The DWP sanctions regime is condemned as a ‘f**king disgrace’ by the Green Party co-leader

The DWP log and Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley
Support us and go ad-free

Jonathan Bartley, the co-leader of the Green Party, has labelled the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)’s sanctions regime “a fucking disgrace” at a meeting in parliament:

As Disability News Service reported, Bartley was at a meeting for the launch of a study examining the impact on disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – particularly those in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) who’ve been sanctioned.

The meeting also left one peer in tears after a claimant described how the sanctions regime had made him suicidal.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

“Where your mental health disappears overnight”

The study written by academics at the University of Essex and Inclusion London. As The Canary previously reported, it’s subtitled Where your mental health disappears overnight. It describes the sanctions regime as “perverse and punitive” [pdf 5]. Other key findings include:

  • All participants in this study that engaged with the ESA WRAG had significantly detrimental effects on their mental health.
  • Despite wanting to engage in work-related activity, many participants found WRAG prioritised less meaningful tasks.
  • People were asked to engage in activity that undermined their self-confidence and required them to understate their previous achievements. This included a claimant told to take their degree off a CV or face being sanctioned to avoid looking overqualified.
  • The impact of sanctions was life threatening for some participants. The underlying fear instilled by the threat of sanctions meant that many participants described living in a state of constant anxiety.
  • The incentives designed to encourage people to engage in work related activity are based on psychological theory from the field of Behavioural Economics. The study concluded that these models of behaviour change are not applicable for disabled people accessing benefits.


The personal accounts in the report are heartbreaking. One claimant described the impact of sanctions at Christmas:

Then they finally made a decision that I was going to be sanctioned… And there was this image which will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. On Christmas day I was sat alone, at home just waiting for darkness to come so I could go to sleep and I was watching through my window all the happy families enjoying Christmas and that just blew me away. And I think I had a breakdown on that day and it was really hard to recover from and I’m still struggling with it.

He continued, speaking about having to see the same member of staff who sanctioned him:

I now have a problem going into the Job Centre because I literally start shaking because of the damage that the benefit sanction did to me… So yeah that was part, the sanction was one of the reasons that triggered the mental health and problems I’m having now… it was awful and I ended up trying to commit suicide… to me that was the last straw and I went home and I just emptied the drawer of tablets or whatever and I ended up in A&E for a couple of days after they’d pumped my stomach out.


Bartley was unapologetic about his swearing:

People were supportive of his comments:





























“A fucking disgrace”

Bartley is right. The way the government and the DWP treat disabled people is a fucking disgrace. It’s gut-wrenching and fucking heartbreaking.

Strong words are necessary. People’s lives and their mental health are literally at stake. No one needing help from what should be a safety net should have to suffer in this way.

Even more necessary is strong action. And it’s needed now.

Get Involved!

– If you’re having a mental health crisis you can contact The Samaritans on 116 123.

Support Disabled People Against the Cuts.

Featured image via  geralt /pixabay, UK government /Wikimedia and YouTube/Resurgencevideo

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