Showing at Bridgeway Hall, at the shopping centre, tonight at 6pm; free admission.
“Ken Loach’s welfare state polemic is blunt, dignified and brutally moving” – The Guardian.
Showing financed by Nottingham City Council, because we are fed up withe the harshness of the DWP system, and because the film draws upon real events that took place in Nottingham.
Lilian Greenwood MP will open proceedings, supported by Martyn Neal, senior worker at Meadows Advice Group.
Support will be available for people who need help.
Thanks for making the event happen to – Meadows Advice Group, One Stop Shop, Meadows Partnership Trust, St.Saviour’s SouperKitchen, NeMTRA, Bridgeway Hall and Dave Shaw.
In November I asked a question at full Council –
“I understand that research for the film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’ was conducted in St Ann’s and the film highlights the shortfalls of the welfare system.
“How fit for purpose does the Portfolio Holder think the welfare system is?
Councillor Graham Chapman replied as follows:
If you want a brief answer, it isn’t, but allow me to elaborate.
‘I, Daniel Blake’ is about the injustices and cruelty of the benefits system, in particular the system of sanctions implemented under this and the previous coalition government. Rarely do statistics speak for themselves, but in this case they do. The latest statistics for Nottingham on sanctions since the regime was put in place in 2012, for Jobseekers Allowance there have been 34,200 referral sanctions in the city under the new JSA sanctions regime.
In only 14,700 cases was there a final decision to apply to sanction, that’s 43%. Of the 14,700 decisions, 5,200 went through the appeals process and of these, 3,200 decisions were overturned. In short, only 1 in 5 of all original decisions to apply sanctions were upheld and only 1 in 16 of referrals were upheld and many of those would not have been legitimate because many people would have been too demoralised to appeal – and we all know people who would not have appealed, even though they had a just case.
So, you’re down to 1 in 16, and in my view it’s probably 1 in 20 or 1 in 30. As for Employment Seekers Allowance the numbers are much smaller, nearly 2,000 original referrals since December 2012 and only 400 decisions were taken in impose sanctions, that’s 1 in 5. Of these, 150 were overturned which means that only 1 in 8 people were actually sanctioned.
The significance of this is that the whole infrastructure has been developed, taking up the time of thousands of officials, of assessors, adjudicators, food bank volunteers and benefit advisors, to help implement and pick up the pieces of a system that is grossly inadequate and incompetent. Worst still, this has inflicted misery on whole groups of people, some mentally ill who did not deserve it. Further still, it has forced a lot of hard working civil servants against their will to become people who sanction rather than support. This too, was well illustrated by the film. Nor should anyone believe that this exercise has been driven principally by the need to save money because it has probably cost far more than it has saved. It is to do with punishment and indiscriminate punishment at that. It derives from a view that people on benefits are fundamentally ‘scrounging’ – that they are taking money from others. It is a tabloid view of the world which now seems to dominate certain parts.
It forgets that large numbers, like Daniel Blake, have paid into the system for many years, large numbers are children, like the children in the film who are caught up in ‘punishment’. It forgets that most benefits go to people already in work but in low paid jobs, but none of that counts when you are looking for scapegoats for a crashed financial system. Actually, it is a class issue – some very well-off people caused the crash, but on the whole it has been lots of not very well-off people who have paid for the consequences. Compared with the brutality applied of the benefits sanctions system, the approach to tax evasion, to syphoning off pension funds has been kid glove and in some cases, some people have even been awarded with honours.
Which brings me on to the phrase which encapsulated a lot of this attitude and that phrase is ‘something for nothing’ – how many times have we heard that phrase from the papers and from a certain Mr George Osborne MP? This phrase means that if you are a wealthy newspaper owner living abroad and paying virtually no taxes or if you are the son of a wealthy family benefitting from inherited, unearned income and a place at a Westminster school, which you certainly didn’t pay for by doing a paper round then you are a respectable member of society, even though you are getting a great deal for not a lot. If you are Wayne, living on the Aspley estate, with no chance of inheritance or any of the privileges it can buy then, somehow, you are a ‘scrounger’ and so are all of the other people on benefits.
That is the attitude which has driven the UK state, which I am very proud of, into punishing hundreds of thousands of decent, vulnerable and poor citizens in pursuit of a minority who are defrauding, and to concentrate on these mainly innocent people at the expense of concentrating on where the real money is, such as tax evasion from a number of large corporations and tax evasion from a number of very rich individuals, many of whom are associated with the Conservative Party. This, too, is an implicit lesson of ‘I, Daniel Blake’.