidence the Committee received was “more compelling than that against the imposition of conditionality and sanctions on people with a disability or health condition. It does not work. Worse, it is harmful and counterproductive.”

The Committee’s inquiry highlighted the distressing stories of claimants like Jen Fidai, a young disabled woman forced to sofa-surf and sleep in the Uni library for a year, and ultimately give up her studies, after she was sanctioned  – erroneously, as it turned out. It is these impacts on claimants’ lives, and the countless others which the Committee’s report and ongoing shocking news reports only scratch the surface of, which the Government is refusing to assess.

Forceful recommendation by Committee rejected

The Government rejected the recommendation that claimants already found to have limited capability for work should be exempt from sanctions, and also rejected the recommendation that claimants who are waiting for a Work Capability Assessment  – the medical assessments for disability benefits PIP and ESa which the Committee has previously denounced as “riddled with errors and omissions”, and also subject to lengthy delays  – should be exempt from sanctions if they had a “Fit Note” from a doctor saying they were unable to work. Government says it is looking into the possibility of a general policy that conditionality shouldn’t apply to those assessed as having limited work capability and people waiting for a WCA – although this decision would be in the hands of Work Coaches, ignoring the Committee’s wider concern that leaving too much to Work Coaches’ discretion in terms of sanctions more widely risked leading to inconsistent practice. The Government also rejected the recommendation to define “good reason” for failing to meet a requirement that led to a sanction – currently left to work coach discretion, leading to inconsistent practice – in legislation.

The Committee’s forceful recommendation – in the face of distressing evidence of the impact of sanctions on lone parents and their children – never to dock more than 20% of a lone parent’s benefit, was rejected, with the Government promising only to assess the employment impact of sanctions on this group as well. The Committee has reported elsewhere on the particular, deep difficulties lone parents are encountering under the major welfare reforms of the decade, including in its report on support for childcare costs under Universal Credit

Once again, the Government’s position on a key recommendation – that claimants is no longer subject to the requirement, the condition, that led to the sanction should also have the ongoing sanction lifted: the Government rejected this recommendation – is difficult to square with the supposed objective of the policy.  If sanctions are about incentivising, for example, looking for work, it is difficult to see the point of continuing to punish someone for not making sufficient efforts to find work when they are no longer in fact required to find work.

Chair’s Comment

Commenting on the response, Committee Chair Rt Hon Frank Field said:

“Our report laid bare the inhumanity of the Government’s sanctions regime, which it has pursued for years without ever stopping to check whether it works or what it is doing to the people it is meant to “support”.

In response, the Government has failed utterly to grasp the seriousness of the matter. It talks about reviews and “proof of concept”: it might want to take a look at the concept of not pushing disabled people and single parents—not to mention their children—into grinding poverty and hardship.”

Tories SNUB pleas to rein in ‘pointlessly cruel’ benefit sanctions

The Mirror.

New limits to the punishments were proposed in a damning report last year. But now DWP chiefs have rejected the plan – triggering a furious response.

Ministers have snubbed a series of recommendations designed to ease the burden of benefit sanctions on vulnerable claimants, it is revealed today.

A damning report from the Commons Work and Pensions Committee branded the system “pointlessly cruel” in November.

MPs warned the human cost of the sanctions regime was “simply too high” and called for new protections for single parents and people with disabilities and health conditions.

Committee chairman Frank Field today accuses ministers of “failing utterly to grasp the seriousness of the matter” after recommendations were rejected by Amber Rudd’s Department for Work and Pensions.

Under the current system, sanctions can be imposed for missing appointments or failure to show efforts to find work,.

Claimants face being stripped of up to 100% of their Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit standard allowance.

In some “higher level” cases – such as a failure to take up paid work – claimants can lose benefits for as long as three years.

The committee recommended that the maximum period for such sanctions should be limited to two months for the first failure to comply and four and six months for subsequent breaches.

But the DWP rejected the plan, along with recommendations to ensure lone parents with children aged under five are never subjected to the withdrawal of more than 20% of their welfare payments; limit sanctions on care-leavers below the age of 25 to 20% of their benefits; remove the threat of sanctions from claimants deemed to have “limited capability for work” and those with valid sickness notes from their doctors; and remove sanctions if a change in circumstances means the claimant is no longer subject to the requirement that led to benefits being withheld in the first place.

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2019 at 11:31 am

61 Responses

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  1. Just when you are a kid and your parents threaten to throw you out in the snow to freeze to death and when
    you are grown up the Jobcentre threatens to throw you out in the snow to freeze to death you never forget, the damage is done, the scars never heal.

