Category Archives: Welfare Reform

It’s Time To Take Our Cities Back From Property Developing Parasites Like Westbrook’s Mark Donnor

new-eraMark Donner probably barely batted an eyelid as he casually threatened 93 families on the New Era Estate in Hackney with eviction in the run up to Christmas.

It’s unlikely that Donner, who it was revealed this week lives in a £4 million pound mansion, has ever had to worry about paying the rent.  He has led a life dripping with privilege from his days at the exclusive private Leys School in Cambridge right up until his current role as Managing Principal of the shadowy property investment firm Westbrook Partners.  At the weekend Donnor spends his life racing classic sports cars, a world away from his tenants who are currently facing the stark terror of upcoming homelessness.

When Donnor’s company bought the New Era Estate they immediately hiked rents on the properties which had remained affordable housing for decades.  Then they announced they planned to almost quadruple rents in some cases, a move which they knew all too well would make almost all of the current tenants homeless.  But Mark Donnor didn’t care about.  Despite his vast wealth he wants more money.  Our money.

Because people like Donnor don’t create anything of value.  His company couldn’t even be bothered to maintain many of the properties that they rented out in New York.  Every penny they get comes from us, the people who actually live in the cities they are happily ransacking in the name of greed.  They are nothing more than leeches, sucking the money and the life out of communities to maintain their own gilded existence.  According to The Guardian, one of Westbrook’s first moves after buying the New Era properties was to transfer ownership of the estate offshore.  This means they can dodge the corporation tax they might have had to pay on the vast profits they hope to make.  These parasites do not even want to make a contribution to the society that has allowed them to live such a pampered lifestyle at the expense of everyone else. Ebenezer Scrooge would fucking blush at the antics of these sharks.

The latest news is that Westbrook have said they will not evict the tenants before the end of the year, as if this means they no longer have the morals of sewer rats.  They were presumably just fucking with the New Era families when this possibility was raised little over a week ago.  What a jolly jape it must be to be a property investor in London.

An increasing number of people are saying to Westbrook you will not evict these tenants at all.  Dozens of people have pledged to peacefully but physically resist any eviction attempt by the company and more are signing up every day.   You can join the growing list at: http://ipledgetodefendneweraestate.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/we-the-undersigned-pledge-to-defend-new-era-estate-and-its-tenants-from-evictions-using-non-violent-resistance/

The New Era tenants are also holding a protest march on Monday 1st December which will gather outside Westbrook’s plush Mayfair offices and march to Downing Street to hand in a petition signed by over 250,000 people.  Meet at Berkeley Square, W1 at 12.30pm to join them, and please help spread the word by sharing the facebook event.

Class War have also announced a protest outside Westbrook Partners on the 13th December at noon.  The re-energised working class action group have recently had a major success and forced the new owners of the notorious ‘poor doors’ building in East London to the negotiating table.  Whilst that battle is not yet over, it shows what can be achieved by getting out on the streets and in their faces.

The people like Donnor trying to steal our cities are nasty pieces of work.  They will not give in without a fight.  But all they care about is money.  They will already be adding up the costs of these protests and any potential resistence to their planned evictions.  Let’s make sure it costs them dearly, not just for the New Era families, but to send a message to every other vulture out there that we are taking our city back and will not give up our homes without the fight of our lives.

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Jobcentre Busy-Bodies To Outrank Healthcare Professionals In Treatment For Addictions

Iain_Duncan_Smith_pissedJobcentre busy-bodies could soon have the power to force people in treatment for drug or alcohol problems to take up full time ‘work related activity’ if they are unable to beat their addictions quickly enough.

The DWP has published guidance on the support (stop laughing) that will be offered to people claiming Universal Credit who have a dependency on drugs or alcohol.  Claimants will be given six months to undergo what the Jobcentre calls ‘structured treatment’ during which period they may not be required to look or prepare for work.  After this has elapsed however it will be a very diferent story.

The guidance warns that any further treatment will only be taken into account in a Claimant Comitment if Jobcentre advisors agree this if the best way for a claimant to achieve their ‘employment goals’.  This truly chilling move means that the newly named ‘work coaches’ will be able to demand someone attends workfare raher than continue with treatment for their condition.  Jobcentre staff have no adequate training to make these decisions but they will now have more power over patients than the medical professionals treating them.  It is not hard to imagine some jumped up sanction happy Jobcenre twat deciding someone who has relapsed needs a short sharp shock of forced work which they will possibly fail to attend and end up being sanctioned for.

