The Iain Duncan Smith Sanctions story Part 1.Posted: June 5, 2015
The Say No2 Sanctions Campaign.
Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) took charge of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in 2010. He then gave orders to reduce the benefits bill by any means necessary. ATOS, a French IT firm, were contracted to perform examinations, as part of the renewed Work Capability Assessment, re-defining medical science in order to sanction people. Thousands of people were sanctioned, after being declared fit for work, despite being physically & mentally incapable. Through outsourcing the work to private consultants, the government were able to wash its hands over what they themselves now describe as ‘significant quality failures’. ATOS became such a toxic brand that Maximus, an American company are now the new assessors, being given carte blanche to sanction disabled claimants, in line with the DWP targets. (Targets that they say they don’t have). They have led a campaign against the country’s poorest areas, with a media backed attack on the widely caricatured ‘work-shy’. (*Benefits Street, being one the public has been led into believing the work-shy/feckless are now receiving money, sitting around,drinking & smoking, watching Sky TV etc.) IDS reported that the programme ‘Benefits Street’ justified the changes to the benefits system with the Welfare Reform Act. They were presenting poverty as entertainment. It was profoundly wrong & atrociously unbalanced. In the Daily Mirror, John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, wrote that although Benefits Street did not fully represent the spectrum of people who claim benefits, it did show what could happen to those forgotten by the system “who get caught in a kind of social suicide”. The trade union Unite organised a protest, at the offices of the makers of Benefit Street. An online petition calling for Channel 4 to cancel the remaining episodes was launched, attracting 3,000 signatures. A total of 60,000 people had signed it by the time the series ended.
The Guardian reported that the footage reflected just how incredibly tough survival is, when you rely on the state and how a community can pull together to help one another out.
On 1 April 2013, Iain Duncan Smith claimed he could live on £53 per week as Work and Pensions Secretary, after a benefits claimant told the BBC he had £53 per week after housing costs. Subsequently a petition was started on change.org for him to do so for a year; it reached 300,000 supporters by 7:30 P.M. the next day, with further names added that evening at a rate of 12,000 per hour. The petition was handed in one week later with 460 thousand signatures
In September 2013, Duncan Smith’s department cancelled a week of “celebrations” to mark the impact of enhanced benefit sanctions. Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS unions commented: “It is distasteful in the extreme and grossly offensive that the DWP would even consider talking about celebrating cutting people’s benefits.
In 2014, it was revealed that his department was employing debt collectors to retrieve overpaid benefits, the overpayment purely down to calculation mistakes by HMRC…