Benefit claimant ‘stitching-up’ (inappropriate or egregious sanctions) is the elephant in the room that the Work & Pensions Committee inquiry has failed to address or talk about.
On December 21, 2014 I wrote the Committee about this matter and two days ago I wrote a similar letter to journalist Patrick Butler of The Guardian newspaper:
Dear Mr. Butler,
I am currently reviewing the testimony submitted to the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry on benefit sanctions policy and have yet to discover any mention of inappropriate or egregious sanctions.
There is ample evidence, however, that such sanctions are, in fact, being levied on benefit claimants. (See, for instance, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/stitching-up-claimants-part-job-says-3537051, http://stupidsanctions.tumblr.com/, and other serious allegations: That the Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre sanctioned a claimant on sickness benefits who subsequently died of hypothermia while homeless and living on the streets; and, Eleanor Coulthard, a 19-year-old girl from Ashton-under-Lyne was sanctioned after telling her placement provider, B&Q, that she was 23-weeks pregnant.
Not only are Jobcentre staff and DWP decision makers incompetent and medically unqualified, they are under severe pressure to strip claimants of their benefits.
Matthew Oakley’s independent review of JSA sanctions was limited in its remit to improving the way sanctions were communicated to claimants. His recommendations are relatively cosmetic and minor; that’s why the DWP has agreed to implement them.
On the whole, I’ve labelled his review a ‘whitewash’, for it ignores inappropriate sanctions, Jobcentre targets to take away benefits, and serious accusations by a whistle-blower of benefit claimant stitching-up.
In my opinion, Jobcentre staff and managers are knowingly engaging in conduct that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation. I strongly believe this malfeasance is occurring at the behest of the DWP, who are involved in a cover-up of egregious or inappropriate benefit sanctions.
The Work and Pensions Select Committee is prohibited from investigating individual cases but, in my opinion, should refer serious allegations of benefit claimant ‘stitching-up’ to law enforcement.
Benefit claimant ‘stitching-up’ needs to recognized as a criminally indictable offense and I will advocate for this matter to be referred to law enforcement. Not only are Jobcentre staff and managers criminally culpable for this malfeasance, but so are the DWP ministers because it’s being done at their behest.
I’m therefore not at all surprised that employment minister Esther McVey is blaming Jobcentre staff for some cases of inappropriate benefit sanctioning, instead of taking responsibility for “the culture that she has created.”
Full disclosure: Since January 2012, I have been reporting voluntarily to the UN’s human rights office, in Geneva, on the welfare crisis for Britain’s sick and disabled.
I look forward to your e-mail reply.