I met someone today who works in a job centre. She hates her job. The reason she hates her job is because she is constantly trying to fight the welfare system which penalizes people for turning up even 5 minutes late for their appointments. She spends a lot of her time, even working late, working to overturn these sanctions.
While acres of articles have been written about the harshness and cruelty of these sanctions it is the solution to the human suffering that left wingers come up with that astounds me. This lovely woman whom I spoke to was no different: “If the Tories could work at my level they would understand the misery that they are causing”.
After being exposed on a daily basis over a number of years to the desperation of people who are unable, as it is, to cope with living under benefits and who face ruination because of being 5 minutes late she was attempting to transpose her decency and humanity onto a tribe of people who, frankly, excel at dehumanising every situation and person who dares to rely on the state for help.
I have never claimed benefits in my life but I don’t need to have done so nor do I need to have worked at a job centre to have empathy and understanding about what being without money for a month would feel like.
To put things into perspective, a 5- minute delay involves sanctioning people by stopping their benefits for a month. Being at least 5 minutes late a second time involves having benefits stopped for 3 months. This second sanction includes having housing benefits taken away. This means that people could lose their homes. The spiral effect is devastating.
I know how I feel when an unexpectedly big bill comes in and I am in employment. I can only imagine the fear and anxiety that one must feel when one’s benefits are stopped.
This woman tells me that sanctions don’t act as an accelerator towards employment either because people are running around looking for money, not jobs. The immediacy of having to feed themselves and their children and pay bills so that they don’t have their services cut off consumes their mental and physical energy. What is the purpose of this sanction at the end of the day? The policy involves an inbuilt prejudice about people on benefits being lazy. Why else would they be 5 minutes late?
I can count on two hands the number of times I have been late in the last month especially because of the failing transport infrastructure in this country. I was once held up for 5 hours on a train that was at a standstill because of a broken down train in front of it. Most of you reading this have probably been 5 minutes late at least once in the last month. Consistent punctuality only works in Utopia I suspect.
The movie, ‘I, Daniel Blake’ by Ken Loach amply dramatizes the anguish involved when slapped with a sanction. View the trailer below.
What is so hard to understand about people’s suffering? Nothing really. The Tories full well know all this. They don’t bloody bleeding care. A left-wing response that seeks, as a starting point, to assume that they do what they do because they don’t realise the effects of it all is foolish and naïve. The only form of welfare that the Tories believe in is Corporate Welfare. In simple terms, if a transfer of money does not involve buying power or selling favours then it does not hold their interest. For an excellent example of modern Corporate Welfare click here.