    Jobcentre Abuse Survivor

    February 11, 2019 at 11:37 am

  2. The Welfare State is turning into a form of indentured slavery. In fact, worse, at lest with indentured slavery you had the carrot of a plot of land to look forward to after some ‘fixed time’. And the slave owner was legally bound to house and feed their slaves. Under the DWP.provider regime an indentured slave (claimant) is an ’employee’ (indenturee) within a system of unfree labour* who is bound by a signed and forced contract (indenture) to work for a particular ’employer’/’provider’ for a indefinite length of time.

    *Unfree labour is a generic or collective term for those work relations, especially in modern or early modern history, in which people are employed against their will with the threat of destitution, detention, violence (including death), compulsion.

    Kunta Kinke

    February 11, 2019 at 11:49 am

    • The system is particularly wicked if you are claiming JSA via Universal Credit and don’t have children. You could end up being pushed into a job offering only 10 hours a week at minimum wage spread over any 5 days in 7. For each of these 2 hour shifts you could be expected to undertake a 3 hour round trip. Those hours at minimum wage would wipe out your £73.10 a week JSA, and as such the government’s position is you are gainfully employed.

      Ross

      February 11, 2019 at 12:28 pm

      • “3. Work Allowance

        In some cases, you may be eligible for a work allowance. A work allowance is the amount that you can earn before your Universal Credit payment is affected.

        From 11 April 2016, the range of work allowances available was simplified. You will be eligible for a work allowance if you (and/or your partner) either have:

        responsibility for a child
        limited capability for work

        The monthly work allowances are set at:
        £198 If your Universal Credit includes housing support
        £409 If you do not receive housing support

        These work allowance rates will apply to all Universal Credit claimants.

        If you have earnings but you (or your partner) are not responsible for a child or do not have limited capability for work you will not be eligible for a work allowance.”

        https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-work-allowances/universal-credit-work-allowances

        NOT Entitled To

        February 11, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      • “3. Work Allowance

        In some cases, you may be eligible for a work allowance. A work allowance is the amount that you can earn before your Universal Credit payment is affected.

        From 11 April 2016, the range of work allowances available was simplified. You will be eligible for a work allowance if you (and/or your partner) either have:

        responsibility for a child
        limited capability for work

        The monthly work allowances are set at:
        £198 If your Universal Credit includes housing support
        £409 If you do not receive housing support

        These work allowance rates will apply to all Universal Credit claimants.

        If you have earnings but you (or your partner) are not responsible for a child or do not have limited capability for work you will not be eligible for a work allowance.”

        https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-work-allowances/universal-credit-work-allowances

        NOT Entitled To

        February 11, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      • “3. Work Allowance

        In some cases, you may be eligible for a work allowance. A work allowance is the amount that you can earn before your Universal Credit payment is affected.

        From 11 April 2016, the range of work allowances available was simplified. You will be eligible for a work allowance if you (and/or your partner) either have:

        responsibility for a child
        limited capability for work

        The monthly work allowances are set at:
        £198 If your Universal Credit includes housing support
        £409 If you do not receive housing support

        These work allowance rates will apply to all Universal Credit claimants.

        If you have earnings but you (or your partner) are not responsible for a child or do not have limited capability for work you will not be eligible for a work allowance.”

        NOT Entitled To

        February 11, 2019 at 4:38 pm

      • North East workers call for a ban on zero-hour contracts as figures show workers are paid £4 an hour less

        “The vast majority of people on zero-hour contracts in want out. The only flexibility offered to them is what’s good for employers.”

        https://www.sunderlandecho.com/our-region/sunderland/north-east-workers-call-for-a-ban-on-zero-hour-contracts-as-figures-show-workers-are-paid-4-an-hour-less-1-9588925

        ken

        February 12, 2019 at 1:28 am


  3. NO TO DWP SLAVERY!!

    Kunta Kinke

    February 11, 2019 at 11:52 am

  4. The Idea of Sanctions is to persuade people who are to look for Work, Agree a CC that gives them the Biggest & Widest chance of getting a Job,
    And not sit around all day on their Lazy Arses playing on their Play Station; expecting the Government to Finance there idle Lifestyle, Why should Tax payers pay out for People who are perfectly able to work?
    Leave Disabled People alone and Sanction the Fit & Healthy to Hell

    Pauline UB40

    February 11, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    • Agree a CC that gives them the Biggest & Widest chance of getting a Job,

      They stripped everything off mine and then used a digital stock signature and here I am.

      Its the country thats failed.Talk is cheap and a troll is free.Once in a situation of dispair it simply breeds dispair once a level is reached emerging from that can be very difficult.Simply saying there are no unemployed shows that section of the population are treated if they don’t matter or exist.

