There are an increasing number of campaigns against government attacks on sick and disabled claimants.
Here we list some of what we believe are the most important of those campaigns.
Please contact us if you would like us to share details of your campaign.
There are several campaigns and petitions regarding ESA and the WCA.
Support not Sanctions
Mind has launched a campaign for a fairer benefits system that better understands and supports those with mental health conditions. which was researched and written by Catherine Hale. She explains how she sought the views, opinions and experiences of more than 500 ESA claimants in order to collate the information and make positive suggestions about improvements that should be made to the current system. She proposes arguments as to what can be done more effectively to support people with long term health problems or disabilities in gaining employment or making successful steps towards employment.
All respondents had been assigned to the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) having applied for the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
People in the WRAG can have their benefits stopped if they do not engage with work preparation schemes.
This research found that the Work Programme or Jobcentre Plus had helped just 5% of respondents move into work, while 60% of people said that their health, finances, confidence and sense of purpose had all suffered as a result.
Most people who responded to the survey had been compelled to undertake compulsory back-to-work activities or have their benefits cut.
The majority said their disabilities were not acknowledged or accommodated and made engaging in such activities difficult.
80% of people said they felt anxious about not being able to access activities and 70% were worried about their benefits being cut.
The actual or threatened cutting of benefits is meant to motivate people to get back to work, but the report suggests motivation is not a problem.
For most people (90%), their health or impairment was the main barrier to work.
Make ESA fit for work
A campaign that Citizens Advice are running is calling for a change in the law so that those who are found ‘fit for work’ don’t have their ESA stopped while they are challenging the decision. For claimants in this position, they often have no option but to claim JSA until the mandatory reconsideration has taken place. This causes hardship and distress, aggravating existing health conditions.
Petition for a Public Inquiry into Benefit Sanctions, Targets & Workfare
Another campaign on Change.org demands a public inquiry to be held regarding the systematic vilification of those who rely on welfare benefits. They report on all the negative media coverage of benefits claimants and the impact that this has. They call for more transparency as ministers appear reluctant to be held accountable and publicly answer to the criticisms that are aimed at people in receipt of working age benefits. They also campaign against the disproportionate use of sanctions as punishment, causing hardship, distress and, in some cases, the death of victims of the current system.
Stop unfair fit for work test
One of our members has asked us to publicise his petition to ask the DWP that those with mental health conditions are not reassessed until changes are made to the WCA, which he says is not fit for purpose:
Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign
More than 350 organisations have already signed up to the Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign, which can be found here:
if you wish to add your organisation to the list of supporters which oppose the government’s workfare scheme to force people into voluntary placements as part of benefits conditionality.
Time to Change
Nearly 60,000 people have pledged to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness on Time to Change’s pledge wall. The campaign is led jointly by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
Members might want to add their name to this campaign, which aims to educate others and raise awareness of the discrimination that those with mental illness face in society.
Citizens Advice Scotland launch ‘Challenge It: Benefits Sanctions’ campaign
This summer, CABs across Scotland are raising the issue of benefit sanctions. The 'Challenge It' campaign aims to raise awareness of the right to appeal against sanctions.
All CABs in Scotland have been issued with 'Challenge It' postcards and mini-cards, offering tips both on how to avoid being sanctioned and what to do if you are.
The campaign will raise awareness of sanctions: ensuring people understand how to prevent their benefit being sanctioned, and also providing information on what to do if they feel the sanction has been unfairly applied.
The campaign aims to empower people by supporting them to avoid being sanctioned in the first place, and also lists actions they can take if they feel the sanction is unfair.
Campaign materials are available to download from the Citizens Advice Scotland campaign webpage.