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Number of Sick And Disabled Claimants Facing Sanctions Triples In Just Six Months

sanction-sabsThe number of sick or disabled people who have had there benefit sanctioned for not taking part in ‘work related activity’ has almost tripled compared to just six months ago the latest figures show.

7.507 claimants on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), had their benefits sanctioned in March 2014, up from 4,698 the previous month and 2,369 In Sepetember 2013.  This has taken the total number of ESA claims sanctioned to over 100,000 since the regime was disgracefully introduced by Labour.

These clamaints are in the Work Related Acivity Group (WRAG) of ESA, meaning they have been judged unable to work at present but may possibly be well enough for employment in the future.  They include people with serious and life-threatening conditions including cancer.  Astonishingly this group are still sent on the Work Programme, where they may face compulsory ‘back to work’ training or even workfare.  Should they fail to attend any activity the private sector providers running the scheme dream up then they will have their benefits sanctioned.

These are not the only sick and disabled claimants who face sanctions.  Inhumane Atos assessments have led to many people with serious health conditions or disabilties being forced to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.  According to the DWP, since the tougher new sanctions regime was introduced in December 2012, over 150,000 disabled people have had their benefits stopped.  Whilst people on sickness benefits only generally lose a portion of their benefits, those on JSA can lose every penny.  For people with special dietery needs or other conditions, this can prove fatal as the tragic death of David Clapson recently showed.

Appalling many of those sanctioned will have been driven into poverty due to failure to attend workfare with so-called charities and community organisations.  The first names of these organisations accepting workfare placements on the latest scheme, which involves 780 hours of unpaid work, are now starting to leak out.  Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health (@_LAMH_ also on facebook) have been reported to be accepting this form of workfare and have remained silent about their grotesque exploitation since being exposed.  @SumoWaste have protected their tweets on twitter and also have nothig to say about their grubby exploitation after they were named and shamed on the facebook page of Edinburgh Coaltion Against Poverty.  Also recently named as taking part are @DISC_Services, a so-called charity who will be receiving tax payer’s money to arrange workfare placements and who are also on facebook.

The DWP refuse to name the charities taking workfare placements, if you know of one contact Boycott Workfare to have them named and shamed.

Please sign, share and tweet the petition for an inquiry into the benefit sanctions that killed David Clapson: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-hold-an-inquiry-into-benefit-sanctions-that-killed-my-brother

The latest benefit sanctions figures can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/jobseekers-allowance-and-employment-and-support-allowance-sanctions-decisions-made-to-march-2014

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Is This What They Mean By #disabilityconfident? Disabled Staff Twice As Likely To Get Sacked From The DWP

cameron-disabilityOne of the ways the DWP has tried to cover up the vicious attacks on disabled people has been the gushing and cringe-making Disability Confident campaign.

This has mostly involved endlessly tweeting the hashtag #disabilityconfident and organising corporate events where large employers and Ministers all meet up to tell each other how wonderful they are being to disabled people.  Then they can all go back to sending disabled people on workfare safe in the knowledge that the campaign they invented has told them that’s okay.

You might expect however that the DWP’s own treatment of their disabled staff would be exemplary.  This is after all the branch of government which also includes the Office for Disability Issues.  The shocking truth, as revealed in their own research, is that disabled employees at the DWP are twice as likely to get sacked as non-disabled staff and just half as likely to get promoted.

The figures come in the DWP’s annual Equality Information Report which covers the year 2013.  It shows that on every significant indicator disabled staff are treated worse than those who are non-disabled.  Here’s a quick breakdown of the figures:

The DWP employs 95,923 people, with 6.8% of staff having declared some form of disability.

Disabled people were more likely to be disciplined: 2.9% of the disabled workforce at the DWP faced some form of disciplinary action compared to just 1.9% of non-disabled workers.

Disabled people were far more likely to get sacked: Of those that left the department, disabled people were over twice as likely to have been sacked as non-disabled employees.  17.1% of disabled people leaving the DWP were sacked compared to 8.4% of non-disabled staff.

Disabled people were more likely to raise a grievance: 2.7% of disabled workers raised a grievance with the DWP compared to 1.6% of non-disabled workers.

8 .6% of the people who left the DWP were disabled, higher than the rate of disabled employees (6.8%) showing that disabled people were more likely than non-disabled people to leave the department in 2013.

