Benefit sanctions are ‘pointlessly cruel’
A NEW report by the Work and Pensions Committee has agreed with campaigners that the benefit sanctions imposed on people with disabilities or other health conditions are “arbitrarily punitive”. At what point will the government listen to the concerns of MPs of all parties on this issue?
Many of us warned the chances of sanctions being successful was doubtful and the committee describes them as “counterproductive”. The tragedy is, this is no real surprise to anyone involved. We in the third sector have heard cases of unnecessary hardship and I agree with committee chair Frank Field, that the approach is “pointlessly cruel”. Indeed, the former chair of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Andrew McDonald, described the process as “Kafkaesque” having sampled it for himself. This situation helps nobody – not the claimants, nor the country. The British Polio Fellowship and other charities are routinely ignored on the issue and it is hard to see what the Government gets out the status quo.
Perhaps Brexit is drowning out this and other matters deserving a serious rethink. Winter is coming and a struggling NHS, coupled with a cruel benefits system is a recipe for a disaster. Let’s all hope it doesn’t come to that. People with polio and PPS in need of application support can visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call us on 0800 043 1935.
Frank Field MP