In the week or so since I started the blog I’ve gained new perspective and knowledge on a world I knew existed, and indeed was a part of – the growing proportion of the population under attack by the government and the Department of Work and Pensions.
Let’s examine some facts:
- More than one million people sanctioned – and that’s just between Oct 2012 and Dec 2013!
- IDS’s department admit (forced by Freedom of Information Act requests) investigation into 60 deaths related to new welfare regulations and sanctions
- Significant evidence job centres are under pressure to sanction ‘5% of the live load’ – i.e. government sanction targets
- Food bank spike linked to benefit cuts, govt denies
- According to recent research by Oxford University 500,000 JSA claimants have simply ‘disappeared’
- DWP system of sanctions to be investigated by House of Commons select committee
I for one am lucky. I’ve had amazing support from friends, family and people I’ve never even met at my time of need. Food parcels, and a bit of cash here and there. One such person even found my Paypal account and put £25 into it. I’ve been profoundly touched by the generosity of spirit and empathy I’ve experienced.
Speaking of empathy – there’s been a chronic shortage of it from Iain Duncan-Smith – who was reported to have laughed at the plight of a rape victim who fitted a panic room in her house this week.
Furthermore, IDS cannot possibly know what it’s like to deal with the real consequences of his draconian reforms. He hasn’t experienced putting by more than half your Job Seeker’s Allowance every month so you can subsidise the £200-odd shortfall in Housing Benefit. Mr Duncan-Smith has never had to live on half the paltry sum the government deems necessary to keep life together. He has never experienced being limited to Aldi for buying food or Wetherspoons as the only vaguely affordable social setting – I seriously doubt if he has ever been in a branch of either.
It remains to be seen if IDS has seen the 60 secret dossiers investigating benefit-related deaths. If indeed he has read any of them we do not know what passed through his mind or his emotional state whilst reading them.
I seriously doubt IDS has any interest in the situation faced by those trying to help those who help those sanctioned. The Brighton Unemployed Centre is facing closure at present, but highly skilled and professional volunteers are struggling amid uncertainty and low morale.
It’s hard to see that he has empathy about anything much – apart from the ability to laugh at rape victims. Indeed, the most traumatic thing IDS has ever experienced is when in 2003 his own MPs passed a motion of no confidence in the leadership of the party and was forced to resign.
Here’s a dissection of his abilities by ‘colleague’ Michael Portillo – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0Ip7ajMoZU.
“I resigned from the Conservative Party when Iain Duncan-Smith, probably the most lamentable choice of leader for any political party in living memory became leader” David Mellor
And so how can we get IDS to be a better, more humble man? To learn the value of empathy? Alas these words are only words, despite the fact that 29,974 people visited this blog in its first seven days. What we need is action.
Personally I’d say groups and individuals need to group together with actions not words to show their anger and frustration. It would seem these links are forming, but they need to lead to tangible action – to minibuses and coaches being booked – and do something to bring the issues directly to him.
“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it” Maya Angelou
P.S. The ’67 jobs’ story was due be pitched globally by Caters News Agency in Birmingham this week. When I contacted them to see how things were progressing I was informed the story had been spiked on very thin grounds. They said the publications they pitched to had ‘starkly different agendas’ to a paper like the Guardian. Draw your own conclusions folks…
P.P.S. Yesterday I went for a job interview which went very well indeed. It was one of the ’67 jobs’ I applied for in the fortnight I was sanctioned. I await the response, as I currently do from the DWP independent adjudicator, and the dept itself concerning my official complaint against them.