Disabled people were less likely to be given a job: the report doesn’t give percentages of successful applications but they can be worked out.  16.6% of non-disabled people who applied to the DWP were successful compared to 14.2% of disabled people.

Disabled people were less likely to be promoted:  Disabled staff were only half as likely to get promoted with just 0.3% of the DWP’s disabled workforce being promoted compared to 0.6% of non-disabled workers.

Perhaps reflecting this, disabled people were less likely to be in senior roles.  89.8% of disabled staff were in the lowest three categories of seniority compared to 87.4% of non-disabled staff.  On the higher grades disabled people were under-represented at every single level.

And of course, disabled people get paid less at the DWP.  On average across all salaries, disabled people were paid 0.8% less than non-disabled people.

Is this disability confident, or is this disability discrimination?

You can read the full report at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/328840/Department_for_Work_and_Pensions_Equality_Information_2014_-_Employee_Data.pdf

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

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Sainsbury’s Staff Given Targets To Put Themselves Out Of Work

.sainsburysSainsbury’s workers are forced to live with a daily reminder that many of their jobs are soon to be replaced by self-scan check out machines.  Astonishingly the sign above, stuck on the wall in Sainsbury’s, Lewisham, suggests they are now even given targets to work towards their own unemployment.

The tragedy is that in a world run for people, self-scan tills could be a great invention.  Anything that makes the process of food distribution more efficient would simply mean the workers in that sector could take a well deserved rest. But in a world run for private profit, it means greedy supermarket bosses use new technology as a way to lay off workers and save cash.  They don’t spend that cash on giving the remaining workers a pay rise of course.  They don’t even spend it on cutting the price of food – have you noticed prices falling since self-checkouts were introduced?

Instead the spare cash lines the pockets of Sainsbury’s share holders and directors – often some of the richest people in the UK who haven’t lifted a finger to earn this money.  Sainsbury’s made £788 million in profit in the last year.  In London customer service jobs with the company are advertised at £7.07 an hour, almost £2 less than the London Living Wage.

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Keeping It In The Family: DWP Give Michael Gove’s Wife Free Advertising

gettheglossThe new DWP twitter feed, recently announced on twitter by the Prime Minister, has been providing free advertising for Michael Gove’s wife’s new online business.

Two tweets earlier today plugged Get The Gloss, an ‘award winning website’ according to the department.  Meanwhile on the DWP’s facebook page Get The Gloss Production Editor Judy Johnson was given a post with a link back to the the fashion and beauty website advising claimants on how they should dress at job interviews.

Now it has emerged that Get The Gloss is a new online venture started by Sarah Vine, wife of odious Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Most online businesses would do almost anything to get this kind of free publicity from a government department, although even the most ambitious would probably draw the line at marrying Michael Gove. 

To let the DWP know what you think of them giving tax payer funded free adverts to their partners contact them on twitter @DWPgovuk

The DWP are currently using the hashtag #job2014 on twitter, occupy it!

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

210,000 Pensioners Face Last Year’s Vicious Autumn Statement Cut

Osborne-mrbeanThe newspapers have been predicting that George Osborne is expected to raise the pension age to 69 in his Autumn statement today.  The cut he made last year to the incomes of some of the poorest pensioners however has gone almost unnoticed by the press.

Last year Osborne pegged benefit rises at 1% for the next two years no matter what happens to inflation.  This measure included Local Housing Allowance, the benefit paid to those on low incomes in to provide help with rent payments.  Pensioners are also eligible for this benefit, and the latest DWP statistics show that over 210,000 private sector tenants over 65 depend on this support.

Almost no-one seems to have noticed that this means that Osborne’s changes will hit pensioners despite government lies they would be protected from the cut.  Over 200,000 of the UK’s poorest pensioners will now see incomes shrink as the money they receive to stay in their homes is reduced and they will be forced to make up the difference out of meagre pensions.

How much their income will shrink is open to question.  A DWP Equalities Analysis predicted they will lose on average about £3 a week (PDF).  For those in high rent areas this is likely to be a woeful understatement.

Around 20,000 people over 65 are currently claiming LHA in London.  Rents are soaring in the capital, with one estimate claiming they have risen by 7.9% in just one year.  If this continues then a pensioner living in a private sector flat and claiming the LHA rate for central London could see their income reduced by up to £30 a week over the next two years.

