Osborne and IDS (both members of the Nasty Party, and each as nasty as the other) have under the new rules announced at the Tory conference put thousands of young people into a double bind leading in many cases to destitution. With 200,000 long-term unemployed now targeted by Osborne (the same who gave 40,000 millionaires a ta break of more than £2,000 a week), the longer a person is out of work, the tougher the rules become and the more punitive for even the slightest infringement, even ones that are the fault of the DWP and not of the jobless person himself. The consequent ‘sanctioning’, i.e. removing benefits for a lengthy period, is now the prime cause of destitution in Britain today. I give a few examples (all names removed) of those who have recently applied to my office at their wits’ end and in desperate poverty:
John (not his real name) told us that since he last worked 2 months previously, he had received no benefit payments, even though he had a wife and two small children (7 months and 3 years) to support. He says when he attended the Jobcentre he was told to phone for an appointment (everything has to be done by phone or on line). He says he did this, gave all his details and was promised he would be sent a letter, but came to us in distress when he failed to get an appointment to sign on. The local Jobcentre said they had no record of him applying. We asked them to look into his case urgently and referred him to the Foodbank because he and his family were destitute.
Michael notified the Jobcentre in person and on the benefit enquiries hotline of his change of address, yet a sanction was imposed as he failed to attend a meeting. He was not notified of the meeting because the letter was sent to his previous address, which was his mother’s house. At that time he wasn’t on speaking terms with his mother and couldn’t obtain the letters. He was however receiving correspondence at his new address. Clearly the DWP made a mistake, but nevertheless imposed a sanction without checking and he was left without benefit through no fault of his own.
Jimmy was sanctioned for failing to turn up to a work training scheme with Seetec. He says he did turn up and Seetec admitted as much, explaining the mistake was an error on their system. But he was told this was insufficient evidence and was not allowed to claim a hardship payment because his wife was working. Yet the family were at risk of losing their home due to financial hardship.
Andrew was sanctioned for 1 week for turning up late for an appointment. he was 5 minutes late for his jobseeker’s direction meeting as a result of problems with his bicycle. We asked for a reconsideration on the grounds that the man had never been late before, did turn up for the meeting, explained in detail why he was late, and had evidence that he was actively seeking work.
This is not about ensuring people get work; this is a form of gratuitous class-based persecution for which Osborne and IDS deserve to lose this jobs.