Monthly Archives: August 2012

Cameron Uses Paralympics to Push More Disability Denial

David Cameron yesterday used the Paralympics Opening Ceremony as an opportunity to spout crass propaganda for the toff Government’s ruthless disability benefit cutting regime.

Speaking to Channel 4, Cameron said:  “It’s about the inspiration and it will change people’s minds and that’s what matters. It’ll teach people about what they can do, rather than what they can’t do.”

This is the exact same line that has been used to strip benefits from hundreds of thousands of disabled people.  Here’s a DWP spokesperson saying the same thing in the Daily Express to justify the Work Capability Assessment, the brutal computer based tests used to declare sick and disabled people fit for work:  “We’re overhauling the whole system of incapacity benefits to place the emphasis on what work people can do, not what they can’t”

This line as been trotted out time and time again by Ministers and DWP officials as justification for the brutal new benefit eligibility tests that have tragically driven an increasing number of people to suicide.  Those with serious disabilities or illnesses, including those undergoing chemotherapy, have all been stripped of sickness or disability benefits on the basis that there might, possibly be a job they could somehow do.  As one Tory MP, Nadine Dorris put it, “if you  can tweet you can work”.

It seems that even at the opening of the Paralympic Games Cameron can’t resist trying to crowbar some subtle benefit bashing into the proceedings.

Spotted by the ever vigilant Black Triangle Campaign

Join today’s online day of action against Atos, the company making hundreds of millions from carrying out these assessments:  http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/08/dpac-atos-armchair-games-30th-august-the-truth-is-revolutionary/

Above pic found at: http://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/remember-atos-kills.html

Remembering Those Who’ve Died at the Hands of Atos ‘Healthcare’

A well attended and genuinely moving memorial service was held today outside the front doors of Paralympic sponsor Atos to coincide with the opening day of the London Paralympic Games.

Atos carry out the Government’s Work Capability Assessment, a crude computer health test designed to strip disabled people of benefits by declaring them ‘fit for work’.

Disabled people and those with serious health conditions have been subject to endless grueling assessments by the company and an increasing number of people have tragically taken their own lives as a result of the process. Many others have had conditions worsened due to the stress of testing regime whilst a recent investigation found that 32 people a week die after being found ‘fit for work by the company’.

Around 100 disabled people and supporters gathered outside Atos’ gleaming London Headquarters to attend the service.  A coffin, resplendent with white lilies to remember the dead, was carried to the front door of the company alongside funereal music.  Messages sent from disabled people around the UK were released attached to black balloons whilst a minutes silence was held during which even the heavy security presence guarding the company appeared to respect.

The day was part of a week of action against the company which has seen protests outside Atos offices around the UK.  Visit the DPAC website for reports of other events held so far. Campaigners will be back at Atos HQ on Friday when Disabled People Against Cuts team up with UK Uncut for the Closing Atos Ceremony.  Gather at Triton Square, Euston from 12.45pm on Friday 31st August.

Tomorrow sees a day of online and telephone action targeting the company, more info at:  http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/08/dpac-atos-armchair-games-30th-august-the-truth-is-revolutionary/

Vigil for Atos Victims – DPAC Action – Weds 29th August

Disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters will be holding a vigil and remembrance event for those who have died due to the actions of Paralympic sponsor Atos.  The event will take place outside the company’s UK Head Office in Triton Square, Euston on Wednesday August 29th, the same day as the opening of the Paralympic Games. Meet 3.45pm for 4pm start.

Atos are responsible for carrying out the Government’s notorious Work Capability Assessment, a relentless health and disability assessment regime which has been used to slash vital benefits from hundred of thousands of sick and disabled people.

Tragically several people have committed suicide due to the endless, stressful assessments and the threat of poverty and destitution they bring.  An  investigation by the Daily Mirror found that 32 people a week die after being declared ‘fit for work’ by the company, whilst Channel 4′s Dispatches recently exposed the system as ‘toxic’ in the words of Atos’ own staff.