      Conservative MPs’ posing at foodbanks’ showing they were doing all thay can do is that the best they can come up with?The country lost the quality that other countries’ retained now we are paying the price of failed Britain.

      ken

      February 12, 2019 at 12:33 am

  5. The Idea of Sanctions is to persuade people who are Fit & Healthy to look for Work, Agree a CC that gives them the Biggest & Widest chance of getting a Job,
    And not sit around all day on their Lazy Arses playing on their Play Station; expecting the Government to Finance there idle Lifestyle, Why should Tax payers pay out for People who are perfectly able to work?
    Leave Disabled People alone and Sanction the Fit & Healthy to Hell

    Pauline UB40

    February 11, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    • Firstly you dont get to kettle claimants like a group coupon, your problem if you have one is with each individual so lets take a look what exactly is it you really fund.
      Well of 20 million people claiming one or more benefits only around 880’000 are listed fit for work or fit for work with assistance and required to seek employment. Its also quite interesting that of of the people claiming the JSA element be they legacy or UC that 190’000 of the 440’000 only claim that one benefit and no other.
      Now we have just in excess of 32 million working people, most of which pay taxes and NI. Tell me Pauline UB40, when you divide £73.10 by lets say 20 million, what do you get ?

      Tell you what, add a £100 to it and then divide. What do you get ?

      Thats right, your contribution towards a single person on JSA or JSA with housing benefit. SMALL isnt it.

      Mostly all your contribution which set by government for welfare is around 24 to 26% on income tax assuming they haven’t changed it yet again goes on the 19’120’000 claimants not required to find employment.

      If your sanctioning it means your not supporting and in the case of a year let alone 3, the results regarding that individual wont be good at all. Mimic the world of work is the phrase. Tell me, does your boss when you dont work one day deduct 6 six weeks salary. What would your thoughts be on that as a regular culture in employment if they could.
      Im imagining however begrudging right about now the penny dropped pretty hard.

      So when you say you and others paying, remind yourself your saying its ok to impose a condition you yourself wouldn’t wear in the world of work, couldn’t afford to.

      doug

      February 11, 2019 at 12:50 pm

  6. The UK has always had a global reputation for being ‘soft’ on welfare. Maybe the ‘toughening up’ was a Tory knee-jerk response to the immigrant crisis and to make our welfare harder to claim and less appealing to them Just a thought 😉

    Comply or Die

    February 11, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    • A reputation ill-deserved. Let’s look at a an example to see just how poorly our system treats people in times of hardship

      Single man hitherto in well paying job, and with living costs commensurate with living a good life, find himself unemployed because the company he worked for goes under. He can look forward to being barracked by the Job Centre to apply for any and all jobs for which he is deemed a suitable candidate, and in return will receive the princely sum of £73.10 a week. As he burns through his savings trying to keep hold of his house, his car, and his dignity, he falls deeper into an abyss the statistics suggest he is unlikely to ever escape from.

      We have a welfare system which doesn’t provide support to get people back on their feet, rather it directs their decline into penury, long-term unemployment, or employment with pay and conditions so bad it leaves them in ruins.

      Ross

      February 11, 2019 at 5:42 pm

  7. When people get sanctioned they don’t get paid for a number of weeks, months or years. Kerching! Millions and millions and millions of pounds are saved from being spent in the social security budget. Surely this has to be the main reason why sanctions are so easy to get and so long to be free from? If you want to spend less on universal credit claimants get them into some kind of work (and claw 63% of their earnings from them if they remain affected by the UC taper) or sanction the hell out of them saving what would have otherwise gone to those people by way of entitlements. Either way you end up spending considerably less on claimants than would other wise be the case.

    James

    February 11, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    • It’s precisely what the sanctions system exists for. So called ‘work coaches’ are as part of their training told to view every interaction with a claimant as an opportunity to hit them with a sanction. Nobody is ever asked why their sanction level is so high, but those who are not sanction happy are pressured to issue more and more of them. So the system is setup in such a way that there is only upward pressure on the number of sanctions being issued. Given this, it should come as no surprise that a work coach who is consistently having their sanctions overturned on appeal, is not subject to any reprimand, retraining, or even a conversation as to why they are issuing sanctions which are so unjust they are being overturned by an appeals process which is extraordinarily reluctant to side with a claimant.

      It’s nothing but the hostile environment policy brought to benefit claimants.

      Ross

      February 11, 2019 at 5:58 pm

  8. Reblogged this on sdbast.

    sdbast

    February 11, 2019 at 3:06 pm

  9. It is not about saving money, it’s about spending lives.

    Violet

    February 11, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    • Exactly. It is about getting rid of the unproductive useless chaff. It is to build a leaner, fitter society. You remain a member of society while you are productive and a useful member of society; when you are no longer productive and a useful member of society you are sent to the as Bertrand Russell called it the ‘lethal chamber’. Universal Credit is the same old eugenics agenda in a shiny new wrapper. Every time a ‘useless eater’ hangs themselves because of Universal Credit is what is intended. If you are a ‘useless eater’ they want you DEAD!!

