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Turning the screw

Posted on July 01, 2014 by

From yesterday’s Evening Express:

“Out of work Scots had their benefits sanctioned on almost 900,000 occasions last year, a new report has claimed.

A total of 898,000 sanctions were applied to claims for jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) and employment support allowance (ESA) during 2013, according to Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), with 871,000 of the penalties being applied to claims for JSA.

One man in the east of Scotland had his benefits reduced to about £11 a week after sanctions were applied when he failed to attend an interview with a work programme, despite producing a doctor’s certificate to say he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was not fit to travel, the report stated. “

It’s probably appropriate to remember at this point that Labour have promised to be even tougher on welfare than the current coalition should they be elected in 2015. But there’s something very alarming about those stats.

There are currently only 178,000 unemployed people in Scotland (the use of the word “only” there is purely contextual), of whom just 103,000 claim Job Seeker’s Allowance. If 871,000 sanctions have been applied to JSA claimants, that means an average of 8.5 sanctions each. Sanctions are applied on an exponential scale with penalties increasing for repeat “offences” – such as recklessly and selfishly getting terminal cancer – but the shortest is one week.

It would therefore appear from the statistics that as an absolute bare minimum, the average Scottish jobseeker in 2013 had their benefits reduced for at least two months of the year – a situation which Tory MP David Mundell finally admitted last week was driving people to foodbanks.

(Meanwhile, Scottish Labour councils are charging those foodbanks full commercial rates for renting their properties, as if they were running a business.)

To be honest, folks, we’re hoping someone’s done their sums wrong.


[EDIT 8.15pm: In fact someone has. While the Evening Express said that the figure referred to the number of Scots sanctioned, in fact the report issued by Citizens Advice Scotland is talking about UK stats and the paper misinterpreted it. No definitive figure is given for sanctions in Scotland, so for illustrative purposes we have to presume 8.4% of the UK total, which would be just over 73,000.

However, we also severely understated the length of sanctions. Since December 2012 the standard penalty for a FIRST offence is four weeks, not one, and subsequent offences are 13 weeks each. Sanctions are applied over a 52-week period, making the average length of a sanction a little over 10 weeks, not the one week we counted for our initial calculation. (Higher-level sanctions of up to three YEARS are possible.)

That more or less cancels out the smaller number, and leaves the overall average of two months per year per claimant broadly the same.]

[EDIT July 2nd, 7.22pm: Citizens Advice Scotland have now told us that the actual number of sanctions for Scotland was 83,180, a disproportionately high share.]

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  1. 01 07 14 11:02

    Turning the screw | Scottish Independence News

  2. 01 07 14 14:24

    Will you sit and watch | The Voice of Edinburgh

  3. 29 07 14 15:42

    Heavier than Maiden in Rio | We'll never be fooled again!

96 to “Turning the screw”

  1. TheeForsakenOne says:

    What’s even worse is that I know several people on JSA and ESA who have never been sanctioned. This implies that those who have been sanctioned have actually gotten it way more than the average.

    You’ll probably find it’s the seriously ill such as that terminal cancer sufferer are getting sanctioned over and over again.

  2. Truth says:


  3. James Sneddon says:

    That’s the ‘scroungers’ Kathy Wiles bangs on about. Let’s never forget labour’s promise to continue this regimes policy of attacking the vulnerable. The ‘party of the working class’ I think that boat sailed long ago. The only saving of labour will come from LFI after a YES vote. The current labour leadership in Scotland and UK and their acolytes will never be forgotten by old labour voters like myself for their complicity and participation in these attacks on the working class. The referendum is an opportunity ,like the Scottish general election in 2011, to tell the labour hierarchy ‘ enough is enough, no more’.

  4. Breastplate says:

    I think Rev, whether the numbers are right or wrong, we can be sure they will only get worse.

  5. R whittington says:

    Well if I wasn’t angry before I really am now. Unbelievable.(angrily shakes fist at the injustice of it all)

  6. Breastplate says:

    Under Westminster I should have said.

  7. Drew says:

    The sooner we get out of this rotten union the better for the people of Scotland.

  8. Ladybird says:

    I hope so too Stu. It beggars belief that anyone would vote for a country that actively starves it’s own citizens. Shame on all of us if we don’t rescue Scotland. Forget the name-calling, the biased reporting, the smears and the lies, people are actually going hungry. We are not a third world country, yet.

  9. wingman 2020 says:

    It’s making it so that the Referendum result won’t matter in a sense.

    Even IF a NO is returned, people can and will only take so much. I said this many times before, the actions of Westminster will be wholly to blame for whatever consequences post 18th.

