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Tuesday 27th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

Campaigners fight back with July demonstration on streets of Durham

Tens of thousands of jobless disabled people in the north-east are being refused benefits as the coalition government continues its vicious attacks on the country’s most vulnerable unemployed workers, new figures showed yesterday.

Unite research showed that last year 28,702 unemployed disabled people in the region were refused Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) — which replaced incapacity benefit — after being subjected to assessments by discredited private assessor Atos.

Atos’s contract is being ended early after it was found guilty of “significant quality failures” even by government standards.

Campaigners in the north-east will demonstrate in Durham in July against sanctions taken against claimants failing to meet stringent criteria and in defence of the welfare state.

Unite’s North East region has establish a Unite Community branch at the historic Redhill headquarters of Durham Miners’ Association. The initiative opens union membership to people not in a workplace, including disabled and unemployed people, students and pensioners.

A Unite spokesman said: “The last year has seen a shocking increase in the number of claimants, many of them highly vulnerable and facing mental-health issues, being sanctioned for the crime of being sick and unable to look for a job.”

The union said last year 28,702 disabled people were “sanctioned” — denied benefit or had it removed. Of those, 22,814 allegedly failed “to participate in work-related activity.”

Of 13,994 cases reviewed, 8,508 decisions were overturned, and 90 per cent of appeals against decisions were successful.

The Friday, July 11 demonstration takes place from 11.30am to 1.30pm at Elvet House in Hallgarth Stee, Durham.