Campaigners will gather in the square at 3.30pm and will deliver a coffin full of messages from victims of Atos to the front door of the company’s headquarters.  A memorial service will then take place, involving a reading of the names of those who have died due to the company’s actions.  Some of the messages will be attached to black balloons and released and members of the congregation will speak of their own experiences at the hands of Atos.

All are welcome to attend and are asked to wear black if possible.

This event takes place during the National Week of Action Against Atos called by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), to coincide with the London Paralympic Games.

Events are scheduled to take place in towns and cities around around the UK and in London disabled people and supporters will be back at Triton Square on Friday 31st August for the Closing Atos Ceremony.

Chris Grayling to Staff Care Homes With Unpaid Teenagers

According to today’s Evening Standard, bungling Employment Minister Chris Grayling is planning to send unemployed teenagers to work in care homes for no pay across the capital.

The Government is planning to force young people to carry out full time unpaid work for three months before they become eligible for the scant support offered by Job Seekers Allowance.  Young people will not be given any time to find a job under their own steam, as many do, but will instead be dispatched to care homes and charities to carry out unpaid work.

The scheme will be launched in areas affected by last year’s riots, seemingly as a form of Collective Punishment.  The sentence for being young and unemployed is to be set at 390 hours unpaid labour, 90 hours more than the maximum Community Payback sentence for serious criminal offences of 300 hours.

With stiffer sentences now facing the unemployed than those handed out for burglary, concerns have been raised whether this move will push more young people into crime rather than forced labour for meagre benefits of £56-a-week.

Chris Grayling has said that sentences will be community work only, but astonishingly this could include working for private companies such as care homes.  The care sector, already reeling from a string of abuse scandals, is now to benefit from an influx of unpaid, untrained, and no doubt very pissed off teenagers and young people.

6000 young people are to be bullied onto the scheme despite insiders from welfare to work companies claiming they are finding it increasingly hard to secure workfare placements.  Chris Grayling, and the clown Mayor Boris, who claims unpaid labour is fun, are relying on the charitable and third sectors to prop up this Government’s ever expanding workfare schemes.

Charities such as Oxfam and Shelter have already made it clear they will not accept ‘volunteers’ who have been coerced to work by the Government under threat of poverty and destitution.   Those opposed to workfare are also now turning their attention to charities involved in forced labour such as Scope and the British Heart Foundation.

Already major companies such as Tesco and Holland & Barrett have been forced to change their workfare plans due to massive public pressure.  Workfare isn’t working and we can break it for good.  Keep up the pressure and organise now for the next National Day of Action Against Workfare which will highlight the connivance of so called charities in the Government’s forced labour schemes.

In the meantime join the week of action against disability denying poverty pimps and paralympic sponsors Atos.

The Atos Games Begin – “We Are Coming For You Atos” Warn Disabled People

A well attended ceremony took place yesterday evening outside City Hall, London  to make the opening of the Atos Games.

Disabled people and supporters held speeches and a mock medal ceremony to launch the Week of Action Against Atos timed to coincide with the Paralympic Games.

Atos are paid £100 million a year to carry out the brutal and demeaning Work Capability Assessments on behalf of the Government.  This short computer based health assessment has led to tens of thousands of sick and disabled people being stripped of vital benefits.

Atos have recently won the contract to assess all those claiming Disability Living Allowance, a process which has the stated aim of removing financial support from a fifth of disabled people.  Astonishingly Atos are also sponsors of the Olympics Games.

At the mock ceremony last night, Paralympic Gold medal winner, Tara Flood was stripped of her medals as she was declared no longer disabled by Atos assessors.  Speakers from Disabled People Against Cuts and Transport For All, who both helped organise the event, spoke of their experiences at the hands of the company and their fury at Atos attempting to gain positive publicity on the back of the Paralympic Games.

Those assembled were warned that Paralympian Athletes will also soon face assessment by the company who have shown no mercy to even those with life threatening conditions.  A recent investigation found that 32 people a week die after being judged ‘fit for work’ by the company.

Atos were warned that we are coming for them – in the Courts, in Parliament, in the Courts and most importantly on the streets.

