Saturday, 29 March 2014


Sir David Higgins, Newham's 'Olympic Legacy' and what is likely to come of Euston as HS2 hits town

My starting point was this opening paragraph in a Camden New Journal article:

A FORMER Town Hall leader has sent an explosive open letter to High Speed 2 chief executive Sir David Higgins railing against his claims that demolishing homes around Euston and handing land to “big player” developers would actually help “deprived” communities.

Link to original source article. A very important part of that article, it seems to me, is where it says that the former Town Hall leader in question was muzzle in his speaking out against HS2 by the fact that he could be accused of representing the interests of himself and his family too much. (Compare that with the fact that Kilburn & Hampstead MP Glenda Jackson — who infamously supports HS2 — does not live in Hampstead or Kilburn and is likely to be off enjoying her pension when the proposed **** hits the proverbial fan.)

Now, link to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia entry on Sir David Higgins that emphasise for me how important research can be before launching in to a response to the major issues that that quoted paragraph bring up. Put someone largely responsible for what has happened to 'property development' and social housing in Newham in charge of a large part of the future for wherever HS2 will plough through is a portent for disaster. Whereas the Hungarian Parliament has attempted to make it a crime to be homeless or to support homeless people, Newham launches a crack down on rough sleepers. See Housing section of Kate Belgrave's blog.

Now, who needs 'conspiracy theories' when you can have biographies? And, talking of biographies, I suppose I'd better be at the coming planning meeting of Inequality Bus Tour this coming Monday when I was hoping to take things a little easier and get time for my very rudimentary singing and guitar practice.

Swheatie

Anti-Atos Day 2, Tuesday 1st April 2014

12 noon-1pm KUWG PROTEST LISSON GROVE, MARYLEBONE

Tresco House, 65 Lisson Grove, Marylebone, NW1 6UH
 (Note not located in the same building as Marylebone Jobcentre, also in Lisson Grove)

No jobs to go for, no employer to sue Atos/DWP for mis-selling you

The fact of someone as your witness and support is priceless

Never attend anywhere official alone, in fact

Would YOU trust Atos with your medical records? The Government does!

While your Atos 'disability analyst' ignores you and the Hipocratic Oath, its CCTV has its lens on you


The group decided to just leaflet outside Lisson Grove Atos 12-1pm Tues 1/4/14 as
part of 2nd anti-atos day this year.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Kate Belgrave: Talking with people dealing with public sector cuts AND highlighting the importance of integrity in public life

By Swheatie of the KUWG


These days as KUWG's friend Kate Belgrave highlights in her interviews taken outside jobcentres, jobcentres are more geared to torturing vulnerable people economically in the name of 'promoting personal responsibility' than they are into 'the help you need when you need it'. Link to Kate's latest blog piece on her fieldwork outside Kilburn Jobcentre. Such blog pieces so far rely exclusively on transcripts of interviews rather than video-footage.

Kate also does a lot of blogging about the plight of homeless single mums in LB Newham that do incorporate video camera work. Newham's policy is not to help economically vulnerable people find waged work — no way! Rather than Newham's policy being anything like 'nice work if you can get it', Newham's policy equates to 'hope of housing if you can get the work, and sod off if you can't'. Kate's latest blog piece juxtaposes video-footage of Newham Mayor Robin Wales facing the Focus E15 Mums of Stratford and Kate Belgrave herself, with video-footage of mould growing in rented, Housing Benefit-subsidised accommodation that is not desirable for growing human minds. Link to blog piece: Children in mouldy, decaying houses, councillors at property investor fairs in Cannes …

That blog piece incorporates links to information about a property-developers' fair in Cannes that was attended by Newham Mayor Robin Wales. Wales is quoted as telling the Guardian regarding the expense of Newham being represented in Cannes: 
“It's all paid for by our development partners.” 

This is all at a time when there is a controversial matter called the 'Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership' being discussed in the European Parliament that is alternatively known as TAFTA [TransAtlantic Free Trade Agreement] in the USA. That potential dodgydeal would allow global corporations such as those intending to profit from wining and dining elected representatives of UK democracies, to sue UK democracies should, say, the electorate vote in a party that does not go in for dodgy deals that would result in a sell-off to global billionaires and tax-dodging corporations. The potential beneficiaries of TTIP already act as latter day colonial rulers, never bothering to look at the mould and mice droppings that people in their 'colonies' have to face on a daily basis.

