Category Archives: Social Security

DPAC: Taxpayers Against Poverty: General Election Manifestos Must Address Homelessness and Hunger, and the Powerlessness of Homeless Families . . .

1. GENERAL ELECTION MANIFESTOS MUST ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS AND HUNGER. 

The 2012 and 2016 Welfare Reform Acts were seen through Parliament by government ministers who sought to force the unemployed into work by imposing inadequate incomes and punitive laws designed to treat them as if they are at work.

Examples are:

  • a monthly rather than a weekly income;
  • housing benefit paid to the unemployed from which they pay the rent to the landlord as if it were from a monthly pay cheque; and
  • strict rules about keeping appointments at the job centre.

The purpose was to “change the culture” of unemployment, on the mistaken assumption that the unemployed lived an easy life on benefits so were unlikely to look for work, hence the cruel benefit sanction on those who “broke the rules”.

Lord Freud  on the Welfare Reform Bill 2016. Hansard Column 1427, 19 October 2016:

Every year I stand here because there is a forecast that says that child poverty is going up, has gone up or will go up, but when we actually see the figures, we find that child poverty has actually gone down. When you transform the economy, change the culture so that work is what has been driving things, and move up the employment rates and the earning rates in the way that we have, you find that the behavioural impacts are very different from the static analysis that many of the external experts tell us about.”

Lord Freud could not have been more wrong. Child poverty is going up and getting worse. 

Attempts by cross-bench peers to insert amendments requiring a health-impact assessment of the government’s policies were rejected. The actual and disastrous impact on the health of low-income families and individuals can be found on the Taxpayers Against Poverty website.

UK land grabbed by the rich for private gain

London councils have published analysis showing that there has been a significant reduction of about 200,000 in the number of homes that are affordable for tenants receiving the Local Housing Allowance. That is one among a number causes of the escalating homelessness and hunger in the capital.

The 1980s’ “big bang” set up the UK housing market to make large landowners very rich indeed, with unearned and untaxed increases in the value of their land. Lending was deregulated, rent controls abolished and funds allowed to flow in and out of the limited amount of British land. Small businesses and family homes, which pay rent, business rates and/or council tax, and own no land, are treated little better than during the 15th– and 16th-century enclosures.

Tenants are being pushed off the land with no solutions on the political table to reverse the trend.

In Haringey, 3,000 homeless families, with 5,208 children between them, have been forced into temporary accommodation, some for up to and over 10 years. Accirding to the House of Commons Library there are 83,700 homless families in temporary accommodation in England with 124,000 children, up 74% sine 2010. 56,880 of the families are in London. Too many of them are in one room in hostels or other acommodation when none ought to be.

Taxpayers Against Poverty strongly recommends that the Greater London Authority and Parliament adopt two policies used by the Danish government:

  • Long-term vacancy of properties is discouraged in Denmark. If an owner moves and does not wish to sell the property, it must be rented out or advertised for sale. If it is empty for more than six weeks, the owner must report to the local authority, which then seeks to provide tenants, whom the owner has to accept.
  • Non-residents of Denmark who have not lived in the country for a total period of five years previously may only acquire property after receiving permission from the Ministry of Justice.

Income support for a single adult has been losing value since 1979

There is a community of about 11,000 social-security claimants in Haringey. The shredding of their social security incomes since 2010 has been piled on top of decades of adult benefit negligence. The evidence came from Professor Jonathan Bradshaw in 2009  responding to one of mine. In April 2011, austerity measures were then piled onto an already inadequate cornerstone of the benefit system. To that cornerstone are added disabled people’s, children’s, housing and council-tax benefits.

“When unemployment benefit started in 1912, it was 7 shillings a week – about 22% of average male earnings in manufacturing. The percentage fluctuated over the succeeding decades, but by 1979, the benefit rate was still about 21% of average earnings (manual and non-manual, male and female). By 2008, however, as a result of the policy of tying benefits to the price index while real earnings increased, the renamed Jobseeker’s Allowance had fallen to an all-time low of 10.5% of average earnings.”

Benefit increases were frozen at 1% a year in April 2011. £73.10 a week Jobseekers’ Allowance equates to £317 a month Universal Credit. Using the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s minimum-income standards for single-adult benefits after rent and council tax as of April 2019, we can see that Jobseekers’ Allowance and Universal Credit are nearly £32 a week too low for healthy living.

