In the last few weeks I have seen ‘FIRST HAND’ the effects of claiming Universal Credit is having on those with mental health issues. It is stressful for someone who has two degrees and is now looking for full-time work but the stress levels for the sick, disabled and those with mental health issues are sky high.
Universal Credit is the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) flagship policy, a policy that is so flawed it is seeing a rise in RENT ARREARS, HARDSHIP, HUNGER AND DESTITUTION, yet those at the DWP will NOT call a halt to this disgusting mess. Amid those calling for a halt to the rollout, is new cabinet secretary for Social Security and Older People is Shirley-Ann Somerville. Speaking at the National Association of Welfare Rights Ms Somerville called for UC to be halted and fixed as the long waits for payment were throwing people into rent arrears, hardship, hunger and destitution. It’s rollout, according to Ms Somerville was harming communities across Scotland, and she is not wrong.
Staff at Job Centre Plus, some of whom have been sent on a course to deal with those with mental health issues try their best to be helpful, but there is only so much they can do. Only last week, I myself accompanied someone to their interview and was shocked at the way in which those with Mental Health Issues are expected to make commitments in return for their benefits. A commitment, is what claimants agree to in return for their welfare payment. Is it any wonder that some fall through the cracks and are sanctioned as a result; it is very easy for those of us who do not have any health issues to sit in judgement of those who do. Until this week I had some idea of what it was like, however, this has opened my eyes to the systematic abuse of those claiming welfare. Abuse that tantamounted to blackmail. In other words, if you do not sign up to these commitments, regardless of your health issue you are open to being sanctioned.
Is it any wonder some are taking their own lives?
Clare Adamson MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw speaking in the Scottish Government’s Program for Government Debate said:
“We should not be thankful for a UK Government whose Welfare system includes sanctions, assessments of people with life time conditions, it includes a ‘rape’ clause and it includes a system that has dehumanised our citizens and that is why we put through the Social Security Bill, it included dignity and respect, at its heart because that has been sadly lacking by the UK Government.”
The dehumanizing of citizens today is very worrying, especially as the dehumanising of citizens was rife in ‘Nazi’ Germany in the 1930’s. Is it any wonder the UN are coming to the UK and specifically to Scotland to take evidence from Inclusion Scotland, who were keen to hear from citizens who had suffered under the UK Government’s austerity program, and in particular the sanctions regime, mandatory reconsideration and loss of benefits; all of which Inclusion Scotland plans to present to the United Nations when they visit.
It is hard to see what punishment the UK Government will face, another fine. All they do is pay it and continue the cycle of abuse. Perhaps if the UN went after certain individuals’ things would be different. For now, the agenda is to make claiming benefits as hard as possible, and to ‘other’ those claiming them with the intend of, as Adamson said, dehumanizing, a very dangerous practice as it could lead, well anywhere.