I’ve written at length on the many insanities and injustices perpetrated by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and its Jobcentre Plus (JCP) ‘subsidiaries’. While it’s crucial to promote awareness of the ‘big picture’ situation, it’s also important to understand that the each misdeed and lie of the DWP – which surely are not going to improve with the promotion of the odious Esther McVey – affects real people.
Including some that our vile, hypocritical government would be supporting if it was even vaguely true to its self-proclaimed commitment to ‘those who work hard’. I’ve come across a perfect example, sent to me by an inside contact at the DWP.
You’ve probably seen the film, or stage show, ‘Billy Elliott’, about a young man from a disadvantaged background who overcomes his disadvantages to become a top ballet star. Sadly, real life does not often work out like in films – especially under the current government.
This example concerns a real-life ‘Billy Elliott’ – in fact, one with a story even more dramatic and even more laudable motivation. His name is withheld, to protect his identity, so we’ll call him ‘Billy’. His story divides into two very different parts – the first under the last Labour government, and the second under the Tory-led coalition. Here it is, as it was recounted to me by my DWP contact:
Part 1 – the rise of a young star and role model
This young man’s amazing life was transformed through dance and after being awarded a place at a prestigious arts academy. Billy attended a dance scheme for young offenders, organised by a nationally-recognised dance school, and told anyone who’d listen about his passion for dance and the matching desire to help other kids who’d got into trouble to find their way out of it.
His mother wrote to Gordon Brown about to tell him how her son’s confidence had grown through his passion for dancing and what he could do with it, and how this had led him to the brink of a fantastic career, and the dance academy echoed her views, praising his exceptional commitment.
Part 2 – dark (Tory) skies
From my DWP contact:
This Jobseeker has had his money stopped because Jobcentre Plus failed to update his address and he did not attend an interview some months ago because he had no knowledge of it. He has filed a reconsideration request and has heard nothing for over a month and the appeal process now takes more than 11 months, which is wholly unacceptable.
From one of his emails:
It’s hard enough to enter the JCP and speak to people. I feel invisible and alone. I have always suffered from depression but never had the bottle to face a doctor and express these views, since the sanction and being made homeless I don’t feel like a human being anymore.
I was working full time and I was very happy. Since losing my job, home, girlfriend and not being able to treat my 1 year old son, I am not the person that I used to be.
However, I do intend on working again in the future but at this moment in time I just cannot physically face it. It’s hard enough working out where I will sleep, eat and keep warm at night, 35 hours a week job search along with weekly interviews with that bullying intimidating jobcentre advisor is too much to bear.
I don’t suppose you know what steps I must take in order to claim ESA at least until I can mentally think straight without constant harassment and threats of sanctions from JCP. I am willing to sign up to a doctor as I haven’t been since I was around 6-7yr old but I really don’t want to be asked these question at the Jobcentre.”
IDS once promised:
Those people who need our help and support will know they will get it without question.
This young man had done incredibly to come back from a bad start to become a role model and to have a promising career ahead of him. He had overcome huge disadvantages and was putting time and energy into helping others who were in similar situations. Surely any government – especially one that claims to be all about helping those with ‘aspiration’, those prepared to ‘work hard and do the right thing – should be giving him every possible support and assistance.
Yet after losing his job to government cuts, he has been left with no financial support for months and the prospect of months more – because of an error by the department that is supposed to be ‘helping’ him, and in which he was in no way at fault.
An error that has crushed his spirit and damaged his mental health by a department that now seeks to blame and exclude him, and to make it as difficult as possible for him to either get the help he needs or to fight his case. Let alone get back to fulfilling his talent or helping others escape their own disadvantages.
This young man has a slim ray of hope, in that he is receiving help from someone who is an expert in the system. Many do not.
Whenever you hear government or media claims about ‘supporting the hard-workers’, remember ‘Billy’, the people he could have been helping, and the hundreds of thousands like them.