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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Boycott Workfare team up with Pluto Press to expose violence of workfare

"A new book chapter using testimonies compiled by Boycott Workfare exposes the violent impact of forced labour.

"When we talk about what’s wrong with workfare, we often mention the horrifying material impact on people’s lives of the benefit sanctions that underwrite it. The political impact of unwaged work is also important – the way it attacks workplace rights and destroys our freedom. And workfare is psychologically violent and humiliating: it is coerced labour that’s supposed to build skills and motivation but obviously does nothing apart from offer free work to businesses and charities.

"Now, in a freely available chapter of The Violence of Austerity, just published by Pluto Press, the accounts of 97 people who were on workfare schemes between 2011 and 2015 show how workfare is not only ruthlessly exploitative, but can also mean being forced into dangerous work in which health and safety laws are violated as a matter of routine...."

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Thursday 20 July 2017 latest Disability News Service headlines

Latest Stories

Conservative DWP calls pre-sanction interrogations 'Health & Work Conversations'

A conversation in theory involves balance of bargaining power and ability of both sides to discuss their concerns. If you follow the link http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=bargaining+power, you will realise that such conversations with benefit claimants is not what this Conservative Government is about.(1)

'Austerity' driving Conservative Government — and its Blairite predecessors — are and have been far more about finding fault with claimants so that they can cut our benefits and/or sanction us in the name of 'protecting the public purse'. Their savings are not really savings and their lack of monitoring service provision and recruitment and retention of Disability Employment Advisers have long demonstrated that they don't really care for claimant or staff wellbeing.(2)

Now, it emerges via a Freedom of Information (FoI) Request that the Department for Work & Pensions intend to further weaken the bargaining power of disability benefit claimants by calling interrogations toward sanctioning Employment & Support Allowance claimants 'Health & Work Conversations'.(3)

I am reminded of Theresa May's insistence that those made homeless by the Grenfell Tower blaze in a Conservative-led local authority should be rehoused with supreme urgency. Such supreme urgency can lead to people being offered places that are unsuitable at the best of times, and for the places to be offered long before the prospective rehousing fodder are in an emotional state fit to make any long-term commitments.

The result would be that under long-established legislation, after turning down three offers, the rehousing fodder could be deemed to have made themselves 'intentionally homeless'.

What will the Department for Work & Pensions do to restore the trust of economically vulnerable people after successive Governments have screwed up on Disability Equality and Disability Rights issues for many people's life times? 'Care in the community', anybody?



Friday, 14 July 2017

13 July update on Disability News Service top stories

The Kwug Blog editor knows that today is 14 July, but the actual publication day of Disability News Service was Thursday 13 July and Thursday is that publication's regular publication date.

Latest Stories

Did the Tory war on the poor weed out magistrates opposed to 'push button' mass-destruction in the name of 'debt recovery'

Reflecting on the two most recent Kwug Blog posts,

  1. Unjustly treated Revd Paul Nicolson points to the mass-destruction perils of 'push button justice' over civil debt (1) and
  2. Alleged 'left wing bias' in schools and social work education
it strikes me that those two blog posts link in with previous Kwug Blog posts about magistrates. (3)

Magistrates are sworn to 'uphold the law' — whatever that law might be — and when Michael Gove was Justice Secretary [sic] he brought in legal charges that so disgusted some magistrates that they felt obliged to resign in protest to changes he sought to bring in regarding criminal courts charges. (4)

In my experience, when truly socially engaged professionals such as good Disability Employment Advisers have been faced with 'service constraints' that are against the interests of the people before them, they have sought employment elsewhere; what that leaves amounts to postholders that are purely 'functionaries' or mercenaries, serving really only as 'window dressing'.

Revd Paul Nicolson's court summons yesterday was in response to a civil debt rather than a criminal case, but I believe it does tie in with my point about 'service delivery'. Barrister Alan Murdie has written two Big Issue articles regarding the kind of justice meted out to Council Tax debtors:
It was those poor people's interests Paul seeks to highlight with his campaign of Civil Disobedience.

An eye-witness of yesterday's proceedings gives this account:
The Judge didn't allow an adjournment, despite RP [Revd Paul] needing more time to understand a council document, plus hadn't had a response from independent auditor. Judge stated his "hands are tied" and has "no discretion"...how can one 'judge' with such constraints? Council got eventually what they wanted, but look crumby!

Yesterday I wrote Paul that I regard him as a modern day Conscientious Objector. This was after I had blogged about the parallels between
  1. Paul's Guardian letter pointing out that people whose mental health had been severely harmed by benefit sanctions and the like being prescribed tranquilisers rather than a resolution of their sanctions by the Department for Work & Pensions, and
  2. World War 1 bullying of people into becoming 'combatants'.
Today, a statement by the late Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo reminds me of a world without people of courage such as Paul Nicolson:

'If you want to enter hell, don't complain of the dark....' (7)
Perhaps magistrates such as the one presiding over Paul's case are gatekeepers for such a hell, telling them that the harm done to society by Civil Disobedience must be punished while the hell that they are allowing to creep in is inevitable because magistrates are sworn to uphold the law?

It also strikes me that were someone to write someone else, "What words would you like to be your epitaph?" that query would be generally regarded as a death threat. Yet such a query can be an invitation to examine one's life and seek to live a better one.

Dude Swheatie of Kwug

PS: Meanwhile those who attack defenders of public spending and investment in society as 'politically motivated' while being keen to stand as Tory candidates in council elections (8) — especially when the defenders of public spending and investment invest their own lives in public service delivery — remind me of a Flanders & Swann comment in the 1960's that 'strictly non-political' translated in reality as 'very right wing'.

  1. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/unjustly-treated-revd-paul-nicolson-points-to-mass-destruction-perils-of-push-button-justice-over-civil-debt.html
  2. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/alleged-left-wing-bias-in-schools-and-social-work-education.html
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=magistrates+gove
  4. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/criminal-courts-charge-mass-resignations-amid-judicial-revolt-against-extremely-unfair-fees-10492130.html
  5. https://bigissue.com/news/great-british-council-tax-scandal-big-issue-investigation/
  6. https://bigissue.com/news/council-tax-scandal-part-ii-human-cost/
  7. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-40585327
  8. http://camdennewjournal.com/article/face-of-governments-teacher-recruitment-drive-rails-against-lefty-bias-in-schools

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Alleged 'left wing bias' in schools and social work education

The Camden New Journal home page currently leads with
— a CNJ exclusive.

It reminds me very creepily of

Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Unjustly treated Revd Paul Nicolson points to the mass-destruction perils of 'push button justice' over civil debt

Guest blog post from Revd Paul Nicolson


Today Highbury Corner Magistrates court, as expected, issued a liability order against me to Haringey Council adding £115 costs. 

But far more seriously the magistrate issued liability orders plus costs against 510 Haringey residents by signing a computer printout. That was a small number: sometimes it has been over 2000 at one time by signing a print out. The total number of summons issued by Haringey last year was over 27.000. Nationally there are 3.5 million a year. 

The vast majority are issued by computer against local people who can never afford to pay the tax because their benefit incomes have been shredded by central government. 

Haringey Councillors ought to be ashamed of themselves for letting such an oppressive law loose on the large number of vulnerable and impoverished residents in the borough. It creates serious hardship.  

Great efforts by council staff goes in to collecting the tax from people who cannot pay. No surprise that over £2million is left unpaid every year. 

A computer will now send the following threats to residents of the borough vulnerable or not. It is an inhuman process. 

Failure to contact 
​the council on receiving a liability order 
will result in the council taking one of the following methods of recovery to collect the outstanding Council Tax