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David Clapson died with no food in his stomach, three weeks after his Jobseekers Allowance was stopped due to a benefit sanction. David, a 59 year old diabetic who had served in the Army and cared for his late mother, was desperately seeking work when he fell foul of the sanctions regime. The DWP said,
"Sanctions are only used as a last resort for a tiny minority who don’t follow the rules.."
We are constantly being told that the British public has swallowed the 'scroungers and skivers' rhetoric about benefit claimants, and is broadly in favour of welfare cuts. Any politician who opposes these cuts is widely portrayed as unrealistic and unelectable. But what if that is not true, and the public's attitude is actually far less harsh than the Westminster bubble would have us believe?
Last night's welfare debate in the House of Commons (20th July 2015) was a less than edifying experience. On the one hand, there were Conservative politicians arguing that the bill, which just piles on the cruelty created by the 2012 Welfare Act, was all about improving lives blighted by dependency. On the other, were the Labour leadership, who were prepared to lay down an amendment, but not to vote against it, despite a significant rebellion from their back bench.
This time last year we took the Department of Work and Pensions to a judicial review to decide if they properly consulted about cutting help for people who can only walk a few metres.
There are many things to despair of in George Osborne’s Summer Budget but the one that makes my heart sink most is proposed changes to the Employment Support Allowance (ESA).