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Alex Snowdon reports on the desperate attempt by a man to set himself on fire over his benefit payments as Cameron continues his attacks on welfare

A 48 year old man set himself alight outside a job centre in the West Midlands today (Friday). The man poured flammable liquid over his body, after tying himself to railings outside a Selly Oak job centre.

His action - at around 9.20am - is believed to have been prompted by a row over his benefit payments. The man had to be sprayed by fire extinguishers and he suffered burns to his legs.

An eyewitness told local paper Birmingham Mail; 'You could smell the fumes from the liquid he used. He would have been very desperate to have done something like that. It's shocking that somebody could have been driven to those depths'.

The desperate act follows fast on the heels of David Cameron's fresh political attacks on welfare, accompanied by a new wave of media stigmatising of benefits claimants.

Birmingham Mail readers were mostly sympathetic. One reader commented, 'Claimants for benefits do get treated like they are lazy and liars when they are often frantically desperate. This is what happens when all the frustration comes to a boiling point'.

Another reader said; 'This world is awful - people sitting in their 10-bedroom houses with millions in the bank and genuine people who have to send their kids to school with empty stomachs'.

Welfare campaigners have called a protest for 3pm on Saturday outside the job centre to highlight the effects of unemployment and protest at threatened benefit cuts.

Alex Snowdon

Alex Snowdon

Alex Snowdon is a Counterfire activist in Newcastle. He is active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and the National Education Union.​ He is the author of A Short Guide to Israeli Apartheid (2022).

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