The DWP just suffered three public humiliations in a week

The DWP logo with the word 'shamed' over it
Steve Topple

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been at the sharp end of people’s anger in a very public way – not once, not twice, but three times in the space of a week.

The DWP: under repeated fire

People have been venting their anger at the DWP on social media during the course of three ‘Twitterstorms’ about the department. Twitterstorms involve using a hashtag during a specific time slot to draw attention to a campaign or issue.

As The Canary previously reported, the first storm was on Thursday 30 August using the hashtag #DWPCrimes:

Then, on Monday 3 September, people were tweeting about the DWP’s flagship welfare reform using the hashtag #ScrapUniversalCredit:

And on Wednesday 5 September, another storm happened; this time with the hashtag #CrimesOfDWP:

Both #DWPCrimes and #CrimesOfDWP were trending topics:

DWP Crimes trending

Crimes of DWP trending

Meanwhile, The Canary reported on a tweet that got people’s attention during the #DWPCrimes storm:

There’s a particularly relevant part to Shanice’s story. It’s that she and her father found out about the hashtag through a Canary article on Google News.

‘Echo chamber’, blah, blah, blah… 

People often smear Twitter as a left wing ‘echo chamber’ that’s unrepresentative of the public. There’s no denying that Twitter users clump together in their relevant political positions. But welfare is an issue that affects anyone; you don’t have to be a ‘liberal’ or a ‘Corbynista’ to have been stung by the DWP.

So, what these hashtags show is that some issues can break through the ‘echo chamber’. They can engage people who may not normally be interested in politics. This is probably because the DWP gives benefits to 6.8 million working age people. So most people will know someone affected by the department, or be affected themselves.

A glimmer of hope?

DWP Twitterstorms won’t stop the department’s conscious cruelty and horrific policies; a track record that’s meant that, since June 2016, there have been five international reports accusing it and the government of breaching various legal agreements on the human rights of sick and disabled people. But what storms can do is remind people who are suffering under the DWP that they’re not alone. And they give people the chance to publicly share their stories. Ultimately, though, they give people hope – that another way is possible, and things can change. And with the DWP, change can’t come soon enough.

Get Involved!

– Check out the #DWPcrimes, #ScrapUniversalCredit and #CrimesOfDWP hashtags. Support the blogs Universal Credit Sufferer and The Poor Side of Life. Get involved with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), fighting for disabled people’s rights.

Featured image via UK government – Wikimedia

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Steve Topple