And that is before :

  • the five-week delay in the first payment of Universal Credit;
  • the Department for Work and Pensions “budgeting advance” to cover that delay, which is a loan that has to be repaid out of 73.10 a week;
  • the cuts in council tax and housing benefits, which mean rent and council tax must also be paid out of that £73.10 a week;
  • income is stopped by benefit sanctions, during which rent, council tax and TV-licence arrears and other debts pile up; adding to the impossibility of living on benefits;
  • the realisation – often only belatedly at the job centre – by a parent who has a third child that the government’s two-child policy means they will be refused child benefit for their latest offspring.

The hopelessly inadequate single adult benefit cannot maintain a healthy adult life, let alone pay rent or council tax, or their enforcement costs. That is a cruel catch 22. If your children’s benefits pay the rent, they are hungry, naked or cold; if you feed, clothe growing children or keep them warm, then the family is evicted and homeless.

Councils force low income tenants into the private sector and their rent over the benefit cap. 

In the United Kingdom, local authority officers and benefit claimants are both the victims of toxic and disconnected central government policies. Policies that combine to escalate the number of homeless and hungry families. The benefits freeze is bad enough (Benefits freeze leaves a third of claimants ‘with £100 to live on a month’), but, in 2012, the government introduced another measure that is particularly hard on London families. It allows local-authority housing departments to offer homeless families in temporary council housing at £90 a week rent a move into permanent private-sector housing at £300 a week rent for a two-bed home, for example (see table).

Families must accept the council’s first offer or they are deemed intentionally homeless and struck off the list of those the council has a duty to house. The unintended consequence of the 2012 measure is that a family’s total benefit income, including housing benefit, can be forced over the London benefit cap of £442.31 by high private-sector rent. The government cuts the housing benefit to enforce the cap on the total benefit income. Thar leaves rent to be paid by the family’s remaining benefits They have been frozen and are already short of £100 a month to live on. Hunger and homelessness are inevitable.

UK is the only nation in the world requiring renters to pay the landlord’s property tax.

The UK being the only nation in the world requiring renters to pay the landlord’s property tax adds the straw that breaks the camels back. That is a great injustice. The council tax is a property tax based on 1991 evaluations after the poll tax was abolished and the council tax introduced.

There is a tenant of my acquaintance who lives in a private two-bed terraced house in Tottenham that was bought new for £95,000 in 1999. An identical property next door, also new in 1999, is on the market for £425,000. The landlord is £330,000 richer, unearned and untaxed, while the tenant has paid about £1,000 a year in property/council tax for 20 years, so is £20,000 poorer.

290 out of 326 English councils require benefit claimants to pay a proportion of their landlord’s council tax. It is enforced by the magistrate’s court, adding the council’s enforcement costs to the arrears and the bailiffs adding their fees. Taxing £73.10 a week income support/Jobseekers’ Allowance/Universal Credit is a pernicious injustice.

The good health and wellbeing of all UK citizens in or out of work must now become a national priority.

2. An inhuman treatment of powerless tenants. 

TAP is opposing in the implementation of the project at High Road West. We so firmly believe it is against the best interests of the low income residents of Tottenham. After the secure tenants were moved out, the current tenants of Love Lane Estate have been moved in by Haringey Counci. Because they are homeless families in temporary accommodation they have no relevant housing rights and can be moved out more easily before demolition. An inhuman treatment of powerless tenants.

Some of these 180 young families have been in temporary accommodation for up and over ten years. They have already been forced to moved several times so disrupting the education of their growing children. They are among 3000 homeless families in temporary accommodation in Haringey. Too many of them are in one room in hostels or other accommodation –  when none ought to be.

The way the High Road West project has been designed does not commit the council to using 100% of the site for meeting part of a target of providing the 3000 much needed secure homes for the homeless.  What is proposed is the convoluted process of allowing Lend Lease to build on land which is free to the council and then sell “affordable” homes back to the council for £68,000 each. That enables Lend Lease to make the largest profit possible by selling the remaining and the majority if the homes into the very expensive London housing market.

The best way to build truly affordable homes for rent is for the council keep their public land out of the market, borrow the money and hire Lend Lease to build them.