    Naive and careerist MPs at Westminster are steering this country by a London compass. They forget they are only the Cab and there is a whole articulated load behind them.

    They will only get so far with bald tires and dodgy brakes, even if the Cab is warm, comfortable and luxurious.

    The winter is coming.

  10. Jack McKenzie says:

    Labour’s only hope is to establish a Scottish Independent Labour Party NOW.

  11. Fiona says:

    @ Ladybird

    If there were no other reason to vote Yes, that would be enough. It is a source of abiding shame that we will not feed all of the people in a very rich country. The glee with which that policy is promoted as a virtue is worse than shaming: it is sickening

  12. This is starting to look like the thirties: and of course we have the rise (UK – wide just as the benefits situation is UK-wide) of UKIP.
    But there is work: your “only”, statistically is pretty good by some lights (add in the likes of me and Ginger Dug, who claiming *whatever (income support)* on top of Carer’s are not actually free to work but may well be in the figures)…

    These figures make it increasingly clear that we need out of a system where the underdogs are penalised (did you see Glenda’s rant at IDS on Youtube?); other countries manage to treat their sick, ill, unemployed with dignity we are lead to believe: Scandinavia. We need to look across the North Sea to their lights.

    But here we preach to the converted and the almost converted. We need to reach the disenfrachised and enfranchise them so they can vote. We need to make sure all those who can vote have the full facts and information. We need to be out there spreading the message to all: Vote Yes and throw off the shackles of the legacy of Thatcherism and Self. It can be come a reality of All Of Us First: Vote Yes.

    And I need to listen myself to what I preach, redouble my efforts to write my blog and sneak it onto Scottish Catholic source pages. For now it is a case (sorry to quote Kennedy) of asking what we can do for our country…we need to be Berliners who tear down the wall, but first we need to be out there, sharing.

  13. Brian B says:

    @Rev Stu – An article I read, this morning, suggested minimum sanction had been moved from 1 week to 1 month.

    Found it!

    It added: “Towards the end of 2012 the penalties associated with sanctions also became significantly more severe. The first level JSA sanction has risen from one week to one month, and the maximum duration of a sanction rose from six months to three years.

    (Emphasis mine)

  14. R whittington says:

    I’m definatly voting YES now. I was a NO before, but now I’m a YES. I suggest everyone else votes YES too.

  15. wingman 2020 says:

    Osborne shaping up for a new role…. Either as Foreign Secretary or PM.

    This man is a self confessed Thatcher acolyte. The sooner he is in the PM job the sooner the UK will reject what is being done to it.

  16. andrew>reid says:

    Benefit sanctions have become a cynical and cruel of government in managing a reducing budget There have been massive cuts to public expenditure and Iain Duncan Smith at the Department of Works and Pensions has being at the front of offering up cuts and then delivering them. One way of doing that has been to set cruel targets for benefit punishments – called sanctions in the official language – punishments depriving people of benefits for periods of time for minor transgression of rules they may not even know about. And, it is going to get even worse with the massive further cuts to come after the 2015 general election, and after the implementation of the benefits cap – shamefully, utterly shamefully supported by the Labour Party. The benefits cap will mean that the benefits budget will not increase to meet any increased needs through an increasing number of older people or any rise in unemployment. There will be distribution of wealth from poor people to poor people through the increasing use of benefit punishments/sanctions and the cuts to benefits for young unemployed people recently announced, again by the Labour Party, and which will eagerly be taken up by the Tories and UKIP, who seem likely to form the next UK government. Independence is our only hope of social justice in Scotland.

  17. uilleam_beag says:

    Those really are astounding statistics, and like you I’m really hoping someone got their sums very, very wrong.

    I do wonder, though, whetherjob centre management were satisfied interview staff were meeting their sanctions quotas. This is a very strange and scary situation to find ourselves in, and only a yes vote gives any hope of reform.

  18. Illy says:

    I know when I was on JSA (A few years ago now) I never got sanctioned.

    I would expect that a significant fraction of people on JSA are the same, so those who are getting sanctioned are going to be getting sanctioned far more than 9 times a year.

    The “Labour Party” have certainly joined the aristocracy.

    “Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisions?”

  19. Patrick Roden says:

    I heard from a reliable source that the Dundee benefits office in the Wellgate, Sanctions more people than anyone in the whole UK.

    It’s so bad that the CAB has arranged a meeting with the DWP in London, to discuss their concerns about the methods employed by Dundee DWP.

