Thursday, 28 November 2013

the Age UK London Older People's Manifesto for the 2014 Local Elections Consultation Event.


The details are as follows:

Date: Thursday 28th November
Time: 11.00am (10.30am registration)
Venue: Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, Shaftesbury Avenue,  235
Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8EP
Transport: Nearest Tube Stations - Tottenham Court Road(Central Line,
Northern Line) 0.2 miles walk OR Holborn (Central Line, Piccadilly
Line) 0.3 miles.
Bus: Number 134 stops right outside the church. Many other buses stop
on New Oxford Street/Tottenham Court Road including numbers 7, 8, 10,
25, 55, 73 and 98.

Free lunch is provided. Registration is from 10.30am and the event
will start promptly at 11.00am.

Also, as a reminder, this event is for a manifesto covering the 2014
Local Elections and only policy and issues dealt with by local
councils will be relevant to the discussion.

Some areas of discussion will be:

  • Social Care and Health
  • Learning and Leisure Services
  • Housing
  • Local Economy
  • Other Local Council Services

If you would like to discuss one of these issues predominately, please
could you reply to me as soon as possible and we will endeavour to
meet your request.

(Further details and registration)

I look forward to seeing you on Thursday.

Kind Regards

Danny Elliott
Communications and Campaigns Officer
Age UK London

E: delliott@ageuklondon.org.uk
T: 020 7820 6778

Older People's Manifesto for Local Elections 2014: Consultation

Hosted by Age UK London

Thursday, 28 November 2013 from 11:00 to 14:00 (GMT)

Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H
8EP

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Save the Co-operative Bank!

From Save Our Bank

Newsletter 26 November

Crunch time at the bank - help spread the word

While the media has been focused on the revelations about former Co-op Bank chair Paul Flowers, the Co-op Bank itself has been worrying about how to ensure that investors accept the proposed rescue plan. The first deadline is at the end of this week, and all votes must be in by the following week. No one really knows what will happen if the investors don’t vote for the plan. If they accept then there will be rapid movement to seal the deal with the hedge funds. Save Our Bank could have an important influence on how that works.
It is vital that Save Our Bank campaign can speak for as many customers as possible. Thousands have already signed up but the next week is crucial and we need your help to reach critical mass. Then we can push for our aims: a way to ensure that whoever owns the bank implements customer-led ethical polices, and plans an eventual return to co-operative majority control.
We are asking all supporters urgently to take action:
Please Forward this email to 10 people you know who might bank with the Co-op, and ask them to pass it on.
If you're a social media user then
Tweet now, asking people to visit our site and sign up to the campaign:
Support #saveourbank campaign, sign up at http://saveourbank.coop and help us make the #CoopBank stick to its principles
Contact your Facebook friends and ask them to sign up to the campaign:
Let’s all support the Save Our Bank campaign to make the Co-op Bank stick to its ethical principles  - sign up at http://saveourbank.coop

No change to Save Our Bank message

The revelations about Paul Flowers have shocked many people but Save Our Bank supporters already knew that something had gone badly wrong at the bank. Whatever the promised enquiries discover, the bank has new managers and will soon have a new ownership structure. Our priority is making sure it sticks to its principles and that the door is left open to an eventual return to co-operative majority control. We still say to customers: don’t switch yet, join our campaign. We can make a difference.

Bank proposes way to fix ethical principles

New proposed articles of association were published by the Co-operative Bank on 14th November. These have generally escaped media attention because of the furore about Paul Flowers. We welcome some aspects of the articles such as the creation of an ethics committee, but we do not think it will be enough to withstand the commercial pressures in the bank while it is majority owned by private investors. We need to push for a real ethical policy guarantee.
You can read our response in full here.

More organisations back our Ethical Declaration

Our Ethical Policy declaration has now been signed by 20 NGOs and other organisations that use the Co-operative Bank, including Oxfam, Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth. If your organisation would like to support the declaration, sign up here.

