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DWP Minister, “no doubt that Universal Credit has contributed to the increased use of food banks”.

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DWP to Recognise Facts?

DWP minister says there’s ‘no doubt’ Universal Credit has driven people to foodbanks

The Mirror.

This is worth noting just in its own right.

How long ago (29th of January 2020) this seems!

The Tory Minister made the controversial comment replying to a question from Labour MP Zarah Sultana.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has described food banks as the “perfect way” to help the poor.

Now….

Tory minister Baroness Stedman-Scott, who led a youth unemployment charity, said the six-in-one benefit has “contributed” to a rise in people seeking help

There is “no doubt” Universal Credit has driven people to food banks, a DWP minister said today.

Tory minister Baroness Stedman-Scott admitted the six-in-one benefit “has contributed” to the soaring numbers of people turning to charities for help.

The peer, who worked for 30 years at a youth unemployment charity, stressed the benefit was “not everything” and people were not sanctioned without reason.

She told the House of Lords: “I’ve got no doubt, and I’ve agreed with this before, that Universal Credit has contributed to the increased use in food banks. But it’s not everything.

“However, I would say to you that claimants will only ever be sanctioned where without good reason they’ve failed to meet the reasonable requirements agreed in their claimant commitment.”

She was asked: “Does the minister understand the correlation between new attendants at foodbanks and sanctions of Universal Credit?

“And what is the government going to do about that, because almost all new signups to food banks are due to delays? Not only is it bad for your health, but it’s bad for your mental health.”

n earlier exchanges the Tory minister also said she would be “really upset” if people are sanctioned for missing appointments due to Coronavirus.

The Trussell Trust charity handed out a record 823,145 three-day emergency food parcels in the six months to September – a 23% rise on the previous year.

Low income was the primary reason for 36% of referrals followed by benefit delays (18%), benefit changes (16%) and debt (9%).

Here is the exchange between the Noble Lordships in Hansard.

 

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the debt levels, (2) the mental health, and (3) the ability to work, of people in receipt of Universal Credit.

 

The noble Baroness’s Question recognises issues experienced by many people in our society. The department has made no official assessment of universal credit’s effect in these three specific areas. We often find that people experience debt and mental health issues that existed prior to claiming universal credit. We think that attempting to make an accurate assessment could be difficult—but not impossible.
I thank the Minister for her Answer. She is very straightforward, and I know she will want to get this right. I know too that the majority of people in this House agree that individuals are better in work—better for themselves, their families and the broader society—and benefits need to be simplified. However, we are spending billions of pounds of public money here. Theory is one thing, but practice is another. I ask the Minister to attempt again to persuade the Government to conduct an assessment, so that we can see whether there are any unintended consequences for mental health well-being, work mobility and indebtedness, and that we can properly debate this issue and recommend any changes and improvements where needed.
I am so glad that we agree on the principle that people should be, and in the majority of cases are, better off in work. I like the noble Baroness’s idea, and I am touched that she thinks my powers of persuasion are so good. In order that I can deploy them to the maximum, let us meet prior to me going back to work the magic. I would like to go with the best case possible to see if we can do this, to get the information that helps us help people more.
Are the Government aware that a number of the people sleeping rough on our streets at the moment have fallen through the universal credit net? Would the Minister like to comment on that?
Like all noble Lords in the House, I am only too well aware of the size of the problem of homelessness and people sleeping on the streets. I normally agree with the noble Lord, and I do agree that universal credit may have added to some people’s anxiety and their issues. Many of them have had issues for a long time that we have not done what we should have done to deal with—but I do not think they are 100% attributable to universal credit.
My Lords, is the Minister aware that a large body of evidence supports the case that benefits sanctions have a devastating effect on claimants’ mental health and could even result in suicides? In the light of last week’s report in the Lancet, when will the Government conduct a comprehensive assessment of the impact of benefits sanctions on claimants, as the DWP pledged to do in 2013?
My Lords, could the Minister update the House on what the Government are doing to support those with mental health issues in accessing universal credit seamlessly, so that those issues are not exacerbated, and to help them get into work, which, as we all know, can sometimes help with mental health and well-being?
I thank my noble friend for that question. Mental health is a major issue for people on universal credit, and in other walks of life. At present, we are introducing health model offices in 11 jobcentres. These focus on claimants with health conditions. Blackburn jobcentre has agreed a new initiative, “advance to ausome”, for people with autism. Another jobcentre, in north London, is running quiet sessions for people who cannot cope with coming in.This is what I would like noble Lords to go away with today. A young man came to the jobcentre who was working full-time, had mental health issues and did not know how he was going to keep his job. He was in a bad way. Our work coaches worked with him and, through the Access to Work mental health support programme, he is now back at work and working towards a promotion. None of that would have been possible without that support. We are doing everything we can—and there is more to be done—to help people with these issues.