    It seems their are targets that need to be met and Dundee have some very ‘creative ways’ to ensuring they not only meet, but surpass these targets.

  20. pa_broon74 says:

    This is what Libertarianism looks like in reality: cruel self-interest and preservation.

    It won’t work though, this situation is morally and socially untenable.

    Its also disgusting and a national shame.

  21. Marcia says:

    The poor man with cancer it seems their is no compassion at the DWP. How have they sunk to that level?

    It is 15 years to this very day that the Scottish Parliament was reconvened. Sadly today also is the 98th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and the terrible waste of youth.

  22. Marcia says:

    their = there

    still need a proof reader 🙁

  23. Alan Mackintosh says:

    Wow, bbc news , Kathy Wiles apologised for Hitler Jugend tweet…

  24. Fiona says:

    @ Patrick Roden

    Do not forget that the government and the DWP have denied there are targets. There quite clearly are targets. The government and the DWP tell lies…

  25. Grouse Beater says:

    If we dare vote no, genuine empowerment rejected from fear and panic, we invite Westminster’s base ethics, venality, hatred of foreigners, and corruption into our lives.

    Believe me, if we allow them, they will stamp their neo-liberal character on Scotland until the mark stays firm.

  26. Bigbricks says:

    Labour (and “Scottish” Labour) seems to have decided that the poor should be punished for being poor. I’m singling out Labour by name only because they’ve been relative latecomers to a decision long ago reached by the other WM establishment parties, and newcomers such as UKIP. I believe we live in the most corrupt and least representative or fair society in Europe (and, sadly, the statistical evidence isn’t hard to find). Our rulers (I won’t dignify them with the title elected representatives) hold the people of the country in contempt. I would be interested to know what percentage of MPs are not millionaires. I don’t know how the endemic corruption and greed at Westminster can be stopped, but I sure as Hell know how I can make it something that no longer has an impact on my life or that of my family. Vote Yes.

  27. Alan Mackintosh says:

    Marcia, from memory, 60,000 casualties on the first day of Somme. To put into context, Scotland had around60,000 dead in whole of WW2.

  28. No no no...Yes says:

    There is a quote in the archived Evening Express article from Labour MSP Michael McMahon, convener of Holyrood’s Welfare Reform Committee. He said:

    “As our own report concluded in June, there has to be a change of approach when it comes to sanctions. It is not acceptable to punish people and push them into a cycle of decline for things often beyond their control. People have to be supported by the system, not pressed down further. We’ve made it clear we think a review is long overdue and urgently needed before more people are pushed beyond the point of no return.”

    What EXACTLY do you mean Michael when you say , “We’ve made it clear we think a review is long overdue”
    Who did you make it clear to?
    Did they listen?

    Tell us EXACTLY what you would change to make things better?
    Tell us WHEN are you going to do it?
    Tell us EXACTLY how much it will cost?

    Michael, wake up son, the Labour Party policies proudly proclaimed by Miliband and Reeves, in particular, are NOT going to help the people of Scotland.

    Scottish Labour are going down with the good ship One Nation Labour, get real.

  29. geeo says:

    It is a twisted society that feeds rapists, perverts and murderers in prison for some of the worse things a human can do to another, yet treats people, some of whom have lost their jobs because of the recession through no faults of their own are sanctioned and starved for bein late for a signing on appointment.
    Yet still people are voting No.


  30. Ken500 says:

    It is just disgusting, beyond belief. They are wasting £Million/Billions. Train lines to nowhere, Trident etc. Starving the vulnerable. It is just sick.

  31. Ken500 says:

    How can Councils charge food bank ‘rent’? It just beggars belief.

  32. Fergus Green says:

    O/T – the good burghers of Angus are not happy with the actions of their local Labour prospective parliamentary candidate:

  33. R whittington says:

    I’m outraged.

  34. Gillie says:

    You can only push people so far before they react. That is the danger for Labour in pursuing Tory welfare policies they could find themselves under attack from the very people they claim to represent.

    I don’t think we are far from a food riot.

  35. BrianW says:

    So this is the “equality, social justice and fairness” that Anus (ed balls words, not mine) likes to spout about on his Labour Web Page

    Cough.. Splutter.. it also mentions “..ensure society’s resources are distributed equitably and to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.”

    Oh well. That seems to tie in with this article quite well then, since Labour have promised to tougher on welfare..

    sniff.. sniff.. I smell Shite..

  36. CalumCarr says:

    Re the 900,000 sanctions.