      The Finnster

      February 11, 2019 at 3:30 pm

  10. Universal Credit and IDS’s ‘welfare reforms’ were voted through when Cameron was in coalition with the LibDems. LibDem MPs such as the odious Jo Swinson voted each and everyone of IDS’s ‘welfare reforms’ (including universal credit) through. Labour also colluded with IDS and the Tories to bring about these abhorrent policies. The next time, as it is on a daily basis now, we read about some poor soul hanging themselves over universal credit let us remembers the utter bastards who are responsible.


    Jo Swinson CBE MP – ‘rewarded’ with a CBE for heaping misery and death on the poor and vulnerable

    L'est We Forget

    February 11, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    • Yep. And I remember “Deputy Prime Minister” Nick Clegg – he loved that title didn’t he? – excitedly praising the Bedroom Tax to the nines as a way to rehouse up to 650,000 under-occupiers and give them access to affordable bigger homes. (The fate of the people already living in these houses was never considered or mentioned.) And bigging up Universal Credit as a “genius policy” which would reduce and eventually eliminate poverty and unemployment amongst the needy in “alarm clock Britain”.

      The man was a world class tw@t who ended up virtually destroying his own party as a political force.

      Oddly after the next general election possibly the only way Corbyn could end up in 10 Downing Street would be to cobble a coalition together consisting of Labour, SNP and the small number of Liberal Democrats still in the Commons!

      Anyway at least Clegg, now Vice President of Global Affairs at Facebook, is no longer a politician and can do no more harm in Blighty. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping against hope that he’ll f*ck Facebook up, good and proper, just as he did with the Lib Dems when their worst ever leader because it deserves it.

      Jim

      February 11, 2019 at 6:33 pm

  11. Just out:

    Andrew Coates

    February 11, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    • Everyone knew this from the get go, certainly the government must have done. And yet when challenged about the correlation between UC and food bank usage since 2013, when it was first introduced, the DWP always replied using the sound bite: “The reasons why people use food banks are complex, so it’s wrong to link a rise to any one cause.”

      At least now the blatantly obvious connection between UC and food poverty has finally been admitted which is good. What is bad, preposterous really, is the idea that giving claimants quicker and easier access to “advances” is the way to bring the scandal of UC generated food poverty in 21st Britain to an end. It isn’t. Advances in DWP speak are not delivery of earlier UC payments to needy claimants but loans which have to be paid back via stonking deductions made made from monthly Universal Credit payments of up to 40% for up to one year with the first deduction is made on the day you get your first payment. Advances on this magnitude will plunge affected claimants into poverty and keep them there, for up to a year, until paid off and can in no way, shape or form be an adequate measure to tackle food poverty linked to UC.

      Calling Amber Rudd’s “reforms” pathetic and feeble would be to praise them.

      James

      February 11, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    • She’s at it again. there will be more.

      enigma

      February 12, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    • Another

      Tory MP Heidi Allen Demands Theresa May Face ‘Unpalatable Truth’ About Universal Credit

      enigma

      February 13, 2019 at 1:55 pm

  12. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating!.

    A6er

    February 11, 2019 at 4:17 pm

  13. From the scaremongers who brought you FEMA camps get ready for 👿 body-bag Brexit 👿

    Project Fear

    February 11, 2019 at 8:33 pm

  14. Life at the thriving community hub.

    Waiting patiently on a frosty Wednesday morning, a line of jobseekers and benefit claimants seek help to overcome hardship, poverty and the employment scrapheap.

    I spent an hour outside speaking to people who have fallen on hard times and are desperate to overcome the barriers to health, steady finances and employment.

    https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/spent-hour-outside-birmingham-job-15755226

    ken

    February 12, 2019 at 12:47 am

  15. Life at the thriving community hub.

    i was not even asked if i wanted a cup of tea or even a biscuit when i signed on they was 15mins/sanctions late as sitting on ur ass pushing buttons for a job has no concept of time space or realty in the jcp dimension.

    superted

    February 12, 2019 at 1:34 am

  16. Andrew Coates

    February 12, 2019 at 3:55 pm

  17. Andrew Coates

    February 12, 2019 at 5:32 pm

  18. Since Universal Credit, twice as many people in Amber Rudd’s constituency are using foodbanks Referrals to Hastings food bank has more than doubled since the new combined benefits scheme launched in the area in December 2016

    https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/universal-credit-dwp-amber-rudd-constituency-hastings-rye-foodbanks/

    ken

    February 12, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    • And if they all turn out to vote for someone else in the next general election Amber will be unemployed.

      (Her majority is only just over 200 votes.)

      Ros

      February 13, 2019 at 8:24 am

  19. ‘I’m forced to catch rabbits just to eat’: Reality of life on Universal Credit

    Channel 4 documentary Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits shows the broken, ill and struggling all trying to survive on the new benefits


    Twister the dog catches a rabbit – owners Nathan and Abbey say they have no choice but to keep it to feed themselves
    (Image: (Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way) This picture may be used solely for Channel 4 programme publicity)

    Standing in a phone-box, on hold yet again as he tries to negotiate his Universal Credit payments, partially-sighted David collapses into tears.