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Monday, 25 November 2013

Women Together
Crossroads Women’s Centre, Saturday 9 November 2013

Women have a lot to say and sometimes are not shy about saying it!  They crowded into the Crossroads Women’s Centre in Kentish Town on Saturday 9 November, for ‘Women Together Speak Up – Making Community, Tackling Problems’.  Crossroads Women, the local charity hosting it, aimed to “give a voice to those women whose needs are most likely to be neglected, especially in these hard times”.
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Children were made welcome by the ever popular Colin the Clown who provided entertainment throughout the meeting.
Women of many diverse backgrounds, from teenagers to grandmothers, movingly described events and experiences.  Most felt mothers and carers were being devalued and impoverished.
They raised economic problems.  A pregnant woman was fearful of the future as her husband had lost his job and she had no independent income.  A single mother had been threatened with benefit sanctions despite applying for 150 jobs.  Another was doing sex-phone work to feed her children.
Many had found care services uncaring.  A mother grieving the death of a son had had her breastfeeding baby taken away by social services.  A woman recounted her difficulties getting support in place on leaving a mental health hospital.  Relatives were struggling to ensure loved ones who were sick or had disabilities received the attention they were officially entitled to.  Support for breastfeeding was being cut and new mothers and their infants were not being helped.
Violence and discrimination were also recurrent themes.  A woman had witnessed sexual harassment by guards while in a detention centre; a mother complained of police targeting her Black son and other Black men for stop and search; a lesbian woman said many LBGTQ young people were homeless and faced attack.
Many of those present were from Camden, but some had travelled from other boroughs.  And some from Scotland and Wales – they had come for an earlier meeting and had decided to stay to listen and contribute.
The indignity of food banks, loss of play centres and other cuts, juggling jobs, job search and study with childcare and housework, homelessness, bailiffs, unaffordable fuel bills and rents, rape, racism and other discrimination made for a grim framework.
The meeting aimed at sharing not only problems but solutions, and women proved creative and determined.  The woman whose child was taken from her, had fought alongside breastfeeding advocates and got her daughter back – she was at the meeting and thriving.  Others were campaigning to get re-housed or stop police injustices.  A rape survivor had written a play to highlight her experiences and wanted volunteer actors to help stage it.  A woman recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis had started a parents’ support group.  More than one woman said that a successful outcome depended on not giving up, and getting together with others.  All agreed.  Supportive men described how much they owed their mothers and partners.  Norway was mentioned as an example of breastfeeding success – a mothers-led campaign had reversed a downward trend and 99% of infants are now breastfed.  A petition for a living wage for mothers and other carers received a warm welcome. 
The Women’s Centre was praised for providing a space where women and their families could meet, volunteer and support each other.  Solveig Francis of Crossroads Women, commented: “Women shared truths rarely heard in public, and came out informed and fortified.”  A sign language interpreter, who volunteered her services, ensured that deaf people present could participate. 
Women filled in a ‘Mothers/Carers Have Your Say’ questionnaire, which was launched at the event alongside two ‘Did You Know?’ fact sheets: ‘Poverty & Wealth in the UK’, and ‘Caring for Children & Adults in the UK’.  (All are available at www.crossroadswomen.net.)
On Saturday 7 December, the Women’s Centre will be hosting a Living History Meeting where two East End survivors of the London blitz will recount their experiences of working class endurance and rebuilding during World War Two.  And there will be a Christmas Fair on Saturday 14 December (11-2pm).

Willesden Bus Garage Union Representation


Brent Trade Union Council Chairperson Peter Firmin writes:

Brent Trade Union Council

Dear Colleague,
 
The saga continues. Robert Chung is facing his third disciplinary hearing on Wednesday 27th November after the last hearing was adjourned due to lack of evidence from the management.
 
Therefore following our two successful demonstrations and leafleting of the busworkers at the garage I'm asking you again to support another on the above date at the usual time 9am to 10am.
 
It is important that we continue to show our solidarity to Robert now that is come to a critical last hearing.
 
Thank you for your support
 
In Solidarity
Roger Cox, Secretary
Pete Firmin, Chair

Thursday, 21 November 2013


Change.org
You are receiving this update because you signed Jayne Linney and Debbie Sayers' petition: "Work & Pensions Committee: Hold IDS to account for his use of statistics"
Alan -
Monday 9th December - mark your diaries! - that is the day that Iain Duncan Smith will appear before the Work and Pensions Committee to face questions over his use of statistics. 
This week we delivered our petition for IDS to be held to account -- which included your name -- to Parliament. Liz Kendall and Kate Green MP officially accepted it and placed it in the green bag behind the speaker's chair, as is the tradition.
It was a big day for us, to finally see all 105,000 names on our petition printed out and to take the campaign to Parliament. We have lived with disabilities for many years and have had to hear Iain Duncan Smith use dodgy statistics to justify changes to the benefit system. Now finally, we have been listened to and have had our voices heard.
The Work and Pensions Committee say they will question IDS when he appears before them in three weeks time and examine how his department release benefit statistics to the media. It is a huge relief to finally tell you our petition has been a success!
You can read all about it in The Mirror!
From both of us thank you so much for the support,
Jayne Linney and Debbie Sayers
Picture credit: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror

CENTRE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE CLAIMS POOR PEOPLE  NEED HELP WITH THEIR DEBTS; QUITE SO BUT THE POOREST NEED HELP WITH THEIR INCOMES TO PREVENT DEBT. 