    This is the figure for the UK as a whole. In February this year Patrick Wintour wrote this in the Guardian,

    The total number of sanctions against benefit claimants in the year to September 2013 was 897,690, the highest figure for any 12-month period since jobseeker’s allowance was introduced in 1996.

    The figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions cover employment support allowance and jobseeker’s allowance.

    The number of JSA sanctions in the year to 30 September 2013 was 874,850, the highest since JSA was introduced in 1996. It compares with 500,000 in the year to 30 April 2010, the last month of the previous Labour government.

    In the year to 30 September 2013 there were also 22,840 sanctions imposed on claimants of ESA – the chief benefit for the sick and disabled – in the work-related activity group. This is the highest for any 12-month period since sanctions were introduced for such claimants in October 2008.


    The CAS report doesn’t actually state the 900,000 was from Scotland. The report’s Executive Summary states,

    During 2013, nearly 900,000 sanctions were applied to Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants. The rate of JSA sanctions has more than doubled since 2010.

    This has resulted in a significant rise in the number of sanctions cases coming in to bureaux in Scotland.


  37. Tattie-bogle says:

    If it keeps going this way instead of the Bankers robbing the people it will go the other way the more desperate folk become . I am really surprised crime has not gone through the roof as people get more desperate it must weigh on their rationale.

  38. AnneDon says:

    There are separate Job Centres for under-25s, and, if the experience of my son and his friends is anything to judge by, they are the ones being targetted.

    They receive no help to get work, but, on the slightest excuse, at around the 3-month mark, they are told they aren’t trying hard enough to get a job, and are sanctioned. They aren’t necessarily told they’ve been sanctioned face-to-face, they just don’t get the benefit in their bank account when they expect it. If they try to get an appointment to speak to someone, their “adviser” is “too busy” to see them.

    It’s a despicable system, and it is encouraging outright bullying by Job Centre staff. I am dismayed that PCS Union is doing nothing to counteract this, and protect their staff, and the job-seekers, from the atmosphere this is creating.

  39. AnneDon says:

    Re my comment above – that’s why I don’t trust any figures that say unemployment is down – even the Scottish Govt figures. People who are unemployed cannot afford the bus fare for a pointless signing-on, so they are removed from the figures and no longer count as unemployed.

  40. Tattie-bogle says:

    O/T What’s this all about ? False Flag with yoouuuuukay to the rescue

  41. Grouse Beater says:

    Salmond chose well the length of time he felt necessary for the debate to gather momentum and cause doubt in the mind of those who have never questioned Westminster’s squalid rule.

    For some, too many in fact, two years is too short a time to overcome three hundred years of subservience that leaves its wound on a nation’s psyche and an individual’s self-confidence, their perception of self-worth long ago measured against London’s standards.

  42. Clootie says:

    When I first read the above blog a few years ago I thought it was interesting but probably a bit over the top. I am now becoming concerned that it was closer to the truth than I wanted to accept.

    We have gone from banker gambling causing it to cutting welfare costs!
    The bankers are getting their bonus and the poor are getting food banks!

    How did the poor become the guilty?

  43. Anthony Armstrong says:

    Those figures aren’t a surprise,we live in a society where people on benefits/low wages feel the need to attack others on benefits/low wages due to believing the establishments propaganda rather than finding the truth for themselves.

    We’ll still have millions breaking their necks to vote New Labour at the next General Election, I only hope I’ll not have a dog in that particular fight when it comes.

  44. alexicon says:

    Believe it or not, there are many Scots out there who would gladly see cuts to the unemployed.

  45. Grouse Beater says:

    Clootie asks: How did the poor become the guilty?

    Because they and the vulnerable are scapegoats chosen by the power elite, by our elected representatives whom they own, to distract us from what they are doing, shifting wealth from the nation to themselves, weakening government and its democratic structures until they are meaningless, reducing us to compliant and docile consumers.

  46. Cath says:

    The unemployment system is broken, and what I don’t understand is why more businesses aren’t also complaining.

    When I was at the CAB one of the guys I dealt with had been sanctioned because the jobcentre claimed he hadn’t applied for a job he was required to apply for. It was in a cafe, and he claimed he had. So we phoned the cafe in question and were told there was no way they could go through all the application forms to look because there were hundreds of them. For one job.

    Unsurprising, because all job seekers have to apply for a certain number of jobs a week, and be able to prove it, or they’re sanctioned. Whether the job is suitable, or they want it, or their caring committments, or health conditions mean they can or can’t do it, they have to apply.

    Surely this can’t be good for businesses either? How do they find decent staff with the right experience, who want the job, if they’re swamped with unsuitable applications?

