Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Purposefully Illustrating What? #fakeDWPstories

Yesterday every major news outlet picked up Welfare Weekly's scoop that the DWP made up "case studies" about people that were happy with the sanctions system.

But one aspect that most outlets didn't report on, was that the leaflet in question - which Welfare Weekly had archived - specifically pertained to ESA sanctions. This leaflet was solely about selling the perks of sanctioning people who are too ill to work.

All sanctioning is cruel and should be stopped. But there is something especially sinister about sanctioning people who are too ill to work for not trying hard enough to get a job that they're not well enough to do anyway.

For those not in the know; Employment and Support Allowance is split into two groups: The Support Group for people who are not expected to ever be well enough to return to work, and the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) for people who are unable to work right now, but might be well enough to work at some point in the future.

So the WRAG is comprised of people with cancer who are expected to make a full recovery eventually, but for now they're undergoing treatment. There'll be people who've had life-changing accidents who are still in rehabilitation. People who are waiting for surgery, such as a hip replacement, before they can return to work.

It's not surprising they couldn't get any genuine quotes, is it? "I was so busy going to radiotherapy every day that I didn't have time to write a CV. Getting sanctioned for a week made me realise the importance of having my CV up-to-date whereas before I'd been solely focussed on kicking cancer."

Or "My brain injury from my car accident has made me forgetful and I forgot I was supposed to be going to the JobCentre. Sanctioning saved me from worrying about whether I'd remember to go shopping because I didn't have any money to buy food anyway."

Given that the press found such a massive story about ESA and sanctions, it's a shame they didn't devote a paragraph in each article about how evil it is to be sanctioning people who are too ill to work. The DWP claimed the made up case studies were for “for illustrative purposes only”. It would have been nice to use the story to purposefully illustrate the barbaric treatment of WRAG claimants, while most journos just conflated WW's story with JobSeekers' Allowance.


  1. Important to note that many people with long term disabilities with limited to no likelihood of improvement are also placed in ESA WRAG if their disability is not considered severe enough to warrant Support Group. This is also important for the planned 30% cut in ESA WRAG as many people will be in WRAG until they reach retirement age. It is not simply the short term sickness benefit government would like us to believe.

  2. It is imperative that a Judicial Review into the 2017 ESA (WRAG) cuts be mounted and a human rights lawsuit filed in conjunction with a UN CRPD "grave and systematic" violations finding. There also needs to be a full public inquiry into Britain's benefit sanctions regime.

  3. Totally agree with this. Managing a long term disability/illness on £70 per week until retirement in late sixties is not viable. Yet a healthy oap who retired at 60 could be on double this.