City protesters say no to sanctions

Posted on 06/12/2013 by

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City protesters to take action against benefits cuts and austerity

Protesters opposing benefits sanctions and work-for-your-benefits schemes are set to take action in Edinburgh city centre tomorrow (Saturday 7 December). Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP) have called people to gather at noon in Festival Square on Lothian Road to “say no to sanctions, workfare and austerity.”

The demonstration is part of the Britain-wide Boycott Workfare Week of  Action against benefits sanctions and the government’s controversial “work-for-your-benefits” schemes.

“580,000 sanctions were imposed in the 9 month period up until June 2013 – that’s over half a million people (thousands of them officially recognised as sick or disabled) denied even the pittance of benefit payment in the sixth richest country in the world,”  said Ethel MacDonald of ECAP.

“Jobcentre workers are being threatened with disciplinary action if they don’t sanction more claimants.  People are being left penniless for absolutely no good reason.   This week a man who had arrived on time for his fortnightly signing was delayed within the Jobcentre by the absence of staff – and then had his money stopped for being allegedly two minutes late!

“Another claimant had his benefits stopped because he had not written down the name of every single job seekers website he had looked at.  When he started to tell the adviser the names of the websites, she claimed that was not good enough and his money would be stopped.”

“Unemployed people are being forced to work for nothing on schemes like the Work Experience scheme, Mandatory Work Activity and the Work Programme.  Research has shown these schemes do not help people find jobs.  In fact they increase unemployment – why should employers pay people if they can get free labour?

“People are actually being told they have to stop doing voluntary work at charities, in order to work for nothing at another charity!  Even people on Employment and Support Allowance who have been found unfit for work are being forced onto the Work Programme – with their benefits stopped if they are unable to comply.  We have been supporting a claimant whose official diagnosis is “chronic intractable pain “ who was without benefits for months due to sanctions.  He was too ill to attend the Work Programme but the DWP and private workfare company Ingeus combined to leave him penniless and dependent on food banks.

“Workfare, the DWP’s sanction campaign, ATOS’s hounding of the sick and disabled, and the vile narrative of scroungers and work shy, are all part of the State’s campaign to drive down the cost of labour so companies can make more profits, ” said Ethel MacDonald of ECAP.  “We call on everyone, in or out of employment, to take a stand against policies which are robbing the poor to make the rich even richer.

“Following Britain-wide protests, many charities and companies have already pulled out of the workfare schemes, and we urge those still involved to do the right thing and stop exploiting claimants.”

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk  ecap@lists.riseup.net
Boycott Workfare www.boycottworkfare.org

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