In February 2014 The Guardian stated that The Government was thinking of charging people who have been stripped of their benefits for challenging decisions. Although so far it hasn’t been actioned, it does give an insight into the way the government thinks about it’s citizens.
In my opinion, I feel that people of this country who are being brutalised by the harsh regime of Sanctions and Mandatory Reconsideration, should be charging the government for the deaths and damaging impact on their health due to these inhumane policies and not the other way around!
A Guardian’s analysis shows that: “of those unemployed in the 12 months up to April 2014, 16.7% faced a financial penalty.”
“A DWP release then claimed that 94% of jobseeker’s allowance claimants were not hit with sanctions, although it is not made clear that this figure is a monthly average.
Even MP’s are confused
Who is being sanctioned?
- Sick and disabled Jobseekers, who have been stripped of their sickness benefit and are stuck in The Mandatory Reconsideration system while challenging a finding of “fit for work” decision, after their Work Capability Assessment:
As those in this group are in receipt of jobseekers allowance we do not know how many of these people have received sanctions.
- Sick and disabled people in the Work Related Activity Group(WRAG). These are people the government thinks will improve over the next year or so.
Read more here on how many sick and disabled people have been sanctioned from December 2012 to March 2015:: http://kingstonelabour.org/2015/08/14/high-success-rate-in-esa-sanction-challenges/
According to Dr David Webster,. In the year to 31 March 2015 there were 587,000 JSA sanctions. A large proportion of sanctions are due to: “Failure to attend or failure to participate in an Adviser interview without good reason”
It beggars belief these figures include people being late for 5minutes to appointments when such harsh penalties are being imposed.
In the last month I have been late for two appointments, one due to a car crashing into a bridge and the other due to over running railway works. If I were a Jobseeker, my benefit could quite easily have been stopped for a period 4 -13 weeks!
Reasons for sanctions
“A gentleman had an appointment at the job centre on the Tuesday, was taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack that day, missed the appointment, sanctioned for 9 weeks.”
“Several sanctioned because allegedly had not sent in required forms – only to find after some weeks that they HAD been sent and received.”
You can read more here at section 1.4: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/work-and-pensions-committee/benefit-sanctions-policy-beyond-the-oakley-review/written/16465.html
A report published in January 2014 stated that 500,000 sanctioned JSA claimants have disappear! It estimated 43% of people who received sanctions went on to leave JSA altogether.
Where have they gone, well no-one seems to know!
When challenged by Debbie Abrahams over this, Iain Duncan Smith stated “I actually believe the sanctions regime as applied is fair …”
ESA Sanctions overturned following challenge
The statistics show that for Employment and Support Allowance of the 66846 sanctions:
45,774 decisions were reviewed – in 20,400 cases the decision was overturned;
1,207 decisions that underwent a mandatory reconsideration were overturned .
168 cases the decision was overturned at appeal
In addition an estimated 80,600 Job Seekers Allowance sanctions were overturned in the 12 months to March 2015 via reviews, reconsiderations or appeals.
These are cases where the claimant’s payments will have been stopped for weeks or months only to be refunded later.
These figures only applies to sanctions and does not include those waiting for a Mandatory Reconsideration decision after being found “fit for work,” which must be completed before they can start their appeal.
You can read more here: https://mzolobajluk.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/numbers-should-be-a-light-not-a-crutch/
Between December 2014 and June 2015, 53% of everyone who appealed their Employment and Support Allowance “fit to work” decision had it reversed.
It was reported earlier this month that a group of student volunteers at one legal advice centre in Bristol had help overturn fit to work decisions at a rate as high as 95 per cent.
I would strongly suggest that before the DWP start charging people to exercise their legal right to appeal adverse benefit decision, they put their own house in order first!
Sadly this week I added another three names to the list of people who have died due to the loss of benefits.
Ruby Urbacz age 59 She was found dead at her home on the 6th September 2015 as a result of a heart attack. Her benefits were stopped without any investigation as she missed her JSA appointment whilst in hospital.
Sheila Holt aged 48 She died after being terrified that her benefits would be cut she fell into a coma following a heart attack she suffered at a psychiatric unit. While Sheila lay unconscious in hospital, she was sent letters from Seetec, the private company providing the Work Programme http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ros-wynne-jones-sheila-hounded-death-5353202
Michael Brendan O’Sullivan aged 60: “He hung himself while on anti-depressants and having therapy sessions, he met a benefits advisor for an hour and a half to beg for his payments to continue..” http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/landmark-verdict-declares-lovely-quiet-6487928