In closing, I note that the property-developers' fair in Cannes that Robin Wales attended is now an annual event that is organised by Reed MIDEM — A member of Reed Exhibitions'

Ironically, or perhaps not so ironically, Reed also owns the social work 'trade magazine' Community Care. Former Community Care blogger Mike McNabb's 'Outside Left: Weighing into the social policy debate' blog series contains a very revealing blog piece that pre-dates benefit caps and all the woes to poor families emanating from the Welfare Reform Act 2012. Link tot blog piece: Asylum seekers' £2m home: but who's playing the system? Since that blog piece was written, Mike McNabb lost his blogging station at Community Care. Link to his 'Outside Left' swansong piece, The last post: Thank you and goodbye from Outside Left. Now that Mike McNabb can no longer embarrass customers of a Reed-promoted property-developers' fair while drawing a Reed calary cheque, it's great that Kate Belgrave can help highlight the importance of integrity in public affairs.

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group's over-riding motto is 'Never attend anywhere official alone'. With the aid of Kate Belgrave's video-capture and interview transcripts, more and more people can serve as witnesses to the hardships and official indifference faced by the Focus E15 single mums of Newham even while the integrity of Community Care magazine as social work's 'trade magazine' is brought into question by association of parent company with arms fairs and property-development exhibitions.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Lesson from Jobcentremole: claim the money you're entitled to

 
Fri, 21/03/2014 - 14:04 -- nick
 
The Jobcentremole, a whistleblower who tweets the truth from within the system, has given another interview to Slutocrat, and it makes very interesting reading for unemployed people.
Despite the government's continuing denial, we know that targets are in place for benefit sanctions - the public accounts committee of MPs admitted this only last week - and Jobcentremole confirms this.

The most valuable information mole gives is more practical though.
There are three sources of funding for unemployed claimants that jobcentres have stopped publicising, including:
1) travel funding - if you are asked to come to a jobcentre on any day apart from your regular signing day you can get travel expenses;
2) Advisor Discretion Fund (ADF) - this is in place to help remove a particular barrier to work. If you can make the case that something is keeping you out of work you could get money to pay for a way of getting around it;
3) Flexible Support Fund (FSF) - this money can be used to fund training, travel costs or anything else which helps you get into work. As with ADF, if you can make the case that the money would help you get a job, it could be yours.

The most important thing is to know the money exists and when you could be able to claim it. Your advisor can't refuse to give you the information if you ask them, so make sure you do and make sure you have the information you need.

New jobseekers are not always being given this information, so share it widely in your networks so everyone can claim what they are entitled to.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Rev Paul Nicolson, Council Tax protest - update


Guest blog piece by Council Tax protester Paul himself
 
The regressive council tax and its draconian enforcement is profoundly unfair on the benefit claimants, in work and unemployment, I have been working with for the past 25 years. 
On the 4th March I filed my application to the High Court for judicial review of the Tottenham Magistrates refusal to explain how they arrive at £125 court costs each for 23,000 liability orders in the Borough of Haringey and of ,  Haringey council's enforcement of court costs on which they are making a profit.  

I also asked the Magistrates to explain to the High Court why they do not issue stamped and sealed orders to debtors, for the liabilty orders, like all other courts do when they make a decision. 

I asked the council what authority they have to enforce council tax against me without a stamped and sealed order from the court - silence from the council.  

Haringey will now ask the court to take their name off my application but I have opposed that by telling the High Court. 

"I write to clarify my application.  There are two decisions under challenge - the Council's decision to seek costs on a basis which included overheads not properly regarded as 'actual costs',  so is making a profit, and the magistrates' decision to award them. The Council is challenged in relation to the former". 

Mary Ward Legal Centre has supported my application to the Bar Pro-Bono Unit for formal representation. I delivered it yesterday. 

I am asking the High Court to order the Tottenham Magistrates and the Haringey Magistrates to explain themselves.  

