In a leaked document to the Guardian newspaper, the government are proposing charging failed benefit claimants for appealing against Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decisions.
In the ‘restricted’ internal DWP Efficiency Review about the finances of the DWP one idea proposed by ministers is “the introduction of a charge for people making appeals against [DWP] decisions to social security tribunals” would raise money.
If this policy were introduced it would condemn the poorest and most vulnerable in society to effectively having no right of appeal against the bad decisions of the DWP. People already struggling to cope with the draconian welfare changes the country has seen since this government has been in power will have even less of a chance of fighting their cases in what is supposed to be a fair and democratic society.
People who are sanctioned will be unable to afford to appeal – regardless of their circumstances.
In 2013 there was a record number of appeals against sanctions and bad DWP decisions – with the aid of Atos of course – since Jobseeker’s Allowance was introduced in 1996.
The total number of sanctions against benefit claimants in the year to September 2013 was 897,690, the highest figure for any 12-month period since jobseeker’s allowance was introduced in 1996.
The figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions cover employment support allowance and jobseeker’s allowance.
The number of JSA sanctions in the year to 30 September 2013 was 874,850, the highest since JSA was introduced in 1996. It compares with 500,000 in the year to 30 April 2010, the last month of the previous Labour government.
In the year to 30 September 2013 there were also 22,840 sanctions imposed on claimants of ESA – the chief benefit for the sick and disabled – in the work-related activity group. This is the highest for any 12-month period since sanctions were introduced for such claimants in October 2008.
The number of appeals to independent tribunals against DWP decisions in recent months have seen a success rate of 58%, with the success rate in 2010 being 20% or less.
The proposal would not generate any revenue for the DWP, but would go towards reducing costs within the Justice Department. Last year saw the introduction of a £250 charge for employment tribunal applicants.
Shadow work and pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves, told the Guardian “When government’s own figures show a staggering 58% of appeals against Department for Work and Pensions decisions to dock jobseeker’s allowance are upheld, it’s clear the system is broken. Rather than penalising thousands of people by charging them to appeal, ministers need to ask why they are presiding over a broken system which is making so many bad decisions, which are overturned on appeal.”
Welfare rights lawyer, Neil Bateman said that his experience has shown that a high proportion of appeals are caused by mistakes and poo decision making by the DWP. He said this had risen in recent years because the department had got rid of experienced DWP decision-makers, social security law had become more complex and attitudes had changed.
Bateman said “Under this government there is an attitudinal issue in terms of evidence of increased DWP staff antipathy towards clients and that all results in decisions which are wrong which eventually get turned over at appeal.”
The government has faced increased criticism this week over its introduction of welfare reforms which is effectively creating a ‘slave class’ within society.
Religious leaders criticised the government over its punitive measures which have forced hundreds of thousands of people to use food banks and accused the government of creating a ‘national crisis’.
The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) is considering legal action against the DWP for over 50 blind people who it says have been unfairly sanctioned by the DWP.
The government is doing nothing more that bullying – the same kind of bullying one hears of in a school yard or in the corporate world.
The public seem to be largely ignorant of the true cost of welfare in the UK, instead choosing to believe government propaganda which targets the poor and vulnerable.
The COMBINED cost of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance only accounts for 5.45% of the total spend on welfare (2011-2012), but if the government hype were to be believed it is easy for the average person to think it was a major contributor to the welfare bill – which is factually untrue.
From the start of their time in office, the government have created a witch hunt scenario against people on benefits – something which is beginning to backfire on them as the true extent of their own ludicrous ideology and social engineering is exposed.
Rather than penalising people who are already struggling to cope with the expense of living in the UK – primarily because of government incompetence in controlling energy prices and cuts to other services – they should have been (and still should be) looking at creating real opportunities and improving the lives of citizens – and not treat the country’s finances as a personal piggy-bank to make sure their well-off friends are looked after.
We agree that people who are able to work should have the opportunity to do so – but not in a labour market where the only jobs created by this government are temporary or zero-hour contracted minimum wage slavery.
Even though the cost to the nation of unemployment is very low when compared to the horrendous amount of money the government wastes every year, it is the responsibility (a word they seem to shun – usually blaming everything and everyone else) to create real opportunities for people. Real jobs with security and a living wage.
Many young people have incurred significant debt which will be with them for most of their lives to gain the qualifications the government has told them they need for a career. The result of their work and debt is that they may find a minimum wage job somewhere if they are one of the lucky ones. That is hardly something the government can call and achievement.
How any government could think that targeting the poor, sick, and disabled in society is a good move is beyond comprehension and is nothing more than a fascist doctrine. Obviously the majority are not able to be gainfully employed, and as a society we should ensure that their lives are not made worse though sadistic policies and stigmatising.
If anything, the government should be looking at ways to improve social care and health services. Many sick and disabled people have not only seen their welfare payments targeted, but also find it increasingly difficult to find suitable support and medical services as government cuts have hit the health service and local councils.
For example, mental health services have virtually no capacity to cope with their standard case loads, let alone the rise in people with mental health problems (many of which are no doubt attributable to the government’s policies). They are ‘firefighting’ all the time, trying to cope with the most vulnerable people and not providing services to the rest.
There are many other areas of social care and health which are suffering just as much, if not more than mental health. Fewer resources and they are expected to do more – an impossible situation for both services and the people who use them.
The government exist in their own bubble and look after the cronies in the bubble with them. That is all they have done since being in power. They don’t care at all about the general population, or doing what is best or right for the country. They don’t give a damn about a disabled person struggling to pay more for another bedroom – even though they need it to keep medical equipment in. They don’t give a damn about a person looking for work who can find no suitable employment. They don’t give a damn about people who have worked all of their lives and suddenly find themselves in the benefit system through no fault of their own.
Perhaps that sums them up – they just don’t give a damn.
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