It is a matter of public interest that we all know the terms of the  out of court settlement bewteen lendlease and the council, particularly whether it involved Northumberland Park, another council estate eyed by international property devopers for similar treatment.

Another shocking aspect of the High Road West project is the intention to grab the land from under 50 small thriving businesses of the Peacock Industrial Estate. Their businesses, which are employing local people, will be severely disrupted – to create a park!

The current national housing policy is ideologically designed to prevent the building of council homes on council land.

To do so is not socialism. It is simply an intelligent way of building truly affordable housing which has been used by all political parties in power since WWII. Also the capacity of the poorest tenants to pay even the lowest rents in London has been severely undermined by the shredding of houisng benefit and other social security payments. (See above)

Now is not the time to build social housing at council house rents. It would be better to leave it until after the next election which will have to change national housing and social security policies for the better and , it is ardently hoped. for the better use of public and private land for the common good.

For the time being the council ought to stop pushing powerless homeless families in temporary accommodation from pillar to post. The council can leave them where they are – even declare them all permanently housed.

National housing and social security policies have to change  to meet the needs of low income tenants.

Taxpayers Against Poverty

A VOICE FOR THE COMPASSIONATE MAJORITY

No citizen without an affordable home and an

adequate income in work or unemployment.

Supported by TAP RESOURCES INDEX on our website 

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Dear Amber Rudd MP . . . . .

I was asked to send a quick message to the MP, Amber Rudd, who is the Secretary of State for Works and Pensions – taking over from Esther McVey, in the job nobody seems to be any good at!
These messages are in the hopes that she might halt and fix Universal Credit but, when I went to do look at her page, and after reading all the many hundreds of messages sent to her already Amber Rudd MP 25th November, 14:42, I found it so hard to stick to a short message, that I decided to write my message to her on my Blog, here, instead:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Dear Ms Rudd,

 

It’s pretty clear to the majority of people in this country that the roll-out of Universal Credit has been a deliberate attempt to force people out of the Benefits system.

 

UC can’t be fixed, as it has been deliberately designed to create the very thing that is happening to everybody who has claimed it so far – if they are able to work, then it is forcing them into zero-hour contracts, which never pay enough, or give enough hours, to support a family or, in the case of the vulnerable, ill, or disabled, is forcing them off of the very Benefits they need to survive, into a world of starvation, eventual homelessness, great poverty and, far too often nowadays, suicide.

 

There are now thousands of families who face not only Christmas, but all this coming winter, with the prospect of going very hungry, very cold, and eventually losing their homes!

 

While you enjoyed your delicious fish and chips with those wonderfully privileged students at Rye College, did you think of all those who WON’T have a hot meal this Christmas, due to having no money to pay their rent and electric, or gas, bills, so that, even if they ARE able to get help from the multiple Food Banks springing up all over the country, they’ll not be able to heat up the food provided by those same food banks – places that have multiplied since your government took control, and induced Austerity on to everybody but the Rich – while giving multiple tax breaks to those very same rich individuals and businesses – and, while you were about it, also giving yourselves huge pay rises?

 

Please could you start doing the job you are paid a veritable  fortune to do, and stop Universal Credit before even MORE thousands of people end up homeless and starving?

 

If you can’t completely stop it, then could you at least pause it immediately, and do your best to fix it, so that those who aren’t able to work – like the vulnerable, or severely disabled – get to keep their old benefits until their UC claims have been finally sorted?

 

Could you also make sure that everybody who claims UC are garuanteed not to lose out when their present benefits are changed to UC, as UC is paying out a lot less than their old benefits, due to your government’s cap on Benefits, which your government keep stating was due to Austerity measures – a Cap, we all noticed, you didn’t apply to your own wages – wages paid to you out of the Public Purse?

 

Could you also make sure that those who have to pay rent to a landlord / landlady, are able to still have their Housing Benefit paid directly to that same landlord/lady, so that there is no risk of homelessness, due to insufficient funds?

 

With homelessness at an all time high at the moment, and not nearly enough homes being built to house the people needing them, then surely it is the government’s duty to make sure no more people are forced out of their homes due to the long delay in paying UC?

