Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Universal Credit Begins With A Fraudster’s Free For All

universal-credit-shamblesToday marks the launch of Universal Credit, the all encompassing change to the welfare system that was furiously scribbled down on the back on an envelope after Iain Duncan Smith watched an episode of Shameless.

The changes, which will prove devastating for many of the lowest income families, are as inept as they are callous and likely to lead to unprecedented chaos.  The decision to restrict the roll out of Universal Credit to just a handful of claimants from one Manchester Jobcentre shows how even DWP Ministers are running scared of the new digital by default system.

A gushing press release from the DWP already reveals one major flaw even in this small trial.  Addressing concerns that many, if not most, claimants do not have internet access at home, the DWP boast:  “Eight computers will be available at Ashton-Under-Lyne Jobcentre Plus to help people who do not have access to the internet, and over 130 computers will also be available at certain libraries and council offices in Tameside.”

Making a claim for Universal Credit will involve providing huge amounts of personal information to the DWP via the internet.  Many claimants will have never used a computer before and have little understanding of online security.

It is unlikely Iain Duncan Smith, or Lord Fraud, have ever used an internet cafe or library to access the web.  If they did, they might have noticed that it is not uncommon to visit a site such as facebook or yahoo and find the person who used the computer before you is still logged in.

This is one of the reasons that banks warn“As you cannot be certain about the security of public wireless networks or computers in public places (like a library or internet café) you should be cautious about using internet banking services in these situations. Never change your security details while using a public wireless network or a public computer.”

Far from just changing your security details, such as your password, the DWP seem to be actively encouraging people to make their entire initial claim from public computers.  In some cases this could mean the next person to sit down at that machine could have complete access to a previous user’s Universal Credit account.  Even if the library or internet cafe uses software to clear caches and remove passwords after each session (and not all do), anyone looking over someone’s shoulder will be able to steal their log in details and gain access to their account.

This is not the first time Iain Duncan Smith has played fast and loose with claimant’s online safety.  The government job search website Universal Jobmatch has already been plagued by spam, scams and spoof vacancies.  This hasn’t stopped IDS throwing caution to the wind and not just recommending people use libraries to access Universal Credit, but leaving many claimants no other choice.

For all the DWP’s talk about getting tough on benefit fraud, they don’t appear to have a clue about protection from online fraud.  Whilst there is no secure way for people to access their Universal Credit accounts then Iain Duncan Smith has created an identity fraudster’s free for all that could turn into a living nightmare for some of the most marginalised people in the UK.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

UKIP’s Disappearing Welfare Policy: Claimants are “a parasitic underclass of scroungers”

ukip-bollocksUKIP’s mild success in Eastleigh – and before their swivel eyes pop out in over excitement it’s important to remember that they lost the election – is sadly not limited to Tory and Lib Dem strong holds.

UKIP have enjoyed similar mild success in several Northern towns amongst working class voters who’ve spotted not one of the three main parties give a flying fuck about them.  The truth is neither do UKIP.

Even some claimants have been sucked in as the party has gone deliberately quiet about their own welfare policies.  When @boycottworkfare began tweeting their workfare plans to claimants who thought UKIP might be on our side, they decided to ‘disappear’ their welfare policy summary from their website.

Luckily it was still available on google cache, where it won’t stay for ever so it’s reproduced below.  They also forgot to remove the full policy document from their server which can be downloaded at: http://www.ukip.org/media/pdf/UKIPwelfare.pdf

This is well worth reading and describes benefit claimants as “a parasitic underclass of scroungers”.

UKIP’s welfare policies include forced unpaid work for all Housing and Council Tax Benefit claimants, Incapacity Benefit (now ESA) slashed to Job Seeker’s Allowance rates and childcare support for working parents demolished.  Don’t trust them.

From Welfare to Workfare
A Welfare Policy for an Independent Britain
A Policy Statement
January 2010

The UK’s current welfare system is ridiculously complicated and requires an army of bureaucrats to administer. There are more than 70 separate benefits, each requiring masses of forms and helping to entrench dependency. UKIP’s proposals will humanise the system and help people to help themselves out of the poverty trap. UKIP will:

· Roll the mass of existing benefits into simpler categories, while ensuring every UK citizen receives a simple, non-means tested ‘Basic Cash Benefit’ (BCB)

· Roll key benefits – such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Student Maintenance Grant – into a single, flat-rate BCB set at the same weekly rate as Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support. For students, the BCB will be termed ‘Student Vouchers’ or ‘Training Vouchers’

· Allow part-time and temporary workers to continue claiming BCB until their wages reach UKIP’s proposed £11,500 personal allowance so they can take jobs without being heavily
penalised by the system

· Merge Child Benefit, the Child Trust Fund, Child Tax Credits and the Education Maintenance Allowance into an enhanced Child Benefit, payable for each of the first three children in a family

· Merge Early Years’ Funding, Sure Start, the childcare element of Working Tax Credit and the tax relief on Employer Nursery Vouchers into a flat-rate, non-means tested ‘Nursery Voucher’ to cover approximately half the cost of a full-time nursery place

· Ensure British benefits are only available to UK citizens or those who have lived here for at least five years. Currently, British benefits can be claimed by EU citizens in their arrival year

· Require those on benefits – starting with Housing and Council Tax Benefit recipients in private rented homes – to take part in council-run local community projects called ‘Workfare’ schemes. The schemes will be in addition to council jobs

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Think All Coppers Aren’t Bastards – Read This

acab-surveyJust over half of coppers would definitely report a colleague who violently assaulted someone a report has revealed this week.

