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Friday, 29 October 2010

God Help Us All

As more and more details of this so-called comprehensive spending review are emerging, it is looking more like what it actually is not what it claims to be. It isn’t anything even remotely close to a nation’s budget. This monstrous document is a fiercely aggressive and monumentally mind-blowing draconian supernova.
The financial meltdown of 2008-9 and Labour’s mismanagement of the treasury gave the Tories once in a century chance of finishing what Thatcherites started in the 80’s:
• Replacing Keynesian policies with neo-liberalist ones.
• Stripping the society of all that is good, just and charitable.
• Turning this country into a barren post apocalyptic land of capitalism, where social justice is stuff of science fiction.
• Truly, actually and factually turning Britain into the junior partner of America; where everything is run by money hungry corporations, where mentioning free health care and welfare state is synonymous with being a billion times worth than Stalin and Mao put together.
If I didn’t know anything about Cameron and Osborne’s politics, and someone asked me to draw an honest mental picture of them just based on the spending review, I would say they most definitely grew up dreaming of playing Frisbee with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher while being tutored by them, learning how to pin all the problems that exist in every single society on the poor, the unfortunate and the working class.
If anyone just looks at the housing benefits section of the spending review, it will be as clear as day that how brutal and devastating the effects are going to be. Cuts to the housing benefits will result in a mass exile of at least 2 million people from inner London, likes of which are unheard of in contemporary peace times. They will have to move closer to M25 or even outside of it in order to be able to afford a place to live; they won’t be able to commute to central London to their jobs and very likely will have to find employment elsewhere. There will be a vacuum of employment in inner London. Even some Tory politicians such as Boris Johnson are opposed to this social cleansing. Somebody needs to tell Mr Osborne that a cosmopolitan city such as London could not survive without working class people. Somebody needs to shout and scream at Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne and tell them:
“if you have what it takes, if you have a single shred of courage blame the budget deficit on people who caused it, crucify the sleazy corporate fat cats of Wall Street who caused the financial meltdown that brought our planet to the brink of bankruptcy, the working class people, the poor and impoverished haven’t done anything wrong, leave us alone and let us be…”.
But the chancellor would never do such a thing, he would never go after the bankers and financial feudalists, he is a trust fund child himself, he would never harm his own kind.
We all need to seriously dig deep and do a thorough cultural shake up; we need to rid ourselves of this culture of political masochism and apologism. We are all living in very dangerous times and a very important period of our domestic modern times. If the government goes ahead and implements all these policies, the negative and sinister effects of them could not be reversed, full stop. If I was a man of faith I would say may God help us all.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Summery of Benefit Cuts

This is a summery, as accurate as i can get it, of all the benefit changes and cuts on the horizon, based on the Spending Review, government announcements and existing legislation. Please, please write in with anything else you know as knowledge really is power in these dark times!

Some initial thoughts:

1. Theres lots we don't know: Benefit changes can only happen after acts of parliament are passed and regulations drawn up. Until this happens, we really don't know exactly how the changes will work out in practice. However, we can see that they're not good!

2. Everything can change: In the process of getting these cuts from policy idea and plans to actual real life changes in the benefit system, everything can change, especially the more complex things.

3. Benefit changes, in themselves, cause difficulties: Look at the mess that is Employment and Support Allowance or better still, tax credits to see the human misery caused by so called "teething problems." Now add into the mix, massive job cuts across the welfare system and you can imagine the chaos that will ensue!

4. Theres everything to fight For: None of this is set in stone, everything can change. We need to get together and fight for the benefits system we deserve!

Now, the bad news......

Sickness and Disability
1.Sickness benefits cut and sick people forced to look for work. New claimants already have to claim Employment and Support Allowance instead of Incapacity Benefit or Income Support, more people will be moved onto Employment and Support Allowance in the future.

2.Employment and Support Allowance stops completely after one year from April 2011
Disability Living Allowance taken away from disabled people in residential care from April 2012

3. Disability Living Allowance claimants subjected to medical testing from April 2012

Pensioners
4. Pension Credit for pensioners with savings, frozen for four years between April 2011 to April 2015

5.Cold weather Payment to be frozen at £25 for ever from November 2010

Housing Benefit
6. Single people under 35 can only rent a single room from April 2012

7.Housing Benefit for people renting privately will be cut first to 70% of the average rent, then again to only 30% of the average rent from April 2011

8.Housing Benefit cut by 10% to anyone out of work for more than one year from 2011

Children
9. Child Benefit taken away from better off families from January 2013

10.Single mothers expected to look for work. This is happening right now!