Protests will take place around the UK outside Atos offices today as part of the Week of Action.  A Mass Die In will take place in Cardiff on Wednesday whilst a Memorial Service will be held outside their London Headquarters on the same day.

Thursday will see a day of online and telephone action and on Friday DPAC will link up with UK Uncut for a spectacular Closing Atos Ceremony.

For full details of events this week visit: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/08/latest-information-on-atos-games-week/

The Squatting Ban – A Law Built on Lies

On 1st September 2012 an ancient legal right will be lost to the people of the UK as the ban on squatting finally comes into law.  Treasonous MPs from all main parties overwhelming voted last year to remove the right of the homeless to occupy unused spaces without fear of arrest and prosecution.

No doubt pre-empting the upcoming homelessness crisis, the legislation banning squatting was rail-roaded through Parliament despite 90% of responses to a Government Consultation rejecting the ban.

It is vital to note that only squatting in residential premises is affected by the law and that the fight to save squatting is far from over.  The Advisory Service for Squatters notes that a building is defined as ‘residential’ if it is “designed or adapted, before the time of entry, for use as a place to live”.  Many squatters will not be affected, check the Squatters Advisory website for full details of the upcoming legal position.

Like so much legislation rushed through by this toff Government, there is likely to be chaos as the law is implemented and bewildered coppers face complex legal arguments on squat doorsteps.  Private tenants may also find themselves vulnerable as unscrupulous landlords attempt to exploit the new laws to illegally evict tenants.

But this has mattered little as the privileged public school boys and girls of all parties have conspired to destroy a vital part of the UK’s political and cultural heritage on the back of a few tabloid scare stories.

Proceeding the legislation, a string of smear stories appeared in the media deriding squatters.  Lurid tales of families returning home from holiday only to find their homes squatted appeared alongside headlines demanding that ‘something must be done’.  None of these  fabricated tales mentioned that there are numerous laws in place to address these occurrences –  which are so rare that they demand a full page story in the national press.

Any house-holder currently living in a property or intending to move into one, was fully protected by the law as it stood.  Any house-holder returning to their home to find people living there could have them removed by police as easily as if the intruders were burgling the property.  Squatters themselves are only too aware of this fact which is why abandoned and often derelict properties are frequently sought out to provide homes.

Squatters have been portrayed as middle class artists, trustafarians or  hippies at best, and benefit scum, criminals, or even worse, Eastern Europeans at worst as part of a relentless smear campaign.  It is true that squatting has contributed to the cultural heritage of this country, but squatting is not a movement rooted in counter-culture.

Squatting has been at the heart of political struggle in the UK since the Peasant’s Revolt.  Shortly after the Second World War, tens of thousands of families squatted former air bases and military camps. Even today many street homeless people shelter in abandoned buildings as protection from the elements.  Homelessness charity Crisis has stated that 39% of homeless people have squatted at some point. As from next week, these people will be liable to arrest.

As rents soar, wages stagnate, Housing Benefits are slashed and social housing provision is demolished, the homelessness crisis facing the UK is possibly unprecedented. Therefore it is of little surprise that a Government, many of whom are landlords themselves, should seek to criminalise this scant safety net for the homeless.

According the the Squash Campaign the UK currently has 750,000 empty homes, many of them owned by banks, large corporations, offshore companies and other potential donors to political parties.  These homes will stay empty whilst homelessness soars.

Should sleeping bags once again line the streets of city centres, this law may yet unravel as it becomes impossible to police.  Until then fierce and determined campaigning may yet reveal the legislation to be a paper tiger – Holland still has many large squats despite the ban introduced over two years ago.  The fight to save squatting rights is not yet over and may have only just begun.

http://www.squashcampaign.org/

Protests Planned in Over 20 Towns and Cities as Part of the Atos Games

Over 20 towns and cities will be holding protests aimed at disability denying poverty pimps Atos.  Timed to coincide with the Paralympic Games, of which Atos shamefully are a sponsor, disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters are holding a series of protests around the UK.

