30th October 2013

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-news/over-3-million-older-people-worried-about-winter-heating/
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/29/tory-disability-benefits-ideology-idiocy
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/21/jobcentre-set-targets-benefit-sanctions
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jul/31/atos-fitness-work-test-greg-wood
http://rt.com/news/child-poverty-heating-homes-919/

Deductible Dave,

I’m so sorry that I haven’t had the energy to support you with my letters every day as I have been previously, because as you know, my health has not been great. But I am finding myself in a little quandary here, my darling.

You see, according to a Freedom of Information request last year, it was discovered that in the space of just eleven months, 10,600 people had died within six weeks of losing their benefits. This figure was quite rightly scoffed at by poor, misunderstood Iain as being entirely misleading. After all, how can one say conclusively that one thing had anything to do with the other? (But just as a precaution, he did put a halt to all future similar requests.) And I was quite willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I must admit, upon finding out that I too would be moved off what little I am deemed worthy of (despite many years of dutifully paying my tax and national insurance), and made to fill out a 55-page form (for which I required a lot of help), and shortly afterwards sent another letter telling me I needed to fill in another form, I find I am starting to understand why so many people just threw in the towel.

Please don’t get me wrong. I completely understand the need to ensure that Britain lives within its means. I complete get why, when Giddy took charge, he decided that the number of people on Disability Living Allowance should be cut by 20%. Sounds legit. (20% sounds a lot better than 640,000 people to be left destitute.) To put it in real world terms, it means out of a family of five children, only one would have to go without eating. Not a huge sacrifice in our, frankly overcrowded country.

But with Jobcentres being set targets for sanctioning the unemployed, with doctors carrying out work capability assessments being forced to change their reports; with a target set so that seven out of eight claimants are found fit for work; with the cold weather coming and our gas and electricity, owned by mostly foreign companies now, upping all their rates at the same time, hitting the poor hard, further exacerbating the illnesses and conditions of around 24,000 older people who are not expected to survive the winter; with the 25% increase in homelessness; with 50% of poor children in Britain living in homes without adequate heating; added to the figure that is undoubtedly much higher this year than the aforementioned 10,600 deaths reported last year for those kicked off benefits, we could be looking at, conservatively, about 1,000 people dying a month as a direct result of withdrawal of state support.

But let me assure you again. I do understand. These figures may look grim now, but soon enough these very necessary sacrifices will ultimately manifest in a glowing statistical report; with unemployment down, the number of benefit claimants down, the pension bill down, the deficit down. And when the snow eventually melts and the first flowers of spring bloom into existence, we shall remember with fondness and gratitude those who gave so bravely of their lives for the good of the Tory balance sheet.

Katy Anchant

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