My Lords, may I ask the Minister something quite specific? What plans does DWP have to deal with the outbreak of coronavirus? For example, can people on zero-hours contracts who cannot go to work get universal credit to support them if they have to isolate themselves at home and are unable to work? In a similar vein, can she guarantee that those on universal credit will not be sanctioned if they cannot go to a job interview, to the jobcentre or fulfil their commitments because they are isolating themselves at home? Will the Government suspend sanctions and advertise universal credit for those affected by isolation patterns?

I was not prepared for that one, that is for sure. I know that the Permanent Secretary has a plan to make sure that people get paid and get the help they need. However, I will be really upset if people are sanctioned because of this. I will go back to the department and write to the noble Baroness, to make sure that the issue is understood.
Does the Minister understand the correlation between new attendants at food banks and universal credit sanctions? What are the Government going to do about that? Almost all new sign-ups to food banks are caused by delays. Not only is that bad for your health, it is bad for your mental health.
The issue of food bank usage and the reasons for it came up during a Question I took recently. I have no doubt that, as I have agreed before, universal credit has contributed to the increased use of food banks, but that is not everything. However, claimants will only ever be sanctioned where, without good reason, they fail to meet the reasonable requirements agreed in their claimant commitment.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 3, 2020 at 10:22 am

120 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on Tory Britain!.

    A6er

    March 3, 2020 at 10:37 am

  2. Andrew Coates

    March 3, 2020 at 11:27 am

  3. So if you think you have Corona virus do you need to get this confirmed by a visit to your GP for a test, or getting a test done somewhere else, before you “self-isolate” yourself for two weeks in order not to be sanctioned? (Which could lead to you infecting others in waiting rooms or elsewhere.) Or do you use your own judgement? Or does the DWP have to give you permission to “self-isolate” before you do it in order not to suffer a penalty? Or what? Does anybody, anywhere, have a freaking clue what to do?

    Todger

    March 3, 2020 at 11:48 am

    • I was in the Jobcentre this morning and it occurred to me that they ought to be wearing face masks, but weren’t. I mean, it’s a job that involves meeting the public all day so I would have thought they might have been issued with masks.

      trev

      March 3, 2020 at 12:00 pm

      • Jobcentres are plastered with ‘How to Avoid the Coronavirus’ copied from .gov plastered over the walls. If want to shorten your appointment make out like you have a cold [corona virus]. Take something to water your eyes and make your nose run like chilli peppers or cayenne pepper. If you sit sniffling and blowing your nose it freaks them out. The CCTV and the security goons will zoom in on you pmsl

        The Red Hot Chilli Peppers

        March 3, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      • They don’t even bother to disinfect and sterilise the pen between signings-on. They are all shit scared. Jobcentres, public transport, especially buses are the first places to spread these bugs. And if you have kids they will bring it home from school with them.

        Sybil

        March 3, 2020 at 12:30 pm

      • Unions fear coronavirus could spread as 2m workers are not entitled to sick pay if they’re told to self isolate
        Two million people will not be entitled to sick pay if they have to self quarantine to stop the spread of the virus.

        Unions fear a push towards isolating workers in the wake of the coronavirus could see the illness spread, as 2m workers are not entitled to statutory sick pay.

        Millions of workers will face perilous financial and health risks if they are instructed to self-quarantine to prevent spreading the coronavirus, with some facing no other choice but to work if they want to keep afloat, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned.

        Employers including Chevron and PHE have sent their workers home to avoid the spread of coronavirus, with some workers advised to self-quarantine if they have recently visited a country experiencing an outbreak, such as Italy or Tenerife.

        https://inews.co.uk/news/unions-fear-coronavirus-could-spread-as-2m-workers-are-not-entitled-to-sick-pay-if-theyre-told-to-self-isolate-2042887

        Andrew Coates

        March 3, 2020 at 12:35 pm

      • Jobcentres are so toxic you need a hazmat suit to enter one.

        Chernobyl

        March 3, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      • I was a bit anxious beforehand as usual but it was an easy signing today, not much questioning, was in and out in about 5 mins. to my great relief.

        trev

        March 3, 2020 at 12:54 pm

      • if there was a deadly bug doing the rounds coachy would be guaranteed to catch it pmsl

        superted's rotten teef

        March 3, 2020 at 12:50 pm

      • Trev I went to the pharmacy yesterday and the staff had masks on….went in Boots today no masks in sight! I think I’ll be back to work Thursday. Be interesting to see if our school has a plan…..

        katrehman

        March 3, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    • Would you miss signing-on because Dave down the Jobcentre told you ”Yeah, alright don’t come in then ” ?
      Only to find that he has done nothing official to record this, and you get a Failure To Attend sanction’ ?
      I think a lot of people, if they can still walk straight, are just going to go in anyway, rather than risk it.