The Atos Games will be formally opened tomorrow (Monday 27th August), near City Hall in Central London by Disabled People Against Cuts.  Meet outside City Hall at 5.30pm, more details at: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/08/atos-games-opening-ceremony-monday-august-27th/

Then on Tuesday actions and protests will take place around the country targeting Atos, the company which has been happy to profit from Government contracts designed to strip disability and sickness benefits from hundreds of thousands of people.  The full list of actions announced so far is below.

On Wednesday 29th August a Memorial Service will be held in Triton Square outside the company’s London HQ.  Meet at Triton Square, London, at 3:30pm.

Thursday 30th August will see a day of action online and on the phone – Phone jam! Let’s flood Atos with calls, and generate a Twitter-storm they can’t ignore.

Finally on Friday 31st August Disabled People Against Cuts will be teaming up with UK Uncut for ‘an audacious, daring and disruptive action’.  Head to Atos HQ,  Triton Square, London at 12.45pm,  More info at: http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/the-closing-atos-ceremony

List of other actions and events around the UK:

Birmingham – Tuesday 28th, 13:00 – protest at Five Ways House. Islington Row. Edgbaston. Birmingham. B15 1SL

Bournemouth – Tuesday 28th, 12:05 – protest at ATOS Centre, 1st floor Tamarisk House, c/o Job Centre Plus, 1, Cotlands Road, BH1 3BG (assemble outside the JobCentre Plus building)

Bristol – Thursday 30th August, 15:00 – picket/protest outside ATOS offices, Government Buildings, Flowers Hill, Bristol, BS4 6LA .

Cardiff – Wednesday 29th August,17:00 – mass ‘die-in’ to commemorate lives lost. Aneuren Bevan Statue, Queen Street

Derby – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – protest outside ATOS office. More details from Derby Mental Health Action Group mhactiongroup[at]yahoo.co.uk

Edinburgh – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – protest outside ATOS offices, 44 York Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3JW

Exeter – Tuesday 28th, 12:30 – protest outside ATOS office Killerton Road, Park Five, Harrier Way EX2 7HU (with Exeter Anti-Cuts Alliance)

Hull – Tuesday 28th, 11:00 – demonstration outside the ATOS medical assessment centre on Stanley Street, Spring Bank, Hull, HU3 1JP

Lancaster – Tuesday 28th, 13:00 – protest at Mitre House, Church Street, Lancaster LA1 1EQ. In conjunction with Lancaster and Morecambe against the Cuts ; local Trades Union congress; occupy Lancaster UK; and led by local disabled people

Leeds – Tuesday 28th, 13:00 – Meet in City Square, LS1 2ES. Bring banners. We will have leaflets.

Liverpool – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – demonstration outside ATOS offices, Mann Island, Port of Liverpool building, L3 1LT

London – Monday 27th, 17:30 – meet at City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA. Opening ceremony and medal awards
and
Wednesday 29th, 15:30 – Meet near Starbucks/Pret-a-Manger on Triton Square, Regents Place, London NW1 3HG – Delivery of a coffin with messages to ATOS and a memorial of their victims, many of whom have have died.
and
Friday 31st, 12:45 – Grand Finale with UK Uncut. Direct action and protest at ATOS HQ, 4 Triton Square, Regents Place, London NW1 3HG

Manchester – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – protest outside ATOS Manchester, Albert Bridge House Bridge Street, Manchester M60 9DA

Medway – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – Atos Medical Assessment Centre in Batchelor St Chatham ME4 4BJ (just off the High St next to the Jolly Caulkers) – Medway Against the Cuts are organising a picket/protest.

Newcastle – Tuesday 28th, 13:00 – protest outside ATOS offices Arden House, Regent Centre, Regent Farm Road, Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE3 3LZ (opposite Gosforth library).