Centre for Social Justice has just discovered that  "Problem debt can have a corrosive impact on people and families" in a report called "Maxed Out".  
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) was set up by Iain Duncan Smith while he was in opposition and recommended the welfare reforms we now experience and that are in the pipe line with the Universal Credit. 
Like all government reports the CSJ refuses to acknowledge in "Maxed Out"  incomes must be raised to meet the a minimum cost of living in order to prevent poverty related debts and their consequent "corrosive impact". An otherwise very useful report is spoilt by "This vision rested on recognising that using money alone to combat disadvantage, as important as income is, is too narrow an approach". 
There is a point at which money alone must combat disadvantage and prevent debt. That point has been passed when an unemployment benefit of £71.70 is not only 42% of the Joseph Rowntree minimum income standard but is also being hit by the council tax, the bedroom tax, the £500 overall benefit cap and the 1% freeze in annual increases. . 
The coalition was warned by others time and again in 2012 that caps, cuts and council tax would create debt.
During the passage of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Local Government Finance Act 2012, which started the taxation of benefits with the council tax by local authorities, the attention of Lord Freud was drawn to the Government Office for Science in 2008 report  "Mental Capital and Well being". I quote
"Debt. There is a strong case for Government to work with financial organisations and utility companies to break the cycle between debt and mental illness. Recent research has indicated that debt is a much stronger risk factor for mental disorder than low income. A range of possible interventions are suggested: a greater awareness of the link between mental health and debt by banks and financial institutions; and measures by utility companies to handle arrears better."
I was present on behalf of Zacchaeus 2000 Trust when the Royal College of Psychiatrists warned Lord Freud about the relationship between debt and mental illness. 
The coalition would not change their policies in 2012 to prevent the misery now reported by the CSJ. 
Caps, cuts and council tax are now wreaking havoc in the lives of the poorest citizens. 
FROM THE BBC NEWS WEBSITE. 
"BBC home affairs editor Mark Easton said the poorest people could often access banking and credit only at a premium, with onerous terms making it more likely they would go overdrawn and suffer penalty charges.
Mr Christian Guy (Director of CSJ) said the poorest people in the UK were "cut off from mainstream banking and have no choice now but to turn to loan sharks and high-cost lenders".
The report says payday lenders have increased business from £900m in 2008/2009 to more than £2bn in 2011/2012.
It says more than 26,000 UK households have been accepted by councils as homeless in the past five years because of mortgage and rent arrears.
Mr Chris Pond (a former Labour Work an Pensions Minister) said that "with falling real incomes and increasing costs of basic essentials, many, especially the most vulnerable, are sliding further into problem debt.
"The costs to those affected, in stress and mental disorders, relationship breakdown and hardship is immense.
But so too is the cost to the nation, measured in lost employment and productivity and in an increased burden on public services."

Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road,
Tottenham, 
London N17 0BF
0208 3765455
07961 177889
also at www.z2k.org 

*Event:* *'Building our Green Economic Future' conference 

with London's Green MEP Jean Lambert, TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady, EU Commissioner Laszlo Andor and Andrew Raingold of the Aldersgate Group



*When: Friday, November 29th, 10.30am – 4.45pm



*Where: TUC Congress Centre, London, WC1B 3LS*



*THE ROLE OF THE GREEN ECONOMY IN PROMOTING JOBS AND INDUSTRIAL REVIVAL IN THE UK: TRADE UNIONS AND LEADING INDUSTRY FIGURES JOIN GREEN MEP FOR CONFERENCE


LONDON'S Green MEP Jean Lambert is to host a public conference on the role
of the environmental sector in job creation and UK economic revival next
week.


The 'green' sector is already worth £25.4bn a year – and employs more than
163,000 people in London alone, according to a recent report from the
London Assembly. (1)


“*Ensuring the UK's speedy economic revival and responding to the climate
crisis present a double challenge – but the solutions are linked,”* said Ms
Lambert.


“*We need to create good, skilled, well-paid jobs – but a truly
sustainable economic recovery must tackle climate change.*


“*The answer must lie in investing in key industries and the new skills –
required to make the UK a world leader in the renewable energy and 'green'
construction industries.*


“*How this investment is funded – directly by Government or via a
so-called 'Green Investment Bank' - is a debate we need to have, but it's
clear that this Government is failing to promote the discussion – or,
sufficiently, green jobs and environmental industries.*


“*That's why I'm hosting a day conference with trade unions, European
policymakers and leading industry figures to discuss how we can work
together to meet the economic and environmental challenges we face here in
the UK and help deliver the EU commitment to a low-carbon future.”*


Other speakers at the event include TUC General Secretary *Frances O'Grady*,
EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion *Laszlo
Andor*and Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group *Andrew
Raingold*.


The event, which will take place at the TUC Congress Centre in London next
Friday, November 29, is free – but places are limited, so it's necessary to
register in advance at www.greeneconfuture.eventbrite.com


Ms Lambert, a member of the European Parliament's Employment and Social
Affairs Committee, added: *“We have the potential here in the UK to create
thousands of new jobs and lead the way in tackling the great environmental
crises the world faces in the 21st Century. I hope we can rise to the
challenge, and that this conference can play a role in that.”*



*ENDS*




*Notes to Editors*


*1. *ht
tp://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/London%20Low%20Carbon%20Market%20Snapshot%20-%202013%20Update_1.pdf<http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/London%20Low%20Carbon%20Market%20Snapshot%20-%202013%20Update_1.pdf>
>
http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/London%20Low%20Carbon%20Market%20Snapshot%20-%202013%20Update_1.pdf




