The DWP agreed a man needed money until his benefits were sorted and then offered him 8p

The DWP logo in a fireball
Support us and go ad-free

A man who needed money until his benefits were sorted was offered a loan of 8p by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). This is Lancashire reported that Carl Poynton ended up in court for shoplifting after the DWP’s decision.

“Nowhere else to turn”

Poynton was released from prison on Christmas Eve with a grant of £46. He applied for benefits. But due to the time taken to process the application, he was left with no money. He applied to the DWP for a loan available to people before their first benefit payment if they’re in “urgent financial need”.

But while Poynton was eligible for such a loan, the computer calculated he was only entitled to 8p. He was then advised to use the foodbank, which was shut.

In the words of his solicitor, Poynton had “nowhere else to turn” and resorted to shoplifting.

Stealing out of desperation

According to a report by the Prison Reform Trust in 2019:

Nearly half of adults (48%) are reconvicted of another offence within one year of release.

Meanwhile, imprisonment rates have grown by 69% in around thirty years – although they’ve fallen slightly in the last two years – and England, Scotland and Wales have the highest imprisonment rate of any country in western Europe.

Read on...

In 2018, 59,000 people were jailed – 69% for non-violent offences. The report asserts that:

Short prison sentences are less effective than community sentences at reducing reoffending.

Poynton, who was previously jailed for theft, was given a suspended sentence on this occasion.

But even six years ago, charities and police warned that increasing numbers of people were turning to shoplifting out of desperation caused by austerity. This hasn’t changed. And whether it’s shoplifting or begging, UK courts regularly hand out prison sentences to people who are criminalised instead of receiving the help they need and deserve.

Justice? What justice?

We urgently need to stop sending people to prison for the crime of being poor. And we urgently need to ensure that people leaving prison are properly supported.

And we need to take action against the DWP and our reliance on computers to make decisions about people’s lives. No one should be told they qualify for a loan and be offered 8p. It’s no wonder Poynton found himself back in court. This is not justice.

Featured image via Pixabay and Wikimedia

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us