  47. Cath says:

    Also, the job centre has basically admitted their staff have targets for sanctioning people. And the best way to hit them is to sanction those who are least able to fight it. So that’s those with mental health issues, learning difficulties, health problems that mean they just don’t have the energy etc. Those are the people being hardest hit.

  48. Bugger (the Panda) says:


    I see that the Ed Miller Band is trailing a new initiative creating a decentralisation of power to counterbalance the Black Hole of The City.

    Special tax powers, etc, etc.

    Anyone smell a Devo HeHaw rat for Scotland if we are stupid enough to swallow this initiative and vote No.

    Scotland will become a region of Greater England.

    Job done.

  49. bookie from hell says:

    lord(devo to home rule in 2 days)McConnell making a speech 11am

    anyone know where u can hear it

  50. Gary says:

    It actually costs money to apply sanctions, it doesn’t produce favourable outcomes (unless bullying poor people is what you wanted to do). It can ONLY be viewed as a ‘get tough’ gimmick. Why not invest the time and money in training and real jobs.

  51. galamcennalath says:

    Grouse Beater says:
    ….they will stamp their neo-liberal character on Scotland until the mark stays firm.

    And all they need is a NO win.

    As so often discussed, the simple question in September no longer amounts to Independence versus status quo. This article highlights how bad status quo is for some folks. The choice is now between Independence and something much much worse than the status quo.

    If they get a No win, they will damage Scotland in such ways that we will never get a chance like this again.

  52. Seonaidh Ceanneidigh says:

    My brother has been sanctioned since last year. The DWP sent a letter to a completely different address (that he had never lived at) and then sanctioned him for their mistake. This is quite common. He was homeless for several months (he lived with us for a while, but is now in a homeless unit). He survived on food parcels and whatever our family could provide (we ourselves had to accept parcels earlier this year). The DWP owe him JSA arrears from appeals but have tied up the whole process over the last few months, probably hoping he will give up and walk away. Phone calls are not returned, notes are not taken, messages not passed on. Everybody working there apparently lives in their own little bubble; it’s always “I don’t know anything about that.”

    The sheer callousness and regularity of their lies depresses and angers me in equal measure, and I’ve never signed on in my life. I would absolutely dread to, seeing what they have done to the self-esteem of my brother and other friends and family.

  53. Jim Marshall says:

    For many it”s their benefit sanctioned or a job on a zero hours contract. This hobsons choice means poverty for thousands of our people. This is happening in resource rich Scotland which should be one of the most affluent countries in the world. Only a YES vote can deliver the change required to improve the lives of our people.

  54. Macart says:

    Its not right and never will be to victimise the most vulnerable in society. No amount of soundbite from either our Westminster parliament representatives or their pet media will make it so.

    Happily we have it in our own hands to change this culture of blame if we want to. September 18th we vote YES and and the parties answer to us directly.

  55. Jim Marshall says:

    Bugger 10.52

    “The Ed Miller Band”

    Like that one.

  56. Liquid Lenny says:

    Want to ask Scottish MSP and leader of the Scottish branch of the Labour Party Johann Lamont? She is will be guest speaker at the Ormidale Sports Pavilion, Brodick, Isle of Arran on Saturday 5th July 2014 at 12.30. Its a United for Labour public meeting, (I wonder if they will let me in?)

    I know that Scottish Labour is not registered with the Electoral Commission as supporting a no vote, mainly due to the fact that Scottish Labour does not exist. But what about United with Labour? or are they that insignificant that they don’t reach the threshold?

  57. Dcanmore says:

    We’re moving into an era where a new slave class is being created. Where people will be required to work by law under whatever arrangements is forged by Government and big business. Zero hour contracts and Workfare is the start, people will be kept at a level where they will work hard for their poverty, it won’t come cheap, 60 hours a week for pittance. Once the UK is out of the EU the human rights charter will be dropped and so will any meaningful minimum wage and pensions. This Westminster government’s drive is to be like the USA or in effect more like Texas than California. It’s neo-libertarianism where everyone becomes angry taxpayers instead of concerned citizens.

  58. Clootie says:

    In author and editor Michel Chossudovsky’s book, “The Global Economic Crisis,” he quotes Henry Kissinger, who stated, “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people.”

  59. Carol Jardine says:

    I am an atheist, but apart from Pope Frances, who regularly speaks out against injustices, I am unaware of any of the Churches speaking out about the injustices in this country. I do not include local congregations who run food banks.
    What would Jesus have done?