Working People
11. Working Tax Credit rates frozen April 2011 to 2014

12. Money for childcare for people claiming Working Tax Credit cut to 70% of the actual cost of the childcare from April 2011

13. Working Tax Credit taken away completely from two parent families working less than 24 hours per week from April 2011


Everyone
14. Total benefits anyone can receive capped at £500 per week from 2011

15. All the different benefits to be merged into one single benefit. This is planned at some point in the future.

16. Longer waiting times, more mix ups, worse decisions and less help to sort things out. This is happening right now but will get much worse! Massive job cuts amongst workers who process claims and appeals will mean that the remaining staff will struggle to keep the system running and on top of that, learn to administrate the changes.

17. More useless schemes run by A4E, Reed in partnership etc..... In the long term the Tory’s want more and more of the benefits system privatised, so expect to have a lot more to do with these companies!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Protest Unfair Employment and Support Allowance decisions

Kilburn Unemployed Workers demonstrated outside Neasden Jobcentre yesterday to highlight the scandal of Employment and Support Allowance, a benefit for the sick and disabled.




Entitlement to this benefit is decided by a medical examination outsourced to ATOS Medical who use a computer system, the Logic Integrated Medical Assessment (or LiMA) to produce medical reports with a minimum of human discretion or judgement.
Many, many people, who are clearly too sick to work are turned down for benefits under this system and face grueling appeal procedures to get the benefits they are entitled to.

Jodie Hart, who attended the demonstration explained the effect on her of being turned down for this benefit:

People like me, with memory problems, who are ill, we can’t cope with this, having our benefits stopping and starting. They push and push people and make us more ill. What they are doing is dangerous. People have breakdowns over things like this.


Kilburn Unemployed Workers will continue to fight Jodie's case and campaign against unfairness in the benefits system.
If you have any stories about Employment and Support Allowance, or any other benefit please do get in touch

Victory!

Kilburn Unemployed Workers won over £300 in backdated benefits for one hacked off claimant after extracting a sick note from a reluctant doctor.
Much kudos goes to our plucky member for his unflappable and persistant negotiations.
If you think Kilburn Unemployed Workers can help you: get in touch by email, phone or come to our weekly meetings

Friday, 3 September 2010

Private Companies Make Long Term Sick Well Within Half and Hour!

Still on the subject of Medical Examinations:

Despite GP's accepting their patients are too sick to work, the government overrides their professional judgement now by getting private medical company "Assessments" to say they are well enough to work. The present government now wants to transfer NHS decision making and £80 billion of our monies to GP's despite not trusting them to know if a patient is well or not. Seems very contradictory! Seems like money saving exercises with excuses to hit the sick financially and reward private enterprise "scroungers" with lucrative contracts.

In the 1800's the workhouse was used to stick poor families in to save ratepayers money and attempt to discourage the poor from begging off the community. Life in the workhouse was actually designed to be as awful as possible so people would avoid going into them in the same way that people avoid going to prisons. What they found out though was that a lot of people were too genuinely sick or old and inform to work either outside or inside the workhouse and an infirmary would need to be set up attached to the workhouse. this is how infirmaries and hospitals originated and how eventually pensions had to be set up, as the so called "workshy" were plainly just too ill or too old.

Now it seems the main political parties want to blame welfare claimants for the financial crisis that millionaire bankers caused. Getting someone off Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance, may save some money by forcing them to claim Jobseekers Allowance instead (although these benefits are the same as Jobseekers Allowance in the first year anyway!). The premise that these people will then go and get jobs (especially when massive job cuts are planned) is flawed. What will most probably happen is that unfit people will not go for jobs they cannot physically or mentally do and then the DWP will stop their Jobseekers Allowance and they will become destitute.

Ian Duncan Smith may be proposing incentives to get back to work but there is a clamoring to cut benefits and make claiming so onerous people will slip through the safty net that previous generations secured.

We believe that we should be pressurising the government to have progressive methods of dealing with the sick and unemployed not regressive ones. Do employers, or does the economy, really wnat to be hiring people who are too ill to sustain proper jobs (but who are officially "well") who will not last the course and theerefore waste everybody's time?

We say return to accepting that GP's know thier patient best and their sick notes should be respected and don't engage private medical services who will inevitably become incentivised and entrenched in knocking people off the sick for financial rather than medical reasons.

No return to the workhouse mentality! It didn't work in the 19th century and its not a reinvention the 21st century needs!

Clarence Jackman: KUWG Member

Medical Assesments for Employment and Support Allowance.

Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions show that only 18% of people claiming Employment and Support Allowance, the benefit for people our of work due to sickness, are found to be entitled to it!

