Samuel Miller

I recently asked the UN to open an investigation into Britain's benefit-sanctioning regime; my letter to High Commissioner Navi Pillay can be found here: http://twishort.com/AAigc. In addition, the Work & Pensions Committee (the body which provides oversight of the DWP) has called for an independent inquiry on benefit sanctions, which has, to date, been ignored by the government. There is also an urgent need for a moratorium on benefit sanctions as a result of the tragic death of David Clapson.

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 are knowingly engaging in conduct that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation. The government's refusal to agree to an independent inquiry strongly suggests that the DWP is involved in a cover-up of egregious or inappropriate benefit sanctions.

In addition, I recently wrote both Nick Clegg and Rachel Reeves, requesting that their respective political parties adopt as official policy the Work and Pensions Committee's recommendation that sick and disabled people be paid benefits while they await decisions on mandatory reconsideration, ESA and PIP, as well as being paid while the DWP clears the benefits backlog. It's a sensible proposal based on humanitarian grounds and to prevent further tragic suicides, like this one (http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/crime/epileptic-man-hanged-himself-after-his-benefits-were-stopped-1-6825510), from occurring.

With Westminster in the throes of political tumult, it's important to seize the moment and advocate for important changes to unjust policy measures. Admittedly, I am trying to capitalize on the success of the recent Parliamentary bedroom tax vote.

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.

(Montreal, Canada)

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