Of course the Jobcentre cannot actually stop anyone attending treatment.  But if a counselling or support sessions happens to clash with what they’ve decided you should do that day then you may face benefits being stopped for choosing getting better over ‘work related activity’.

The good news is that Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to force people into treatment seems to have been quietly abandoned, at least officially.  The document states that: “You will not be forced by your work coach into receiving treatment.”

It does not say what will happen if you refuse treatment.  It all sounds a bit like so-called voluntary unpaid work schemes.  There is a danger that if someone doesn’t agree to go into treatment then they may end up being sent on workfare instead.

Whilst some people with dependencies can lead functional lives the stark fact is that the most chaotic drug and alcohol users are not fit for work.  And they won’t get fit for work within six months.  Some people have to wait that long to get into rehab.  Whilst the pampered rich may be able to check into a plush private clinic and then go back to their warm homes and affluent lifestyles, the poorest face long waiting lists, shit housing, and now, the likelihood of benefit sanctions.

If there were any grown ups at the DWP then they would understand that addiction is a serious and complex health problem which cannot always simply be fixed in six months.  An adequate social security system needs to accept this and not drive people into the ground if they are unable to work.  Employers are hardly rushing out to hire people with current drug and alcohol problems anyway.  There are two million people without these problems desperately looking for work after all.

But a realistic approach to how society handles addiction would not get Iain Duncan Smith any pats on the head from the Daily Mail.  So instead the Government is adopting policies based on lazy tabloid stereotypes which will do more harm than good.  And cost more money in the long run.  It’s enough to drive you to fucking drink.

You can read the guidance at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-support-if-you-are-dependent-on-drugs-or-alcohol

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The Bastards Want Our Homes: Join The New Era Estate Tenants And Let’s Show Them We Intend To Fight

new-eraTenants on the New Era Estate in Hackney have been threatened with the ultimate revenge eviction by shadowy property developers and investment firm  Westbrook Partners.

The New Era estate has provided homes at affordable rents to local people since the 1930s – although current rents of around £600 a month are hardly cheap for someone on a low income.  When the properties were bought by Westbrook earlier in the year rents were immediately hiked by 10%.  Then residents were informed that the company planned to bring rents up to the same levels as the local private sector, where even small flats can fetch well over £2000 a month.

Alongside Westbrook in this nasty attempt at social cleansing were Benyon Estates who also bought a small stake in the properties.  This company is owned by Tory Richard Benyon, believed to be the UK’s richest MP.  A series of bold and well supported protests recently led this company to sell their stake in the estate.  The response from Westbrook was immediate, with residents receiving notice from the local council that the company would no longer honour an agreement to freeze rents until 2016 and even suggested that the tenants could be evicted before Christmas.

The tenants have vowed to continue their fight, beginning with a twitterstorm tomorrow to help bring attention to the vile Westbrook Partners. This is a fight that needs to be won.  A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warned that millions more people are set to face poverty due to soaring rents.  In truth it’s happening already.  As wages and benefits shrink, rents continue to soar in many parts of the country.  That money ends up in the pockets of faceless greedy bastards like Westbrook Managing Principal Mark Donner.  It’s time to show the world who they are and hold them to account for their destruction of our homes and communities.

For the latest news follow the New Era campaign @newera4all

Please sign and share the petition calling for the residents to be able to stay in their homes: https://www.change.org/p/new-era-should-not-become-the-end-of-an-era

Join the twitterstorm tomorrow (Weds 19th Nov between 1 and 6pm) which will target those involved in the estate’s current management – namely: @RealDonnor  @knightfrank  @onlywillneale  @KF_JRPhillips  @StephenJClifton @Nick_Braybrook  @KFResDev

Please help spread the word.  You can also find the tenants on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/neweraestatetenants

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Workfare Is Replacing Paid Jobs And The Tax Payer Is Funding It: Just Ask @BulkyBobsLtd

bulky-bobs-truckUPDATE: 14/11/14 Bulky Bobs say they are pulling out of workfare!  Top work to Liverpool IWW – a proper union.

A protest is planned in Liverpool outside the premises of waste collection firm Bulky Bobs after it was revealed that the so-called social enterprise are using workfare.

Bulky Bobs have a contract with Liverpool City Council to collect large items of household waste.  This is the kind of work which was once carried out by local authorities but is now outsourced to the private and voluntary sectors.  Bulky Bobs drive round in vans proudly emblazoned with the council’s logo.  But according to the Liverpool branch of the IWW Union, many of the people doing this work are not getting paid:

“[…] there is one paid manager in the store (who used to work for the company that is now LearnDirect which is one of the major ‘providers’) and the rest of the staff are on workfare or ‘volunteers’. Likewise, the connected company FRC (Furniture Resource Centre) has a warehouse on Brunswick Dock which runs on workfare, as do its vans which collect and deliver to Bulky Bobs.”