*For details of the event, and to sign up, see:**
www.greeneconfuture.eventbrite.com
<http://www.greeneconfuture.eventbrite.com/>*


*Journalists and photographers are welcome at the discussion: please
contact Ben by email or on any number below to arrange.*


*Jean Lambert* is one of eight MEPs representing London and one of two UK
Green representatives in the European Parliament. *Jean was first elected
Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999
European elections and was* re-elected in 2004 and 2009.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


KILBURN UNEMPLOYED WORKERS GROUP

DRAFT MEETING AGENDA,
THURSDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2013

  1. Gather as soon after 3pm as possible — NO LATER THAN 3:15PM — and appoint/select facilitator/chairperson and minute-taker
  2. Present
  3. Apologies: Brian, Lexie, Marie, Nygell
  4. Cases and Members' Wellbeing (Pt 1)
  5. Break
  6. Draft Minutes of group meetings held 7 November 2013 an 14 November and any matters arising not addressed below.
    • "History is made by those who control the minutes"?
  7. Reports and discussion of recent actions and current and emerging campaigns:
    1. Report from Thursday 14 Novemver screening and discussion of short film 'Dear Mandela' about shanty dwellers in South Africa
    2. Report from Kilburn Jobceentre leafleting Monday 18 November
    3. Report from Tuesday 19 November Willesden Bus Garage 'Defend Willesden Unite Rep Robert Chung' demo called by Brent Fightback
    4. Mark's anti-eviction progress
    5. Light relief and fundraising or more hard work? Preparing for Christmas / Winter Fest party and carol parodies — eg, "Oh, IDS, oh, IDS/ We're fed up with your lying" (Melody: 'Oh, Christmas Tree')
    6. Next KUWG jobcentre leafleting, logo, leaflet and placard design matters and prospect of KUWG flags
    7. How we use our stewardship of increased KUWG finance. Alan proposes that KUWG
      1. Considers a budget for running costs including
        1. stationery [printouts of minutes],
        2. campaigning materials,
        3. room hires for workshops
        4. travel costs,
        5. training
      2. Starts an investment a/c with Nationwide Building Society that will earn us more generous and more ethical interest than available through the current Barclays current a/c or anything hedge-fund owned Co-operative Bank could offer us. Co-operative Bank customers include human rights abusing and corporation tax-dodging G4S!
      Alan recognises that setting budgets may require consideration beyond this one group meeting!
    8. Forward planning to Boycott Workfare Week, Monday 2 December to Sunday 8 December
      • Possibilitiy of liaising with allied organisations toward a Boycott Workfare Week demo at Hammersmith Jobcentre, where Universal Credit is now being piloted.
    9. Other events and campaigns
  8. Finance issues
  9. AOB, incl Cases (Pt 2) if necessary, and prompt exit by 5:30pm, with tables and chairs put back in storage space.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Update on Robert Chung's situation

I am very sorry for the short notice but Robert Chung the Unite rep at Willesden garage is facing his adjourned hearing tomorrow, Tuesday 19th.
 
Following our very lively demo of supporters outside the garage two Fridays ago he asks if we can have another gathering to support him.
 
We will leaflet the Garage at the Pound Lane side, as before from 9.00am tomorrow and I hope that you can come.
 
Solidarity
Roger Cox < Secretary
Pete Firmin, chair
 
Brent Trades Union Council
 
See also

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Today's KUWG draft agenda has been updated.
Another KUWG member in print!

If we fight council evictions together we can beat them

Members of KUWG get a bit of reverential 'glasstic surgery' for staving off an eviction threat

Unemployed and tenant activists in Brent, north west London, stopped two evictions of vulnerable people from their homes last week by fighting back. I’m part of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group. One of our members was going to be evicted from his small bedsit. 

He suffers from mental health problems and lives on benefits. We helped him challenge the eviction notice in court. They asked for proof of his benefits which we sent to them. But the bailiff went ahead with the eviction anyway.

The injustice of that convinced a group of us go and physically block the eviction—and we stopped it. When they came to change the locks we refused to let them anywhere near the door. The bailiff argued that we could always appeal the decision after they changed the locks—but where was the guy supposed to go in the meantime?

In another case, a woman who is six months pregnant and a foster carer for two children, lives in a shared room in a B&B with bunk-beds. The council threatened her with eviction for refusing offers of accommodation in other London boroughs some distance from ours, or out of London completely.

There seemed to be no thought for the children as they would have been taken out their school and far from their friends. There was also an issue with domestic violence and moving to one particular place just wasn’t suitable at all.

The woman barricaded her family into their room while a group of us were outside in support from various local activist groups like ours. We shamed the council into committing to find her somewhere to live in the borough. It’s important to have networks around us that help us fight back and not feel like we’re isolated. 

And it’s important to resist. We might not always win—but we have to fight.

