Letters: Failure Of The Work And Pensions Select Committee

Benefit claimant 'stitching-up' needs to recognized as a criminally indictable offense, writes Samuel Miller.

Work and Pensions Select Committee chair, Dame Anne Begg. photo credit: UK Parliament via photopin cc

Benefit claimant ‘stitching-up’ (inappropriate or egregious sanctions) is the elephant in the room that the Work & Pensions Committee inquiry has failed to address or talk about.

On December 21, 2014 I wrote the Committee about this matter and two days ago I wrote a similar letter to journalist Patrick Butler of The Guardian newspaper:

Dear Mr. Butler,

I am currently reviewing the testimony submitted to the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry on benefit sanctions policy and have yet to discover any mention of inappropriate or egregious sanctions.

There is ample evidence, however, that such sanctions are, in fact, being levied on benefit claimants. (See, for instance, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/stitching-up-claimants-part-job-says-3537051, http://stupidsanctions.tumblr.com/, and other serious allegations: That the Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre sanctioned a claimant on sickness benefits who subsequently died of hypothermia while homeless and living on the streets; and, Eleanor Coulthard, a 19-year-old girl from Ashton-under-Lyne was sanctioned after telling her placement provider, B&Q, that she was 23-weeks pregnant.

Please see:

  1. http://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/pregnant-and-sanctioned-just-in-time-for-christmas-sanctioned-and-frozen-to-death-the-latest-news-from-ashton-under-lyne-jobcentre/
  2. http://northernvoicesmag.blogspot.ca/2014/08/protesters-target-ashton-jobcentre-for.html
  3. http://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/the-low-levels-that-ashton-jobcentre-will-go-to-to-sanction-people
  4. http://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/our-memorial-service-yesterday-what-a-poignant-day/
  5. http://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/this-is-why-we-protest/

Not only are Jobcentre staff and DWP decision makers incompetent and medically unqualified, they are under severe pressure to strip claimants of their benefits.

Matthew Oakley’s independent review of JSA sanctions was limited in its remit to improving the way sanctions were communicated to claimants. His recommendations are relatively cosmetic and minor; that’s why the DWP has agreed to implement them.

On the whole, I’ve labelled his review a ‘whitewash’, for it ignores inappropriate sanctions, Jobcentre targets to take away benefits, and serious accusations by a whistle-blower of benefit claimant stitching-up.

In my opinion, Jobcentre staff and managers are knowingly engaging in conduct that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation. I strongly believe this malfeasance is occurring at the behest of the DWP, who are involved in a cover-up of egregious or inappropriate benefit sanctions.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee is prohibited from investigating individual cases but, in my opinion, should refer serious allegations of benefit claimant ‘stitching-up’ to law enforcement.

Benefit claimant ‘stitching-up’ needs to recognized as a criminally indictable offense and I will advocate for this matter to be referred to law enforcement. Not only are Jobcentre staff and managers criminally culpable for this malfeasance, but so are the DWP ministers because it’s being done at their behest.

I’m therefore not at all surprised that employment minister Esther McVey is blaming Jobcentre staff for some cases of inappropriate benefit sanctioning, instead of taking responsibility for “the culture that she has created.”

Full disclosure: Since January 2012, I have been reporting voluntarily to the UN’s human rights office, in Geneva, on the welfare crisis for Britain’s sick and disabled.

I look forward to your e-mail reply.

Best wishes.

Samuel Miller.


  1. Welfare Weekly has just published my letter, which accuses the Work and
    Pension inquiry of failing to address benefit claimant
    ‘stitching-up’—otherwise known as inappropriate or egregious sanctions.

    Sure enough, within minutes I tweet an article which happens to reveal the following:

    Cases of people who had seen their benefits suspended unreasonably included:

    ● A man who realised he had missed an appointment, contacted the
    Jobcentre immediately and went in the next day, only to be informed by
    post that his benefits were being cut for a month;

    ● A woman sanctioned because she was late after her bus got delayed by roadworks in the centre of Hartlepool;

    ● A woman who was told her appointment for a work capability assessment
    had been cancelled who was then sanctioned for failing to attend;

    ● And a woman who was sanctioned for a month because she missed an appointment to attend her grandfather’s funeral.

    Source: Benefit clampdown raised in Commons by Hartlepool MP – Hartlepool Mail http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/benefit-clampdown-raised-in-commons-by-hartlepool-mp-1-7043632

  2. Is there any chance of taking out civil actions against jobcentres or jobcentre staff: I mean suing then for damages for loss of income or injuries incurred as a result of their unreasonable decisions?

    • You would have to sue the DWP itself, or to be more precise the Government. Jobcentre staff are representatives and are, as it goes, ‘only doing their job’. However, anybody be can sued, including the government, if it can be proved they have been neglectful in their duties and responsibilities. To date, no one has legally been able to prove negligence against the government to this extent, but there’s always time. The Government has a great deal of immunities, and can cite ‘financial privilege’ and other terms. It’s probable that you would have to sue as an individual who has been ‘wronged’. Class lawsuits are exceptionally difficult and very few lawyers would even consider taking them on.

  3. O,k add this one to the list. A former family friend, Catherine Marter. Employed at my local job centre in Bognor Regis told me two years ago that all job centre managers and staff are expected to meet pre set sanction targets, and paid a bonus for meeting those targets. Why is she a former friend? She was laughing when she bragged aboiut her bonus. We all dropped the bint like a hot turd after that.

    • Hearsay. Inadmissable. We all know this goes on anyway so what’s needed is something likely to be accepted by a judge and jury as proof.

  4. Not only mc vey,Ian duncn smith ,and David Cameron for leaving him to CARRY ON KILLING PEOPLE

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