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Permanent Workfare, Housing Benefit Cuts, Food Stamp Style Smart Cards And School Children To Face Jobcentre Harassment – The Latest Rantings From Iain Duncan Smith

IDS-slugSchool children will face Jobcentre harassment from the age of 15 whilst claimants thought to have drug and alcohol problems will be paid benefits on smart cards if the Tories win the next election said Iain Duncan Smith in his speech to the party’s conference today.

18-21 year old who cannot find a job are to be placed on permanent workfare, whilst further caps on Housing Benefits will see yet more cities become unaffordable for anyone currently unable to work – whether this is through sickness, disability, high unemployment or having young children to care for.  And if this wasn’t enough then benefits are to be frozen for two years, meaning a real term cut in the incomes of the UK’s poorest people, whether they are in or out of work.

The smart cards will be for people Iain Duncan Smith thinks have fallen into a “damaging spiral” and are spending all their money on drugs, alcohol and gambling.  Whilst details so far are scant, it seems likely to be similar to the Australian Basics Card which aims to control how benefit recipients spend their money.  The scheme has already proved hugely expensive and has led to people unable to shop at cheaper stores such as Aldi, who government officials say do not meet the “set criteria”.  Predictably Basics Cards have not prevented claimants buying drugs, alcohol or tobacco.  In the UK it is likely to stop people who have genuine problems with drugs or alcohol from seeking treatment in case the Jobcentre find out.  It is a stupid idea, as unworkable as it is callous.  You can see why it would appeal to a nasty fucking idiot like Iain Duncan Smith.

Permanent workfare for 18-21 year old is equally draconian, and equally unworkable – so unworkable that it was actually first announced in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement last year and then never implemented.  Already there isn’t enough workfare to go round, and with resistance to workfare showing no signs of dying down, there will be few community organisatins willing to take part in such an explitative programme.  Meanwhile sending Jobcentre busybodies to harass schoolchildren when they should be studying for their GCSE’s and aren’t likely to be looking for a job or eligible for benefits for two or three years seems little more than a waste of everybody’s time.

With Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms unravelling in all directions and poverty not seen in generations returning to haunt the UK, there was nothing in his conference speech to suggest he has learnt anything from his failure.  The scary thing is, he thinks he is doing a wonderful job – even still pretending that Universal Credit will eventually be rolled out across the country.  Yet across the UK millions of people are facing a Winter where they will face the bleak choice between heating or eating and many will not be able to afford either.

It is horrifying that the Tories seem to think they can win an election by making poor people poorer.  Perhaps more frightening is that the Labour Party have eagerly embraced this vile competion to attack and scapegoat those with nothing.  Whoever wins the next election it will be down to us – unemployed claimants, disabled people, parents and low waged precarious workers – to fight these bastards.  It will be the struggle that defines the neo-liberal age as capitalism run rampant drives people into the the ground in the name of making more profit for the rich.  We must continue to fight, and we must win.

Crash the Tory Party Conference Twittersphere with DPAC!!  (@Dis_ppl_protest).  Use Hashtag: #CPC14 to send your own messages or tweet DPAC’s!

Then join the week of action against workfare next week and support the Focus E15 mums fighting for decent housing for all of us – for more details follow them @E15OpenHouse or on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Focus-E15-Mothers/602860129757343

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#proudtowork – Yet Another Money Grabbing Scam From The Welfare-To-Work Parasites

Welfare to Work bosses pictured at yesterday’s #proudtowork launch

The body established to lie on behalf of the fraud ridden welfare-to-work industry have launched a new campaign on the back of a report so breath-takingly dishonest it would make Iain Duncan Smith blush.

According to the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the floundering Work Programme has been a huge success and is set to add £18 billion to the economy.  This is based on a report which ERSA commisioned from a consultancy company called Europe Economics who have mangled the figures in an attempt to hoodwink the DWP into giving Work Programme providers like A4e and G4S even more tax payer’s cash.

The report claims that around 100,000 people have gained jobs over the last three years as a direct result of the Work Programme.  Whether this is true is almost impossible to establish.  Long term unemployment has fallen, but only stands at 20,000 lower than back in 2010 when this Government weren’t elected.  Economic growth has eventually returned which would cause unemployment across the board to fall.  The report claims to have accounted for this by looking at the number of job vacancies, but what they don’t measure is the huge rise in self-employment.  According to ERSA boss Kirsty McHugh at the launch of the report, one in ten of the job outcomes on the Work Programme is self-employment.  There is no evidence wheher this self-employment is actually making claimants any money or whether they have just transferred their claim over to Working Tax Credits after pressure from their Work Programme provider.

The report decides to completely ignore Employment Support Allowance (better known as sickness benefit) claimants on the Work Programme, the worst performing aspect of the scheme.  It acknowledges that the growth in people getting jobs could be down to other welfare reforms and that the Work Programme might just be displacing jobs elsewhere. In truth they have pulled this figure out of their arses.