      Tom Sutton

      March 3, 2020 at 2:02 pm

      • Very true, Tom. Claimants will go to any length to attend a jobcentre appointment be it neck-deep snow, the coronavirus, or the three-headed serpent of Mordor. You don’t dare risk your money not being paid. If the jokecentre had any sense they would suspend guaranteed infection vectors like unnecessary signing on appointments. Thick as shit in the neck of the proverbial bottle are the jobcentre.

        Rose

        March 3, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      • I will admit that I have signed on when my head was spinning and I could barely stand on my feet because of the flu. You know you are infecting goodness knows how many but what can you do? Self-isolate and not get paid?

        Daajiyah

        March 3, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      • @tom sutton: I don’t think people are going to do it. They won’t risk losing their money, and they don’t trust the Jobcentre. Who does ?

        Dave M.

        March 3, 2020 at 6:40 pm

  4. There’s always the assumption that work is a cure for mental illness. In my experience the opposite has been the case, being trapped in a gruelling, boring, unrewarding job that doesn’t interest you in the slightest can be very depressing indeed.

    trev

    March 3, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    • That is very true Trev, but it’s not part of the official ‘Wonder Of Work’ line from the DWP. Much of the work available under Universal Credit falls into the zero-hour, total boredom category. The DWP know this as well as anybody, but they daren’t admit it publicly.

      Alan Turner

      March 3, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    • Only fools and horses work, trev, and who can blame you for giving work up if it makes you unhappy.

      Del Boy

      March 3, 2020 at 6:43 pm

  5. Coronavirus: how people are avoiding handshakes, the masons won’t be able to use their funny handshakes!

    Violet

    March 3, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    • It won’t make any difference to the Illuminati. They are able to hold entire meetings on the astral plane.

      Patronymus

      March 3, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    • Besides handshakes amongst our brethren there are also many signs and wonders:

      Boaz!

      Paracelsus

      March 3, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    • The Ipssissimus of Ipswich no doubt has all these matters in hand even as I type these words…

      Perdurabo

      March 5, 2020 at 11:42 am

    • Usually they turn around and say your expected to work with it.We’ve had this before with bird/swine flu but its not possible to say if this is worse to someone watching.

      ken

      March 5, 2020 at 12:27 pm

      • ken, has anyone you know died lately from ‘coronavirus’? I assume the answer is no. We went shopping this morning and the usual crowd were in our local Lidl, were the shelves empty – well no got all we needed. Noticed a Chinese woman buying several bags of flour – bit pointless because she is never going to be able to send it to her mates in China.

        Sybil

        March 5, 2020 at 1:23 pm

  6. This coronavirus thing is going to cause havoc in Jobcentres. And since you can catch it a number of times, claimants are going to infect Work Coaches. Work Coaches are going to infect claimants. Claimants are going to infect other claimants. Round and round again.

    Jeff Smith

    March 3, 2020 at 1:55 pm

  7. I’ve posted elsewhere about the draconian sick policy in our schools and council. Myself and my fellow union Officers are dreading the spread of the virus as it will mean yet more sick review meetings to attend with members!

    katrehman

    March 3, 2020 at 2:15 pm

  8. I’m not worried about the coronavirus one little bit, what scares me is governments may introduce a mandatory vaccination as it will allow authorities access to the human body and to the bloodstream too. We will have no idea what is in the needle when it gets injected so all sorts of nasties could be implanted in our bodies without our consent or knowledge.

    Violet

    March 3, 2020 at 2:31 pm

  9. If there is an outbreak of Coronavirus near you the Jobcentre’s will close until the all clear. End of.

    Chippy

    March 3, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    • @ Chippy

      How near is near? Someone in York was found to have the virus and that’s about 45 miles away from me and in the same county.

      trev

      March 3, 2020 at 4:03 pm

      • Cases in Leeds too, only 15 miles from me.

        trev

        March 3, 2020 at 4:40 pm

      • Before Jobcentres close there would have to be a case of someone in or visiting the Jobcentre going down with Coronavirus. Same with council offices and all offices and premises in the public sector which serve citizens.

        Tu Fu

        March 4, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    • Andrew Coates

      March 3, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    • @Chippy – Not a snowballs chance of full closure. And half the new part-time DWP staff will be dragging themselves into work. What is more likely to happen as @tom sutton has said, are additional sanctions. Where people have decided they are too sick to turn up at the Jobcentre.

      Paul D.

