23rd Feb 2017: Welfare Cuts and Sanctions by Mike Cormack

Come along to Cabaret Voltaire (36-38 Blair St, Edinburgh, EH1 1QR), doors open at 6.30pm and film starts at 7pm. After the film a discussion about the benefits reforms and issues associated with poverty will take place with Mike Cormack from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty

Mike Cormack
Mike Cormack

Title of talk:

The film I Daniel Blake

Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • I Daniel Blake – a realistic portrayal of the benefits system
  • “No accident” – the plan is to drive people off benefits
  • The assault on welfare claimants undermines all wages and conditions
  • Class war by the rich on the poor
  • Ways to resist
  • Solidarity accompanying to benefits assessments and appointments
  • Advocacy stalls at the jobcentre
  • Solidarity call-outs to bring a crowd together to support people up against the system
  • Occupations and blockades
  • Paul Laverty, IDB screenwriter : “Make austerity policies unworkable”
  • Counter Power, challenging the system, planting the seeds for a different world
  • Pressurising the Scottish Government on devolved welfare
  • Getting involved in solidarity accompanying


A few paragraphs on your subject:

The traumatic nature of people’s encounters with the benefits system has to be confronted and spoken about. Through the welfare cuts which are going on people are being put in terrible positions and having their means of survival cut off. I Daniel Blake is an important film with gives an accurate portrayal of what is going on with the benefits system.
Through deliberate government policy people are being sanctioned. Growing numbers are being refused sickness and disability benefits to which they are entitled. As one of the characters in I Daniel Blake says, this is no accident, but a deliberate plan to force people off benefits and into low paid and insecure jobs. For example, zero hours contracts, the Workfare program where people are made to work without being paid, and lack of workers rights are all circumstances being imposed on people.
Under the banner of austerity the rich are waging class war on the majority to make us pay for the crises brought about by an unforgiving profit driven system which serves the ruling classes. This is happening world-wide and is affecting the lives of everyone is not affluent. All working class people have an interest in resisting the damage being done to the social support system in the name of austerity measures.
Widespread direct action is needed to challenge the policies of the current government in Westminster which are plainly inhumane. As I Daniel Blake screenwriter Paul Laverty has said, we need to make government austerity policies unworkable. In Scotland there is talk by the SNP against austerity however the cuts which are being implemented by councils in social support, health and welfare demonstrate a different story. We need to up the pressure on the Scottish government to use their devolved powers to make real changes – see http://www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/225
Critical to developing the kind of society which we need and want is that we support each other in communities and in our dealings with the benefits system. Don’t face them alone, your right is to be accompanied to all benefits appointments, to all sickness and disability benefits assessments, and it makes a positive difference to the outcomes of these meetings.
Always take a friend, relative or advisor with you to any jobcentre appointment which could be problematic. Always take someone to sickness and disability benefits assessments. It is important to be prepared for these meetings and fill in the forms in the proper way. You and your advocate need to be equipped with a list of all the conditions (“descriptors”) you meet which will gain you the points to be awarded the benefit, be it Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.
In the Assessment make sure that all these descriptors are covered and agreed by the benefits assessor. For more information visit: http://www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/5 The Edinburgh network WE ARE ALL DANIEL BLAKE https://actionagainstausterityblog.wordpress.com/ will be organising training for people interested in being solidarity accompaniers.
In the face of these brutal processes brought about by sweeping cuts, community solidarity groups are a vital network of support available for everyone to resist benefit cuts, organise people who can accompany people to benefits meetings, and when required organise solidarity call-outs against sanctions, workfare and other attacks. It is important that we collectively build a counter power to beat back the Department of Work and Pensions bullies.
Resisting benefit cuts and austerity is not a single issue, for real social change to happen, the various struggles against different injustices need to unite and intelligently challenge the whole system, and in doing so plant the seeds of a different world where resources are shared in common, and human activity is focused on meeting the needs of people rather than making profit.

A few paragraphs about you:

I have been involved in unemployed and claimants’ struggles since the mid 1980’s, first through the Edinburgh Unemployed Workers Centre and Lothian Claimants Union, then through Edinburgh Claimants, and more recently through Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty. I am also involved in the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group and community groups in north Edinburgh.

What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others if they wish to explore your chosen theme further?

  • The Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty site edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk
    In particular
  • Dealing with assessments for sickness/ disability benefits edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/5
  • Resisting sanctions edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/142
  • We are all Daniel Blake – Edinburgh https://actionagainstausterityblog.wordpress.com/
  • https://www.facebook.com/IDanielBlakeCommunityViewings/?fref=ts
  • https://scottishunemployedworkers.net/
  • http://www.boycottworkfare.org/
  • https://www.facebook.com/actionagainstausterityscotland/?fref=ts @actionagainstausterityscotland


What are your weblinks?

Website – edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk
Blog –
Twitter – @ecap_org
Facebook – Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty @edinburghagainstpoverty
Public Email – [email protected]
Any others….