In the wide ranging survey coppers were asked whether they would report another officer for punching someone as punishment for fleeing and resisting arrest.

In a shocking admission, only 56% said they would definitely report their colleague for the assault.  Equally revealing is that only 83% of coppers thought that punching someone as punishment is a serious or very serious offence. The most worrying part of all is that these coppers think they are the good guys.  Only 33% of officers said they thought most people in their force would definitely report the behavior.

The truth is it’s very easy for coppers to claim they would do the right thing in a survey -and even then, it appears many wouldn’t.  But in the case of a serious incident, such as a death in custody, with pressure coming from colleagues and above, then how many of even the pretend decent coppers would buckle under pressure.

The answer, past events suggest, is almost all of them.  That’s why, despite almost one and a half thousands deaths in custody since 1990, not one copper has been convicted.

Don’t believe that Inspector Morse shit.  Coppers really are all bastards.

The survey can be read at: http://www.open.ac.uk/icccr/files/icccr-police-integrity-report.pdf

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Empty Threats and Tantrums Are All Iain Duncan Smith Has Left In Universal Jobmatch Fiasco

IDSIain Duncan Smith has resorted to increasingly bizarre and empty threats in an effort to defend the shambolic Universal Jobmatch website.

The new job seeking website, which has been plagued by spam, scam and spoof jobs since its launch last month, has the facility for Jobcentre staff to remotely monitor how claimants are using the site.  Whilst the DWP is to force everyone on Job Seekers Allowance to register with the site in the New Year, they cannot legally compel claimants to tick the box giving advisors the right to snoop on their activity.

This obvious oversight in the construction of the new regime has led to yet more tantrums from Iain Duncan Smith.  Speaking to The Metro shortly before Christmas IDS appeared to suggest that claimants who do not allow Jobcentre staff to snoop on their online job seeking activity could face being hauled into Jobcentres on a daily basis.

When Universal Credit is introduced next year 5 million people will be expected to constantly look for ‘more or better paid’ work as a condition of keeping in-work benefits.  Those who are judged not trying hard enough to find jobs may have benefits sanctioned, or be forced into workfare.  The enforcement of this job seeking activity is to be ‘digital by default’ – suggesting that in the near future part time workers, sick or disabled claimants and self-employed people forced out of business due to Universal Credit, will all be required to sign up to Universal Jobmatch.

Even if just one in five of those claimants refuse to allow the Jobcentre access to their account, this this would mean around a million people hauled into Jobcentres every day.  Currently Jobcentres are running at full capacity, seeing around one and a half million people, mostly once a fortnight.  Far from being digital by default, if Iain Duncan Smith’s threats are implemented then the launch of Universal Credit will need to recruit tens of thousands of new public sector workers.

Since this isn’t on the cards anytime soon Iain Duncan Smith’s words should be greeted with the mocking contempt they deserve.  There is no legal requirement to tick the box granting the Jobcentre the right to snoop on your account and no way that the DWP can force you to accept cookies on a home computer.

Of perhaps most concern is Iain Duncan Smith’s attempts to threaten claimants with harassment should they exercise their basic legal rights.  This is a clear attempt to undermine the principle of equality under the law.  If the Secretary of State gets his way then one law for the rich and another for the poor will be firmly enshrined in DWP policy.

One person seems to have spotted that the DWP may be monitoring more than just activity on Universal Jobmatch but also attempting to monitor use of other websites.  Keep an eye on the following Freedom of Information request: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/information_returned_from_cookie/new

The Information Commissioner’s Office, who monitor data protection laws, provide guidance on some of the relevant laws surrounding Universal Jobmatch’s use of cookies, the small computer programmes that allow tracking of users activity on the site. 

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

8% Less New Houses Built Due to Universal Credit Warns Housing Association Boss

eviction_noticeA director of one of London largest housing associations has warned that house building and provision of new properties has been scaled down due to fears about the upcoming changes to the benefits system.

Speaking before the Public Accounts Committee today, Mike Donaldson, a director of social housing provider L&Q, warned of a double whammy with evictions and arrears set to rise under the new regime.  The impact of this will be that housing associations will be unable to spend cash building new homes meaning a toxic combination of fewer homes and more homeless people.

Such are his organisation’s fears of the oncoming debt tsunami that Donaldson claimed they had already cut the number of new properties provided over the last year from 1000 to 920, a fall of 8%.

Benefits are to be paid monthly under the new system and payments will go direct to tenants, leading to fears that some of those on the lowest income may find managing money difficult and fall into arrears.  On top of this a ‘bedroom tax’ will mean claimants having money docked from benefits, leaving them with either a weekly shortfall or forced to move.

Donaldson’s shocking admission comes on the day that information from pilot schemes to test the new payment system was announced by the DWP.  The figures suggest that rent arrears have doubled in the pilot areas, even though many of the most vulnerable tenants have not been included in the pilots.  No tests of the new system had taken place for tenants in the private sector, where around 30% of claimants have rent payments sent direct to their landlords.

With homelessness already soaring it seems that everyday this Government does something to make the problem worse.  The cardboard cities which emerged in London under the last Tory government may yet become a feature of every major city in the UK.

You can watch the meeting of the Public Affairs Committee, which also includes questions on the Work Programme (haven’t watched it yet so don’t know what was said) at: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/main/Player.aspx?meetingId=12123

Join the Housing for the 99% protests in London tomorrow (Tuesday 18th December)