Magistrates give the council huge powers, including sending in the bailiffs with fees in the £100s, to enforce the court costs on top of the council tax arrears and on top the rent arrears resulting from central government's caps on housing benefit. Often against the adult JSA of £71.70 a week which will increase by 70 pence a week on the 6th April. 

Since April 2013 Haringey Council has been enforcing 20% of the council tax against benefit claimants; the first time benefits have been taxed since the poll tax was abolished in 1991. 

That is profoundly unfair on benefit claimants, in work and unemployment, I have been working with for the past 25 years. 

By refusing to pay my council tax I have put myself on the receiving end of the council tax enforcement procedures. I hope to put a spotlight on this penal civil process which catapults decent people into food banks and some times into prison. 

Please note;  

Lord Lucas (Chair of the Enforcement Law Reform Group comprising representatives from Creditors, Local Authorities, Advice Sector and the Bailiff Compaines on which I served up to April 2013) said 
  (
shortly after Hansard  24 July 2012 : shortly after Column GC277
  

"About 3 million liability orders are issued in respect of council tax each year. Councils charge an average of about £100 a time for this, which is £300 million a year that councils are charging for liability orders. This charge is supposed to be based on the cost to councils of getting the liability orders and the magistrates’ court orders together. It is totally out of proportion to that cost. It is high time that the Government did a little audit to check out what one or two councils are charging and to see whether those costs are real". 

Baroness Hanham (Hansard 24 July 2012 : just before Column GC284) Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government stated, in answer to a point raised by Lord Lucas, 

"Under the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, bailiffs can be used to recover unpaid council tax—that is, levy distress—only where a magistrates’ court has made a liability order. That was the point made by my noble friend Lord Lucas. The local authority is allowed to apply for only reasonable costs, and those are capped at £70. There will be further costs only after distress from the bailiffs is levied."
Obviously there is a substantial difference between the Ministers reasonable court costs capped at £70 and Haringey's £125. The £70 cap only applies to Wales but it remains relevant because the procedures in England are the same.

Rev Paul Nicolson
02083765455
07961177889

--

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

Please sign our petition celbrating Martin Luther King
Parliament is asked to debate the speech made by Martin Luther King 50 Years ago in Washington USA on the 28 August 1963 and to note that it can be applied to circumstances in Britain in August 2013. He said “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Official analysis overstates impact of 9% incomes drop on top 10% & understates dire 5% drop for bottom 10%

By Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty
IMPACT OF THE DROP INCOMES IS OVERSTATED AT THE TOP AND UNDERSTATED AT THE BOTTOM
Larry Elliott’s business analysis (Living standards, 18 March) follows the conventional wisdom of all macro-economic commentators by focusing on incomes before housing costs have been deducted.
That way the impact of the drop in incomes is overstated at the top and understated at the bottom.
There is no shock horror in learning that the top 10% of the income distribution has fared worst of all with a decline of 9% between 2010 and 2013. Their property has leapt in value and their income after housing costs is still in the millions – not exactly a clobbering.
For the bottom 10% a drop of 5% before housing cost turns into a disaster for millions of tenants after housing costs have been deducted.
The disconnect between the poverty debate and reality in the UK will continue until the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and other independent analysts, provide robust micro-economic data about the dire cumulative impact of benefit caps and cuts, and the imposition of council tax and its enforcement, on the incomes after housing costs, needed for food, utilities, clothes and transport, in work and unemployment, since the April 2013 implementation of so-called welfare reform.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty

Some Thoughts on Context and Content for Budget Day

How a tale of a scientist and the performing flea connects to the backdrop of today's Con-Dem Budget*


By Swheatie of the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group


On Budget Day, it's crucial to think in terms of 'first principles', what is the problem or what are the problems and therefore what are the solutions, says Swheatie of the KUWG

There is a story of a scientist and a flea, as told in Lyall Watson's book 'Supernature'. The scientist starts with an intact flea and tells it to jump and the flea jumps over the obstacle and the flea succeeds.

Then the scientist amputates one pair of the flea's legs and tells it to jump, and it still clears the obstacle.