      March 3, 2020 at 6:20 pm

      • Are people who self-isolate going to be expected to keep up their jobsearch requirements ? Because that is another issue. What if someone doesn’t have internet access at home, but still needs to self-isolate, how are they going to do their jobsearch ?

        Jeff Smith

        March 3, 2020 at 6:37 pm

  10. What about foodbanks too? I’ll see what the situation is on Thursday when I go to my local foodbank, which is a large operation providing up to 200 food parcels per week, with about 5 or 6 staff and 90 part-time volunteers. I think they will have to introduce some extra precautionary measures such as face masks, rubber gloves, hand wash disinfectant etc. just to be on the safe side.

    trev

    March 3, 2020 at 4:08 pm

  11. I recently been on a college course to help me improve my qualifications, a few of my class mates have to go to the food bank, as universal credit is a joke, unrealitic targets of have many steps each of them have to look for work per week.

    As for the virus, the job centre staff will be rubbing their hands with glee, have many sanctions we can dish out today. If the job centre staff get the virus,

    my_final_username

    March 3, 2020 at 4:56 pm

  12. Has this “secret” study into Universal Credit and food bank usage, commissioned in 2018, reported yet or not.

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tories-launch-secret-study-see-13019775

    If there was no linkage found between one and another surely the DWP would trumpet this to the rooftops?

    Hank

    March 3, 2020 at 6:47 pm

  13. Just seen in ihe independent gig economy and zero hours ppl will b told to claim UC if they need to self isolate or get coronavirus. That will REALLY help them… Boris is aware of the problem. This would seem to b his solutions

    katrehman

    March 3, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    • Oh well that’s great isn’t it, just what we might expect from the Tory buffoon. People will then have no money unless they take the UC advance loans, and won’t be able to go to a foodbank if they are in isolation. Realistically, the Tories are going to do nothing about Coronavirus, it’s given them a convenient means of reducing the population.

      trev

      March 3, 2020 at 7:47 pm

      • @And a specific threat to foodbanks too Trev. Along with hospitals and doctor’s surgeries, they will be on the front line in this. Self isolating or not, how long can people go without food, before they are forced to break the isolation and risk a visit to the foodbank ?

        Alan Turner

        March 3, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    • ACCORDING to experts, a worldwide pandemic such as coronavirus or some other respiratory disease is inevitable. As increasing populations becoming more mobile, escaping wars, drought and hunger, the likelihood of a highly infectious disease decimating the world’s population is no longer a likelihood but a certainty.

      The coronavirus has already hit oil prices and the stock market, decimated China’s output and no doubt will have a domino effect on other Asian countries, and this is just the beginning. In the seventies it was argued that the Earth is a giant organism with an ability to self-regulate its highly complex chemical and meteorological system. Seeing the world through this prism demotes humanity to that of ingenious parasites.

      Waajida

      March 3, 2020 at 8:51 pm

  14. So people who are already sick with Coronavirus should apply for Universal Credit ? Even though Universal Credit has been found, in the recent BMJ study, to cause considerable mental stress for claimants ?
    Tory care at its best.

    Peter Renfield

    March 3, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    • Yep Peter they have to claim. I don’t claim any benefits but am I right youput in a claim online then have an interview at the job centre with a coach? So how can you do that if your meant to self isolate? And how would those with no Internet access get food in if they can’t order online? It’s mad

      katrehman

      March 3, 2020 at 9:51 pm

  15. Well, just popped back from the newsagents with the daily paper and it’s not looking good: “DEADLY VIRUS: EVERYONE WILL DIE!!!!” The Daily Mail is not known to exaggerate nor scaremonger. If you aren’t already scared shitless you should be now.

    Daily Mail Reader

    March 4, 2020 at 8:02 am

    • Daily mail reader I’m sorry I disagree. The DM vastly over exaggerates on health matters. If I see one more DM headline about women gambling with their lives because they are too embarrassed to have a smear test I will vomit. Oit of 30 million UK women 900 die a year of this cancer and one third wold have been up to date with their testing. They just scare monger

      katrehman

      March 4, 2020 at 8:26 am

      • Reading the Daily Mail gives you CANCER!!!!

        Tamsin

        March 4, 2020 at 10:02 am

      • You mean cervical scraping, kat? Let’s call an intrusive procedure an intrusive procedure.