Clarence Jackman
North West London

Swheatie's Post Script to this: What cowardly landlords get up to when the spotlight of comradely intervention is away is another matter. The price of liberty is constant vigilance or, as a Quaker has noted, peace is more a process than an eventual destination
From CarerWatch blog. Includes tweeting stuff. Note that the deadline for the WOW Petition is little under a month away, and it is currently only 4/5 of the way to achieving the required 100,000 signatures. It would be great if champions of social justice could get anything like the media time that minority party UKIP gets!

Countdown to end of WOW petition – Have YOU signed


wow4

Daily we read stories informing us of the impact of welfare benefit changes, on many disabled people, carers and families. Campaigners have worked tirelessly to raise these issues with politicians and media.
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43154
CLICK HERE TO SIGN
There is one month till  WOW petition ends ( sign here ),  time to give this another push. With YOUR help they can achieve the required number of 100,000.
Tomorrow, Thursday 14/11/2013 there is to be mass tweetathons at -
9 – 10 am
12 – 1 pm   and
7 – 8 pm
All details, including which hash tags to use can be found on WOW blog here
About these ads .

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Updated Thursday 14 November @ 10:09am


KILBURN UNEMPLOYED WORKERS GROUP

DRAFT MEETING AGENDA,
THURSDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2013

  1. Gather as soon after 3pm as possible and appoint/select facilitator/chairperson and minute-taker
  2. Present
  3. Apologies: Brian, Carolyn, Clarence, Kirsty, Lexie, Mandy, Marie, Mark, Mira, Nygell, Pam
  4. Cases and Members' Wellbeing (Pt 1)
  5. Break
  6. Draft Minutes of group meetings held 7 November 2013 and any matters arising not addressed below.
    • "History is made by those who control the minutes"?
  7. Reports and discussion of recent actions and current and emerging campaigns:
    1. Report from Friday 8 November Willesden Bus Garage 'Defend Willesden Unite Rep Robert Chung' demo called by Brent Fightback
    2. Justice for Herbert and All Claimants Campaign update
    3. Mark's anti-eviction progress
    4. Elizabeth's landlord situation
    5. KUWG workshops progress
    6. How we use our stewardship of increased KUWG finance. Alan proposes that KUWG
      1. Pays up front for weekly room rental at Kingsgate Community Centre up till end of December 2014 at least
      2. Makes a donation to LCAP, and maybe even a standing order to TUC National Appeal for the Unemployed, and/or set aside a special a/c to help fund our outreach to emerging unemployed workers/claimants union groups outside London
      3. Considers a budget for running costs including
        1. stationery [printouts of minutes],
        2. campaigning materials,
        3. room hires for workshops
        4. travel costs,
        5. training
      4. Starts an investment a/c with Nationwide Building Society, Triodos Bank or Metro Bank that will earn us more generous and more ethical interest than available through the current Barclays current a/c or anything hedge-fund owned Co-operative Bank could offer us. Co-operative Bank customers include human rights abusing and corporation tax-dodging G4S!
      Alan recognises that setting budgets may require consideration beyond this one group meeting!
    7. Next KUWG jobcentre leafleting, logo and leaflet design matters and flags
    8. Forward planning to Boycott Workfare Week, Monday 2 December to Sunday 8 December
      • Possibilitiy of liaising with allied organisations toward a Boycott Workfare Week demo at Hammersmith Jobcentre, where Universal Credit is now being piloted.
    9. Other events and campaigns
  8. Finance issues
  9. AOB, incl Cases (Pt 2) if necessary, and prompt exit by 5:30pm, with tables and chairs put back in storage space.

 A new privatisatition threat


Message from retired but still active social policy researcher Anne Gray of Tottenham, who has written extensively about workfare since even before this blog was created.

Reading the below, we might wonder when the Government or any political party will offer us a Referendum on the matter of contracts that are "'protected' against being rescinded by a future government" or even the decades long jobcentre-based practice that states that contracts involving the particiipation of economically vulnerable people are "too confidential" for even the conscripted economically vulnerable person to have access to! (Through that practice, the jobcentre has consistently denied Swheatie 'unsupervised access' to copies of Action Plans and reports pertaining to him for as far back as 1978.)

'Commercial confidentiality' also rules that the amount Atos Healthcare gets in bonuses for declaring vulnerable and even terminally ill people 'fit for work' or 'fit for work related activity' are too confidential for the public to have access to.

You may have seen George Monbiot's article in the Guardian about the US/EU free trade deal (official name Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) - if not read
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/04/us-trade-deal-full-frontal-assault-on-democracy?INTCMP=SRCH


The NHS is especially at risk from the proposed new opening up of service industry tenders to American companies on the same terms as EU ones. Furthermore, the agreement is likely to propose that any contracts are 'protected' against being rescinded by a future government!