Even after the scientist has amputated a second pair of the flea's legs, it still manages to clear the obstacle when told to 'jump', but removing the final pair of the fleas legs leads the flea to immobility and the scientist to conclude that removing all pairs of the flea's legs makes the flea go deaf.

That conclusion is somewhat similar to Tony Blair's investment banker turned 'welfare reform guru' David Freud — now Con-Dem Welfare Reform Minister and life-peer Lord Freud — reckoning that the way to solve the unemployment crisis is to 'incentivise' private companies with huge bonuses for getting disabled people off benefits and into waged employment, and then sanctioning benefit claimants who cannot 'make the grade' when physical, social and economic structures work against them. Also, of course, imbalance of bargaining power between employers and workers, coupled with shareholders' greed and alienation from workers leads to workers' burnout.

Parents' vital role in helping build society from the bottom up

And class and income hide the truths that disabled people have a real full-time job on their hands surviving against a backdrop of disabling structures, while every parent has a vital role in helping to build society from the bottom up. Using Department for Work & Pensions' own figures, single-parent families charity Ginerbread reports:
Where single parents are not working, this is often because there are health issues that make work difficult: 33 per cent of unemployed single parents have a disability or longstanding illness (25) and 34 per cent have a child with a disability

The late American educational psychologist Dr Haim G Ginott who was of Jewish extraction pointed out that the true role of parenting was not to raise children to 'make [attain] the grade [as set by others]'. He asked: "What have we accomplished if we have reared a child who is brilliant — at the top of his class — but who uses his intellect to manipulate others?

"And do we really want children so well-adjusted that they adjust to an unjust situation? The Germans adjusted only too well to the orders of the Nazis to exterminate millions of their fellow men.

"Understand me: I'm not opposed to a child being polite or neat or learned. The crucial question for me is: What methods have been used to accomplish these ends? If the methods used are insults, attacks, and threats, then we can be very sure that we have also taught this child to insult, to attack, to threaten, and to comply when threatened.

"If, on the other hand, we use methods that are humane, then we've taught something much more important than a series of isolated virtues. We've shown the child how to be a person — a mensch, a human being who can conduct his life with strength and dignity."

(Extract taken from Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish's (1973, 1990) 'Liberated Parent, Liberated Child: Your Guide to a Happier Family'.)

Of course, had the scientist not assumed the right to interfere with nature in the way outlined, and not assumed that everything depended upon the flea's ability to obey the scientist's will, the flea would have managed to continue to function as it was designed to do.

Note
* This blog piece stems from a comment Swheatie placed on a Reflective log item by artist Helen Mandley: Context is everything

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Police Stations and Mental Health

 "Police stations, to vulnerable members of the public, are too often very unsafe places and the fact that those particular members of the public are sent there indicates what few choices they have in society."

Swheatie has just signed the below petition, with thanks to a close colleague for alerting him to it. The above comment is what he added to his signature on that petition and encapsulates what he has learnt through contact with other Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group activists, one of whom is Black and has mental health difficulties and was rustled and wrestled from Kilburn Jobcentre at the instigation of G4S security staff there and not being very well helped by Jobcentre reception.

    1. mark harrison
    2. Petition by
      Aylesbury, United Kingdom

Sunday, 16 March 2014

"Insufficient funds" is a bogus claim


With Budget Day approaching, Swheatie finds resonances with today's situation in a much neglected passage of Revd Dr Martin Luther King's famous 'I Have a Dream' speech.

"Insufficient funds" is a bogus claim

Outlaw zero compassion contracts at the jobcentre and everywhere else

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Haiti's descent into destitution as a portent of why 'Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership' would be bad for Human Rights in the UK


Swheatie attended an International Women's Day fundraising event for Haiti on Saturday 8 March and learned why Haiti is such a poor land. Basically, before slavery was officially ended in the USA, former French colony Haiti was a haven for escaped slaves. And colonialist France thought that was very unfair to French slave owners and thus worked out means of penalising Haiti for standing up for Human Rights and opposition to slavery.