        Rosie

        March 4, 2020 at 1:36 pm

      • What’s the deal with all the blokes on here constantly posting under female names? Rosie, Tamsin, Violet et al, you’re not fooling anyone.

        trev

        March 4, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      • How are to so sure, trev? Have you IP traced them? Didn’t Lady Cordelia Toffigham-Smythe from Farnham School for Young Ladies turn out to be Colin from Immingham? No shit, Sherlock! Anyway, it is a very serious crime to ‘misgender’ someone. As well as hate speech. You could do to prison for life! Your biological sex that you were born with has got jack shit to do with what gender you identify as. Violet could even be a transwoman. You sound like a TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist), trev. At least Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy support the rights of this most marginalised group unlike SIR Keir Starmer who you support for the Labour leadership. For further reading Joanna Void has written a heart-rending article on this very subject, the reason she spent three years in the blog wilderness.

        Wilson

        March 5, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      • @ Wilson

        I don’t believe that all the men on here posting under female names are transgender, just trolls.

        As for the transgender phenomenon, I personally believe that it is a Reincarnation issue, that is to say that some people have subconsciously retained a strong impression from a previous life in which they were the opposite sex, hence the ‘feeling’ of being trapped in the ‘wrong’ body. If they were to undergo past-life hypno-regression they might overcome those feelings and come to terms with the root of their dilemma.

        trev

        March 5, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      • Stop being so sexist, trev. How can you possibly know for sure the gender of a commentor? Unless you are clairvoyant, gifted with second sight and have crystal balls.

        Helen Highwater

        March 5, 2020 at 5:03 pm

      • @ Helen Highwater

        I am Clairvoyant actually.

        trev

        March 5, 2020 at 5:57 pm

      • You’re a clairvoyant, trev? I seem to remember you telling us not to believe the polls because Labour were going to win the last general election and Jeremy Corbyn was destined to be the next and greatest British Prime Minister. You’re reading couldn’t have been more wrong and therefore can I have my money back please?

        Hugh G. Rektion

        March 6, 2020 at 7:39 am

  16. Just saw a piece online that work coaches are already having to deal with those who are self isolating. It made me think do the Government even know how many are or who’s doing what. 35 skl are now closed….I see chaos

    katrehman

    March 4, 2020 at 9:51 am

    • Where online did you read this, kat? Daily Mail online? 😀

      Chucky

      March 4, 2020 at 10:05 am

      • According the Heil the government is on standby to bring in the troops. Whole areas will be quarantined. People who try to evade quarantine will be shot. Public transport will be brought to a stop. The doors of tower blocks will be welded shut. There are mobile crematoriums being deployed that are disguised as normal trucks. Councils have earmarked areas for mass graves. Gotta love the Heil 😀

        Corona V

        March 4, 2020 at 11:26 am

      • The “First Sinister’s” trial starts 9th March. The papers are going to be full of that. My sister up north couldn’t even get a ticket. Anyway, should keep Wee Krankie busy as the truth unfolds. Could be end of the gravy train for the ‘snouts n party’.

        Aggy

        March 4, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      • The Heil said this about Brexit too 😀

        Lady Rothermere

        March 4, 2020 at 12:38 pm

      • Marjorie predicts the outcome:

        Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond will face trial this Monday on charges of carrying out a series of sexual offences against 10 women while serving as Scotland’s first minister. He denies all the allegations, which include one attempted rape, one intent to rape, 10 sexual assaults and two indecent assaults on dates between 2008 and 2014. The trial is expected to last about four weeks.

        As a politician, he was a formidable orator and led the pro-independence campaign. He has been married since 1981 to a wife, seventeen years older than himself. Since retiring as first minister he has fronted a chat show for RT (Russia government funded) which has attracted criticism

        Born 31 December 1954 4.30 pm Linlithgow, Scotland, he has a hard-working 6th house Sun Mercury in Capricorn; with an ambitious 10th house Moon Mars in Pisces in a Water Grand Trine to a lucky Uranus Jupiter in Cancer in his 1st and an obsessively conscientious Saturn in Scorpio conjunct Venus also in seductive Scorpio.

        The tr Saturn Pluto conjunction is moving through his 7th house of relationships with tr Pluto exactly conjunct his Solar Arc Saturn when the trial starts; with tr Saturn zigzagging in opposition to his Jupiter Uranus in 2020 which will dent his enthusiasm and confidence. His Progressed Mercury will be square his Saturn for another downbeat pointer. But most significantly tr Neptune will be conjunct his Mars from late March through April which is usually an indication of panicky failure. And it repeats on and off into 2021.

        If he does end up on the wrong side of this, it’ll be a sad end for a very bright and articulate man. I didn’t agree with his politics but he did give memorable speeches.

        Marjorie

        March 4, 2020 at 1:10 pm

      • Yes Rosie the scraping programme that the NHS wastes about 180 million a year on and that doctors really bully us into so they can claim incentive payments. Try doing some research

        katrehman

        March 4, 2020 at 3:20 pm

      • Salmond couldn’t get it up after gorging pills from a sack of Viagra and mechanical help from a forklift truck…

        Nickie the Sturge

        March 5, 2020 at 11:57 am

      • The man is entitled to a fair trial before he is hanged.

