The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is facing a backlash from claimants and others. Because on Thursday 30 August, people will be very publicly drawing attention to its alleged ‘crimes’.
The DWP: facing a backlash
A Twitterstorm is happening at 7pm on 30 August. It’s where people use a hashtag during a specific time slot to draw attention to a campaign or issue. Using the hashtag #DWPcrimes, people will be sharing their experiences of the DWP, news stories about it, and evidence of its treatment of claimants.
People are already using it and another hashtag, #LegacyMcVey – to highlight work and pensions secretary Esther McVey’s record:
Here's an attempt at beginnings of poster. Please if anyone who knows what they're doing could do one would be most grateful to advertise
7pm THURSDAY 30 August#DWPCrimes
We've LOADS of examples to share
Let's get this trending. Let's LEAD the News! #forthemany pic.twitter.com/MOErDCIiXZ
— RJ Phoenix (@RJ_Phoenix16) August 29, 2018
— spacey (@spaceman_jamie) August 30, 2018
— Harry 'Nic' Nicholas (@ms_bubble) August 29, 2018
There are several reasons why a Twitterstorm about the DWP is relevant. Not least is the appalling reality of claimants’ lives.
As The Canary has extensively documented, the DWP’s conduct has been under the spotlight for many years.
Crimes against claimants
Just last week, a charity revealed it’s taking the department to court on behalf of two claimants. They believe the DWP wrongly stopped their benefits. This will be at least the fifth court case against the DWP in less than a year.
Since June 2016, there have been five international reports accusing the government of breaching various legal agreements on the human rights of sick and disabled people. One UN committee accused successive governments and the DWP of “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights. Its chair went as far as to say both had created a “human catastrophe” for disabled people.
Also, there have been numerous reports into the number of deaths on the DWP’s watch. In 2015, there was outrage as the DWP revealed thousands of people had died after it declared them fit for work. A university study found that an “additional” 590 people taking their own lives was linked to the WCA process. This has, in part, led to allegations from the Green Party of a potential DWP “cover-up” over the number of deaths on its watch.
And just days ago, The Canary revealed that 100 people a day have been dying while on Employment and Support Allowance, in the Work-Related Activity Group. The DWP puts people in this group because it says they’re well enough to start moving towards work. But it did not openly publish information about these deaths. A Freedom of Information request (FOI) forced it to do so.
The value of social media
But something else makes the #DWPcrimes Twitterstorm relevant. Social media is quite often the only outlet sick, disabled, and unemployed people have. An outlet to show their anger and frustration at the DWP.
When you’re living on DWP welfare, paying for everyday essentials can often be a struggle; see the blogs of Alex Tiffin and Charlotte Hughes. If you’re chronically ill or disabled, leaving the house is often not possible, and paying travel to get to demonstrations may often be out of the question. As such, social media has become a lifeline for many. It connects them to people and campaigns they would never have had the chance to engage with before.
The #DWPcrimes Twitterstorm is a perfect example of this. So, if the DWP has affected you or someone you know, join in at 7pm on 30 August. It could be a good time to let the world know what you think of the department.
– Check out the #DWPcrimes hashtag, support the blogs Universal Credit Sufferer and The Poor Side of Life and get involved with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), fighting for disabled people’s rights.