On Friday I received a letter from the DWP informing me that, as I am in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) from December 3rd 2012; I must “attend and take part in work-focused interviews if you are asked to do so, to qualify for your benefit”, it goes on to state “If you do not attend and take part in these interviews or do the activities you are asked to do, without a good reason, your payment can be reduced by £14.07 a week, rising to £28.15 a week after four weeks, until you comply. We call this a sanction.”
The fact I am not in WRAG, but in the Support Group which, at the minute still automatically protects me from sanction, demonstrates the effectiveness of communication within the Department! Regardless of this I feel the whole tone of the letter is very threatening, full text @ http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/esa-changes-factsheet.pdf. It speaks of the Law, Rules & Sanctions repeatedly; but more to the point, at no time does it even hint at what “a Good Reason” might be.
For me the absence of an explanation as to what a ‘Good Reason’ might be, combined with the repeatedly use of negative terms, clearly fits within the Collins Dictionary’s definition of Intimidation – “the use of threats, blackmail, or coercion to prevent an unwanted action”.
I find myself feeling fortunate that despite suffering from severe depression, I have a great support mechanism in my family which enables me to talk, cry, rant and scream my way through to a position where I can analyse such letters. I am also very aware though that others don’t have access to this essential assistance.
I think it’s clear that even the threat of loss of money. cannot force a very ill individual to attend and take part in anything. Personally, most days I cannot walk, or do even the most basic tasks for myself and the only possible outcome of sanctions would be I would incur further debt from the associated bank charges, failed direct debits, rent arrears and further ill health from the associated lack of nutrition.
Because of this I wrote to Leigh Wright, as the author of this letter asking precisely what is deemed as a ‘“Good Reason” for a Chronically Sick & Disabled Person to attend and take part in work place activities?’
I don’t have much faith in receiving a constructive response, if I get a reply at all; but I do believe it’s vital that we, as Chronically Sick & Disabled People, question each and every letter, speech or report, where it’s clear that the DWP are behaving in this menacing way.
After as all the Rt Hon DAVID CAMERON MP: said “Stamping out bullying in the workplace and elsewhere is a vital objective”…and he wants “to make bullying a thing of the past”! http://nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/