Scottish Torries Refuse to Comment on Ken Loach BAFTA Speech


The Scottish Conservative Party has refused to comment on criticisms made against UK Government’s treatment of benefit claimants 

The SNP has stated that it is“vital that the Tories finally listen” after Ken Loach’s frank criticism of the government. However the Scottish Conservatives “did not wish to make comment” on any of the issues raised.

WHILE accepting a BAFTA for the film ‘I, Daniel Blake’, the critically acclaimed British filmmaker made scathing accusations against the UK government and their attitude towards those reliant on the Welfare System.

Loach called out the “disgraceful” way in which the government treats the poorest and most in need “with a callous brutality, a brutality that extends to keep out refugee children [he added]”.

‘I, Daniel Blake’ winner of ‘Best British Film’ depicts the struggles of life for those reliant on benefit payments and highlights the impact incurring ‘sanctions’ have on claimants lives. 

The suspension of benefit payments or “sanctions” are categorised in 3 levels to determine the period of time DWP benefits will be withheld.

At the lowest level payments can be stopped for a period ranging from 4 weeks to 3 years and include infractions such as missing or being late for meeting with an assigned ‘Work Coach’.

Appeals against the sanctions can be made to a DWP “decision maker” who will assess the validity of the appeal. However a DWP report published in 2015 showed that 40,680 people died within one year of their Work Capability Assessment between May 2010 – February 2014.

Interviewed by Zoe Ball after the ceremony the writer of I, Daniel Blake Paul Laverty described his shock at some of the statistics found whilst doing research for the film. He mentions the return of “Victorian diseases”, hospital admissions for malnutrition and the fact that only 16% of appeals against sanctions are successful.

“The benefit sanctions regime is deeply flawed” Sandra White SNP

When asked by CommonSpace for a response to both Loach’s accusations and if any reviews of benefit sanction policy would or should take place in light of issues highlighted, a Spokesperson for The Scottish Conservative Party stated “In regard to Ken Loach’s comments, we’re not wishing to get involved with it.”

The SNP however agree with the sentiments made by Loach in his speech. SNP MSP Sandra White said: 

“Ken Loach is right to use his public platform to call out the UK government’s callous brutality towards the poorest and most vulnerable people in society as well as the refugee children that they promised to help and have now turned their back on. 

“a brutality that extends to keep out refugee children” Ken Loach

“The benefit sanctions regime is deeply flawed and the SNP has long-called for a full and independent review of the entire system.

“It is vital that the Tories finally listen to the concerns about the damaging effects of benefit sanctions on individuals and their families. I hope that more influential people like Ken Loach will speak out and keep these issues on the agenda to press the Tories into listening and making a real difference to the lives of thousands of people across the UK.”

This is not the first time a member of the SNP has recognised the film. MP Mhairi Black encouraged her fellow MPs to watch the film describing it as “a cold and sobering view of the reality so many people are living” in a speech made in the House of Commons last year.