FRC Ltd, who own Bulky Bobs, say in this report (pdf), that they made 11 posts redundant in 2012/13, including operational staff. In a clear indication of workfare being used to replace paid jobs, in the same document they admit forcing people to work for no wages on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme.  Even more appallingly, they say they are receiving tax-payers money to go with their free forced workers.

FRC-workfareOf course they don’t admit this on their barely functioning shit website where they lie that placements are voluntary:

frc-workfare1

The IWW will be holding a protest outside Bulky Bob’s shop on London Road, Liverpool on Saturday 22nd November at 11am and have called on people to join them.  Please help by sharing the facebook page and in the meantime everone’s piling in on twitter

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Millionaires Threaten Protest March If They Have To Pay A Little Bit Of Tax

griff-fuck

Following the cringe-making intervention of a hasbeen comedian, now posh twats are threatening a protest over any future mansion tax calling it a ‘humanitarian’ issue.

An article in the Ham and High newspaper reveals that Hampstead millionaires may even be planning a march against the proposed tax – although for now they have settled on a petition to the Labour Party.

One dismayed toff, art dealer James Butterwick, claims he may even have to close his – by invitation only – art gallery where he stores his collection of “museum quality paintings with flawless provenance.”  Is your heart bleeding?  Mine fucking isn’t.

Of course Butterwick is most worried about his dear old mam who lives in a house worth a mere £4 million and can’t afford to pay any more tax*.  Yet according to Butterworth’s linkedin page, his family could afford to send him to Eton College.

Hundreds of thousands of households are currently under threat of losing their home since the introduction of the Bedoom Tax.  Just down the road from Hampstead, young mothers are being socially cleansed from the capital due to the Benefit Cap, soaring rents and the desperate shortage of social housing.  The response from the rich has been to openly mock or turn their backs.  Yet now they expect us all to take their whining seriously just because someone has suggested they actually make a fair contribution towards the public services they depend on.  This is the real something for nothing culture.  They want the hospitals, the police, their bins emptying and the tree-lined streets.  But they don’t want to fucking pay for it.  That’s why they only pay a tiny fraction of their wealth in Council Tax compared to the rest of us.

Labour’s proposed mansion tax doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.  It is true it affects more people in London, but that’s because London has lots of rich people.  And London has a lot more poor people and many of them don’t have a home at all.  There are no Hampstead millionaires planning a protest march about that.

If you’ve heard enough from the arrogant rich join the Poor Doors demo tomorrow (Wednesday 12th November, 6pm 1 Commercial St, E1) which could see the biggest and most boisterous turn out yet after last week’s vindictive arrests.  Then on November 22nd head to Fitzroy Square to tell Griff Rhys Jones to fuck off if he doesn’t want to pay a little bit of tax on one of his mansions.  Class War will be announcing the details of their own Mansion Tax policy at this event.  Let’s make the rich feel uncomfortable for a change.

*It is hard to believe that anyone living in a £2 million pound house is actually that poor.  There is an easy solution however to the so-called problem of older people who have low incomes  but are living in houses that have increased sharply in value.  The handful judged to be in genuine need could pay the tax in the form of equity on their houses, to be recovered from their estates when they die.  Then they’d have nothing to complain about.  Alternatively they could take in a lodger or try and work a few more hours, the advice given by the government to people facing the Bedroom Tax.

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Burning Boris Sparks Arrests At Poor Doors Demo

poor-doorsTwo people were arrested last night after an unprovoked attack by police on a lively and good-natured protest against the notorious ‘poor doors’ in London.

Around a hundred people gathered outside the swanky entrance of 1 Commercial Street – a luxury block of flats with a handful of social housing properties included.  A weekly demonstration has been held outside the building ever since it emerged that the tenants living in social housing are forced to use a different door to the toffs occupying the posh flats.

Last night’s protest saw an effigy of London Mayor Boris Johnson burst into flames whilst an angry mob chanted “Burn Boris Burn”.  A heavy police presence looked on, but the mood remained jovial and defiant as people waved sparklers, whilst occassional red flares added some Bonfire Night pizazz.  After Boris was reduced to a pile of simmering embers, a clearly amused member of the fire brigade tipped water over the Mayor’s remains after instructions from police.