    The 40-year-old, from Hartlepool, is just one of the town’s residents who’ve been brought to their knees by the system.

    Formerly on disability benefits for the rare eye disease keratoconus that he’s had from birth, David has recently been reassessed and told to find work.

    But with no phone or internet at home, and with limited visibility, the largely online Universal Credit system brings him to the brink of despair.

    Having paid his rent, he discovers that he has just £5 to live on for the month.

    In heart-rending scenes shown tomorrow in hard-hitting Channel 4 documentary Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits, he is shown sobbing pitifully as he stands in the phone box, the hold music playing in the background.

    “I feel like a dancing bear,” he cries. “I can’t see!”

    Later, at the food bank – which has queues spiralling out the door – he explains: “I’d love to work but I can’t.

    “They think we’re just spongers. Clowns. Parasites. We’re not. We’re human. Flesh and bone.”

    The harsh realities of living on universal credit is to be exposed on TV for the first time as residents of Hartlepool dismiss the system as “absolute chaos”.

    Spiralling crime, homelessness, loan sharks, hunger and evictions have hit the town as claimants struggle to make ends meet.

    In the words of one local resident, “it’s Beirut”.

    Nathan Kerr and his girlfriend Abbey are long-term unemployed in a town where 22% of young people can’t find work and the number of jobless households is the highest in the UK.

    They now survive by sending out their lurcher to hunt, cooking whatever the dog can kill.

    Sometimes they live for a fortnight with no money, eating only what the dog has caught and sometimes not eating for days at a stretch.

    “This government don’t give a f*** about you. They’re trying to kill us off,” Nathan says. “I tell you, we’re going to end up like Africa. Skin and bone.”

    In one graphic scene their dog Twister catches a rabbit but refuses to let go – leaving Nathan to rip what he can from the dog’s mouth – before taking it home.

    He says it’s now far harder to get by than it has been in recent years.

    “I remember when you could get eight tins of beans for a quid. Now you only get two.”

    The 24-year-old, who was expelled from school and has a long record of petty crimes, says he would “do anything” for a job, but claims he can’t get one.

    “I’d clean people’s gutters, toilets anything. The job centre, I told them I wanted to be a dog handler and what I was good at and they sat me down and said ‘don’t you want to be an IT technician?’

    “I can’t read or write so how am I going to be an IT technician?

    “I’d rather go back to selling drugs me – I had money every day.”

    Others agree, telling the camera that the ONLY way to survive is by taking cash in hand jobs and not declaring it.

    Abbey says: “With Universal Credit you struggle. How are you going to buy your food and all the bills that you need to pay?

    “You go out with your dog and your dog catches your food for you. Happy days. He gets me to skin it, gut it and cook it.”

    Despite sometimes having to go without, Nathan reckons that becoming a hunter-gatherer in the fields around Hartlepool is preferable to his old lifestyle.

    “I’d rather live this way 100% than be back in the city causing trouble, getting myself into gyp, getting locked up by the police for stupid things,” he says.

    “If you were starving and you had had nothing at all in your freezer, a quick 10 minute walk around the field and we’re coming back bunnied up.

    “You shouldn’t have to worry about food but you can provide yourself with some scran.”

    The government chose Hartlepool as one of the first areas for the roll-out of Universal Credit. Under the rules people are sanctioned – meaning their benefit is docked – if they don’t spend 35 hours a week job hunting.

    “It’s fucking shite,” one disgruntled resident agrees.

    “They’re ripping people off, sanctioning people. People are f***ing starving on the streets and they do f*** all. Fuck these benefits.”

    In the biggest change to the dole since it was introduced, the Tories claimed they introduced the scheme as a way of getting the unemployed off benefits and working – combining six old benefits into one payment.

    There was instant uproar because of the five week wait before first payment, and because of cuts built into the new benefit that particularly affect vulnerable low earners and severely disabled people.

    Some locals are unsympathetic.

    “I was brought up with you don’t work, you don’t get nothing,” one says.

    Another agrees. “That’s their choice because of their laziness. People have gone soft.”

    Nathan’s mum, Tracy Taylor, relies on Universal Credit and says “nine times out of ten it’s a toss up between gas and electric”.

    Now she has problems of her own. Having twice battled cancer and survived, she receives a call telling her that there is a 90% chance the disease has returned.

    Her 15 year old daughter Tamsyn cries as she tells her: “You’ve done it before mum you can do it again.”

    But this time Tracy, whose weight has plummeted in recent months, is not so sure.

    She says: “I don’t think I’m strong enough. It’s me who has to have the chemo, me who’s in constant pain.”

    Tracy is a full time carer for Tamsyn’s dad Trevor, who has MS.