 

Believe me when I say that even a week is too long a delay for people who have been unable to save anything in case of financial troubles – and I’m talking not only about those already on Benefits, but those who are in work – especially those forced into zero-hours contracts, which is about the only type of work available to them nowadays!

And while I’m writing my wish list to you, could you please stop the terrible Sanctions regime being used with Universal Credit, Sanctions that threaten people into doing things your way, instead of the way in which every human being – and everybody who has to claim any kind of Benefit is a Human Being, despite all of the smear campaigns your government  put out there, to get people thinking that, if you have to claim, then you are a shirker, or a liar, or a cheat – should be treated!

 

No matter what Theresa May says on her question time, the whole World knows that UC is failing the very people that it was supposedly designed to help, so please, please, show some empathy and compassion, for once, and help those that really do need that help – and stop UC immediately, or at least pause and fix it!

 

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Filed under Amber Rudd MP, Austerity, Benefits, Budget Cuts, Choices, Conservatives, Corporate Tax Cuts, Degraded Public Services, Deprivation, Despair, DWP, DWP Policies, Homelessness, Housing Benefits, Human Rights, Impoverishment, Mental Health Issues, Public Purse, Sanctions, Smear Campaign, Social Security, Starvation, Suicide, Tory Cuts, Underfunding, Unemployed, Universal Credit, Welfare Cuts, Zero Hours Jobs

Are the Tories now showing us openly that they really don’t care about us – at last?

I’ve been offline for a few days, due to my daughter visiting, and one of the first things I saw when going back online, was a post by the Skwawbox, highlighting the spate of tweets being sent by Tory MPs , touting food banks – here’s the link:

https://skwawkbox.org/2018/12/02/tories-gaslighting-the-poor-with-bizarre-mps-and-foodbanks-campaign/

From what I could see from reading the various tweets, they all seem to have been basically following a single script, and including photos of themselves smilingly donating to food banks across the UK.

Here’s just one example:

thomson fb

. . . and here’s a couple of responses to it:

spfb.png

sg fb

The Skwawkbox used the word ‘gaslighting’ in his leader and, as I didn’t know what it meant, I looked it up:

 

‘to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.’

 

Reading this, I genuinely feel that the Skwawkbox is right, and that the Tories have always had such a great contempt for the workers of Britain, that they really are intent on manipulating people into thinking something that isn’t real!

 

Looking at the other tweets I found online, I felt sick to my stomach that these exceedingly rich Tory MPs, who are supposed to represent the people in their wards, have the shameless gall – or the sheer hubris – to cynically mock all the many thousands of people their policies have managed to reduce to a state of homelessness, penury and, in many cases, begging – to the point that it is only those self-same foodbanks that are keeping so very many people, and especially families with children, from starving!

 

Since they came to power, Tory ideology has consistently been one that is deliberately destroying every single part of the Welfare State that is possible – in fact, every single part of it that has been so bitterly fought for by the working classes, and some of the more enlightened richer people of the times –  and all that made our lives actually worth living!

 

Included in this, is our much beloved – and very much needed – NHS – something that, without it I, for one, wouldn’t be alive right now!

 

But as well as making it as hard as possible for anyone unable to work, whether because of illnesses / disablilities, or because of the sheer lack of any kind of sustaining work – which has, in many cases, been caused by the decline of  manufacturing industries both here in the UK, and elsewhere in the world – the Tory answer to this lack of work, is to force as many people as possible into zero-hour contracts, or into the virtual slavery being forced on them, if they are unemployed, and having to claim unemployment benefits, to work for so-called ‘charities’, full time, and for nothing but the basic unemployment support provided – and, if anyone refuses, the Tories have consistently used a harsh Sanctioning regime,introduced by Tony Blair’s New Labour (who may as well have been called Mini-Tory) to force them into line, by taking away larger and larger amounts of the little money being paid to support them – in some cases, to the point where people have commited suicide, because of it!

 

But, whatever the job they might have, if it is zero hours, or any other of the myriad ways in which the Tories have explored the exploitation of the working classes, these ’employees’ are given as little of that work as possible, and paid as little as possible, in order to airbrush unemployment figures for the Tories – and having so many people doing short hours of work, will still get that work done, but it means that those forced to do it then have to claim Working Tax Credits to survive at all!