Northampton – Tuesday 28th, 11:00 – demonstration at ATOS offices, Gladstone Road, Dallington, Northampton, NN5 7QA

Plymouth – Tuesday 28th, 11:00 – demonstration at ATOS offices, Argosy House (next to McDonald’s) , Marsh Mills, Plympton, Plymouth, PL6 8LS
For lifts from the City Centre and Mutley, please contact PCU at: plymouthclaimantsunion[at]yahoo.co.uk

Reading – Tuesday 28th, 11:30 – Eaton Place (off the Oxford Rd), Reading, RG1 7LP. Join us there for solidarity, songs and fun, fun fun. Bring banners with appropriate messages. Banners and leaflets will be available (can also be downloaded and printed) for distribution to curious and info-hungry passers-by. Songsheets will be provided for the tunefully inclined.

Sheffield – Tuesday 28th, 12:30 – demonstration at Hartshead Square, S1 2FD

Southampton – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – meet at Queens Park, Southampton SO14 3BQ.

Stroud – Wednesday 29th, 12:00 – Flyering the public about ATOS – meet outside Stroud JobCentre, Unicorn House, Cornhill Shopping Centre (Union Street), GL5 2JT.
and
Saturday 1st September, 11:00 – Stroud High St (near the Post Box).

Swansea – Tuesday 28th, 12:00 – static protest outside Grove House, Grove Place, Swansea SA1 5DF . (This is a big building across the road from the police station).

How the DWP Manufactures Falling Unemployment Figures

More evidence is emerging of how the unemployment figures are manipulated more by current policies at the DWP than any true measure of the number of people out of work.

Already it has been revealed that those who have had benefits sanctioned are not included in the Claimant Count.  Now it appears, thanks to some sterling work by consent.me.uk, that those on workfare are counted as employed by the Labour Force Survey, the other measure used to calculate unemployment.

This follows revelations in the Daily Telegraph that a significant number of those ‘employed’ according to the Labour Force Survey guidelines, are actually on Government training schemes.

The Claimant Count and the Labour Force Survey are the two measures of unemployment. The Labour Force Survey is based on a survey of 45,000 households.  The claimant count means all those currently claiming Job Seekers Allowance and no-one else.  It does not include those sanctioned and neither does it include those on sickness benefits and found fit for ‘some’ work and placed in the Work Related Activity group (WRAG).

Both of these measures of unemployment fell in the last months figures.  Both of these figures are vulnerable to misinterpretation about the true numbers of unemployed people.  The Claimant Count does not include possibly tens of thousands of people sanctioned each month.  The Labour Force Survey does not include people on workfare.

The Government claim they don’t know exactly how many people are on workfare, however all the indications suggest the number is rising.  Over two thousand people are referred to Mandatory Work Activity on a monthly basis.  Approaching eight thousand young people currently start on Work Experience or other workfare schemes each month.  Over half a million people are currently on the Work Programme, which can include up to six months workfare.  The rise in workfare is clearly one significant factor in the supposed fall in unemployment.

Similarly the number of people facing benefit sanctions has almost trebled since 2009 to approaching half a million annually.  Again, a rise in the number of sanctions handed out could easily outstrip the recent modest fall in the Claimant Count.*

Even without the huge increase in people claiming Working Tax Credit as self-employed, or on zero hours contracts, or in unstable and irregular casual work, both measures of unemployment appear highly vulnerable to policy changes at the DWP.  This helps explains the discrepancy of falling economic growth and falling unemployment.

If more people are sent on workfare, and more people face having claims sanctioned then both measures of unemployment will fall.  Since more people are being sent on workfare, and more people are having benefits sanctioned, unemployment is falling.

Correction 17/10/12:  Recent information from the ONS suggests some people who are sanctioned may be included in the Claimant Count.  It depends whether the claim remains live, many do not.  Am waiting on further information from the ONS and will clarify in a later piece.  Details of sanctioned claimants in relation to the LFS is below.

*The Labour Force Survey does not mention sanctions.  It is possible that some of those sanctioned would not be classed as unemployed – it seems that it would be based on the answers given to questions relating to job seeking activity.  Therefore those sanctioned may also place downward pressure on this measure of unemployment.

Meet the Counihans – The Human Face of Welfare Reform

Suicide, homelessness, ill health and despair are to be the true legacy of the London Olympics as more people are forced out of there homes due to this Government’s vicious welfare reforms.

