Sunday, 23 February 2014

Unjust sanctions

Just a quick note that the Guardian journalist Shiv Malik has posted a tweet asking for contacts from people who have had their benefits "sanctioned unjustly in the last few months".  He can be contacted at shiv.malik@guardian.co.uk
Journalists protect their sources, so don't be afraid that you could be targeted if you contact him.

13 comments:

  1. I hope Malik will get some examples, but from my experience, people who've been 'sanctioned unjustly' are generally - and justifiably - scared to death of being identified and further victimised. People think that giving an explanation of why a sanction is particularly unjustified might mean giving enough away to be identified and targeted again.

    Some of the most egregious examples I've encountered are of extremely vulnerable people who are are receiving support. Often from organisations who might feel it would breach their duty of care to expose them to the media, even when guarantees of anonymity are offered - and they usually are.

    They're probably relatively safe with the Guardian and other print media, but I wouldn't blame sanction victims and those that help them for being wary.

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    1. I've told Malik this. I often don't publish stories if there are details which could identify the person. But I don't think someone like Malik has any interest in betraying confidences.
      Quite often local papers publish stories about daft sanctions, when a victim is so gobsmacked as to go public. That very publicity may well protect him or her. Further victimisation would be all too obvious.

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    2. I'm sure Malik would be entirely responsible. It's difficult though. The first media enquiry I dealt with concerning sanctions was as far back as early 2011, but it was difficult to find someone that could be put on air (it was TV news) whilst maintaining any pretence of duty of care, despite filming in silhouette being offered.

      On whether or not DWP would go after someone who spoke out, I'm not convinced they wouldn't. Maybe also speaking to their MP, or if Conservative / Lib Dem, someone like Debbie Abrahams in her capacity as a member of the W&P Committee might add a degree of protection.

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    3. Quite a few times over the years I've had contact with TV producers or researchers who wanted people, particularly employees of the private companies, who would blow the whistle. I explained why it was virtually impossible. The only one who came forward did so on condition that he was quoted rather than seen or even heard. It has been easier to find claimants prepared to appear, but the regime now is so bad, the fear so real, that I don't blame people for taking no risks.

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  2. (Historian, when publishing email addresses, it's advisable to substitute the "@" with "at". That way the search engines can't pick it up and lay the addressor open to spam.)

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    1. He tweeted his actual email address.

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  3. Historian well knows how I have contacted the media with regards my experiences of New Deal and more recently the Work Prog. ;-)

    I used my real name when informing journalists and researchers about the former. However, that was because I had long since finished ND at that point and was working in retail. More recently with the WP I did use a false name due to my being still on the WP.

    Even when on the WP I was happy to get on as many radio phone ins as I could, even though again I did not use my real name. Maybe I'm big enough and ugly enough to argue the toss with an adviser. However, I can see how jobseekers could feel intimidated and bee too scared to speak out, especially under the current warped and draconian regime.

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  4. I was sanctioned last year for putting "found nothing suitable" on my job seekers agreement record. This was before all the claiming committment thing came in. - Martyn B.

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  5. I used my real name for talking to the bbc radio about the work programme, but after being felt threatened by a4e i used a nom de guerre.. for my own protection, have spoken to a few other reporters since.. I havent been sanctioned, all i can say is Shiv Malik appears to be a good reporter, and really does care from the few conversations i have had with him..

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  6. Jack Monroe's latest petition here:
    .https://www.change.org/petitions/george-osborne-make-march-19-the-end-uk-hunger-budget?utm_source=action_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=49694&alert_id=BiPAGyMXud_gbZwWsxoFT

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    1. Mike Penning, Minister of State for Disabled People, was to be interviewed on Radio 4's "In Touch" - a programme aimed at the blind or partially sighted. The RNIB are to pursue action against the DWP as some claimants have had trouble accessing information in braille or large print. This takes up to 4 weeks and has meant some claimants were sanctioned or did not receive payments because of delays in receiving letters etc. Compensation offered by the DWP did not cover all costs incurred - overdraft fees/payday loan interest etc. The interview to have been recorded on Monday was cancelled "as something had come up". The rescheduled interview is hopefully to be broadcast if it takes place next week.

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  7. If anyone is interested I'm currently into Day 3 of 'live tweeting' a recent report into sanctions published by West Dunbartonshire CAB. The report is called 'Unjust and Uncaring'. You can follow my abridged summary of the report on Twitter at the following @prformativcontr

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    1. There's a good summary here: http://www.cas.org.uk/news/unjust-and-uncaring-new-report-west-dunbartonshire-cab

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