Just like the victims of the Benefit Cap, these pensioners will be socially cleansed from the capital.  Some of them may have lived here their whole lives.  If they choose to stay they may face homelessness as rents soar.  This  will place even more pressure on Local Authorities to provide one bedroom flats at a time of desperate shortage of smaller properties due to the bedroom tax.  The housing crisis in London is set to get worse, and George Osborne is directly responsible.

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More Workfare, More Sanctions, Labour Think Tank Proposals Are Just The Same Old Deal

emma-harrison-a4eToday’s report by think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (@IPPR)  offers a chilling glimpse of what life might be like for young people under a Labour government.

The paper titled ‘No More NEETs’ has been widely reported in the press as a Labour plan to strip benefits completely from those under 25.  This will suit Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves who has already promised to be tougher on welfare than Iain Duncan Smith if Labour are elected.  The truth is that this is a paper from a toff dominated think-tank, which may yet manifest as Labour policy, but so far remains the rantings of a few out of touch idiots.

Most of the proposals are little different from those which have failed so miserably over the last fifteen years, since the obsession with hounding young people into unpaid work under the guise of fake training began.  The main thrust of the report is that benefits for those under 25 are “conditional on participation in further and vocational education or intensive job search”.  This is the same kind of crap that the IPPR came out with over fifteen years ago and which was used to justify Tony Blair’s New Deal in the late 1990s.

The New Deal was Labour’s flagship programme to end youth unemployment forever by forcing young people into some form of work or training under threat of benefits being stopped.  The reality of the scheme was the emergence of the monstrous welfare-to-work scam.  Companies like A4e trousered billions whilst young, unemployed people were sent on workfare or warehoused for 30 hours a week undertaking sub-standard or often non-existent training.  Those who escaped this fate were forced into Subsidised Employment, which meant six months forced work on poverty pay.

The IPPR’s current plans are little different, with unpaid workfare based on the current Government’s Traineeships for some, and a Jobs Guarantee or some form of poverty-paid traineeship for the rest.  Welfare-to-work providers will be at the heart of the scheme, sending young people to carry out six months forced work (or so-called training) at minimum wage, before they are dumped back on benefits to make way for the next tax payer subsidised free worker.  And when these magical measures don’t work – which they won’t,  evidence shows that Government work experience schemes do little to improve people’s chances of finding a job – then young people will be given an “intensive, diagnostic review with their personal adviser”.

After that doesn’t work it will back to the same old ‘participation in learning or work preparation activities’, ‘intensive jobsearch’ and ‘work trials’ that are already inflicted on unemployed people of all ages.

The New Deal for Young People cost billions and largely collapsed as not enough work placements could be found whilst welfare-to-work parasites delivered little of the training they promised.  Just like the current Government’s dismal Work Programme, it barely made a dent in the number of people out of work.  More importantly, the failure of the New Deal showed quite clearly that you can’t fix unemployment by fixing unemployed people, a lesson which has sadly still not been learned by politicians today.  There is nothing in this report that hasn’t already failed countless times to bring down the number of young people out of work.

Unfortunately the IPPR do not stop there and this is where things stray into callous fantasies which would make even Iain Duncan Smith blush.  The regime the IPPR describe will not just be aimed at young people currently on Jobseekers Allowance – which will be renamed a Youth Allowance.  Young, single parents with children over the age of one along with sick and disabled claimants under 25 and currently on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) will be subject to similar conditions.

The report glibly ignores the fact that people on ESA have been judged by not just their own doctors but even the horrific Atos assessors as being currently unable to work due to sickness or disability.  Tough shit think the ‘progressive’ IPPR – the pittance extra that these claimants receive will be slashed, leaving those unable to work due to illness forced to try and survive on just few pounds a day.  Only those in the Support Group, people with the most serious conditions, will receive any extra in benefits – although the report warns that for even some of this group that may be ‘conditional’.

Single parents with children over the age on 1 will also be expected to take part in ‘back-to-work support’.   If they are unable to do so or refuse they will lose not just their own Income Support, but also Child Tax Credits and possibly even Housing Benefits. The risk of hungry and homeless toddlers is apparently worth it if it means struggling single parents are lectured at about their CV for a few hours a week.