    A heavy smoker, she is told there is no extra money for the diet doctors have recommended.

    She says: “The system’s wrong. It stinks. The old system you could apply for a crisis loan and go and do what you have to do.

    “Someone really needs to stick a bomb up Theresa May ’s arse.”

    Having seen Nathan go off the rails, she now fears losing her daughter in the same way.

    “I do wish a different life for Nathan. He’s having to beg, borrow, steal just to survive.

    “You feel – what more could I have done? I feel as though I’ve failed him as a mother.

    “There’s nothing in Hartlepool for them to do. All they do is sit in a park, get wrecked, cause trouble and that’s the way it is.

    “She’s at a crossroads. Either she’ll take the path to where she wants to be or take the other path and end up on drugs.”

    But Tamsyn has no plans to end up on Universal Credit like the rest of them.

    A talented drummer, she just might have found a ticket to a new life where she could leave her peers behind.

    “Most of them want to just be on the dole,” she sighs. “Be on the drugs and not get a job.

    “I’ve seen my mum and dad struggle and struggle and struggle. My drumming is my way OUT of this town.”

    Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits, Channel 4, 9pm tomorrow.

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/im-forced-catch-rabbits-just-13989781

    The Mirror

    February 12, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    • It is the same cast of character: chain smokers, tattoos, toothless, huge TVs and even bigger dogs, load of kids, leather sofas, alcohol, drugs, illiterate, criminals, rabbit/hare coursers. You know the kind of people that elicit the sympathy of the general woman. It was like fat Emma that the stick-thin Richard Bacon had on. Enough fat on her but we saw her with her haul from the foodbank. And who would want to visit never mind live in Hartlepool now. We aren’t all like that. Some of us even hold down jobs and pay out taxes would you believe.

      Hartlepool

      February 12, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    • It is the same cast of character:s chain smokers, tattoos, toothless, huge TVs and even bigger dogs, load of kids, leather sofas, alcohol, drugs, illiterate, criminals, drum kits, games consoles, smartphones, rabbit/hare coursers. You know the kind of people that elicit the sympathy of the general public, as if! It was like fat Emma that the stick-thin Richard Bacon had on. Enough fat on her but we saw her with her haul from the foodbank. And who would want to visit never mind live in Hartlepool now. We aren’t all like that. Some of us even hold down jobs and pay out taxes would you believe.

      Hartlepool

      February 12, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    • “Many say there’s no way they can pay their bills and buy food on Universal Credit with a 200 fags a day habit.” And why are they no dentists in Hartlepool?

      Toofless in Hartlepool

      February 13, 2019 at 12:05 am

    • The tide is turning. When George Osborne was Chancellor he used the aggressive and hostile demonisation benefit claimants were receiving 24/7 in the media, especially newspapers and wall-2-wall poverty porn being shown on TV to justify the cuts, cap, freezes and “reforms” he wanted to make to cut the deficit and run a surplus as soon as possible. Impossibly soon it turned out to be in fact. Osborne’s original “Plan A” morphed into his “Long Term Economic Plan” and we are still running a fiscal deficit to this day despite Osborne’s rash promise that it would be conquered within on five year parliament.

      The media represents an incredibly powerful force when it comes to politics which can be used to help enable policies and agendas to move forward, e.g., capping child benefit, or stop them and kill them dead in their tracks, e.g., the so-called dementia tax.

      As far as universal credit goes the tide has well and truly turned now that enough people are suffering under its yoke to have become impossible to ignore. These days you will not find one single story uncritical or supportive of universal credit in the media anywhere and as the number of people on universal credit increases hostility towards this conspicuously flawed benefit will mount. Eventually the government will be forced by the anger and furore that universal credit causes it will be forced to change and alter it bit by bit until it is made sufficiently humane or scrapped and replaced by something better. A social security benefit that drives the poorest and most vulnerable, and only the poorest and most vulnerable, citizens in society into debt and rent arrears by design is one hell of a hard sell to make to the public once widespread knowledge of the evils of universal credit percolate throughout the British electorate.

      It could well be universal credit rather than Brexit that ends up burying and destroying the Tories.

      Ros

      February 13, 2019 at 8:49 am

      • The ‘dementia tax’ is defined as thus “Under the plans, anyone who receives care in their own home will have to pay for it through the value of their home once they have passed away. This means that the entire value of a person’s home, apart from the first £100,000, will be claimable by the state.”

        But according to the NHS:

        “Paying for your own care (self-funding)

        You will not be entitled to help with the cost of care from your local council if:

        you have savings worth more than £23,250
        you own your own property (this only applies if you’re moving into a care home

        A room in a care home costs:

        £600 a week in a residential home
        £840 a week in a nursing home

        Can I avoid selling my home?

        You won’t have to sell your home to pay for help in your own home.

        But you may have to sell your home to pay for a care home, unless your partner carries on living in it.