The rest are either turned down or the cliam is closed!

The full report can be seen here:

www.parliament.uk/deposits/depositedpapers/2010/DEP2010-1361.pdf

Kilburn Unemployed Workers are not surprised by this! Our own experience tells us that many sick and disabled people are turned down for the benefits. This is largely due to flawed and unfair medical examinations.

If you have any personal experience with medical examinations: let us know: we want to hear from you!

In the meantime you can find some useful information on how to handle medical examinations on the Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty Website:

http://edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/5

Friday, 20 August 2010

Take Our Survey: Tell us what you think!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Update

It is essential for any group aiming to organise or represent people to build up familiarity and the trust of a community. Doing this takes hard work and persistence and consistency.

Luckily Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, even at this early stage in our development has attracted some really dedicated activists who can now be seen outside Kilburn Jobcentre on most days, giving out flyer's and talking to people about their experiences.

The reception so far has been very good. After all, Unemployed people know all to well the frustrations and petty humiliation that are part of the experience of claiming benefits. When we explain ourselves, we've found most people can see the point of having an organisation to represent their interests and views and to stand up for the rights of the unemployed!

As a result, attendance at our weekly meetings is also beginning to pick up with at least one or two new faces each week.

We try to make the meetings as welcoming and friendly as possible with no jargon or bureaucracy: just an opportunity to tell your story, let off steam and see if we can reach solutions together.

If you can't make the meetings, however, we still want to hear from you.

Just click on the link on the right hand side of the page to get a copy of our questionaire, complete it and email it to us.

In order to give you a flavour of what we do: we'll also be posting some pieces about the most common benefit problems and their solutions so watch out for that in the coming weeks!

Brent Against Cuts

Following a very successful and well attended public meeting on the 28th July 2010,

trade unionsists in Brent are due to get down to work in earnest on fighting the cuts to benefits and public services in Brent and beyond.

There will be a public planning meeting on the 25th August at 7.30pm at the Willesden Trades and Labour Hall, 375 High Road, Willesden, London NW10 2JR, hosted by Brent Trades Council.

This meeting will be a serious attempt to plan concrete actions against the cuts and is a must for anyone who is serious about fighting back!

We'll see you down there!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Training Day: Know your Rights

Kilburn Unemployed Workers, in association with Hackney Unemployed Workers, Haringay Claimants Action, Islington Unemployed Workers and South East Region TUC (Phew!) is very proud to present.........

Signing On: Know Your Rights.

A day of free training covering:

The law on jobsearching a benefits sanctions

When they can cut your payments and (most important!) when they can't

Individual and collective negotiation

Standing up for our Rights

Running an Unemployed Workers Group

Plus free tea, coffee and sandwiches

Monday 4th October at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London

Places are limited. Email now to register.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Benefit BBQ

Those lovely, lovely people from Freedom Books in Whitechapel are throwing us a benefit BBQ on the 7th August from 3pm onwards.

Entry is free and there is cheap beer, burgers plus DJ's till late.

Volunteers are needed to help make food and run things on the night so please contact us if you can help. Otherwise see you there.

Venue is

Freedom Bookshop
Angel Alley
84b Whitechapel High St
London

Public Meeting Against Cuts

Our parent body, Brent Trades Council is holding a public meeting against cuts on 28th July, 7.30pm at Willesden Library.

http://www.brenttuc.org.uk/?p=197

Kilburn Unemployed Workers will be attending to give some feedback on what we've been up to and to get some inspiration for the struggles ahead.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Welcome to Kilburn Unemployed Workers!

Welcome to Kilburn Unemployed Workers.

We are a group for and by Unemployed People and Benefits Claimants in Kilburn.

We believe that everyone deserves to have our claims decided quickly and fairly, to be treated with respect and to have enough money to live on.

Everyone deserves satisfying work, dignity and a future for their children.

Often it can feel like we are on our own, battling a huge and faceless machine. It doesn't have to be like this. We believe that together we are strong. We can defend each other and assert our rights.

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group is only as strong as our members. We need everyones help to write letters, to support each other at Jobcentre interviews, to challenge unfair decisions and to win victories.

Kilburn Unemployed Workers is only young but we have big plans. We are currently leafletting Kilburn Jobcentre to make our presence known. We are also arranging training to arm ourselves with the skills we will need in the battles to come.

If you have some time to spare and would like to learn new skils and help other people or if you are having problems and need the support of others then we want to hear from you.

We meet every Thursday at the Kingsgate Community Centre, 107 Kingsgate Road, Kilburn and everyone is welcome. Or you can telephone, email or join us on facebook.