Many young people will no longer qualify for help with housing costs at all with an assumption that everyone can stay at home until they are at least 21.  Whilst the think-tank say there will be exceptions, such as those who are “unintentionally homeless or estranged from their parents” this will depend on an “assessment of whether they could be housed – or be supported to be housed – by their parents.”

Perhaps more than anything else these proposals show just how out of touch the clowns at the IPPR really are.  Will young people fleeing abuse really have to wait around for a DWP assessment to decide if that abuse is serious enough for them to leave home?  Has it not occurred to the IPPR how this might be used by exploitative adults to trap children at home?  Do they really imagine that this kind of assessment is workable in practice in cases of family breakdown when parents and children may not even be on speaking terms?  Has anyone at this think-tank ever even met anyone who has had to leave home at a young age for any reason other than to go to University?

The answer is clearly not likely and none of these new conditions will apply to under-graduates who will continue to be maintained by the loans system.  For those parents whose kids don’t go to university however this report carries a very real sting in the tail.  The newly-named benefit for unemployed young people will be means tested, based on their parents income.  In a policy precision targeted at the so-called squeezed middle, more affluent parents will be financially responsible for their children until they are 22.  And that’s how you lose an election.  By listening to unaccountable think-tank knobheads who think that crazy schemes they scribbled down on the back of a Starbucks napkin can fix the structural problems of poverty and unemployment.

Whether Labour do listen to the IPPR remains to be seen.  The fact that they haven’t spent the day pointing and laughing at these ludicrous proposals is telling.  There has been a denial that Labour will stop benefits for under 25s but the report doesn’t actually call for that. Labour have already announced a mandatory six month minimum wage ‘Jobs Guarantee’ for the young which is little more than workfare and will involve 10 hours a week unpaid ‘training’.

One thing is clear – the modern Labour Party are no friends of the poor.  Workfare, benefit sanctions and new attacks on both sick or disabled claimants and lone parents are likely to be at the heart of any future Labour Government.  The war on the poor will not end if the Tories lose the next election.

The report can be read at: http://www.ippr.org/images/media/files/publication/2013/11/no-more-neets_Nov2013_11516.pdf

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Transcript of Paul Routledge Mocking Man With Mental Health Condition

routtweet2UPDATE:  The original video featuring this interviewed was removed from youtube shortly after this piece was published.  Routledge claimed the transcript was a lie to smear him.  You can now decide for yourself by watching a new version of the interview:  http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/routledge-re-loaded-re-loaded/

Just in case it disappears, here’s a transcript of the interview in which Paul Routledge (@Paul_Rout) explains how his tenant blacklist could be used to discriminate against people displaying symptoms of mental health conditions.

Routledge is being interviewed by Vanessa Warwick (cheers BA) , former MTV presenter and now landlord and owner of the Property Tribes website – she’s on twitter @4_Walls.

Warwick:  And you told a story which actually had me really in hysterics erm it wasn’t funny at the time I’m quite sure but you had a tenant that had a very strange habit that actually made other tenants in your building want to leave.  Now what did this guy do?

Routledge:  Ok well, he had this feller that came to us and he was er I don’t know, mid twenties I s’pose and what have you, he was perfectly okay, he was great, he looked okay and what have you, I mean he wasn’t affluent or anything but he had a job.  But err we called him moo cow (laughter) and the reason we called him moocow is because at 3 ‘o clock every morning, we don’t quite know how, he opened up his sash window and Moooo (pulls funny face, more laughter).  So we don’t know why it happened but needless to say we nicknamed him moocow.

But the problem was, he was a funny feller and it’s a funny story but at the time, to all the other residents in the block and much to our distress this is what he would do, and they left and in the end he was sectioned because of problems he had, I think he actually went into shops and mooed as well (laughter from interviewer).  But y’know it’s something that you can’t check on traditional referencing with but had somebody now had they said look what about this guy it’d be great, well he pays his rent, he’s a smashing feller but actually he’ll lean out of the window at 3 ‘o’ clock and mooo he’ll give it the moo (laughter)

Warwick:  But during the interview I doubt he went mooo to you (laughter)

Routledge: No no, I didn’t get one moo out of him, know what I mean.  I didn’t even get him going down and eating some grass or anything.  There was no tell tales signs at all (more laughter)

Warwick: Ahh it’s hilarious.

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