Thus, between 1825 and 1947, France forced Haiti to pay the equivalent of  £21.7bn as 'compensation' for slave owners' loss of their human 'property, paid over 100 years, impoverishing the country.* Leaving aside the matter of subsequent US intervention by way of coups in that land in support of murderous dictators and the ousting of Liberation Theologist President Aristide who pledged to "take Haitians 'from destitution to poverty', starting with women, children and subsistence farmers,"** let's turn now to the matter of the 'Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership' — aka 'TTIP' or 'EU-US free trade agreement'.
TTIP and TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership, that parallels TTIP in America's insistence that rights of corporations transcend democratic rights of citizens] will also include Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), allowing transnational corporations to sue governments directly for the loss of any future profits resulting from any government action, at any level, such as new legislation.  Where ISDS is already included in ‘trade’ deals, it is shown to lead either to big pay-outs from governments to transnational corporations or to deter governments from legislating – the ‘chill’ effect.

Thus, if a corporation does not like, say, a guaranteed minimum wage or any other such anti-slavery measure, we have some idea of what they will do to 'remedy' the situation. What do you think about that? And with EU elections coming up this May, what do UK political parties have to say about where they stand on the matter?

Why not ask them, or search for references to TTIP on their websites. Do not trust the BBC to give you the information you want on the matter. They seem to be only concerned with the UK's biggest political parties whenever they are not giving UKIP free publicity.

Wikipedia reports regarding Haitian history: "Fearful of the influence of the slaves' revolution [in Haiti], President Thomas Jefferson refused to recognize the new republic, as did most European nations." but Jefferson did leave us with a useful quotation to bear in mind when making democratic decisions: "Democracy presupposes knowledge."

PS: If you are in a political party, what does your political party say about its stance on TTIP?

* Source: Global Women's Strike factsheet 'Haiti: 10 Years of Resistance to 29 Feb 2004 Coup and its Bitter Legacy'
** Source: ibid

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Swheatie has just spotted this on the London Green Party website:

Green Party Member on the London Assembly speaks out against sanctioning of 356 benefit claimants a day in London

21 February 2014
Green Assembly Member Jenny Jones speaks out against the "appalling and inappropriate use of sanctions" as twice as many people are sanctioned than in the Mayor's first year in office, an example of which last year the Mayor described as "shocking".

Swheatie has just done an extrapolation of this 356 benefit claimants a day to work out how many that is per year, if the figures remain steady: 129,940.

Would you remain steady if you were sanctioned for 3 months?

And what do you get when you feed into the search bar at the BBC News website the search terms: "jenny jones" sanctions

Thursday, 6 March 2014

LORD FREUD INSULTS SINGLE PARENTS – AGAIN AND AGAIN

Guest blog by Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty
Lord Freud should examine the reasons why there are single parents before he calls them a “burden on the taxpayers” in The Times article shown below. .
They are doing the hugely important and constructive job of raising children.
They cost a fraction of the damage done to the taxpayers by the near collapse of the banks in 2008.
Some single parents are widows or widowers, some lost a husband at war in the services,  others are left with the children by irresponsible men, some are the victims of rape, others set out to be married for life but financial woes inflicted by governments since the 1980s put pressures on their relationships few marriages could survive.
A fair society, unknown to the bureaucratic limitations of Lord Freud’s mind, includes single men and women doing their best  for their children. They are now doing that under the intolerable circumstances of unfairly imposed austerity.
It is the duty of taxpayers to support single men and women and their children if they cannot support themselves.

‘Family breakdowns cost us £46bn a year’