The Counihan-Sanchez family is just one story that highlights the human cost of Welfare Reform and the shameful connivance of the Labour Party in Tory led social cleansing.

The family of seven have already been shunted out of their home borough in Brent into temporary accommodation in Ealing.  They now face further eviction after Brent Council have refused to accept that Anthony Counihan’s bus driver’s salary is not enough to pay the soaring rents in the capital.

At a meeting with their MP, the millionaire Glenda Jackson, the family were told to move to Wales, where they have no work and know no-one.  Like thousands of other families in the capital they are now in limbo, facing an uncertain future of forced relocation, unemployment and isolation.  Despite the lurid claims made in some newspapers of families living in housing benefit funded Kensington mansions, the Counihan’s story is one of an average working class family living in one of the less well off areas of London.

A protest is being held tonight to support the family who have vowed to fight for their right to remain in the borough in which their children go to school and is their rightful home.  The protest will also raise the case of Kilburn resident Nygel Firminger, who’s recent tragic suicide is believed to be directly related to the vicious benefit cutting regime that has already claimed too many lives.

The mood amongst local people is militant with a call for “urgent radical action” in support of the family and all those facing eviction not just from their homes but from Greater London.

The clown mayor, Boris Johnson claimed he would not allow Kosovo style social cleansing on his watch in the capital and then proceeded to sit back and do fuck all as it took place.  Labour Councillors in Brent have offered little in support other than mealy mouthed excuses.  It is clear that we cannot rely on politicians, Councillors, or Mayors to support those who pay their wages.

Homelessness is already soaring not just in the capital but across the UK.  It will not just be London residents who face a housing crisis as rents soar, wages stagnate and benefits are slashed.

Areas of the country already facing poverty will see huge influxes from those socially cleansed from London and other cities placing intolerable pressure on public services and housing.  The Housing Benefit caps, which lying Tory filth told us would force down rents, have done quite the opposite.  The benefit cap, to be introduced next year, will make almost the entire South East of England unaffordable for large families, whether they are low waged or unemployed.

The right to a home is more than a Human Right but a basic reality of existence.  People need somewhere to lay their head at night, to keep warm, to cook and to keep their families safe.  Yet even the most meagre council accommodation is fast becoming little more than an aspiration for millions of people.  That one of the richest cities in the world cannot house not just disabled, unwell or unemployed people, but bus drivers, nurses, care workers or classroom assistants reveals the inhumane failure of both this Government and the current model of naked capitalism.

Protest outside Brent Town Hall tonight (Monday 20th August) at 7pm and share, tweet, blog and spread the word about the plight of the Counihan family and the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people they represent.

http://familyonthestreet.posterous.com/housing-for-the-counihans-housing-for-all

Even charities are at it: Workfare Walk of Shame in London

From Boycott Workfare

Plans for a national day of action against charity involvement in workfare are brewing. Already Liverpool has announced an action with others in the pipeline in Edinburgh and Brighton. London also has plans for the day…

Camden High Street, 11.30am, Saturday 8th September.
Meet outside the Nat West opposite Camden Town station.

Workfare – forced unpaid work for people who need social security – can now be found on every high street. Charities – which really should know the difference between forced labour and volunteering – are helping the government roll out workfare on a massive scale: British Heart Foundation’s policy director has stated for the record that every one of their 700 stores has Work Programme placements. To their shame, many other charities are also involved.

In August, a new workfare scheme was announced which will compel people to work without pay for so-called “community benefit”. In other words, community service-style sentences are being meted out for the crime of being unemployed. This comes on top of the plan to put 1.06 million people onto six months’ workfare, mainly in charity and public sector organisations.

Our actions have pushed back the spread of workfare on the high street, now it’s time that charities respond to the call. Come along to this walk of shame to learn who’s in and who’s out and to step up the pressure on the charities which claim to help people but are pushing the unemployed into further poverty and exploitation.

Please help spread the word.

Before then don’t forget the Week of Action against poverty pimps Atos beginning on the 27th August.