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Friday 31st
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

Activists across Britain target our cruel benefits system

MORE THAN 80 jobcentres across Britain were targeted yesterday by protesters taking on the obscene benefit sanctions system.

Hundreds of activists staged mock funeral processions, protests and demonstrations organised by Unite Community and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

From Scotland to Southampton and Liverpool to Leeds, anger was expressed at sanctions which have led to tens of thousands of deaths of people after vital benefits were taken from them — many taking their own lives.

Sanctions are also driving people to foodbanks in their hundreds of thousands, says the Trussell Trust.

Unite Scotland Community co-ordinator Jamie Caldwell said: “Last year an estimated total of 25,000 benefit claimants were sanctioned across Scotland — many of whom were left with nothing.

“What kind of a country are we living in, where a government can deliberately set out to leave children without enough to eat?”

In Portsmouth volunteer Mandy Webb created an exquisite “mourning gown,” the lower half of which comprised faceless photos of local people who have died, some taking their own lives, after losing their benefits.

Unite Community member Graham Noble dressed as the grim reaper on stilts and took part in a funeral procession.

Unite Community Yorkshire and north-east organiser John Coan lamented the “dreadful toll of benefit sanctions on millions of vulnerable people within our communities.”

Trade unionists in the region are fighting back by training volunteers to advise and represent victims, attending sanctions hearings, fighting and winning appeals.

Many areas, including Stroud in Gloucestershire, screened Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake, depicting the appalling treatment meted out to claimants.

James Beecher of Stroud Against the Cuts said: “We’ve heard horror stories from people using the local jobcentre, and want to ensure people applying for benefits are aware of their rights, and that more fortunate people in our community are aware of the impact of the government’s policies.”