Back soon

Posting will be light for the rest of the month.

Still available for contact here or on twitter etc.

Thanks for all comments and feedback this year. Very much appreciated 🙂

9 thoughts on “Back soon

  1. Start Transmission

    Its only me again, wishing everyone at Kate Towers a belated Content New Year.

    Kate as someone whose work I admire and very much on the front-line of welfare issues I would like to know if you support the call end to all benefit sanctions without exception ?

    If you do may I trouble you to provide me with a short sound bite why you and with your permission publish it on the front page of my website alongside others and links to your site and social media account.

    The choice of language is entirely up to you.

    If you think that in some cases a Benefit Sanction IS appropriate then I only say you may end up in my hall of Zeros, so let that be a warning to ya, my advice would be better to just make out you never saw this post.

    Shameless plug time.

    The idea is simple enough that as a sanctuary those on UC can Volunteer their time working on the the website and use it to reduce the number hours they spend looking for work, so for me it would reduce the 35 hours conditionality as a “action” to a more reasonable 17.5 hours or for JSA be included in the the JSAG.

    This would also have the added benefit of being a suitable defence to refuse many of the shit courses they offer as it would encompass most areas they can offer.

    And sweet irony that the DWP would have to support the overall endeavour of the unincorporated membership organisation (UKWSG) mission statement to end benefit sanction by allowing claimants to volunteer.

    I am pretty sure I am deluded the hard part is convincing others I am not.

    End of Transmission

  2. Somehow I can’t see sanctions being removed from the current system. So much of it is based on compulsion already. Without sanctions, how would the DWP be able to force people to take zero-hours jobs, go on pointless training courses, or workfare ? Otherwise the claimant could just refuse point-blank, but still get all their benefits. You can’t really run a punitive benefit system without some element of ‘punishment’.

    • I think the point is that sanctioning all of the money they need to live on is both inhumane and cruel. Also, the very fact that DWP employees have suffered from stress and anxiety from sanctioning people at Christmas time is an indication that they know that sanctioning is just fundamentally wrong – and they could quite justifiably refuse to implement sanctions for this reason alone. I can understand why they go along with the system, particularly as their union, the PCS has not provided the leadership required to fight the conditionality of UC, hiding behind the Thatcher era restrictions on union actions. This is totally craven behaviour, as there are myriad ways around all the current restrictions on union activity, and with imagination most of them can be thwarted. It’s down to a lack of will.

      And anyway, the need for sanctions is refuted, as under JSA if anyone fulfilled the ludicrous test conditions, i.e. taking two or more steps towards employment each week, then they couldn’t lawfully be sanctioned, and if anyone were so remiss as to not be doing at least this small amount then they could almost be seen as deserving a sanction – though I stress I still don’t think sanctions are ever justified. Under the old Unemployment Benefit, there were no sanctions in the way we know them, but one could be done for fraud if one made a false claim, but crucially, one had to be found guilty by a court of law before that could happen. The sanctions regime is extra-judicial, which is as good a reason as any for opposing it. Why should DWP advisors who have similar attitudes towards other people to those of less enlightened double glazing salespeople get to decide who has a sanction or not? Okay, it may that the individual advisor doesn’t make the actual decision, but they do ‘recommend’ people for sanctioning in the first place, and the only reason it is deferred to a different entity is to ensure that the sanctions regime operates at all. If individual DWP advisors made decisions to sanction off their own bat, and were solely responsible for their actions then I think we’d see far fewer sanctions.

      Zero hours contracts and pointless training courses should also be subject to severe scrutiny. Zero hour contracts suit some workers down to the ground, the problem with too many of them is that they are extremely exploitative. There is something clearly wrong with the kind of zero hour contract that insists that the worker be at the beck and call of an employer immediately they need someone to work – it’s basically a form of slavery. Zero hour contracts where the worker can take on other work, and can refuse offers of work can be very liberating, allowing people to work around their other lives. Pointless training courses should be subject to mockery, and it pointed out that they are a complete and utter waste of tax payer’s money. Decent training however, for the jobs that need workers but for which at present there is a shortage of workers – which is an increasing phenomena at present because of Brexit etc, (but I suspect the economy will crash anyway, partially because of Brexit, and partially because the world economy seems to be teetering on the brink of a crash of some kind). Decent training does cost substantially more than the mickey mouse crap the DWP offers, but it turns out well qualified work people who can command a decent wage. Having said that, no-one should have to exist on a pittance: any job should pay enough to live on without the need to resort to Universal Credit, or any other scheme that subsidises employers.

      • Half the people (probably more) who I interviewed for this site over the years weren’t even sure why they’d been sanctioned. Some didn’t get a letter advising them of the reasons why until their sanction was over. Always thought these sanctions were about targets.

        • A Social Security system should never financially incentivise staff to achieve “off flow ” targets, we all read each and every day how this approach has lead to maladministration being the norm often with catastrophic consequences.

      • @Padi
        “Under the old Unemployment Benefit, there were no sanctions in the way we know them, but one could be done for fraud if one made a false claim, but crucially, one had to be found guilty by a court of law before that could happen. ”
        There was one way what was then the DHSS could sanction benefit payments, they could declare that the claimant “was deliberately failing to support themselves”. That particular catch-all sanction was used very, very rarely. I’m talking about the 1980s.

    • Sanctions were only ramped up in 1996 when New labour came into power before then the system was far humane and the only reason I can think back which would lead to a sanction would be intentionally getting the sack or leaving the job with no just cause.

      The intellectual, moral and financial argument that the benefit sanctions regime does more far more harm than good to society on the whole is won and a lot of the impact benefit sanctions has on everyone from all walks of life is not really apparent on the surface.

      As for people who would rather spend their sitting on their arses doing nothing then why not.

      Social Security should be a right and not a privilege, by right of birth we are all shareholders of this planet and it’s resources and so I see social security as a dividend to compensate for not being allowed to exploit my share of those resources as I see fit.

      There is no shame in that.

      And why can I not go to back of the job queue if I so wish and let others more willing to jump in front if.

      I was the only left and a job really did need doing and I would argue most jobs are just bullshit jobs anyway then sure I would roll up my sleeves.

      It is punishment enough for taking such a line is that your not entitled to enjoy the extra benefits and material pleasure to be had from wonderful world of work.

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