More background at http://www.savelondonnhs.org.uk/index.php/no-to-the-eu-us-trade-agreement
and
http://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/david-owen/lord-owen-condemns-%E2%80%9Cconspiracy-of-silence%E2%80%9D-on-eu-us-trade-deal


There was a petition about this at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/47102 but it closed in September with less than 12000 signatures. You can still sign a less hard-hitting one at http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-british-government-joining-the-transatlantic-trade-and-investment-partnership which only has a few hundred signatures and needs many more. You can comment there, as I did, that the NHS is a big issue.


We need to campaign actively about this- it's as important as the EU Services Directive. Please alert your union, write to MPs etc.

Anne Gray

Colonising growing minds


Education Secretary and Rupert Murdoch disciple Michael Gove would have us believe that if people are poor, then that is their fault. Sounds very much like Iain Duncan Smith, Lord Freud, David Cameron, George Osborne, et al.

What are the consequences for society and the caring professions in Michael Gove's approach?

Gove slams social work education

Education secretary claims social work training is currently dominated by dogma and theories of society.









Isa Muazu Hunger Strike


Sorry for the late notice but our friends in Unity, Glasgow asked us to distribute an appeal for people to come to Isa Muazu's court hearing tomorrow at:
 
10.30 am at the Administrative Court, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London.
 
Unity’s message says:
“This is the third hearing regarding Isa's hunger strike. The judge has said that Isa is using the hunger strike to manipulate his release despite evidence that without hospitalisation at this point Isa's condition is likely fatal. Medical Justice are heavily involved and managed to find Isa legal representation.
 
Isa's hunger strike began because he could not eat any of the food available in the detention centre (Harmondsworth) because of two conditions he suffers from Haemorrhoids and a kidney condition, He went to a screening interview voluntarily after a number of refused leave to remain applications as the situation with Boko Haram worsened and he has been targetted by this group in Nigeria.
 
Isa took food with him including liver, kidney beans and vegetables because his diet is strict and he calls it his medicine for his kidney problems. He was not permitted to take this food into detention and he was also told at the start of the interview he would not be detained when he told them about his health.
 
During detention he was taken to hospital for surgery for the haemorrhoids but the doctor could not perform the surgery because he was too ill, weak and had lost a lot of weight. This was because he was only eating cornflakes.
 
Harmondsworth were informed by Unity on numerous occasions of his dietary needs and we said we would send the food he requested but they said 'we do not have children in here' on the phone and did not respond to faxes.
 
Isa decided to stop eating cornflakes because of the complete lack of recognition for his health. He started collapsing and was taken to the health care wing permanently.
 
Once Medical Justice found him a lawyer, staff at Harmondsworth advised him that he could now resume eating and take fluids because he had a hearing coming up and everything was going to be ok after that so he was taken to hospital and was put on a drip and ate half a sandwhich and I think some yogurt. When the hearing commenced this was used against him as it was stated he was accepting treatment offered by the detention centre and he was no longer at risk.
 
Because of this Isa feels he was tricked and refuses to accept any healthcare or food, hence, his critical condition. Besides the food taken at the hospital he has been on hunger strike for two months now and is very weak. 
 
Isa wants as many people to attend his hearing as possible as he does not want his treatment and the treatment of others to go unnoticed.
 
Thanks so much and talk more soon.”
 
Unity
From the Morning Star:


Wednesday 13 2013
posted by Roger Bagley in Britain
Bedroom tax victims swoop on Parliament against evictions

Seething anger at evictions and suicides caused by the Tories' "class-war" bedroom tax provoked stormy scenes in Parliament yesterday.

Labour MPs launched a blistering attack in the Commons, but they themselves faced anger from lobbyists protesting that Labour had failed to fight evictions and attacks on benefits.

Cries of "action not words" greeted Labour shadow ministers when they addressed protesters who had swooped on Parliament from across Britain.

More at http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-7614-bedroom-tax-provokes-stormy-scenes-in-Parliament#.UoM1DeIquF8

Monday, 11 November 2013

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group members oppose evictions


Members of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group recently helped at least defer an eviction and give invaluable breathing space to one of our members who was faced with the threat of eviction. But as is the case with bullying landlords, the landlord involved is continuing to add to the mental health problems of the tenant involved and so anti-eviction work is a process that needs to continue in the case involved from last Wednesday.

And as activists should be venerated rather than witch-hunted, here is a stained glass effect touch up by Swheatie of a photo that was taken on Wednesday 6 November — a touch-up that led one kuwga [Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group activist] to exclaim:
"Oh that's nice Swheatie. Kuwg have glasstic surgery"
Kuwgas against eviction!


Universal Credit: Notes — with Web links — from our most recent guest speaker at a Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group business meeting.*

Universal Credit Information Notes

Introduction

 Proposals  for  the Universal Credit scheme  (UC) first emerged in September  2009  from the Centre  for Social Justice; Iain Duncan Smith,  the current Secretary  of State for Work and Pensions who is tasked with setting up the project in the current government was  the  then chairman  of the Centre.