        Judge Dredd

        March 6, 2020 at 7:43 am

      • We are sure your readers will be delighted to learn that ‘The Alex Salmond Show’ is going nowhere. Join me and Alex at 18:30-19:30* on Thursdays on RT for a journey into the heart of Scottish, Welsh and Irish Parliaments. We will also be delving into the inner workings of Westminster.

        *plus repeat viewings

        Tasmina

        March 7, 2020 at 11:19 am

      • Oops! Should be 18:30-1900 (UK time)

        Tasmina

        March 7, 2020 at 11:20 am

  17. DWP Advice:

    Andrew Coates

    March 4, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    • And no doubt this is the same DWP that will be sanctioning people too sick to drag themselves into the Jobcentre.

      Jeff Smith

      March 4, 2020 at 1:30 pm

  18. Britain’s brutal benefit system is driving people to despair

    Frances Ryan.

    Please judge me fairly. I am a good person but overshadowed by depression. All I want in life is to live normally. That would be the answer to my prayers. Thank you to all for taking the time to read this letter, I really appreciate it. I don’t know how I’ll cope when I see you all. I hope I will be OK.”

    Errol Graham’s handwritten note – thought to be intended for officials at his “fit for work” assessment but never sent – emerged last week. The words weigh particularly heavy in light of the knowledge that Graham went on to die of starvation after having his disability benefits cut off. It reads as a plea from beyond the grave: a man with severe mental health problems politely asking the state to treat him as a human being.

    I thought of this as research came out linking universal credit to an increase in “psychological stress” among the unemployed people who claim it. The introduction of the government’s flagship benefit was associated with a 6.6 percentage point increase in mental health issues among universal credit recipients across the UK between 2013 and 2018 – which represents an extra 63,674 people experiencing “significant forms of mental distress”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/04/britain-benefit-system-generating-mental-distress-errol-graham

    Andrew Coates

    March 4, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    • Because the government behaves like this it filters down through society as if its the norm.

      Once mental healh takes hold life can unravel very fast,a mental health section places a cloud over someones life,their unwelcome abroad driving is in jeopardy,health suffers also very little support is in place theres little can be done as its an external problem,Universal Credit is supposed to have safeguards but the headlines suggest otherwise.Its affecting the nations health.

      ken

      March 4, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    • But who is under more stress though? Someone living comfortably on disability benefits: Their rent is taken care of, so no chance of ending up homeless; they will have over four times as much money in their pocket than someone on unemployment benefits and significantly more than a minimum wage worker. Or someone on universal credit juggling a series of ‘mini-jobs’, running around like a blue-arsed fly delivering parcels, etc.: They are not sure if from one week to the next if they are going to have a crust on the table or a roof over their heads. Who is really under more stress? And who has more reason to be depressed?

      Blue-Arsed Fly

      March 6, 2020 at 12:03 pm

  19. Coates, You use the word freedom too loosely. Freedom to exploit, freedom to live in poverty?, freedom to die early?, freedom to work hard to make the rich richer? There are freedoms and then there are chains that are called freedoms. Not all are born equal. Not all have options from day 1. Put the theory to one side and look at the reality, very different things. And don’t say we need more “freedom” that doesn’t wash.

    Emma

    March 4, 2020 at 1:25 pm

  20. WHO urges people to go ‘cashless’ because ‘dirty banknotes’ can spread the coronavirus.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/03/02/exclusive-dirty-banknotes-may-spreading-coronavirus-world-health/

    Violet

    March 4, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    • So can anything that you login to with a touch screen, or press a control to operate. That has been used by the general public. Cash dispensers in banks, lift push-buttons, computer keyboards in public libraries. door handles, hand dryers in toilets ( these also spread any local virus into the surrounding air ).

      John Taylor

      March 4, 2020 at 1:40 pm

      • Also you shouldn’t shake hands with your Work Coach, or kiss them when you say hello.

        Larry

        March 4, 2020 at 4:17 pm

      • With my work coach I always use a condom.

        Bouncer

        March 4, 2020 at 7:00 pm

  21. What about the self-employed? Particularly self-employed people who have been forced to work for employers in exactly the same way as normal employees minus the same normal worker’s rights? No help for them? Course not.

    Question Mark

    March 4, 2020 at 1:36 pm

  22. I wonder when the first Coronavirus sanctions will start ? People who have been too sick to visit a doctor, and therefore don’t have the ‘official’ permission in writing to miss their normal signing -on.

    Garry K.