  60. Carol Jardine says:

    Sorry, Pope Francis

  61. Grouse Beater says:

    Carol says: I am an atheist, but apart from Pope Frances…

    I always felt the only way to remain a good Catholic is to ignore the Pope’s edicts. (But that’s another issue.)

  62. Peter Macbeastie says:

    Anyone still staunchly insisting they are going to vote no either has no idea about the reality of what is happening around them, or they do and just don’t care.

    I am somewhat happier assuming ignorance on their part, because otherwise I would have to accept they’re all a bunch of bastards. And I don’t actually believe that’s the case.

    Because I’ve got a couple of no voting friends… and they’re not bastards.

  63. G H Graham says:

    You are being kind Stu. You applied the average number of sanctions to everyone receiving benefits. Of course there will always be a significant number of claimants who have been fortunate not to receive any.

    Consequently, it is likely that those that have, may have had their benefits reduced or stopped even more frequently than the numbers suggest.

  64. Anthony Armstrong says:

    I admire your confidence in your friends Peter, I don’t think I’ll be factoring in ignorance as any sort of mitigation if a NO vote is returned.

  65. OscarDilettante says:

    It is almost like you are spreading this kind of tragic truth on purpose, just to perniciously undermine our Westminster Overlords.
    It is this vicious debunking of myths and propaganda that is simply not Cricket.
    When the best we can hope for is that someone has got their sums wrong on such a sad story, you know it is time for a change.
    Just vote yes…

  66. Ross says:

    The church isn’t relevant anymore in Scotland. They should have jumped all over a Yes vote as a means to tackle inequality and injustice, help those in need and worse off than themselves. Unfortunately from my experience, many people are too inward looking, selfish and don’t want to take action. Going to church once a week isn’t really following the teachings of Jesus as I see it. Of course I admire and commend the great work done by congregations in regards to food banks and helping various charities. People can help these causes further (re. Food banks – allowing the means to ensure people don’t need them!) by taking the logical choice and vote Yes.

  67. Liquid Lenny says:

    Peter Macbeastie

    No Peter your friends are not bastards, they are just selfish bastards.

    The vast majority of the no voters I know personally tell me “it aint broke so don’t fix it”, this is because they are comfortably well off. The other one I can put up with as because he is an International socialist and hasn’t seen the light yet, but he will 🙂

  68. Dave Lewis says:

    Well this articale tells you everything about the Better together team. In my street in Tullibody last night was the proof Labour leading the door knocking with Tory lackies acting as thier runners never thought I would see the day. Time for us all to get our positive message out there As Mr Forsyth kept repeating last night Time for smaller government. To right lets rid Scotland of the House of Lords and Westminster MPs and save Scotland a packet.

  69. Julian says:

    I am English. It isn’t my place to uphold either side, but I have been totally disgusted by the biased coverage in the media, and the lunacy spouted by some established politicians. FYI lots of English people I speak to here in London feel likewise.

    It would have been best for whatever the result of the referendum for the debate to be conducted in an adult manner. Both Nations are going to have to have a working relationship whatever happens. Not one soured by lies and accusations.

    I am sorry that Britain has become so nasty, and I wish the Scots well as they row away in the lifeboats to create a better society, I hope!!

    BTW, the idea that Scotland will be kicked out of the EU is completely ridiculous, yet it keeps coming round and is repeated in the media.

  70. X_Sticks says:

    Liquid Lenny says:

    “I wonder if they will let me in?”

    I suspect you are on “the list” Lenny 😉

  71. joe kane says:

    The unscientific and unproven DWP benefit sanctions regime is allegedly aimed at people who are not trying hard enough to find a job or take one when offered. Which would be fine in an economy that is going full blast and has basically full employment as was the case at the end of World War II.

    To have a sanctions regime during a time when the government has a neoliberal economic policy deliberately designed to create permanent mass unemployment is nothing more than an attempt to give the victims the blame for the failings of the Westminster mandarin elite.

    There are over 10 million people in the UK who are either unemployed or under-employed with only 600,000 job vacancies. No amount of punishment and forced destitution of workers is going to make that situation otherwise. Only government policy can, which isn’t inclined to promote full employment conditions because it favours the interest of ordinary workers and weakens the hold of the rich elite over the economy.

  72. Muscleguy says:

    @Peter Macbeastie

    It’s studied ignorance. My wife and our grown eldest are Noes but recently both have engaged with me. I sent the original link about the woman in the foodbank who had been without food for 4 days to her by email (she won’t talk face to face). After an exchange where I presented facts suddenly it’s all concern troll about my ‘tone’. The eldest was the same. Whenever I introduce incontrovertible facts and/or arguments they cannot deal with they throw their hands up in mock horror and refuse to debate any more. IOW put their fingers in their ears and go la-la-la I can’t hear you.

