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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sickening system — what is it fit for?

Swheatie responds to the Carer Watch blog posting about Opposition Day Debate

Sanctions and fear of sanctions leave people traumatised
Hi, CW

'Welfare reform' is a sickening industry

I note that one of the 'related posts' you cite is from me from over two years ago, and linked to a letter I had published in Camden New Journal — 'Tongue-tied but no longer isolated'.

The Opposition Day Debate was not the only thing happening yesterday in terms of the 'welfare reform' agenda.  There was a demonstration against the axing of Access to Work for disabled people as the money 'saved' by closure of Remploy factories seems to have got us nowhere.

Meanwhile, no longer isolated, I was celebrating my birthday with friends from Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group outside North Kensington Jobcentre Plus — or, as we have dubbed it, 'North KenSanctions Slave Centre' in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. That is somewhat in the 'beyond' bit of our operating area definition of 'Brent & Camden & Beyond!' (Our heartland of Kilburn is split between the boroughs of Brent & Camden.) And we were there with our blogger friend and Honorary Member Kate Belgrave (all the way from SE London), reflecting on the huge gulf between the Metro freebie newspaper's 29 October banner headline "Migrants 'ready to die for your British benefits' — Mayor of Calais warns MPs of growing crisis" and what we actually hear from jobcentre customers — especially at the North KenSanctions Centre! (I wish there was a gagging law against purveyors of such nonsense, while the owner of the newspaper group of which the Metro and Daily Mail are a part lives outside the UK.)

The sad fact in response to those words attributed to the Mayor of Calais — apart from the facts of people fleeing wars in their native lands — is that sanctions and fear of sanctions is making people traumatised and too ill to work or do pointless jobsearch, and more and more people are being driven into daily signing on with fluctuating signing times that make for no real quality time in jobsearch and a very punitive system, especially at the NKS Slave Centre. How much of that can anyone humanly take?

At that sanctions centre more than any other so far, we encounter people who have been sanctioned. (Usually elsewhere it's people who have been threatened with sanction if they do not comply with what the jobcentre 'adviser' has told them they must do, which is often far more than the claimant is really legally obliged to do.)

And in this day and age, one of the greatest impediments to benefit justice is a desire to do waged work in a world that is not geared for your inclusion. What sort of chance has a person in such a situation got for claiming ESA?

As per our official motto: "Never attend anywhere official alone!" exercising my liberty in support of social and economic justice gave a new context to my attending a jobcentre on my birthday as the progress I have made in life from the time that I was going nowhere as a disabled person who really wanted to do something meaningful in my life but not able to in a world that has laws against disability discrimination but no real enforcement of those laws.


  1. "Never attend anywhere official alone" is a necessity now. Spread the word. (Aka prayerwarriorpsychicnot)

  2. As I stated recently at our Bi-Annual General Meeting, our casework is a form of DIRECT ACTION against injustice.