You couldn’t make it up… Well actually it’s become the norm to be sanctioned for making a spelling mistake. A gentleman who spoke to us on our Thursday demo told us that he was put on a three month sanction at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for making a spelling mistake. He wasn’t given a chance to correct it, or a chance to explain it. He was told very bluntly “we are sanctioning you for spelling this word incorrectly on a form. This will prevent you from getting work so therefore is a sanctionable offence”. This man received a three month sanction for this so called offence. No one bothered to ask him if he was dyslexic or had any other issues which may have prevented him from spelling the word correct. Neither is it a crime to spell a word incorrectly. Indeed we are all human and are prone to making mistakes. This is shocking but had become the norm at this Jobcentre and jobcentres up and down the country. It reminded me of why Jobcentres were created in the first place. They were created to help you find work. They also used to help you fill in forms and make telephone calls if this was required. They were very productive places in those days, you stood a chance of finding work and not being sanctioned. I prefer to call Jobcentres sanction centres now as their main aim is to get people off benefits in any way possible. If bullying, sanctioning, coercing claimants to commit suicide and taking away a persons every means of survival is needed to do this then they will do this…. They have targets to reach, and reach them they will by whatever means possible.
Another issue I would like to write about is the ever increasing amount of homeless people sleeping roughon our streets. I’m not talking about people that are homeless and are sofa surfing, that’s another issue that I may cover in the future. I’m well aware that there are hundreds of homeless people sofa surfing or in temporary accommodation in my town.Indeed in my small town I have been give a rough number of those sleeping rough on the streets as totalling towards 20. It’s shocking, but my local authority deny this saying there is no homeless.. Neither is there much if any provision for them. There are a couple of shelters and outreach places where they can go, but many homeless people have complex needs and cannot access these. Many have ptsd which prevents them sharing accommodation which is the only accommodation available to them. Indeed a local homeless man whom I have got to know quite well said that my local council refused him a night shelter when the temperature outside reached below 0 as the law says that they have to provide some kind prof provision. It seems that three met office apps stating the temperature wasn’t good enough. Tameside council have their own app which stated it was above 5 degrees…. Well I’ve never seen frozen grit at 5 degrees before. The council officer stated this then ran into the back and locked the man and his helpers out of the building. As a result he spent a very cold night on the streets. He said to me that it was that cold his fingers froze, he says that he knows it’s below zero when they do that.
Four people came to speak to us about their three month sanctions which were conveniently issued just before Christmas. All for totally illegal reasons. Most are being challenged. But the result was a very cold and miserable christmas for them with no food or heating or indeed light. We put some hats and gloves out on the table at our demo for anyone that needed them. Claimants were going in freezing. One man came up to me and gave me a hug and said thank you very much I can be warmer now. A member of our group put some food on the table and it was very thankfully taken by a man that hadn’t eaten for three days. We hope he felt better after eating.
All of the above is so wrong, and it breaks my heart. We need to stop this and we also need to help each other more if we can. Let’s show this government and to the future government that wants four more years of austerity and will be worse than the Tories, that we can and we will help each other and we will stand together and show this government that this is wrong. Austerity doesn’t work indeed we can see that it doesn’t. Don’t vote for any future government that wants it. Vote for a government that is opposed to it and actually wants to help the poorest in society. We can do it.