Ben­e­fit sanc­tions are ‘point­lessly cruel’

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views - David Mitchell Na­tional Chair­man, The Bri­tish Po­lio Fel­low­ship

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

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