OPINION: Stop It, You’re Killing Us!
Amber Rudd starts her new job this month. Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions. An easy job really, in many ways she was born to do it. Mostly she just has to look the other way as people starve. If someone happens to starve then say it’s a tragic individual case. If enough people starve that a statistical connection between government policy and starvation is made, deny it. Refuse to show official records when government policy is linked to such deaths. Deny knowledge of sanction targets.
To take an individual case: former soldier David Clapson, 59, died following a benefit sanction in 2014.
Amber Rudd at Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
The Mirror reported, “When David died he had just £3.44 to his name, six tea bags, a tin of soup and an out-of-date can of sardines. His electricity card was out of credit meaning the fridge where he should have kept his insulin chilled was not working. A coroner also found he had no food in his stomach. A pile of CVs for job applications were found near David’s body.
The DWP insisted he would have been told payments would still be available after sanctions.
A spokesman said: ‘Claimants can get financial support through the hardship fund. People can also appeal against sanctions.’”
To look at the broader case, DWP statistics reveal that 111,450 Education Support Allowance claims were closed following the death of claimants between March 2014 to February 2017.
The DWP stress that “no causal effect between the benefit and the number of people who died should be assumed from these figures”.
There has been no update on government statistics of those who have died following withdrawal of benefits since the 2015 document: Mortality statistics: Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance. As per this record, during the period between December 2011 and February 2014, 2,380 people died after a work capability assessment found they were fit for work and their benefits were stopped.
Since then, no official statistics on deaths caused by benefit sanctions have been released, despite multiple freedom-of-information requests. It’s not hard to see why. Sanctions kill and it makes government policy look bad.
Before getting into politics, after a job as ‘aristocracy coordinator’ on the Four Weddings and a Funeral film set, Amber had a go at running a string of private companies.
An article by A Fairer Society listed some of these ventures,
“Rudd was a director of Lawnstone when it bought Portsville Finance Limited in April 1991. The next year’s accounts reveal Portsville was put into receivership owing £537,581 including £67,977 to the Inland Revenue. Portsville was owed £575,271 by related firm Tobias Holdings Limited, also run by Rudd. Filings signed by Rudd indicate this loan was never repaid and Tobias went into liquidation.”
If you take the amount of money owed to the treasury by Rudd’s company Portsville Finance Limited, which is £67,977 and divide it by the benefit paid, under Universal Credit, to a single claimant aged under 25 per month, which is £251.77, you get the number of months Amber Rudd’s department would need to sanction a single claimant under 25 to repay her debt: this totals 269.996. That’s 22 and a half years.
That’s 22 and a half years that poor people like David Clapson
are going to have to go without money to pay for one rich person’s mistake.
Austerity is the process of extracting money from an oppressed class to pay for the collective mistakes of the ruling class. It’s killing people.
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