 

This means that the employers are then able to salt away all the profits made – while paying the least amount of Corporation Tax in generations – while the ordinary working British public is left footing the bill, by having to pay more tax, to cover the Tax Credits being recieved because of the low wages! In fact, proportionately, the lower earners are now paying the highest taxes since records began!

 

To make matters worse, the Tories then introduced the most calculatingly cruel welfare reform ever thought of – yes, you guessed it – the universally despised Universal Credit!

 

This welfare reform, despite people thinking that it has just been badly thought out, and needs pausing to fix it, is actually the most calculatingly cruel, cunningly thought out reform to ever be introduced.

 

It was neither put together badly, nor is it mistakingly being kept going, either!

 

Universal Credit has been the most cold-blooded, cruelly deliberate reform ever thought up! It was put together in such a way as to make it the hardest Benefit to ever have to claim and, due to the exceedingly long waiting period before any money is actually paid out to a claimant, for everyone who has to claim it, it has made life as miserable as possible while doing so.

 

In a time where there are still hundreds of thousands of people who still have no access to the internet – whether through lack of knowledge, or lack of funds – it is designed so that a claimant can only make that claim online – and this is just the first stumbling block!

 

UC has been put together in such a way as to make anyone claiming it as confused as possible, especially as to their knowledge of what is expected of them and, when they do finally make a claim, nor is it easily seen what responsibilities the government has, in order to help any claimants.

 

It is so badly put together that even the employees of Job Centers, who are supposed to help people make this claim, are all just as confused as the claimants, where understanding the rules of UC are concerned – to the point where each jobcenter seems to be making up their own rules for it!

 

It has also been deliberately created to cut the Welfare Bill – to the point of utter uselessness  – and, despite the many deaths already caused by it’s cruel practices,  the Tories refuse to listen to anyone who complains – another deliberate slap in the face of those people they are supposed to represent!

 

But, before it’s introduction, the Tories had got to the point where they may have been voted out of government and so, to deliberately divert attention, and to forward other plans they have for the UK (such as the UK becoming a Tax Haven for the super-rich), they brought up the issue of Brexit!

 

Once again, the Tories lied through their teeth, making up story after story as to why it would be better to leave the EU – and hiding the fact that it is only the Laws, enshrined in the EU, that have been protecting the workers of our country from even more of the kind of exploitation that other workers, elsewhere in the world, have to put up with!

 

Without that protection, our country is going to be open to every abuse possible – from chlorinated chicken from the USA, to a private healthcare system that only the rich will be able to afford – in other words, we’ll be stepping straight back  into the world of the 1920’s and 1930’s, before the recommendations of a Welfare State was introduced by the Liberal MP, Sir William Beverage, and where his blueprint was then brought into fruition, in 1945, by Lloyd George’s Labour Government!

 

As it is, we recently had a UN inspector travel all over the UK and, in his report, he was shocked at the devastation caused by the Tories’ so-called ‘reforms’, and he claims that the Tories have deliberately gone about increasing poverty in the UK – which is a believable claim, given that, as anyone can work out with a little thought, with great poverty, comes desperation – and people will work for a pittance when they are desperate!

Another side-effect that perfectly suits the Tories, is the fact that the working classes have also been divided, and conquered, because of that fight for survival! 😦

 

This is something the Tories will welcome with open arms – and with their usual false assurances of help!

 

Just another thought:

 

While MPs have had a 17.7% pay rise since austerity started in 2010:

Use of Trussle Trust foodbanks alone has risen from 41,000 to 1.2 million!
The number of rough sleepers has increased by 134%!

The number of children has risen by 73%!

 

. . . . . and these are just the surface results!

 

The Trussel Trust has almost become a national institution where food banks are concerned, and it has spread quickly across the UK, due to the desperate needs of those suffering under unnecessary Tory Austerity  but, when the Tories decided to change things yet again, into the Universal Credit that is making everything even more worse for us all – and that includes far too many working families – are the Trussel Trust up there fighting for us all?

I doubt that very much! 😦

 

Think on this when a chance comes to replace the Tories in government, please?

 

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Benefits Freeze Adds to Universal Credit Misery.