Katie Gibbons
Last updated at 12:01AM, March 5 2014
The social cost of divorce and family breakdown in Britain is“far higher and its impacts far deeper” than the multibillion-pound benefits bill, a welfare minister has warned.
Lord Freud, parliamentary under-secretary for work and pensions, said that the £9 billion cost of lone-parent benefits and collecting maintenance payments was just a small proportion of the full cost of separation. He estimated that it could be costing the country up to £46 billion a year.
The Conservative peer called for marriage to be “put back into its rightful place” and said that unmarried parents bringing up children were four times more likely to separate than their married counterparts.
Speaking in the Lords, he also said that the Government should actively attempt to reverse what he called “major structural changes” that turned society away from marriage and towards cohabitation.
Lord Freud’s £46 billion estimate, based on data gathered by the Relationships Foundation think-tank, amounts to £1,541 for every taxpayer. It includes spending on children in care and a proportion of the costs of the health, education and criminal justice systems.
“It would be easy to put a financial cost to society from family breakdown, but the social cost is far higher and its impacts far deeper,” Lord Freud said in an article for The Daily Telegraph. “On the face of it, we pay around £8.4 billion annually to lone parents in benefits and around £500 million a year running the Child Support Agency that administers more than a million child support cases.
“There are an estimated 2.5 million separated families with 4.1 million children — and one million lone parents claiming housing benefit in the current financial year. But it is a sad fact that 700,000 children living in lone parent families were in relative poverty. That is why this Government is working to fix the problem that previous governments left behind.
“I make no apology for stating that we have a clear duty to try our best to ensure that stable families are in place, so we can ensure stable futures for children.”
Challenged on what the Government is doing to promote marriage, he said the number of couples cohabiting had doubled in less than a generation to 1.2 million, and pointed to the Government’s Family Stability Review, launched in December.
“It will take an enormous amount of effort to start putting marriage back into its rightful place,” he said, “and that is exactly one of the things that we are looking to do with the Family Stability Review.”
Swheatie adds: 
Q: "What do you get when you put an investment banker who knows nothing about the benefits system in charge of 'welfare reform'?
A: "Lord Freud and all his bullshit!"
Lord Freud does not seem to realise that really supporting families costs a lot more than £46bn a year, and much of the shortfall is borne by the families themselves. But then again, Lord Freud owns a £1.9m house plus a mansion in the countryside and so when reality hits poorer people who are displaced by his policies, he can afford to be out of town.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

From the Children's Society

Dear ____,

Thank you so much for adding your voice to our petition against payday lending advertising during children's television. I work for one of The Children's Society's children's centres in Bradford, and every day we provide debt advice and counselling to families who have nowhere else to turn.
I see daily the terrible impact that debt has on young, hard-working families - distressed and desperate parents wanting the best for their children, but constantly struggling to put food on the table and clothes on their backs due to ever rising living costs. Many feel they have no choice but to take out short-term loans with crippling interest rates - this only adds to their problems.
Please consider donating now to help us reach more families before the cycle of debt becomes more than they can bear.




We talk to young people every day who are affected by the debt their families face; teenagers whose parents cannot afford to buy their school uniforms; nine-year-olds whose mothers are going without dinner so that they themselves can eat.
Please donate now so that we can help families keep food on their tables

If you'd like to learn more about our work, please visit our website.


Thank you again for supporting our petition against payday lending advertising during children's tv programmes. Together, we can change children's lives for the better.

Shabbana Haque, Family Support Worker

The Children's Society
Guest blog piece by Women Against Rape, opposing cuts to legal aid


Join the demonstration to
SAVE LEGAL AID
10am Friday 7th March Old Palace Yard SW1.
Who is next for a far-from-fair trial?
Followed by march to Ministry of Justice
Lawyers are refusing to attend court on Friday to protest against further legal aid cuts.
 
Noela Claye, All African Women’s Group, who is being persecuted by the Home Office and is fighting a heroic battle to win the right to safety and protection in the UK will be speaking at the event.
Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Women Against Rape are supporting the protest – we work with many rape survivors who will be deprived of vital legal representation by these cuts*.
 
These cuts will cost lives.  Please join the protest.
 
Call 020 7482 2496 for more information.
 
*Legal Action for Women explains the cuts and the impact on women in particular: click here
KUWG: Legal aid helped expose Atos