The supposed purpose of UC is to simplify and consolidate  the existing benefits  system,  and so reduce welfare  dependency  by making work more appealing  to claimants,  encouraging financial rectitude and  reducing  the current welfare budget.  It will also make wage savings in the public sector  as it is intended  to be part of the "Digital by Default" programme.  The October 2013 edition of "Labour Research"  states that the government is claiming  that while UC will cost  £2.2 billion  in in development  and delivery costs,  it will save an estimated £38 billion by reducing administrative,  fraud and error costs by 2023. This figure  includes  an estimated  annual saving of £100 million  by  transferring claimants onto the new system.

Last July DWP whistleblowers began  to tweet claims  that "at least £300  million had been
written off  from  the UC budget  due  to continued IT failures; when this  information  reached the national media the government initially stated  that  £34 million would be written  off, but as of the 11th of September The Guardian was quoting  the DWP's finance director as stating that "up to £161 million would be written off, with  the governmenfs  oversight body,  the Major Projects Authority claiming "at leasf  £140 million was  lost."

Despite  this, and the resulting delays  in rolling out  the project  - which was  initially due  to
begin nationally  this October - the project  is set  to continue. As  the  flagship policy of the
Welfare Reform Act it is considered  too big to fail. On 8th October 2013 Esther McVey  said
an estimated 1 million households will be claiming UC by  the  time it is fully implemented  in
2017. This will include  anyone who claims  any of the six benefits that will be rationalised
under the system,  including  those in low-paid or part-time  employment who  top-up  their
earnings with benefits:  by 2017 this group will also be subject to the requirements  of the
DWP  claimant regime,  including  the possibility  of sanctions  - the removal  of -benefits  - for a period of up to three years.

The comptexities  of introducing the UC system  are mirrored  by the difficulties  in producing coherent and specific  criticisms of the policy. As difficulties with the proposed  system emerge  they are adjusted  by "on  the fly" decisions:  for example, when  the "pathflnder" tests for UC had been introduced  in Ashton-under-Lyne  it was noted  that there was a massive increase  in rent arrears, so now there  is a two month  "switchback"  for the Housing Benefit element of the policy whereby that poftion  of the UC payment can be paid directly'to  the landlord. Similarly  there are aspects of UC that have  received  little media  focus,  such as  the role of UC in providing an  individual "electronic  ID card" as part of the Digital by Default proposals.

For  this reason the factsheet cannot cover all the ramifications  of the policy, or the
mechanisms by which it will mesh with other parts of the austerity-induced [or austerity-excused] welfare reforms. While some of this will be covered in today's session, the factsheet  is timited  to a series of notable  items, with accompanying  web  links where possible,  and some handy websites  to watch  as the policy progresses into the public  realm. These  are:



Benefits and Payments: The six "working-age"  benefits  to be consolidated  into a single
UC payment are:
  1. Jobseekers' Allowance;  
  2. Employment  and Support Allowance;  
  3. Income Support; 
  4. Child Tax Credit; 
  5. Working Tax Credit and 
  6. Housing Benefit.  
The Benefits Cap maximums  of £350 per week  for a single person  and  £500 per week  for a family will still apply. They will now however be paid  into a nominated  "householder' bank  account as a single monthly payment.  You will be expected  to apply  for and manage  your UC account online. There are a few case studies of current UC claimants,  together with  some  financial advice on how to cope with the introduction  of UC at this government  funded  site:

The existing Pathfinder regions, and a description of the online claimant journey:
(Page not found)


Critical Government reports on UC:
and

UC and IT issues:

UC and electronic ID:

Websites following the progress of UC:

http://www.benefitstraining.co.uk – run by a trainer for Shelter and other voluntary organisations

http://www.insidehousing.co.uk – frequently runs critical updates on UC (view comments!)

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/ - hugely informative, influential and highly critical blog

Other aspects of the welfare reforms are discussed at:


http://www.haringey.org.uk/content/ - Haringey Solidarity Group


http://antibedroomtax.org.uk/

* Copy here is scanned, proofread and link tested by Swheatie from printed handout. 
TO MPS AND PEERS

FROM; TAXPAYERS AGAINST POVERTY

Rev Paul Nicolson - lead organiser
0208 3765455
0796 1177889

To MPs and Peers

THE CUMULATIVE IMPACT OF ALL CAPS, CUTS AND COUNCIL TAX UNFAIR AND UNECONOMIC. 

Mental and physical illness inevitably follow debt, eviction, hunger and cold homes; they costs taxpayer billions in the NHS, the schools and the wider economy.

INTRODUCTION

It is the cumulative impact of caps, cuts and council tax on benefit incomes, already below the poverty line, which is causing debt, eviction, debt, hunger and cold homes. Large families are very badly hit by the overall benefit cap when all annual increases are frozen at 1%, the council tax has to be paid sometimes with court and bailiffs' enforcement costs of well over £200 added to arrears, while the costs of food, fuel, clothes transport and other necessities escalate. This leads to eviction overcrowded temporary accommodation, and uprooting from extended families.

