[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Disabled people resume protests against Work Capability Assessments and Benefit Sanctions
A demonstration to highlight how the DWP benefits sanctions and Work Capability Assessments (WCA) are destroying disabled people’s lives is being held on Thursday 5 May, 12.30 – 1.30pm outside St Mary’s House, Duke St, Norwich.
DPAC Norfolk and Equal Lives has decided to resume protests because the Conservative Government has imposed a draconian regime of testing and sanctioning which is resulting in unnecessary deaths and suicides among disabled people.
In 2013 well over 1 million claimants had their benefits stopped, often for no good reason other than to meet DWP imposed targets. This leaves poor and disabled people destitute.
The DWP has admitted that 20% of the benefit related deaths cases that have been reviewed had their benefits sanctioned at some stage. This means that 10 out of the 49 cases reviewed were subject to sanctions.
Academic Dr David Webster of the University of Glasgow claims from his research that ‘benefits claimants are subjected to an ‘amateurish, secret penal system which is more severe than the mainstream judicial system‘,
‘Sanctioned benefit claimants are treated much worse than those fined in the courts. The scale of penalties is more severe (£286.80 – £11,185.20 compared to £200 – £10,000). Most sanctions are applied to poor people and involve total loss of benefit income.’
The discredited WCA tests are linked to the sanctioning regime. WCA tests are carried out by Maximus, a private U.S. company, who impose arbitrary decisions based on Government set targets for getting people off benefits.
They are failing to meet their own targets for assessments and costs are spiraling out of control.
Mark Harrison, CEO of Equal Lives said “through the inappropriate use of testing and sanctions, claimants are being threatened and bullied in job centres, driven to destitution and some to suicide. This is a life and death question and the public need to know the scale and details of this violation of our human rights”
Jonathon Moore, Chair of Equal Lives said “sanctions are an injustice against people who face disabling barriers that have led to unnecessary benefit related deaths. They need to stop immediately before more disabled people lose their lives. “
Press/TV/Radio: Interviews are available with Mark Harrison, CEO Equal Lives: 07825 600195 or 07979 400564
About Equal Lives
Equal Lives is a user-led human rights organisation supporting all disabled people in Norfolk. It was formed in 1996 by groups of disabled people in Norfolk. The organisation is led by a Board of Trustees all of whom are disabled people and elected by and from its membership. The organisation undertakes a wide range of services including:
- Comprehensive advice that covers all Department of Work and Pensions benefits relating to illness and disability. We offer support, advice and information to families and carers of disabled people
- Providing advice and support to people considering or using Personal Budgets or Direct payments in Norfolk
- Support for vulnerable adults and juveniles detained in police custody
- Advocacy support for users of mental health services to make sure that their views and concerns are heard by others
- Advice and support to people considering or using Direct Payments in Suffolk with our Suffolk Independent Living service
- Projects and activities with our membership and others to work towards achieving Equal Lives