        Sometimes selling your home to pay care home fees is the best option.

        But there may be other ways to pay care home fees if you don’t want to sell your home straight away.
        Releasing money from your home (equity release)

        Equity release lets you take money that’s tied up in your home without selling it. It’s available if you’re over 55.

        But you have to pay interest on the money you take out, which can be expensive.”

        But what about Scotchland, you get free social care up there, well according to Wee Nicola:

        “If you’re assessed as having capital above the upper capital limit, you won’t get help from your local council with paying care home fees over and above any assessed entitlement to free personal and nursing care. This is called self-funded. If you have capital below the lower limit, you’ll get help with care home fees.

        Capital assets

        If you have capital assets worth £26,500 or more, including the value of your home, you must meet your own care costs in full (over and above any assessed entitlement to free personal and nursing care).

        If you have money to pay for your care home fees other than from selling your home, you can use that. If not, you may need to sell your home to pay for your care, but there are circumstances in which your house will not be included in the financial assessment.

        The law says that the local council must disregard the value of your home when your partner or a relative who is over 60 or incapacitated still lives there. The council also has discretion to disregard your home in some other circumstances, for example if someone has given up their own home to care for you.”

        The payment of care home fees is a complex subject and depends on many things which are unique to you.”

        So the ‘dementia tax’ was a load of old cobblers, basically.

        Fact Checker

        February 13, 2019 at 10:15 am

    • This is a three-part series. You can bet by the end of this the ‘cast’ will all be ‘celebs’ appearing on the ‘One Show’, ‘Strictly’, ‘I’m A Celebrity. Get Me Out The Jungle’.. . (Remember Dee Shite of ‘Benefits Streets?) And ‘little drummer girl’ will be angling for her ‘big break’.

      Little Drummer Girl

      February 13, 2019 at 12:35 pm

  20. “This means that the entire value of a person’ s home, apart from the first £100,000, will be claimable by the state”. But under the current rules it is the entire value of of person’s home expect the first £23,250 (£27,250) oop North of Hadrian’s Wall.

    Val

    February 13, 2019 at 10:45 am

    • In Scotchland it is worse because the tariff income will whittle you down to £17,000.

      Val

      February 13, 2019 at 10:51 am

    • 27,250, 23,250 or even 17,000 nicker is a decent wedge in anyone’s book.

      D Dyer

      February 13, 2019 at 10:56 am

    • O i dont know about that as i know someone whose parent spent the latter of there days in special care home with mental illness and upon his death the council sent a bill which equals the worth of around 64% of the value of his property. That naturally gets higher if the property has to go for less for one reason or the other. Add in the peters and pauls means an estimate of a mere 11% to 17% of its total worth goes to his family.

      I once said which is born out by history that you always know when a government/country is in trouble when it goes after its pensioners. This whatever people wish to call it is just a prelude, a reserve strategy to asset acquisition if the money isnt stumped up elsewhere. Either way its coming out of someones pockets which would mean if a son or daughter paid the tab, they would essentially be mortgaging to buyout a council who quite legally despite being questionable in the ethics department, seized claim to part of a persons property considering the sums they ask for.

      Its quite clever really, an income tax if you will on the old, most of which wont/cant be fully cared for by their children unless medically trained and have access to prescribing and supplying medicine. An income tax that tiers a persons assets to allow for a second plus dip should policy and governance fail yet again.

      How would the political and economical landscape have looked now if we didn’t have the overabundance of older citizens we currently find ourselves with. This is how you know the entire political spectrum is pro immigrant as its the only way to maintain the illusion a government can offer you anything while fighting to prevent the ever present escalation of borrowing.

      Our country through bad policy and a reliance to support a model of capitalism that spouses spend and then spend that again to insure business prevails at the expense of the people who come into this world with debt,grow up with more debt just to live and work in it reasonably ok to dying owing debt.

      Is this the real marker of poverty, that to escape it one has to leave this world owing no one.

      Doug

      February 13, 2019 at 12:04 pm

      • Pensioners aren’t being attacked though. They are not being left destitute. You can’t take it with you, can you? Their excess capital is being ran down and they are still left with enough capital to pay for their funeral and leave a modest inheritance for their beneficiaries. As a Marxist shouldn’t you be opposed to inherited wealth? Marxism dictates a ‘level playing field’. The children of these well-off pensioners will have already benefited from a middle/upper class lifestyle. Why should the working classes pay for their care? Why do people living in rented property, struggling by on universal credit/low pay who will never own a home or inherit a bean rail against these true left-wing, wealth redistribution policies? Why would you want to perpetuate class inequality? Marx would be all for this.