The protest, as on previous weeks, was scheduled to end at 7pm.  At around five to seven, just as things were starting to wind down, police lurched into the crowd grabbing several of the fantastically named Class War Women’s Death Brigade who were dancing with a banner.  Their target was Jane Nicholl, a member of the group and long standing supporter of the Poor Doors protest.  Despite valiant attempts from the crowd to release her, Jane was bundled into the back of a police van which was then promptly surrounded by protesters shocked at this senseless and unprovoked arrest.  Police reinforcements soon arrived and punchy coppers with dogs began to push protesters away leading to one more person being detained.

The arrest of Jane Nicholl, who was refused her medication and threatened with ludicrous arson charges, reveals a sinister pattern of events.  The only previous arrest at the these protests was of her partner and anarchist blogger Ian Bone, a high profile member of Class War who helped to instigate the demonstrations  It appears that the police are trying to force people off the streets by targetting and arresting those they have decided are ring leaders.  The only possible response to that is for as many people as possible to get down to next week’s Poor Doors protest and show the bastards we will not be intimidated.

Both Jane and the other person arrested were finally relased in the middle of the night.  Freedom Bookshop have issued a call for witness statements to help with any upcoming court cases.

Please helps spread the word: Poor Doors Demo, every Wednesday, 6pm, 1 Commercial Street, E1, next to Aldgate East tube

Pic: Guy Smallman

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Griff Rhys Jones Is A Joke That’s Not Funny, Let’s Make Sure He Fucking Knows It

Fitzroy_Square_London

Fitzroy Square, that Griff Rhys Jones says was a slum until he moved in.

This rich often conceal their arrogance and sense of entitlement under a cloak of humility or even fake concern for the normal people whose work and money funds their lavish existence.  But not Griff Rhys fucking Jones whose recent comments about the proposed mansion tax reveal the ugly face of greed and privilege.

Most people under 35 probably don’t have a clue who he is.  He rose to fame as the one who wasn’t funny on the BBC’s satirical Not The Nine O’Clock News Show in the 1980s before going on to become comedian Mel Smith’s sidekick in a series of boring television shows.  Now he seems to have one of the weird deals that vaguely famous smug twats get with the BBC where all they have to do is go on holiday and the station will send along a licence-payer funded camera crew and pay them vast sums of our money for doing fuck all.

Despite this gilded existence he never stops whining.  In his latest outburst he whinges that he will move abroad if any tax is introduced on his luxury central London home that he says was a slum when he moved in 15 years ago.  They really think this way.  If they move into a mansion that could do with a lick of paint then they think then they are hard done by, like a poor person.  Never mind that he also owns a huge property in Suffolk that he never stops complaining about either. 

Of course what he’s really pissed off about is that he’s made millions out of  London’s soaring house prices and now might have to pay a meagre tax on his windfall.  The same housing boom that has made much of the capital unaffordable for normal people who unlike Griff actually have to work for a living.  He just expects money to keep falling from the sky.  This is the kind of swaggering audacity that has seen the rich dragged from their beds and murdered in more enlightened periods of history.

If Gryff Rhy Jones had been born on a council estate he’d probably be a junior manager at some Wonga branch now, taking out his bitterness on the staff he considers beneath him because they earn 50p less an hour than he does.  That’s if he managed to climb that high.  He’s quite likely to have ended up sitting in Wetherspoons all day boring people shitless with his embarrassing attempts at being funny and trying to blag a pint off anyone unlucky enough to sit down next to him.

But instead he went to public school and then Cambridge ensuring that even someone of his mediocre talent could rise through the media elite to become a very rich man.  Its about who you know and how much money you’ve got, not what you know in his world.  It’s certainly not about what you do, because Griff Rhys Jones hasn’t actually done very much at all.  Yet he still gets to lecture us from the pages of The Daily Telegraph where he says he says he’s not going to ‘squeal’ just because that’s what people want from the rich.

It’s time to make an example of someone.  If Griff Rhys Jones doesn’t like it here then he should fuck off as quickly and quietly as possible.  Or better still be deported.  Until he goes he should be reminded every single day what people think of over-privileged self-entitled parasites like him.  We don’t want you Griff.  And neither does anyone else.

The newly energised Class War have called a demo in Fitrovia Square on  Saturday November 22nd from noon where they will be calling on Griff Rhys Jones to fuck off. 

In the meantime tomorrow’s Poor Doors demo outside 1 Commercial Street, London E1 has a bonfire night theme.  Others are planning fun and games in central London.  Help this year’s Guy Fawkes Night go with a bang and get out on the streets.

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