    March 4, 2020 at 1:48 pm

  23. @Garry K.: Yeah I can see problems with this. If you just ring the NHS and they tell you not to go in to your doctor and to isolate yourself. How are you going to be able to prove this to the Jobcentre, when you don’t attend your next signing on appointment ?

    Paul J.

    March 4, 2020 at 2:27 pm

  24. North Lanarkshire council has established a universal credit assistance fund tae help tenants fa fin’ themselves fallin’ intae rent arrears due tae built-in waitin’ times fur Universal Credit payments tae be processed an’ paid. An’ a lesson tae th’ sassenach abit hoo tae deal wi’ th’ braw stupidity ay yon sassenach system ay Universal Credit. which has caused sae much misery in th’ highlands

    Duncan McCready

    March 4, 2020 at 3:56 pm

  25. No wonder all you buggers are unemployed. You’re afraid of your own shadows.

    British Pluck

    March 4, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    • That’s right! Afraid to touch money, doorknobs, baskets in supermarkets that people may have touched and God knows what else! Have the British hearts of oak suddenly become riddled with woodworm? Keep calm, bear up and carry on my darlings. Stiff upper lip, brace yourselves, think of England and soldier on to the end of the road. As we always have done and will always do as a nation we will overcome! Buck up and sh1t a brick!

      Colonel Blimp

      March 4, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    • Really British Pluck? I work…

      katrehman

      March 5, 2020 at 10:56 am

  26. “Government has actually kept elderly and sick and disabled people isolated from the rest of society for years simply by cutting care funding down to fuck all. Don’t really need to tell people to stay at home to avoid viruses” – Kate Belgrave

    https://mobile.twitter.com/hangbitch/status/1234477990970568704?p=v#

    trev

    March 4, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    • It’s always sad when a good blog goes under. Kate Belgrave, The Sanctionary, Johnny Void and many more..

      Seeker

      March 5, 2020 at 5:48 pm

      • I believe Kate is busy writing a book, and the Void is back apparently.

        trev

        March 5, 2020 at 6:02 pm

  27. Don’t panic! Don’t panic!

    Lance Corporal Jack Jones, Walmington-on-Sea

    March 4, 2020 at 7:02 pm

  28. Keep Calm And Carry On

    Colonel White

    March 4, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    • Carry on? Oooooo Matron!

      Kenneth Williams

      March 5, 2020 at 4:46 pm

  29. Only fools and horses work.

    Thought for the Day

    March 5, 2020 at 8:59 am

  30. ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES WORK

    – Jobcentre poster

    Coffey Break

    March 5, 2020 at 9:12 am

    • … and trev’s personal mantra!

      Lobsang

      March 5, 2020 at 11:05 am

      • I’m nobody’s fool!

        trev

        March 5, 2020 at 11:09 am

      • I’d just like to point out that someone is taking the piss and those were not my comments.

        trev

        March 5, 2020 at 2:28 pm

      • You voted for Corbyn! 😀

        T Bair

        March 5, 2020 at 11:37 am

      • Horses haven’t been given the franchise yet and can’t vote in general elections.

        Shergar

        March 5, 2020 at 11:39 am

  31. Time for a new post Andrew. If you could let me have the copy by 5pm it would be appreciated.

    The Editor

    March 5, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    • If I was late with the sub-edit there would soon be enough said !!

      Sub Editor

      March 5, 2020 at 4:29 pm

  32. Britain has warned Emmanuel Macron that Royal Navy gunboats will be deployed to stop EU fishing boats from entering UK waters after Brexit. – #SaveOurCod

    Captain Birdseye

    March 5, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    • Cod go with you Captain Birdseye, and with your spirit !

      Reverend Green

      March 5, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    • As a purveyor of wet fish for over forty years I have to say that a nice piece of lightly smoked haddock beats a fillet of cod any day.

      Henry Root

      March 5, 2020 at 4:50 pm

  33. I’ve just had a text from my doctor’s surgery telling me that if I suspect I have coronavirus I should not go to the surgery, chemists, hospital etc., but ring the coronavirus helpline on 111 and follow the instructions. Looks like they are gearing up for a busy 2020!

    Hollyander

    March 5, 2020 at 4:44 pm

  34. Andrew Coates

    March 5, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    • There was an article on “low value low skill workers'” on Sky News a few weeks back in a building trench at the rear amongst what looked like giant steel wire and yellow caps’, the front of the house was the only part standing it didn’t look low value or low skill workers’ to me from mainland Europe who came here to work.They were saying people here didn’t want to work in the cold outside but they must have had the right “card’s” for this type of work and the skills that wern’t available here.

      The harsh side to this only the negatives were mentioned and that seemed like a swipe not the positives of getting the job done.