    But at least they are now engaging. Previously they refused point blank. So I have hope.

  73. Robert Peffers says:

    The story is not hard to write. The World had a financial crisis due to sheer greed and self-interest of the financial sector, big business and corrupt governments. Since that crisis began those causing the crisis have continued to become even richer. While the poor and most vulnerable are forced to even more penury and vulnerability. Indeed the death rate among poverty stricken disabled people suffering benefit cuts has broken all known records.

    Neither Westminster party, nor the fence sitter LibDems who support whoever is in power, have made any attempts to curb the excesses of the financial/big business/government excesses. Indeed both main Westminster parties have expedited and encouraged a cynical and cruel crack-down upon the poor and vulnerable while also boosting the wealth of the rich. In fact the rich/poor gap widened more under Labour party at the centre of the crisis than it has under Tory rule. Not to mention that the Labour Party Leaders have, one and all, pledged to not only continue but to outdo the Tory/LibDem campaigns against the poor. Nor have Labour pledged to curtail their own or the Tory support for the rich.

    Why anyone of any integrity can still support any of the main Unionist political party can thus only be described as either themselves being totally corruptly and self serving or totally brain-numbing stupid. If they have any other explanation then I’m ready to listen, but will listen with ears attuned to detect the flaws that must obviously accompany their gut-wrenching excuses.

  74. crazycat says:

    @ Cath

    “Surely this can’t be good for businesses either? How do they find decent staff with the right experience, who want the job, if they’re swamped with unsuitable applications?”

    I believe that’s why a large number of businesses are refusing to post vacancies on the government’s Jobmatch website (I forget its official name – it is or was run by the appropriately-named Monster company) – they have been overwhelmed with pointless applications.

    The outcome of that, of course, is that the jobs remaining on the site, which jobseekers are obliged to visit, are fewer in number and even less suitable!

  75. Peekay says:

    I recently had the joys of the buroo for a few months and every advisor I spoke to told me “It’s no longer our jobs to help you find work, it’s now our jobs to find ways to sanction you”

  76. Anthony Armstrong says:

    Bravo Mr Peffers, If we vote NO I’ll be taking no further part in politics until a new party spouting the stuff I believe in appears on the scene.

  77. Luigi says:

    This awful news comes on the same day that a horrendously expensive replacement for Trident is recommended by a westminster committee. Ming Campbell was on the radio this morning, defending the decision. Of course he fights against poverty and is for multilateral disarmnament (or so he says), but Trident is the trump card.

    Utterly disgusting.

  78. jake says:

    shes resigned after a long and distinguished career, er 2 days

  79. Robert Peffers says:

    She has resigned for saying, on a public forum, the exact same things that the Better Together leadership say in private and often let slip in public. Mentions of which never really get reported by the MSM.

  80. Les Wilson says:

    O/T I watched the “debate” with Gen Campbell, Jim Sillers and Lord whatever his name was.
    Firstly, Campbell was always in a hurry to “lets move on” especially when Sillers was speaking. The old Lord was given time to finish his explanations.

    The audience was apparently a good mix of Yes, No, and don’t knows. However, as the BBC selects them, they should say, how many are from each side. Otherwise how can anyone be sure of it being fair. However, they do not do that, just give the grand statement, so how fair actually is it? Only the BBC knows, and that is a worry.

    Maybe it is me, but I think Jim Sillers is divisive, and is further muddying the waters, also he is anti Alex Salmond, or at least gives that impression, which again, is not helpful to a YES vote.

    I agree with some things he says, but certainly not all. He is sometimes confusing with his message, and this will confuse others.

    Also, when Forsyth went on about our banks going down would have bankrupted Scotland, was unchallenged by Jim, so Forsyth got away with it.

    As countries where RBS was operational, including England, they would have had to pay towards the solving of the RBS problem. Indeed, Scotland would likely have only had to pay their population share, so 8-9%.America was the biggest contributor giving a huge sum, because it was it’s responsibility to do so, same as others.

    Jim is passionate, and his commitment cannot be denied, but he should stick to what he does best, that is convincing people via meetings at the huge number venues across the country being used for that purpose.

    Not, in televised debates with the likes of Forsyth, who is very good at quietely twisting everything to his agenda as he did last night. Jim take heed please.

  81. JLT says:

    Meanwhile, Scottish Labour councils are charging those foodbanks full commercial rates for renting their properties, as if they were running a business.

