Benefits claimants face physical and verbal abuse and widespread discrimination

This is a report compiled by Mind.

It is shocking that vulnerable people have to go through this just so they can make ends meet. If you had to go through this to keep your job you would tell them where to go.

First published 09/09/2014

Hundreds of thousands of people claiming benefits have been physically and verbally abused, new research commissioned by Who Benefits? reveals today.

A YouGov poll carried out on behalf of the Who Benefits? coalition campaign (of which Mind is a founding member) also found that many people who need support from benefits are having difficulty renting homes, opening a bank account and getting paid employment because of attitudes towards people on benefits.

15 per cent of those receiving benefits said they had experienced verbal abuse because they are getting support from benefits, while four per cent reported that they had been physically abused. This amounts to nearly 800,000 people facing verbal abuse and 200,000 facing physical abuse for claiming support*. The abuse comes in addition to a raft of challenges that they may already face such as illness and disability, low wages, or caring for a loved one.

A total of 16 per cent said a landlord or letting agent had refused to let them a property and 18 per cent said they’d been treated less favorably by a potential employer or had difficulty accessing a bank account or financial services because they were claiming benefits.

In light of this new research, Who Benefits? is calling for a shift in the debate from shaming people supported by benefits to focusing on the reasons that they need help, whether that’s low wages, unemployment or the housing shortage.

Katharine Sacks-Jones from the Who Benefits? campaign said:

“We need to change the way we talk about benefits. Until we do, hundreds of thousands of people will continue to face abuse and be denied essentials, whether it’s a bank account or a roof over their heads, simply because they receive some extra support to make ends meet. Our benefits system should help people when they fall on difficult times and support them to live with dignity, instead many find themselves isolated and excluded from society.”

“Until we change the debate and acknowledge the real reasons that people need support – be it low pay, disability, illness, homelessness or mental health problems – decent people will continue to suffer.”

Andrea Hall*, who became homeless with her two children after her relationship with her abusive husband ended, said:

“I wanted to live in an area close to my family, where most houses are privately rented. I had countless experiences of calling letting agents only to be told that their landlords did not accept tenants on benefits, whilst other adverts simply stated ‘NO DSS’.”

“It was incredibly demoralising to be completely excluded and discriminated against without any knowledge of me personally and my circumstances. I found myself desperately pleading with letting agent staff that I was not a bad person and I would look after the house, trying to justify my request for a home. I felt very judged and it was possibly the hardest and most desperate time of my life.”

38 per cent of people supported by benefits said they worried that the public thought negatively about them, and that their self-esteem was affected as a result. 31 per cent said worrying about public perceptions was impacting on their mental health. Self-esteem, confidence and mental health are all key factors in helping people to get back on their feet and on with their lives.

The poll data also revealed:

People on benefits excluded and isolated

  • <11% have felt excluded or isolated by members of their family
  • 18% have felt excluded or isolated by friends
  • 17% have felt excluded or isolated from their community

The changes people agree would most help to reduce their need for benefits

  • 28% said receiving higher pay would reduce their need for support from benefits
  • 25% said more affordable essential items (food and utilities) would reduce their need for support from benefits
  • 23% said more job opportunities would reduce their need for support from benefits
  • 18% said more affordable housing would reduce their need for support from benefits
  • 12% said more help overcoming issues caused by having an illness or disability would reduce their need for support from benefits

About the survey:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,352 adults, of which 980 currently received working age benefits or have done so in the past. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th – 18th July 2014.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

This Who Benefits? report focuses on the 461 respondents who currently receive benefits.

*According to DWP statistics, as of February 2014, there were 5.3 million people on working age benefits. 15% of respondents had experienced verbal abuse. 15% of 5.3m is 795,000. 4% of respondents had experienced physical abuse. 4% of 5.3m is 212,000.

Calculations were made by Who Benefits?Public mental health 13 Stigma 3 Parliament 3 Police and mental health 3 Crisis care 2 Mental health services 9 Access to talking therapies 3 Benefits 26 Mental health at work 7 Mental health in the media 8 Sport and mental health 1


Bad weather.

What a joke a bit of snow and the country go’s up the creek without a padel. Why? The first point is that health and safety is running a muck to the point where it is making life difficult for those who would do their job as normal no matter what.

The total lack of gritting on side roads and walks making it impossible for people to get to the main routes without taking their lives into their own hands. News reports about A and E having an over load of broken bones and an increase in the numbers  of deaths all travel related.

The lack of help and coöperation between people  and business. Casing point: I had to take the van out to get some supplies. Now it is rear wheel drive which means that icy roads make it difficult  to get moving once stopped. This happen twice causing a tail back in both cases. The first time while trying to get onto a gritted road I had to get the shovel out and chip the ice away from in front of the drive wheels. The people behind just sat there and watched or tried to drive round, no milk of human kindness there. The second time was trying to get to a well-known supermarket car park the road was pure ice, again out with the shovel only this time all I got was angry looks that anger would have been better spent giving the van a shove so we could all get on our way. Society now a days is all about me, if we spent more time helping each other we would all be better off. 

Electro Glide.

The world of two-wheel transport is further ahead in the alternative fuel category.  The reason is its a  lighter vehicle to propel than its four-wheel counter part.

 But what I do not understand is the obsession that electric transport has to rely on battery’s that can only be charged with a plug, there by limiting its useability and distance it can travel before recharge. I know this maybe a simple view but why do none of these transport types have the latest solar electric panels as part of their build, to help keep the battery’s topped up. 

A typical drive to work means that you have to sit in standing traffic,  wouldn’t  it be great to think your little electic car is recharging itself  while your waiting in a que!  By doing this you have already extended the distance it can travel and with traffic volumes set to increase we are going to spend more and more time standing still.

Privacy policy?

What a joke!

It is only when you set up  a web site for yourself that privacy becomes an important  issue. I am probably right in thinking that some of you never look at the small print and those that do must think ” what am I letting myself  in for?”

 I’m talking about when you come to a privacy policy  that runs to more than a page you know your in trouble with that company. Basically they say we will protect your data but send it all round the world for other companies to look after but if your identity gets cloned, it’s not their fault! Where do these companies get the moral right to tell everybody your information? They don’t, but they think they do! because you have used their product/web site etc. It is time these companies started offering their customers a proper service and not lip service to your data with long-winded policies. They should all say we do not share your info and honour that!