A letter to my MP on the DWP fabricating benefit claimants’ stories

It’s a quiet time for politics during the summer with MPs still on their holidays and therefore with no debates or votes being reported on I’ve found less to write to my MP about. Until this week.

You’ve probably read about Sarah and Zac’s stories in a DWP leaflet intending to explain why having one’s benefits sanctioned can be a positive experience. These all turned out to be false and the DWP has now pulled the leaflet but you know what? It’s just not good enough is it? I mean, this is our government; these people are running the country and affecting people’s lives! If this sort of thing can be signed off as acceptable then does it not make you question the decision making process behind the actual sanctions and cuts? It’s all about people and our government and our MPs might need reminding about that occasionally so drop them a line (I use the writetothem.com website). Remember – they work for you!

Here’s my letter:

Dear Mel Stride,

I hope you’re well and the summer recess is allowing you a chance to recharge your batteries before Parliament sits again in September.

I wasn’t sure who to write to about this but I knew that I should write to someone in order to at least register my disappointment and therefore as my MP it has to be you, sorry!

Earlier in the week as my family stopped for a coffee while travelling to London for a wedding (in Chingford ironically given the minister responsible), I read with dismay about the Department of Work and Pensions inventing people and stories to illustrate a leaflet on benefits sanctions. These “testaments” to the success of said sanctions were just shocking; patronising and to some extent threatening too.

Do I expect the people in these leaflets to be real? Maybe not but I would expect the case studies to be real, even if the photos were stock. How could these ever be sanctioned and make it to circulation?

My point is that I expect my government and its representatives to behave better than this; to BE better than this. Now, more than ever I believe the country needs an engaged electorate but of course in order to achieve this, the electorate needs a government that it can trust. I don’t mean this on a party-political level, I would write this same letter regardless of which party was in government. A fair, trusting and trustworthy society and government should not treat people like this.

Yours sincerely,

Rich Mills