A letter a day to number 10. No 1,286
Tuesday 15 December 2015.
Dear Mr Cameron,
I am sure that Iain Duncan Smith will dismiss the latest research on sanctions by Financial Action and Advice Derbyshire as anecdotal or as claimant bias or politically motivated but it can come as no surprise that the findings reveal ’95 per cent of sanctions result in stress and anxiety’ and that ‘3/4 people said sanctions made it harder to find work’.
Smith insisted to the Work and Pensions Select Committee that sanctions, or ‘temporary benefit cuts’, were fair, stating, ‘We don’t have an internal concern that these are being applied in any way, I hope, other than fairly’. He hopes? How sweet.
The sleight of hand Smith plays here is the imposition of remedial sentences for supposed transgressions by benefit claimants as fair with never a moments concern for the inevitable effects of such punishments. DWP guidance to job centre officials acknowledges that sanctioning the means of survival has an inevitable effect on health, “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”, yet sanctions can be applied for three years.
There is nothing fair in depriving people of the means of survival. The DWP acknowledges that JSA benefits are intended to cover day to day living expenses, nothing more, so they are already set at a depressingly low subsistence level allowing nothing for any inevitable contingency or emergency.
You claim that there is a “culture of entitlement” in the welfare system and the media has gone to enormous lengths to demonise and ostracise people on benefits through so called poverty porn. The moral outrage of the noble working whose enforced sacrifices via taxation pay for the idle and indolent is as strident as it is ill considered. The alternative, which we are fast heading for, is the removal of the social safety net below which no one should fall altogether but which we know only too well has already cost thousands of lives.
Do we really want to live in a nation in which people are not entitled to survive, because we’re already there? That’s the reality of Tory brutality in Britain today and it is this that Iain Duncan Smith thinks is fair. Poverty is violence and depriving anyone of the means of survival for any reason is an act of extreme violence.