The DWP left a family so ‘desperate’ the father went on an armed robbery spree

DWP logo and Andrew Robinson
Support us and go ad-free

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was ‘clawing back‘ so much money from a family of six that the disabled father committed a string of armed robberies to stop them losing their home. Now, he’s been jailed for five years. He stole a total of around £230.

A “wrangle” with the DWP

As Chronicle Live reported, Andrew Robinson lives with osteoarthritis in his knees.

His educational attainment should be irrelevant. But the court heard he was a former boarding school pupil, “star” rugby player and graduate. Then, his “prospects crumbled” due to his illness. After what Chronicle Live called a “wrangle” with the DWP, it reduced his family’s benefits from £200 a week to just £93.

The Centre for Research in Social Policy has a questionnaire that works out the ‘minimum income standard’ people should have. It says for a family of six with two children at primary school and two at secondary school, the amount is £961.74 a week. This is based on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s research [pdf, p1] into a “socially acceptable living standard”. The government, meanwhile, is evasive about the amount it legally has to give people to live on.

Robinson, desperate for help, had gone to Citizens Advice and even wrote to his MP. But seemingly no one came to his family’s aid.

He then took out high-interest loans to stop his family from being evicted. But as his lawyer described, Robinson had “reached the end of his tether”.

A family in “desperate need”

So on 15 March, he walked into a local Nisa shop armed with a hammer. He threatened staff into handing over around £80. Then, on 23 March, he did the same in a Shell garage but with an imitation firearm. He got around £150 in cash and goods. Finally, later that day, he attempted to rob a third store with a hammer, but the owner chased him off.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

All this for £230.

His lawyer told Newcastle Crown Court:

[Robinson] just completely reached the end of his tether. He didn’t know what to do and how he was going to stave off the eviction.

He was doing it to try and support his wife and four children, who were in desperate need.

While the judge said he felt “sympathy” for Robinson, he also had to think of the “impact” on his victims:

It is terribly sad…

You are someone who has worked hard until you suffered knee problems.

You had serious money problems… and were receiving very limited… benefits as a result of a clawback from the DWP.

The judge sentenced Robinson to five years in prison.

Social media reacts

Reactions to Robinson’s case on Twitter were telling:

Meanwhile, people’s reactions on Facebook were mixed:



It is unclear what will happen to Robinson’s wife and their four children – except that this whole, tragic incident will probably affect them for the rest of their lives.

Get Involved!

– Support DPAC and Black Triangle, campaigning for disabled people’s rights.

Featured image via UK government – Wikimedia and Chronicle Live – screengrab

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed