MPs are set to hold an inquiry into benefit sanctions after 200,000 people signed a petition in the wake of an ex-soldier’s death.
More than 211,000 people signed a Change.org petition started by Gill Thompson calling for an inquiry into benefit sanctions after diabetic David Clapson, 59, was found dead in his home.
Gill’s three-month campaign called for an independent inquiry into benefit sanctions – which refers to occasions that money is withheld from claimants if they fail to meet the terms agreed.
The Work and Pensions cross-party select committee has now agreed and its inquiry into benefit sanctions is due to start early next year. It is expected to be completed shortly before the General Election in May.
David, from Stevenage – who worked for 29 years, had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped and died three weeks later. When his body was found by a friend, his electricity card was out of credit, meaning the fridge where he kept the insulin he used to treat his diabetes was not working.
He died from diabetic ketoacidosis three weeks after his benefits were stopped, caused by not taking insulin. A coroner found that when David died there was no food in his stomach.
Gill, 57, from London, has welcomed the decision to hold an inquiry. She said: “I’m still getting my head around the announcement. It’s still so overwhelming. When I started the petition I didn’t know what would happen.
“It wasn’t just for David. Nothing can replace him but the one thing I thought I could do was to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“I’m not normally a campaigner and David wasn’t someone who liked a fuss, but sometimes in life there are certain things you have to do – and starting this petition was one of them.
“I am so glad I did it now. I hope, through this investigation, lessons will be learnt. People turn to the state when they are in need – that is what the system is for – a safety net for hard working people like my brother when they need a bit of support.”
Debbie Abrahams, MP for East Oldham and Saddleworth, has been calling on the DWP select committee, of which she is a member, to hold an inquiry into “inappropriate use” of benefit sanctions since November last year.
She said: “Gill has shown great courage in the wake of her brother’s appalling death to take on this cruel government and its inhuman policy of targeting vulnerable people who are reliant on social security.
“The huge response to Gill’s Change.org petition with more than 200,000 signatures is proof that the British public will not stand by and do nothing when they see vulnerable people suffering.”
“The government has done everything it can to avoid having this inquiry. There is increasing evidence of the negative effects of social security sanctions on some of the most vulnerable in society, which shows that their so-called welfare reforms don’t work. This is a government that doesn’t give a damn about ordinary people.
“Latest figures show that there are now more people in working families who are living in poverty than in workless and retired families combined.”
Many thanks to Vox Political
Benefit sanctions are not fair and are not helping people into work
Rising ESA sanctions: punishing the vulnerable for being vulnerable
Punishing Poverty: A review of benefits sanctions and their impacts on clients and claimants
Rising ESA sanctions: punishing the vulnerable for being vulnerable
Many thanks to Robert Livingstone
3 thoughts on “Inquiry to be launched into ex-soldier’s death after JSA stopped – Mike Sivier”
This is long overdue, Rather than JSA helping or offering clear directions and support with efforts to return to work, they cripple you, demoralize you and cut of help, just when you need it the most. They have no respect for any life complications, or invisible difficulties that you may have.
The systemic abuse of vulnerable people is disgusting and this should not be allowed to happen. Some people have difficulties fitting into the usual work patterns of 9-5. Some people have certain characteristics that effect what environments they can work in. This is not even asked about or taken into consideration.
You are forced to go to interviews, where you may not even be qualified for the job, but if you turn it down you get sanctioned.
It would also seem that some of these interviews are staged and allow government officials or other ‘bodies’ to illicit information from you under the guise of a ‘work interview’. This has happened to me twice now in the past two weeks. The second interview was intense and even psychologically intrusive.
It was clear that my interviewers already had some prior knowledge of me and my weaknesses and deficits. As such the interview was conducted through a lens of pre-conceived judgements. I was forced to comply with the interview, due to being in a ‘professional’ interview I had to ‘play the game’, despite my suspicions.This clearly put me on the defense as it was a very ‘unnatural’ and loaded environment. It was clear the interviewers had already approached my previous employers and gained a one-sided perspective on my conduct during my time at that job. Given that none of this was above board or openly confirmed, I could not defend myself, for fear of being made to look wrong or paranoid I felt this intuitively and as a result I felt very guarded and uncomfortable. I felt baited and Intensely scrutinized. The questions asked, were sometimes not relevant to the job role. I almost felt like I was in a court and under interrogation, but without having been offered the respect of a fair trial, warning or the opportunity to construct a defense. I was then told, that I was to defensive. My intuition is generally quite sharp. I knew something wasn’t right and yet it was all unspoken and so all i could do was speculate on the hidden undertones of the ‘interview’ knowing full well that I had been trapped in a one sided and unequally represented affair. This should not be allowed to happen. I wonder if anyone else has had this happen to them.
You are expected to apply for jobs and then lie to your interviewers and embellish your skills in the hope that they will employ you. Typical questions such as ‘why do you want to work for us’ are in my mind unfair, and force you to lie to your prospective employers out of desperation and fear of losing your support.
The pressure from and the demands of JSA require that you lie and do everything you can to secure a job, even lying about why you want the job. If you reveal you have certain deficits, you will be discriminated against and likely undermine your chances of securing the job. And so you are forced into a twilight state of approaching work, trying to show your best side and trying to hide your weaker sides and hoping that if you get the job you can just somehow overcome those weaker areas.
This is a double bind. I’m sure employers want honest employees. But the very nature of JSA forces you to be somewhat dishonest, this makes me very uncomfortable. It does not sit well with my conscience. No-one wants to be on JSA everyone wants ‘rewarding’ work. And we are all different with different skill-sets, some more unique and outside the box than others. However the world of work tries to homogenize you and instead of focusing on your strengths and accessible training to help, you are instead expected to overcome any shortcomings without support. And if you reveal them you are likely to not get the job and then have the added pain of enduring stigma and prejudice.
Also people often do not seek the support they need because they are used to being discriminated against, as a result they learned to try and hide their weaknesses and try to overcome them alone. This to, is wrong and potentially dangerous to those that have much less support in their lives than others.
If you want to help people, don’t discriminate against them, isolate them and punish them for being trapped within circumstances that they did not choose.
Low wages, low stability and low opportunities force people to look to the state for help. This engineered situation is done to secure a constant stream of workers for ill-paid, menial jobs. Without security of home and income, people are forced into the ‘state dependency trap’ and then vilified as lazy for having no other option than to be there.
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