But then it gets worse.  The £18 billion they claim the Work Programme has added to the economy is over the next 50 years.  This is made up of the extra money the claimant will receive over their working life, the money saved by the government in benefit payments, and some magical money added on top which they pretend it will save businesses.  The problem with this figure, and it’s a fuckin big one, is that it assumes that everyone who gets a job and keeps it on the Work Programme is a 17 year old with 50 years of working life ahead of them.  17 year olds aren’t even eligible for the Work Programme.

Even taking their bungled figures at face value, all the report shows is that the Work Programme is adding £140 milion a year to the economy.  It is costing around three times that.  People leaving the Work Programme are now being forced onto the £300 million Help To Work scheme.  These costs will go on and on as new schemes are devised to harass and demoralise unemployed people.  Even when the figurs are spun to the point of parody by the very same industry that is raking in all that money, all they can do is show the Work Programme is costing a fortune to achieve virtually fuck all. But then being paid a fortune to do fuck all has long been about the only speciality of the UK’s biggest benefits scam, the welfare to work industry.

ERSA have launched a twitter page as part of their latest marketing strategy to lie bout the success of the Work Programme in the hope of being paid more of our money.  You can find them @Proud_to_Work and they are tweeting using the hashtag #proudtowork.

The report is available at: http://ersa.org.uk/media/news/work-programme-add-%C2%A318bn-value-uk-economy

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How The TUC Always Planned To Abandon Out of Work Benefit Claimants

boycott-workfare-real-jobsThe TUC’s shameful support of workfare may be part of a deliberate strategy of trying to win support for the welfare state by abandoning those they believe people see as the ‘undeserving poor’.

Towards the end of last year the TUC invited disability and anti-poverty charities to a one day conference called Winning on Welfare.  The real reason for this misnamed vol-au-vent munching session however was to discuss the terms of surrender as the TUC announced they planned to focus their support for social security on working claimants only.  They were quite candid about the reasons for this, a document accompanying the event explained:

“We must understand that the government has majority support for its general approach and that there is very strong support for some changes such as the benefit cap … People think that the current system is unfair as they think there is too much abuse and a dependency culture which keeps people from getting a job.”

The remedy for this according to the TUC is “to show that the government’s welfare reforms are a threat to the hard working people the government claim to support in the welfare debate.”  As such the TUC have decided to abandon people who are unemployed or unable to work due to chlld or other care commitments, sickness or disability.  Instead they will focus on the five week wiating period set to be a part of Universal Credit and on warning ‘hard working people’ what might happen to them if they lose their job or become unable to work.

This policy was manufactured based on a poll they carried out which found that some people had negative views of benefit claimants.  This was followed up with two further focus groups made up of people with “soft support” for the government’s current policies.  Somewhat predictably these groups were found to have views which softly supported the  government’s current policies.

Despite this however, most people strongly supported the principles of social security, even down to specific types of benefit such as Tax Credits or disability benefits.  The only benefit which was unpopular overall was Housing Benefit, which goes into the pockets of landlords, not claimants.

This apparant contradiction has been a feature of other research into people’s views on the benefits system, including that produced by the DWP.  Whilst Iain Duncan Smith has made much of the popularity of the Benefit Cap, the number in support fell to less than half if it was shown to cause people to have to move from their local area.  A DWP poll showed support for the Bedroom Tax initially, yet once people realised the suffering it would cause it became an electoral liability.

What all the research seems to show is that some people, usually slightly over half, are responsive to the kind of scrounger rhetoric that has poisoned the debate about social security.  But they are also often passionate supporters of the principles of a welfare state and do not want to lose it.

Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are built on lies: two of the main ones being that the social security system was generous to begin with, and that there is a job for everybody if they just try hard enough.  These lies began under the last Labour government who decided that even people with serious illnesses should be declared fit for work and forced to compete in the jobs market.  They called this equality, even empowerment.  It has caused breath-taking suffering.

There are around four million people on out of work benefits.  The most recent figures show there are about 650,000 job vacancies.  The idea that there is enough work to go around isn’t even taken seriously by the Tory think tank who designed current welfare policies, and who recently said that reducing unemployment to zero is neither feasible nor desirable.  As for the lie that the social security system was generous, well a million people using foodbanks soon demolishes that claim.

Many of those using foodbanks are working and of course in-work benefits must be defended.  The TUC could even go further and fight – really fight, not just print leaflets – to get those workers a decent wage.  That is the point of trade unions after all.  But to betray those out of work, just because 52% of people agreed that “too many people depend on government hand outs”, is inexcusable.  Winning on welfare means actually having the fucking argument not cravenly following the whims of whatever a polling company says public opinion is this week.  It means not cowardly accepting the Labour Paty’s current policies which seem to favour a two-tier social security system based on how long people have been in work, with benefits stopped or means tested for the young and forced work for people who are longer-term unemployed.

This is how we lose the welfare state.  By begging for compromises instead of demanding comprehensive social security for everybody.  By conceding defeat based on weak public opinion instead of arguing that it is an atrocity that people should go hungry in one of the richest countries in the world.  By not fighting against unpaid work, the one area where the TUC could actually make a real difference.  Unless they radically change course, the TUC must not be allowed to set the terms of this debate.  Because at the moment they are sadly not on our side.

Above pic from; http://wessexsolidarity.wordpress.com

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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

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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