Methodists Church – benefit sanctions – a video – and bundle of good information about that injustice

Methodist Church – rethink sanctions

DWP ministers thinking about sanctions is toxic the task given to jobcentres incapable of just implementation

MINISTERS SEEM TO THINK THAT MAKING PEOPLE ILL “IS A PRICE WORTH PAYING” TO  “HELP” THE UNEMPLOYED INTO WORK. 
The DWP never thinks about the additional costs in the NHS when the DWP makes people mentally and physically ill by shredding or even stopping their incomes; and then enforcing inevitable rent and council tax arrears, overpayments etc……….This is a clip from a government document for Decision Makers (re Sanctions) in the DWP. You can find the full article on the Ekklesia website,  It was sent in by a TAP supporter.http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21360
Guidance for hardship payments
“Comparing the decline in health with a healthy adult35098 The DM must consider if the health of the person with the medical condition would decline more than a normal healthy adult. The DM should make this comparison based on a normal healthy adult who is in similar circumstances to the person with the medical condition.35099 It would be usual for a normal healthy adult to suffer some deterioration in their health if they were without

1. essential items, such as food, clothing, heating and accommodation or

2. sufficient money to buy essential items for a period of two weeks.

See Appendix 6 to this Chapter for further guidance.

The DM must determine if a person with a medical condition would suffer a greater decline in health than a normal healthy adult and would suffer hardship (DMG 35142 et seq)”.

Here is the link to the whole of Chapter 35 of the DWP guidance to sanctions decision makers about Hardship Payments. It is 156 pages long. “two weeks” appears 17 times. Appendix 6 gets us nearest to what the DWP is getting at.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/391572/dmgch35.pdf

“Full health depends upon a regular and varied intake of food containing sufficient calories and essential nutrients. A normal healthy body contains enough reserves to cope with dietary changes over a short period but there are medical conditions that could deteriorate due to an inadequate diet over a two week period following a DM’s decision”.

The other references to “two weeks” seem to be saying that its OK for the health of a healthy person with a sanction to deteriorate over two weeks but don’t risk it with a mentally or physically ill person, who should be given a hardship payment.

Looking at the guidance I doubt whether any Jobcentre decision maker is capable of making such decisions about health and should never have been asked. The guidance has more to do with Ministers answering legal challenges and complying with human rights legislation.

There are very few normal healthy bodies being sanctioned; they are mostly unable to buy a healthy diet and all other necessities for themselves or their childrenThe DWP description of “full health” has been ignored when deciding the level of benefits and deciding on the caps, cuts and council tax benefits for decades.I have been writing since 1999 that the adult unemployment is not enough to live on (now at £72.40 a week). Since April 2013 many tenants have been paying rent due to the bedroom tax and council tax out of it; families have been suffering in the same way due to the overall benefit cap of £500. Making the purchase of a healthy diet even more impossible for nearly three years – not just two weeks. Before then we had 100% council tax and housing benefit.

Rev Paul Nicolson

THE DWP SEEMS TO THINK THAT MAKING PEOPLE ILL “IS A PRICE WORTH PAYING” TO “ENCOURAGE” THE UNEMPLOYED INTO WORK.

THE DWP SEEMS TO THINK  THAT MAKING PEOPLE ILL “IS A PRICE WORTH PAYING” TO “ENCOURAGE” THE UNEMPLOYED INTO WORK.

The DWP never thinks about the additional costs in the NHS when the DWP makes people mentally and physically ill by shredding or even stopping their incomes; and then enforcing inevitable rent and council tax arrears, overpayments etc……….

This is a clip from a government document for Decision Makers (re Sanctions) in the DWP. You can find the full article on the Ekklesia website, right hand side tab “Destitution: Is it government policy?”.

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/

“Comparing the decline in health with a healthy adult

35098 The DM must consider if the health of the person with the medical condition would decline more than a normal healthy adult. The DM should make this comparison based on a normal healthy adult who is in similar circumstances to the person with the medical condition.

35099 It would be usual for a normal healthy adult to suffer some deterioration in their health if they were without

1. essential items, such as food, clothing, heating and accommodation or

2. sufficient money to buy essential items for a period of two weeks.

See Appendix 6 to this Chapter for further guidance.

The DM must determine if a person with a medical condition would suffer a greater decline in health than a normal healthy adult and would suffer hardship (DMG 35142 et seq)”.

PUNISHMENT WITHOUT TRIAL AT TOTTENHAM JOBCENTRE – Letter to Lord Freud

PUNISHMENT WITHOUT TRIAL AT TOTTENHAM JOBCENTRE – sanctions imposed without jobcentre officials hearing the facts

I have followed up the letter in the previous post to the Work and Pensions select committee  inquiry into sanctions with this letter to Lord  Freud. ​

The background to the letter. 