I was interested to see this post, as I’ve recently been told that my area is going to roll out Universal Credit, and so I went onto the government website to see how I would be affected and, at the present rates, I’m going to end up being around £2,400 a year worse off – I’m really looking forward to both starving, and freezing, while also being housebound, and also unable to keep myself, or my home, clean!

Universal Credit is a disgrace, and the Tories have so much blood on their hands already, I guess they don’t care that it’s going to get very much worse for anyone who is being forced on to it 😦

Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Image result for universal credit cartoonMore than the usual ‘system error’.

The controversy about Universal Credit continues to develop.

Today the Currant Bun, not the Claimants’ chum,  headlines

Universal Credit revolt by THIRTY Tory MPs as they urge Chancellor to plug £2bn black hole which will leave millions worse off.

At least two dozen have signed a letter to the Treasury highlighting their fears to the Chancellor – urging him that an extra £2billion is needed for the reform.

Around a million people are expected to go onto Universal Credit next year as part of the rollout to everyone over the next five years.

The letter reads: “As it stands 3.2million working families are expected to be worse off, with an average loss of £48 a week.

“Enabling hard working parents to keep more of what they earn and thus encouraging them to take up more work is at the heart of Conservative policy.

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DWP Reveal How Much More It’s Paid Out in Staff Bonuses – for failures!

I was shocked, when reading The Canary, earlier on this evening, to discover that the DWP are STILL paying out millions in bonuses to their staff, despite the catastrophic failures they have wrought, while making the lives of anyone who needs to have any help to live, a living nightmare 😦

Here’s what The Canary said:

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed it paid out over £6m in bonuses last financial year. But the figures are even more eye-popping when you compare it to the previous year. Because despite the DWP losing court cases and receiving international condemnation, it’s actually on track to pay out more.

Eye-watering figures

The DWP has released its provisional payroll figures for March 2018. When combined with the provisional totals from January and February, it shows the department has paid out £3m of “non-consolidated performance payments” (that is, monthly bonuses). For the same period in 2017, it paid out £2.21m. This is a 36% increase year on year. But delve deeper into the figures and the numbers make for even more interesting reading.

As The Canary previously reported, the DWP paid out £5.3m of in-month bonuses between April 2016 and March 2017. It paid out £6.1m from April 2017 to March 2018 – a 15% increase. But when you analyse the payroll costs, it shows a different picture.

Total payroll costs between April 2016 and March 2017 were £2.46bn. For the same period a year later, they were £2.52bn – an increase of 2.44% year on year. So, as a percentage of the total payroll costs, the bonuses were 0.22% and 0.24% respectively.

As a percentage of pay, the bonus increase may not seem like much. But in cash terms, the DWP has substantially increased its bonus payments, and the year-on-year percentage increase is well above the rate of inflation.

To read the rest of the article, please click on the following link:

DWP Reveal their Staff bonuses:

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Filed under Austerity, Benefits, Bonuses, Choices, Conservatives, Disability, DWP, DWP Policies, Financial Year, Ideology, Inflation, Payroll Figures, Self-interest, Social Security, Wages, Welfare

Esther McVey lies again – to Work and Pensions Committee | DPAC

This Site’s article about the Tories wasting more than £100 million in two years on persecuting the sick and disabled made a very important point – that the figures never tie together perfectly because they aren’t intended to.

It seems that the issue is worse than I stated: Esther McVey’s department has been found to have sent one set of figures to the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, and then sent another set – that the DWP had told the committee weren’t available – in response to a Freedom of Information request.

So the DWP has been deliberately trying to hide information from MPs.

Now, why would anybody want to do that?


My Comment:

If you want to read the complete article, posted online by Mike Silvier, at Vox Political Online, then please click on this link:

Esther McVey Lies Again . . .

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Filed under Austerity, Changes, Commons Work and Pension Committee, Disability Issues, DWP, ESA, Esther McVey, FOI Requests, PIP, Politics, Social Security, Works and Pensions Secretary

43% of disabled claimants under Tories attempt suicide. McVey still on board of Samaritans . . .

Last month, the Independent carried the horrifying news that between 2007 and 2014, the number of disabled benefit claimants who had attempted to take their own lives had more than doubled from twenty-one percent to forty-three percent:

indie suic.png

Please click the link below to The Sqwawkbox, to read the entire article:

43% of Disabled claimants under Tories attempt suicide . . .

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