I had just sent this letter to The Guardian. When I met the 50 year old involved he told me how he had stood on the 5th Floor balcony of his council flat wondering whether to throw himself off. Paul
The Editor, The Guardian,
for publication please
Beginning in 2011 the DWP has created a black hole of destitution into which it forces an ever increasing number of debtors. (Watchdog urges action as millions of households rack up mounting debts). It starts with a benefit sanction for a minor offence. That normally stops the income needed for food and fuel for one or three months. It is a worse punishment than a fine for shop-lifting imposed by the magistrates, which has to be proportionate and leaves enough money for food. Debts pile up while there is no income to pay them off.
Meanwhile the local authority threatens eviction for rent arrears and prison for council tax arrears. The bailiffs call to enforce council tax arrears, and a fine for not paying a TV license, adding their huge fees to arrears and court costs. At the end of three months our now destitute friend is back on the jobcenter treadmill trying to pay off the debts from £73.10 a week JSA. He is forced to take a zero hours contract. He is transferred to Universal Credit which pays £0.01 into his bank to last a month in which his employer provides no work.
The health and well being of the poorest UK tenants is being damaged by Acts of Parliament containing these serial abuses of power.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty