There will be a special screening of the film I, Daniel Blake at the Engine Room in Bridgwater on Thursday March 30th to coincide with Unite Community’s Day of Action on benefit sanctions.
Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, is a film about one man’s treatment by Britain’s benefits system that left at least one critic in tears and won the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn even told Theresa May to watch it during Prime Minister’s Questions recently.
The film tells the story of Daniel Blake, a 59-year-old joiner who stops work after suffering a massive heart attack. His doctor says he is too unwell to work but the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) declares him fit to work. This makes Job Seekers’ Allowance his only option for benefits as he falls into poverty. But he will be sanctioned, with the money cut off, if he fails to prove he has been actively seeking work, which his doctor has said he is too unwell to take up.Loach, his screenwriter Paul Laverty and their researchers heard stories from current and former DWP employees. They heard about Job Centre staff being censured if they did not sanction enough people. One man with a long-term illness injured himself after falling at home and refused to get in the ambulance, afraid he would be kept overnight at hospital and then sanctioned for missing a Job Centre appointment the next day.
Ken Loach commented “To live at that level of fear. These aren’t cheats. Anybody could fall into that position. A vulnerable workforce means a pool of unemployed and it means low taxes. It means labour laws that won’t defend workers’ interests. The logic of their situation precludes compassion, if, by compassion, we mean everybody having a life of dignity and security.”