    Jeez Rev. I never even thought of that. Good point! Bloody good point!

  82. First they came for the Disabled and I did not speak out because I was not Disabled.

    Then they came for the Unemployed and I did not speak out because I was not Unemployed.

    Then they came for the Yes Voters and I did not speak out because I was not a Yes Voter.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    Think about it, there might be someone left you can save, who can then speak for you.

  83. YESGUY says:

    After reading this Stu i was ashamed ..AGAIN

    Can we really live in a modern rich country and have so many problems? The lies and scares constantly spouted by the MSM is a disgrace of highest magnitude . Those poor folk who suffer these sanctions have no voice. No one really cares anymore. I am gobsmacked.

    I have known many who have been sanctioned , often from poor families. It is a constant circle . They DO try hard but there are very few opportunities. They cut grass , wash cars anything to earn enough for food . Quite a few have had no gas or electricity for days on end. I cannot look them in the eyes. I have lost friends too.

    I am myself on benefits. I worry that the dreaded letter will drop through my letterbox and i will find myself in the same position.I’m not fit enough to fight back. It’s frightening . I haven’t been this scared since i was a wee boy. My doctor and nurses do everything they can but they are limited because i am one of hundreds.

    Thankfully i have support from friends and family but so many don’t. These people are my friends. They are not scroungers, wasters etc. They are good folk who need support and help but are treated worse than criminals. And there are no jobs. “you cannot get blood out of a stone” but it won’t stop them trying.

    How has this happened? What can we do to stop this ?

    Will a YES vote stop this disgraceful attack on our poor?

    The job won’t be over if we vote YES . We have ensure this NEVER happens again. I have read much on this site and many more and know that people care deeply . This cannot be forgotten.

  84. John says:

    I think the current policy and the application of sanctions is appalling, verging on the criminal.

    I used to work for DWP and may be able to throw some light on the “apparent” multiple sanctions implied by the figures which can be misleading. The figure of 178,000 unemployed is a snapshot in time but the figure for sanctions is the number over a period of time (a year) and will have been applied to more than 178,000 actual individuals (and yes some will have been sanctioned more than once).

    DWP statistics related to the snapshot figure will also show what they call “on-flow” and “off-flow”. This will enable those interested to calculate how many people were in the “system” over the whole year taking into account those that find jobs, stop claiming JSA etc against the number of new people claiming every week.

    Even with that explanation the number of sanctions is still unacceptably high.

    Roll on a fairer iScotland welfare system!

  85. David G. says:

    JLT says
    Meanwhile, Scottish Labour councils are charging those foodbanks full commercial rates for renting their properties, as if they were running a business.”

    Please sign this petition – I’m appalled that, so far,
    they’ve only had 367 signatures.

  86. Croompenstein says:

    David G – signed, the council really need to look at this

  87. David G. says:

    Thanks, Croompenstein .. every signature counts.

    My MP, Tom Greatrex, is doing a local surgery tomorrow,
    I’ll be going along to see what he has to say about this.

    Can I suggest that Wings readers in Glasgow City Council’s
    area contact their own councillors and demand an explanation from them. You could, at the same time, ask them about charging pensioners £15 A DAY for going to GCC controlled day centres.

  88. YESGUY says:

    I signed the petition David G.

  89. Brotyboy says:


  90. Lou Nisbet says:


  91. Andy smith says:

    Signed .

  92. Rock says:


    Nice comments.

    As the SNP have said numerous times, Scotland and England will be the best of friends after independence.

    The British Establishment, of which the media is an integral part, thrive by their classical policy of Divide and Rule. Knowing that they are losing, they are desperately trying to divide everyone they can.

    The No side has poisoned the debate beyond redemption and yet continue to blame the Yes side.

    The official Yes campaign has remained incredibly positive despite the most disgusting comments by the official No campaign, whose leader publicly called SNP supporters and voters ‘Blood and Soil’ nationalists.

    An independent Scotland will definitely create a better society which in turn will force the rUK to change for the better.

  93. Andy Nimmo says:

    As a Homeless Support Worker, I saw lots of crazy reasons for sanctions but the worst was when one guy was done for attending an appointment with his Probation Officer that coincided with a date with his Benefits Adviser – the DWP refused to change the date or time despite his Probation Officer appointment being the result of a Court Order which meant failure to comply would result in return to prison.

  94. velofello says:

    petition signed. I can well imagine the reaction at Glasgow Labour “Shit we’ve been found out. How do we spin this? You there, get what’shisname McT on the phone,pronto.”.

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