I wouldn’t be poor and downtrodden nowadays, Gentle Readers. The climate out there is distinctly unhealthy for you. If you are, there’s little sympathy for your plight, and little or no public outrage about the pernicious effects of benefit sanctions and the rising reliance on food banks. The present system is one of outright, standardised cruelty, bearing down on those least able to bear it, backed by bureaucratic inefficiency that is vindictive and hunger being used as a weapon. People are being forced to look for work that simply doesn’t exist, and then severely penalised as a result through no fault of their own.
This is an open, suppurating wound in our society. And it’s being ignored. Those jobs don’t exist now and working people are no longer in control of their own lives. The only intent seems to be focused on dividing people into skivers and strivers. There needs to be public rage about this. But there isn’t, and the idea that someone in the system can decide whether or not you can eat is sickening.
Following the extensive (and completely deserved) slating of the government’s benefits sanctions regime, with charities such as Mind claiming that fit-for-work tests are linked to hundreds of extra suicides, there’s no desire to change this abominable practice. In September, a coroner said the suicide of one disabled man, Michael O’Sullivan, was triggered by intense anxiety caused by his experience with the controversial work-capability assessment process.
At least, in response to the barrage of criticism, it emerged last month that an early warning system for benefit claimants facing sanctions is to be trialled in response to claims that an excessively punitive and bureaucratic system is driving some claimants deeper into poverty. Let’s see. But the blinkers are still on. A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said employment was now at a record high and unemployment was back to pre-recession levels.
Really? Having been a recipient of this systems’ treatment, I can confidently state one single thing:
You are a lying, evil espouser of utter fucking shite.
“We have been very clear there are no targets for sanctions and that reductions in benefits are only ever used as a last resort for a very small minority.” the spokesperson said. Bullshit.
An administrative decision can sentence a person and their family to hunger. Where else in society do we have that? People are having to choose between heating or food. This is causing long-term damage and is defining people as non-citizens. Sanctions don’t help people get into work; it increases the chaos in their lives.
And I truly wish that I could, even in some small way, convince people that this is not so. But, while the convenience of following such deluded, uncaring and smug concepts persists, I fear that this won’t be so.
But I’ll still fucking write this anyway.