      Found it.

      ken

      March 5, 2020 at 9:09 pm

  35. This stands out, although it is not exactly the reason he was sanctioned,

    “It was then that I spoke to a man that has been sanctioned for not attending an appointment. He had explained to his advisor that he no longer had a mobile phone because he had lost it and asked if they could send him a letter as an alternative to a text message.

    The DWP ignored this and sent him a text notifying him of his next appointment. Of course he missed his appointment so now he’s having to cope living off hardship payments, most of which has to go towards paying his family member for food etc whilst he lives with them.

    Andrew Coates

    March 5, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    • Harsh. You’d think there would be some sort of “three strikes and you’re out” kind of thing to give people a chance to get organised and pull their socks up. You don’t normally get set to prison or seriously punished for a trivial offence; usually you are treated leniently and only get punished badly if you keep breaking the law.

      Barlow

      March 5, 2020 at 4:56 pm

      • I dont even own a mobile phone and get uc , I been recommend due to my health condition by my gp not to have one,

        my_final_username

        March 5, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    • And I think we will be seeing a lot more of these FTA ‘ Failure To Attend ‘ sanctions over the next few wee
      Some people don’t have mobile phones, or land-lines or computers.

      Jeff Smith

      March 5, 2020 at 5:45 pm

  36. @ Hermione

    No, probably not. Very few people would.

    trev

    March 5, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    • @trev – It is strange there are so few women posting to this blog. Unless of course they are posting under assumed male names ?

      Jack S.

      March 5, 2020 at 8:28 pm

      • @ Jack S.

        It’s not strange, it’s more common for men to post on comment sections on Political blogs (and on newspaper online comments) than it is for women. It is also predominantly men who are trolls.

        trev

        March 5, 2020 at 9:14 pm

      • G’day, cobbers. It ain’t just you Poms who have to deal with trolls.

        From a Pommie paper.

        Trolling forces newspaper to end women’s Australian rules comments


        Strewth 😀

        An Australian newspaper says sexist remarks have forced it to remove the comments section from its coverage of women’s Australian rules football.

        The Herald Sun said it had decided to shut off the comments following appeals from players, commentators and fans.

        One story had received almost 300 comments of a “sexist tone”, it said.

        Abusive comments aimed at players have plagued the sport for months. Women began playing Australian rules football professionally in 2017.

        Last year Prime Minister Scott Morrison referred to online trolls who attacked star footballer Tayla Harris as “cowardly grubs”.

        Clicky linky, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-51756675

        trev cobber…, Now, who’s Australia’s most famous cricketer? And not Shane fucking Warne. Come on. Come on, trev . 👿 👿 *fetches angle grinder* 👿 👿

        Wolf Creek

        March 5, 2020 at 10:47 pm

      • @trev, I’m not sure how you can be so certain of that ? There must be many women posting under assumed names. And as for the gender of trolls, surely the real situation, like most things is going to be 50/50 ?

        Jack S.

        March 6, 2020 at 3:32 pm

  37. What we are seeing is the Deep State using Corona Virus as the cover to tank the economy to defeat Trump in November.

    MAGA TRUMP 2020

    Redneck

    March 5, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    • @ Redneck

      It would be nice to get rid of Trump, though I doubt that’s the case.

      trev

      March 5, 2020 at 9:09 pm

  38. Picture a big fan blowing deadly coronavirus onto you as you enter the jobcentre and the roaches all wearing hazmat suits. Not like they are trying to kill of the unemployed, where did you get that idea 😉

    Steph

    March 6, 2020 at 12:11 pm

  39. According to the Mirror of all people, Universal Credit was a good and “sensible” idea just badly implemented. I beg to differ. It is/was a very bad idea indeed and there is nothing remotely “sensible” about attempting to roll 6 different Benefits into one. Housing Benefit needs to be kept entirely separate from other Benefits. Hardship should not take the form of a repayable loan. The advance payment in lieu of the 5 weeks claim process should not be a repayable loan, money should be payable from day one of the claim. Applying draconian terms and conditions to the claim is also counterproductive and makes sanctions inevitable, sanctions that need not exist to begin with. UC is punitive,draconian, overly ambitious, complicated, and is a very bad idea.

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/voice-mirror-universal-credit-good-21651932

    trev

    March 8, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    • Monthly payments is a bad idea too, the only way that would be feasible without causing hardship is if Benefits were paid at the correct level to begin with (which they aren’t) i.e. at least £100 per week for a single unemployed person. Currently JSA is paid fortnightly but that money doesn’t last for a fortnight, you’re lucky if get’s you through the first week, but monthly payments would be doubly difficult to manage, even without deductions. Unemployment Benefits need to be increased and paid weekly. Sanctions need to be abolished and Universal Credit scrapped completely.

      trev

      March 8, 2020 at 4:47 pm


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