The caps, cuts and council tax made me very angry when I met a single mother with seven children who is now expected to pay £282 rent out of her £500 benefit cap leaving £218 to cover council tax and everything else. According to research at the University of York for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation/Centre for Research in Social Policy food alone should cost that family £211 a week to maintain a healthy diet.

No one told that mother, say 14 years ago, that if she had a large family she and her children would be made destitute by the State in 2013. Hitting them hard now is deeply unfair. Each child is a precious bundle of life whose income from the State should provide food, warmth, clothes other necessities and a decent affordable home with their mother when all else fails, so providing a secure base for the children's education and for the parents to look for work; that's what Taxpayers Against Poverty stands for.

CASE HISTORIES POSTED ON TAXPAYERS AGAINST POVERTY FACEBOOK BLOG. 

CUMULATIVE IMPACT OF BEDROOM TAX, COUNCIL TAX AND 1% FREEZE ON INCREASES OF ALL BENEFITS IS PARTICULARLY DISASTROUS FOR NEWLY UNEMPLOYED WITH MANY YEARS EMPLOYMENT AND TAXPAYING BEHIND THEM.

A HARD WORKING 60 YEAR OLD TAXPAYER UNEMPLOYED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 43 YEARS. 


CASE A.

. "am 60 now lost my job due to ill health, first time on benefits(so ******** horrible, treated like a scrounger) and I've paid into the system for 43 years and I get treated as a sponger..being.  single and having an extra bedroom I have benefit reductions on my £71.70p leaving me with about £57 to pay all my bills, gas, electric, water, food. I have now not paid my extra rent and council tax for 1 week now. Thank you Tories and liberals for demoralising me......my next move is the streets to beg?...and then maybe prison for stealing food to live (and this is great Britain. I think not)

CASE B

I lived on £27.40 after coming out of prison as a teenager for a driving offence with no fixed abode and no one to turn to, I squatted on the Stonebridge estate in properties not fit for habitation and still lived better than some people who have to live on benefits because of mental or physical disabilities today. The government are screwing the people of this country into the ground and were letting them; Time to take a stand is now how many more people have to die this winter because they can’t afford heat ...

CASE C

@TAP my revised benefit for two adults is £7.50 per week until trumped-up sanctions from the Work Program are ratified when it will be reduced by £7.50 per week. My crime was printing off a copy of a truly foul piece of abuse about myself and other victims, there was no rudeness, bad language or agitated behaviour on my side but such is the way of the state's bullies. I've redacted this for decency’s sake. This was posted in my presence and forwarded to me by anonymous

CASE D

I am going through this I am a single disabled person who last year failed the Atos capability assessment my appeal will not be heard till this December just over a year since my assessment out of my £71 a week I have to pay room tax council tax + liability order hospital travel + some medication and travel to see government work focused group this leaves very little for food or heating I cannot see a change and very much doubt I will win my case as Atos seems beyond reproach my doctor was also instructed not to issue myself with any unfit to work certificates by DHSS thankfully he has ignored it is infuriating that my well established GP's judgement can be in question yet Atos send a nurse for my assessment and her judgement cannot be questioned



Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road, 
Tottenham, 
London N17 0BF
0208 3765455
07961 177889
also at www.z2k.org 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Benefits Adviser: sanctions

Swheatie thanks Tracey Dunn for this referral that is likely to become more useful as time unfolds and the current scandal of Department for Work and Pensions overspend on the Universal Credit IT system overspend gives way to more smear stories about benefit fraud. 'Bentefit fraud' smear stories make jobcentre staff on short-term contracts more insensitive to the benefit war crimes they are ordered to commit and the general public more inclined to leave the Government to it.

The referred article advises what benefit claimants can and should do to protect themselves against being taken on a ride to destitution, and also emphasises that Universal Credit implementation with its 'Claimant Commitment' may eventually apply to ESA claimants and people ripped off by penny-pinching, state-subsidised employers and their shareholders. (Housing Benefit subsidises greedy shareholders and offshore landlords alike, and Universal Credit legislation is designed to criminalise those who suffer under rip-off merchants rather than the real rip-off merchants themselves.) It emphasises that you should appeal against sanctions, but also be aware what you are committing yourself to in a 'Claimant Commitment' or a 'Jobseekers Agreement'.

Swheatie adds that along the lines of 'prevention is better than cure', perhaps one of the worst things a claimant can do to start with is follow the jobcentre worker's instructions: "Just fill in your name, etc on this blank form and sign it and I'll fill in the details later." Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group says in response to this sort of entrapment ploy: "Never sign what you ain't read yet!"

'Benefits Adviser' blogger Carol Laidlaw on sanctions.


Some new KUWG placard design responses to 'Universal Jobmatch' and 'Claimant Commitment' rubbish


Punitive jobmatch is state terrorism

Punitive jobmatch will make a fag out of you

Universal Jobmatch? For jobs on Pluto?

'Claimant Commitment' will make a fag out of you
Punitive jobmatch is not the same as working