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.
— Rachael Swindon #GTTO (@Rachael_Swindon) August 30, 2018
"The DWP know they are killing people"
Cathie Wood's brother Mark was found fit for work and had his benefits stopped. "Markedly underweight and malnourished” he was found dead in his home weighing just 5st 8lbs #DWPCrimeshttps://t.co/9Wmyukp2G7 pic.twitter.com/rj2pYUciNL
— The Agitator (@UKDemockery) August 30, 2018
Then, on Monday 3 September, people were tweeting about the DWP’s flagship welfare reform using the hashtag #ScrapUniversalCredit:
#ScrapUniversalCredit. So ashamed to be the only country in the whole world being investigated by the UN for breaching disabled peoples rights. We used to lead the world and now we are a joke. How low can you go. pic.twitter.com/D0Dys5PUcx
— judie roberts (@judieroberts2) September 3, 2018
And on Wednesday 5 September, another storm happened; this time with the hashtag #CrimesOfDWP:
— The Pileus (@thepileus) September 5, 2018
DWP policies kill. This list is shocking, but is unfortunately by no means exhaustive. No government should be enacting policies that they know will lead to the deaths of some their own citizens. #CrimesOfDWP pic.twitter.com/oc2mVkuDkL
— Damo #GTTO (@Cornish_Damo) September 5, 2018
Both #DWPCrimes and #CrimesOfDWP were trending topics:
Meanwhile, The Canary reported on a tweet that got people’s attention during the #DWPCrimes storm:
My Dad minutes from death the night he fell ill just after been told he was fit to work we then found out he struggled to walk because of heart failure but because he could take steps of course he was fit for work! Now they’ve taken his PIP off him #DWPcrimes @DWP pic.twitter.com/txfwcbNKi9
— Shanice ??? (@ShaniceJenna) August 30, 2018
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.
– 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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