KUWG: Legal aid removed, abusers rule
Housing list exclusions

Izzy Koksal of Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth (HASL) writes:
Have people seen this article in the Guardian about how local councils are getting rid of people on their housing waiting lists and reducing the criteria for social housing even further. http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/feb/26/remove-homeless-single-mother-housing-list?CMP=twt_gu Each local council is doing their own thing, so maybe we could all research what's going on/what the criteria is being changed to our area? Perhaps we could organise a London Coalition Against Poverty action, co-ordinating actions around this in each of our boroughs? And maybe Boycott Workfare could get involved too — as Hammersmith and Fulham's plans sound quite a lot like workfare — people who have 'given back to the community' will be eligible so people will be forced to volunteer in order to access social housing. 
Swheatie of the KUWG is reminded of Tory ex-Secretary of State for Social Security Peter Lilley MP's 1992 Tory Party Conference announcement of a "little list," "a plan to 'close down the something for nothing society,' delivered in the form of a parody of the Lord High Executioner's "little list" song from The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan:
"I've got a little list / Of benefit offenders who I'll soon be rooting out / And who never would be missed / They never would be missed. / There's those who make up bogus claims / In half a dozen names / And councillors who draw the dole / To run left-wing campaigns / They never would be missed / They never would be missed. / There's young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing queue / And dads who won't support the kids / of ladies they have ... kissed / And I haven't even mentioned all those sponging socialists / I've got them on my list / And there's none of them be missed / There's none of them be missed."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Lilley#Satirist
Did not the Nazis have 'lists'? See Pastor Niemoller's 'First they came ...', for example. Whatever Peter Lilley and his followers have in mind, those he claims will not be missed have other ideas....

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Maybe it's better to ask questions before committing yourself to an action?


By e-mail from Ben, uploaded now as a guest blog.

A Heavily Paraphrased Story

"Run with your head against this wall, + it will magically disappear. Trust me." said the CareersAdvisor to the JobSeeker.
The JobSeeker then ran head-first against the wall, + badly hurt themself.
So the JobSeeker asks: "Why did you say that? What is wrong with you?"
"Well," the CareersAdvisor answered, "we don't do magic. We only raise aspirations."


Just felt like sharing it...

Monday, 3 March 2014

Please join us at the demo against welfare reform: 1pm, One Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, Saturday 5th April
Guest blog by Pilgrim Tucker of Unite Community
On 5th April, the 1st anniversary of the welfare reform act we are holding a demonstration against the bedroom tax and other welfare reforms.
PLEASE MARK THIS DATE IN YOUR DIARY
'Welfare reforms' fuel evictions
Facebook event here: please join and invite friends: https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/263575097139874/?fref=ts
Can you help to build this demo? Next organising meeting Tuesday 11th March, 6.30pm, Unite, 33-37 Moreland Street, EC1V 8BB
We will be asking members to help us build for this demo and suggesting activities such as:
-Contacting local groups in their area, asking them to support the demonstration, help publicise it, and bring their members (this could include anti cuts groups, trades council, pensioner groups, tenants and residents associations, soup kitchens, food banks, churches and any others). (I can forward a draft motion for trades councils)
-Send a letter to your local paper, ask other local groups you have contacted to sign it, saying why the demo is important. (I can forward a draft letter to give some suggestions)
-Leaflet or hold a stall at your local jobcentre, housing office, in your estate or local high street.
-Put posters in your window, ask local shops to put flyers up
-Do you know any performers who would like to sing, play some music, or entertain us? Let us know
-Impacted by the reforms want to speak at the demo? Let us know, as we want to make sure that those affected can speak about what’s going on.
The location for the demonstration, One Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, is known as the wealthiest residence in the world,  (the 85 flats sell for billions, only a few are regularly lived in or pay any council tax, and most are registered in the name of mysterious companies based in offshore tax havens).
Global wealthy gobble up London
Please contact me for leaflets and posters.
Best wishes
Pilgrim
Pilgrim Tucker
Unite Community Coordinator
London and Eastern
33-37 Moreland Street
London EC1V 8BB
07970 126249

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group says that figure of 68,000 benefit claimants wrongly sanctioned per year does not go far enough


The Daily Mirror reports that Tory think tank Policy Exchange is undoubtedly embarrassing the Con-Dem Government by flagging up figures of people wrongly sanctioned on benefits.

Swheatie of the KUWG responds:

Appeal-based evidence flagged up in a report by a Tory think-tank is embarrassing to the Con-Dem Government but does not go far enough.

Remember the right wing tabloid headlines about people who have claimed Incapacity Benefit having been found to be wrongly claiming that out of waged work benefit? Those reports were based on the 'evidence' provided via tests conducted by the now infamous Atos Healthcare. About 40% of those deemed 'fit for work' by the Department for Work & Pensions based on 'Work Capability Assessment' tests conducted by Atos won their appeals. Yet when people have gone to tribunal with an advocate who understands Employment & Support Allowance, that figure is more like 70%.