        Red Apple

        February 13, 2019 at 12:23 pm

      • Red Apple

        But im not a marxists though. Its well known and ive broadcast i do not identify with left, right or middle.
        These antiquated form of governance serve only the deluded as one system cannot function without the other. Someone like you for instance wouldn’t notice this because your blinded by your own preconceived bias.
        I say socialism, your conjure images of Russia, say capitalism and again your conjure images of America because you know no more than the construct tells you to know.

        Robbing the rich to feed the poor as so to speak is in itself capitalism and not socialism/communism or to put it in basic terms, for every winner there must be a loser. Has to come from somewhere yes. Even if one borrows, the loss presents itself in the form of a overall devaluing of currency. There is no such thing as something for nothing which you would understand if you actually knew what money represented towards one trading and how it works.

        Anyway people for decades have been sold by successive governments since inception that a payment upfront (income tax,NI) would path the way for a persons needs at this juncture of life. Yet now cannot lie yet they still do anymore that refusing to raise taxes and NI consistently over said decades for the sole purpose of wining elections/support has lead to the debacle we now see presented before us. Anyone who thinks redistribution of wealth changes anything significantly is deluded. You only have to check the data and it all becomes clear.
        You see we need to stop the tweaking approach to tired and failed formulas and realize what we accumulate at the top is equally as important as the bottom which if a set of principles i have already outlined on a previous post were implemented then we would see a quicker return rate of the famed so called trickle down system.

        Doug

        February 14, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    • “Voiced by actors playing nurses, doctors and patients in the NHS” And we thought is was only the DWP who did this 😀

      Zac & Sarah

      February 13, 2019 at 1:07 pm

  21. Linux, the operating system that powers TVs, Android phones and a host of other devices under threat.

    “The controversy
    Activists from the feminist and LGBTQIA+ communities have been trying to force the Linux project to join the Contributor Covenant since at least 2015. The Contributor Covenant is an agreement to implement a special Code of Conduct (frequently CoC from now on) aimed at changing the predominantly white, straight, and male face of programming. CC’s Code of Conduct is controversial particularly because it allows anyone to be banned from contributing code for any reason, usually with no mechanism for oversight or accountability.

    On September 16 the pro-CoC side got their wish (how this happened is a very strange story of its own, read recent news about Linus Torvalds’ departure if you want to know more) — Linux had officially committed to implementing and obeying the CC Code of Conduct — and they immediately set about using it to remove top Linux coders. Sage Sharp, who describes theyself as a “diversity & inclusion consultant, hufflepuff, non-binary agender trans masculine” and has 7k followers, cites GeekFeminismWiki and targets Google’s Theo Ts’o with accusations of being a rape apologist:”

    https://lulz.com/linux-devs-threaten-killswitch-coc-controversy-1252/

    Tech News

    February 13, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    • This is what happened to $hitcoin. It started out with good intentions. But once greed, scammers, and the pajeet got involved the original developers pulled thought “fuck this shit” and promptly pulled the plug. Now the greed mentions are screaming for someone to “fix” $hitcoin. It is never going to happen. The original deveoplers are long gone and the pajeets couldn’t code their way out a paper bag. $hitcoin is now withering on the vine until it dies. It would be a shame if Linux went the same way. The death of Linux would be news to the ears of Micr$oft and Google. For consumers it would mean increased costs as manufacturers paid for licences, costs in developing and alternatives etc.

      Cisco

      February 13, 2019 at 1:30 pm

      • *merchants

        Cisco

        February 13, 2019 at 1:31 pm

      • Linux doesn’t have any permanent centralised core of developers; it’s an open source project that benefits from a diverse community of ever changing group of contributors dispersed around the globe. Linux is like the Hydra: Cut off a head and two more spring into being as replacements. You don’t seem to know much about IT, Cisco, especially open source. As for Bitcoin, well, its death has been announced literally hundreds of times but it always bounces back and marches on, e.g., gangsters are still buying property and mansions in London and elsewhere with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

        Atilla the Gardener

        February 13, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    • Linux is completely open source and will continue to be developed by people all over the world, of all kinds, as they see fit; the project is not “owned” by any one person or company who can call the shots. The Linux kernel is open source and currently released under General Public Licence version 2. Nobody can therefore stop anybody, anywhere, from contributing to the project. I wouldn’t worry because so many flavours of Linux exist that you will never have any difficulty finding one that suits you, although sticking to a version based on the Debian/Ubuntu systems which are continually scrutinized, updated and improved, especially in respect to security, probably isn’t a bad idea. The Ubuntu based version of the Linux Mint OS is a very good and easy to use release for general users, which comes with petty much all software and applications you will need to do most tasks.

      Attila the Gardener

      February 13, 2019 at 2:15 pm

  22. “How a no-deal Brexit could affect benefits and Universal Credit claimants”

    https://inews.co.uk/news/no-deal-brexit-affect-benefits-universal-credit-consequences/

    Jim

    February 13, 2019 at 5:23 pm

  23. jj joop

    February 13, 2019 at 7:41 pm


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