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  • Writer's pictureJamie McCarthy

Stories From the U.K. 'Benefits' System: 1.

17th October 2016.

If anyone thinks this story or the story from the film 'I Daniel Blake' is exaggerated or uncommon, think again. I've seen and experienced it first hand several times. When I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I was subjected to these kinds of tests and taken off sickness benefit when I was still incapable of working more than a few hours a week. Close friends and family members have gone through this too.

When I had to sign on for a short while a few summers ago, apart from being told that as a freelancer having earned an average of more than £73 a week (!) I should have budgeted for this period of unemployment and being told to jump through any number of ridiculous hoops or be sanctioned (not to get any benefits mind, but just to get my National Insurance credits), I had the horror of witnessing the following ...

A young guy ... maybe twenty one ... neatly turned out, with an organised-looking folder in his hand ... actually just generally kind of looking like the image of a sharp, 'on-it' 'jobseeker' puts his card on the table of a 'job coach' to say he's there. He's told to wait. The 'coach' says: 'He's five minutes late - he's got no job, what reason has he got to be late? I'm deleting his claim.' And with one depression of her finger deletes his entire claim from the system, meaning this guy will have to go through the whole application process again ... maybe have to wait weeks for any money to come through ... maybe not even get any money in the end because he's been sanctioned for being five minutes late. She smiles as she does it. No seriously - she looks really satisfied with herself - like it's made her day.

Meanwhile the young guy is explaining to the security guard how he'd been waiting downstairs for twenty minutes and they wouldn't let him up as it was too busy upstairs.

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