3pm, Selly Oak Jobcentre, Harborne Lane, Selly Oak, B29 6SP
The Birmingham Mail has today reported that a man set himself alight outside Selly Oak job centre, as desperation set in following problems with payments.
This is not the only incident of people harming themselves because of problems with benefit payments or sanctions placed on them by government imposed measures or workfare profiteers.
Birmingham Against the Cuts believe this incident should be laid squarely at the door of Cameron, Clegg and Osbourne who are implementing these viscious cuts and austerity – not benefits claimants or jobcentre workers.
Instead of tackling the rich and the banks who owe £120 billion in uncollected, evaded and avoided taxes, are responsible for the crisis and mass unemployment the government are cutting the very services that collect the taxes, support unemployed people and provide essential benefits people need to survive. We fear that if this continues we will see more dreadful instances like this.
What is worse is this government are actively promoting a diatribe of vile rhetoric in the press which are attacking benefits claimants day-in-day-out. We should not allow this cruel and calculated bid to divide ordinary people from one another to distract us from the fundamental issues. It is this kind of rhetoric which has seen a rise in the attacks and abuse disabled people and benefits claimants have experienced. The postings on right wing forums today mocking the benefit claimant for setting himself alight is just further evidence of this.
Birmingham Against the Cuts say benefits claimants are not to blame – but neither are jobcentre workers. Quoted in the Guardian the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents Jobcentre Plus staff, says that they feel ill-equipped to deal with the volume of work, vulnerable claimants and cutbacks. One jobcentre telephone adviser told the Guardian that the change had been handled “abysmally” and that they feel ill-equipped and “helpless” when talking to distraught customers on the phone, who are phoning up to ask about other options.”A lot of them are very distressed. They are asking us what to do … how are they supposed to live. And there’s nowhere else we can signpost them to, there’s literally nowhere for them to go.”
Several coroners’ reports into suicides have mentioned benefits decisions as a contributory factor, but ministers have always been careful to avoid acknowledging a link. Don’t let them get away with it.
Stand up for benefits claimants and stand up for public services tomorrow at 3pm outside Selly Oak jobcentre.
On Tuesday 10th July, Boycott Workfare are holding a one day conference on welfare issues – anyone who is concerned about their benefits and financial situation should come to this event.