In 2012 ​Lord Ramsbotham and Baroness Ruth Lister tabled the amendments​ to the Welfare Reform Bill​ for me that got the response ​from Freud ​about the Wednesbury Principles. ​ I arranged the seminar referred to by Freud, and which he attended, at the request of Lord Ramsbotham – at the seminar were The Royal College of Psychiatrists, CAB and a lawyer from Zacchaeus 2000 to explain the Wednesbury Principles.

For ten years up to 2002 I attended Wycombe magistrates court as a parish priest to help people fill in their means statements when they could not pay their fines on most Wednesday mornings. I have seen what I am writing about at the front line. I often acted as a McKenzie Friend given permission by the magistrates to speak for vulnerable and impoverished offenders,

Letter to Lord Freud

PUNISHMENT WITHOUT TRIAL AT TOTTENHAM JOBCENTRE – sanctions imposed without jobcentre officials hearing the facts

Dear Lord Freud,

I have sent the following submission to the Work and Pensions Select committee who are undertaking an inquiry into benefit sanctions.

You will remember you gave the House of Lords an undertaking that the Wednesbury principles (see Judicial Review) would be obeyed by jobcentre decision makers. You said “decision-makers will have to consider all relevant matters raised by the claimant within a particular time period, including information about a claimant’s health condition and financial circumstances”. Hansard 25 Jan 2012 : Column 1061 4.15 pm. That is not happening at Tottenham Jobcentre.

The Tottenham decision maker stops the benefits without considering any relevant matters about the claimants health or financial circumstances. The claimant discovers the benefits have not been paid and goes to the jobcentre. He is then told, AFTER the punishment has been decided, that he has been sanctioned, for say three months, may appeal and apply for a hardship payment.

They are left without money during the considerable time it takes to process both. That is a very severe punishment imposed without reference to the Wednesbury principles; it is very damaging to both mental and physical health, with particularly serious implications for offspring of women of childbearing aged who need adequate maternal nutrition both before and during pregnancy.

If it were a TV license or fare evasion, or any other offence dealt with by the magistrates the accused would be summoned to court and given the opportunity to defend himself or herself, BEFORE the punishment is decided. The fine has to be proportionate to their income. They are never left with no money at all. The magistrates decisions are also governed by the Wednesbury principles. If someone is fined in their absence then they have the right to ask for a rehearing if their is a change of circumstances or the fine is wildly disproportionate.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Nicolson

Rev Paul Nicolson, Taxpayers Against Poverty

TAP tells MP’s enquiry into benefit sanctions Lord Freud’s assurances about justice forgotten in Tottenham jobcentre

TAP’s submission to

‘TO THE WORK AND PENSIONS
SELECT COMMITTEE
Inquiry into benefit sanctions .

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/benefit-sanctions/

1. Perhaps progress on the future of sanctions will be helped by the separation of two issues.

a) First what income should be paid to the unemployed and then
b) The moral hazard that it will discourage them from seeking work.

2. The income of the unemployed has been shredded by central government, taxed by local government and hit by ever rising rents. Some unemployed are not fit for work; they are both hungry and stressed. An unemployed army is kept fit for when it is needed. It should be the same for the civilian workforce when it is unemployed; they should receive the minimum income needed for healthy living.

3. It should be added that the enforcement of fines for poverty related offences such as TV license or fare evasion and of late or non-payment of council tax continues to escalate while the sanction lasts up to the arrival of the bailiffs on the doorstep charging £75 for administration plus £235 for the visit. The mentally ill are more likely to be in debt, debts can create mental health problems, see Royal College of Psychiatrists.

4. The present procedure by which the Tottenham Jobcentre decides to sanction someone is far from just. The JSA is stopped so it does not appear in the claimants’ accounts. They then go to the jobcentre to ask why not. They are told they have been sanctioned and can appeal. They are without an income until the appeal is over; a hardship payment takes time to process.

5. That is very far from Lord Freud’s assurances given to Parliament on the 25th January 2012; “decision-makers will have to consider all relevant matters raised by the claimant within a particular time period, including information about a claimant’s health condition and financial circumstances”. 25 Jan 2012 : Column 1061 4.15 pm.

6. From that you might expect jobcentre officials to become aware of the facts before JSA is stopped so imposing a draconian punishment.

7. Or better still for it to be dealt with by the independent local magistrates who normally fine offenders proportionately.

Rev Paul Nicolson, Taxpayers Against Poverty,