By extension, the same principle would operate with benefit sanction appeals, especially as many ESA claimants with mental health problems and / or learning difficulties are forced to claim Jobseekers Allowance or enter the ESA 'Work Related Activity Group' where they become sanctions fodder. There are also burnout issues when people fail to meet the targets of tens of job applications per week that seem intended more as punishment than a genuine way forward.

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group meets several such people at London jobcentres and offers them more help than Policy Exchange ever will, with much smaller funding.



When Bad Things Happen to Good People


Kate Belgrave helps give a taste of claimants'/customers' views of Marylebone Jobcentre in Lisson Grove off Marylebone Road. She writes the Kilburn Unemployed:
Have put up a post about Lisson Grove here:
http://www.katebelgrave.com/2014/03/im-62-and-they-threaten-me-with-sanctions-more-stories-from-the-jobcentre/

Swheatie of the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group says:

"In their isolation, it's tempting but not productive for people who are harassed on benefits to ask: 'Why is it always me?'

"There are more effective questions to ask and more effective ways to ask them. The KUWG now has an answer to Osbourne's 'austerity' budget box and demonisiation of people who did not cause the banks' collapse. We're more angry than frightened; and we also have a 'bull horn' that helps wake people up. We also occasionally have Kate Belgrave to come along with us, ask questions, and listen.

"And when we have done that, people have come up to us and asked questions like: 'How can I donate money to your group? I think it's really important what you are doing.'

"How about talking to someone about what you have read here? How can you help make 'Magic Monday' material out of what Kate blogs about?"

KUWG members more angry than frightened, loud and proud in Lisson Grove

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Picketing workfare exploiters Grosvenor G Casino


From Brighton Benefits Campaign as the Department for Workfare and Penury gives new meaning to the term 'casino capitalism'

The following is closely linked to a discussion in the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group meeting on Thursday 27 February with Mark Savage of Kilburn Boycott Workfare. 'The other BBC' [Brighton Benefits Campaign] echo the sentiments of our discussion when they write that it is time to end the 'something for nothing culture' of the wealthy as the casino's slaves from the dole queue are forced to work very unsocial hours for very unhealthy purposes socially.

Dear friends & comrades

Tonight we will be picketing the Grosvenor G Casino here in Brighton.
Not content with profiteering from the punters, Grosvenor G are maximizing their profits through massive state handouts: in-work benefits for their low paid workers, and now unpaid labour in the form of workfare.
Unemployed people taken on under the guise of 'work experience' have been expected to work until the early hours or face sanctions.  Grosvenor G have even taken their tips!
Unemployment has become a growth industry.  The increase in the pension age and changes to disability and lone parent benefits mean many more people forced to sign on.   The work programme is notably worse at finding the unemployed real jobs than if they were left to do it themselves.  Unemployment appears to be dropping but the figures don't take into account the hundreds of thousands on workfare (who are counted as employed) and those forced into part-time work or precarious temporary and zero-hours employment. 

Workfare is an attack on all workers, in or out of work, and not only those on benefits.  Where companies use workfare, their contracted workforce see pay and conditions reduced, hours and overtime cut, health and safety put at risk, and their ability to organise diminished.  Paid jobs are lost.  Even volunteering has become coersive - a profit making opportunity for corporate charities.
This attack on workers both in and out of employment is part of a comprehensive assault on all our rights including housing, healthcare, education, justice and social security.   The erosion of public services and public rights began decades ago but was given a terrific boost by the bankers' crisis and justified by the millionaire-owned media.

We say it's time to end the 'something for nothing' culture of the rich and privileged.  Time to stop the handouts we are paying for from our taxes.
If you are in Brighton tonight, come and join us - we'll be meeting at the King and Queen pub at 9pm.

If you're not in Brighton - well, Grosvenor G are the biggest casino chain in the UK, with 55 casinos, so there's probably one near you.
Consider holding your own picket of these corporate parasites.
Opposing workfare works!
in solidarity
Pip
Brighton Benefits Campaign