Tag Archives: Iain Duncan Smith

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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RIP David Clapson, Another Man ‘Helped’ To Death By Iain Duncan Smith

RIP David Clapson, the latest tragic victim of callous welfare reforms.

RIP David Clapson, the latest tragic victim of callous welfare reforms.

When Funghi, the unemployed alcoholic  featured in the recent Benefits Street television series, disclosed that he had been abused as a child, most of those condemning him on twitter did not even blink.  Such is the state whipped up contempt amongst some towards people on benefits, that not even the revelation of a tragic childhood was enough to stop the bullying mob.

Yet one of the reasons child abuse is such an abhorrent crime is that the scars often last a lifetime.  Everybody knows this.  Addiction, depression, low self-esteem, isolation, these are just some of the ways that a life can be blighted by mistreatment as a child.  Often people like this find it hard to just get a job, and often not through want of trying.  The sad truth is that employers are not rushing out to hire people addicted to drink or drugs, or those with a serious mental health condition, or even people who might simply be judged to have a mild personality disorder.  In an economy based on high unemployment, and no real political will to change that, some people will always be left behind.  There are over two million people currently looking for a job.

Captitalism chews people up and spits them out.  Everybody knows this as well.  Whether the stress of a shit job or no job, poverty, lack of adequate housing and fractured communities, the pressures faced by those at the bottom are immense.  Yet the poor are now expected to be super-heroes.  Lone parents are not only expected to juggle looking after young children with endless work-related activity imposed by Jobcentres, but also to feed them healthy food, home-cooked on the fucking Aga using only natural ingredients.  It doesn’t matter that the pittance those parents have to survive on barely pays for value chicken nuggets and oven chips.  They should make do and mend, live on ten pounds a week, darn socks by the fire and be grateful that their children are just malnourished, not starving.

Disabled people and those with health conditions are now having those conditions and disabilities magically disappeared by endless health assessments which are designed to stop their benefits.  Such is the triumph of neo-liberalism, the rhetoric goes, that there is a job for anyone now if they just try hard enough.  If you can tweet you can work as one Tory MP claimed.  The stark fact that employers are guilty of grotesque discrimination towards disabled workers is swept under the carpet at best, or at worst disabled people themselves are blamed for this prejudice.

Many tyrants claim to be helping the people whose live are demolished by their acts of barbarism.  Whether European invaders ‘civilising’ Africa by forcing the people into chains, or Tony Blair carpet-bombing Baghdad to save it, death and destruction have often been inflicted by messianic monsters who believe they are killing people for their own good.

The latest government workfare scheme is called Help To Work.  It is nothing of the sort of course, when this type of workfare was tried in a pilot scheme it had no impact on whether people found a job.  But that hasn’t stopped gushing press releases from the DWP lying about all the wonderful new support the scheme offers.  In truth this so-called support is either forced labour or starvation and this Government couldn’t particularly give a fuck which.

Under the guise of this ‘help’, Iain Duncan Smith has re-designed the already scant support of the social security system to be a torture machine.  Slip up, just for a second, and you will be dragged down, to poverty, homelessness and destitution.  It doesn’t even matter if it’s not your fault.  People newly diagnosed with cancer now spend as much time fighting the DWP so they can have enough money to eat, as they do fighting their illness.  Victims of domestic abuse face being socially cleansed from the area they may have grown up in, instead of being provided safe, and secure housing.  Kids who’ve been in care are sanctioned, cut off benefits completely, and left to beg, rob, or sell their bodies to survive.

Today the Daily Mirror features the harrowing case of former soldier David Clapson on their front page.  This man, a 59 year old diabetic, was left penniless and without even electricity to keep his insulin chilled in the fridge.  A coroner found he had no food in his stomach.  His crime was to miss a meeting at the Jobcentre.  His punishment was death by benefit sanction.  Sanctions which ‘help’ people and according to one senior DWP official are even welcomed by those they are inflicted on.

David is not the first person to die as a direct result of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms, and he will not be the last.  We will never hear of most of them.  As this Government knows only too well, the people they are waging war on are largely voiceless.  But there is an atrocity quietly taking place in the UK right now.

It is not worth one of these deaths to catch the tiny minority of benefit claimants who might be actively avoiding work.  In a country that spends millions on aircraft carriers, sports competitions, royal weddings and second homes for MPs, there is clearly enough money to carry a tiny handful of people on a subsistence income.  People who if the tabloids are to be believed do not live lives that many would envy anyway.  No-one who queues up outside the off-licence in the morning is usually very happy.  And daytime TV is shit, even on a flat-screen television set.

A society that drives some people to their deaths in the hope of catching a scrounger is no longer humane.  It is barely even a society.  Perhaps that is the point.  The rich would far rather have us fighting each other for the scraps they throw down than have a compassionate, strong and united working class.  We must change this, us from below.  If we do not, then the future is  not one you will want your children to grow up in.

UPDATE: David Clapson’s family have launched a petition calling for a public inquiry into the sanctions that killed him, please sign and share: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-hold-an-inquiry-into-benefit-sanctions-that-killed-my-brother

Sign the petition to scrap the benefit sanctions which killed David Clapson without exceptions.

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Reducing Unemployment To Zero Neither Feasible Nor Desirable Says Iain Duncan Smith’s Think Tank

CSJThe think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith has let the cat out of the bag and admitted that reducing unemployment to zero is neither feasible or desirable.

The comments come in the latest report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the madcap Christian dominated think tank that came up with Universal Credit. The CSJ praises George Osborne’s drive for full employment (stop laughing) but points out that this does not mean everyone should have a job, but that employment levels remain at a level which does not cause inflation.

The problem for the CSJ, and George Osborne, is that if work was in plentiful supply then the bastards would have to pay us properly.  That is why real full employment is neither feasible nor desirable to the people who profit from our work.  Capitalism cannot function without unemployment but still unemployed people are not just blamed for this situation, but endlessly punished with workfare and benefit sanctions.

The CSJ’s  astonishing admission comes alongside proposals to send young people on workfare from the moment they leave education as well as recommendations to provide lucrative new payment regimes for welfare-to-work companies to run unpaid work schemes.  The Centre for Social Justice is known to have received funding from these companies.  And that just about sums these scum up.  They can’t fix unemployment and they don’t want to, they just want to make a profit from it.

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The Staggering Cost Of One Man’s Delusions: £25 Billion Squandered On Bungled Welfare Reforms

iain-duncan-smithThe recent report from the Major Projects Authority, which revealed that Universal Credit is such a fucking disaster they had to invent a whole new category to describe it, also laid bare the astronomical cost of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms.

Just under £11 billion is budgeted to be squandered on some of the DWP’s largest projects, and that figure doesn’t include Universal Credit.  The cost of this hare-brained experiment is shrouded in mystery now it has been classed as ‘reset’, but last year the Major Projects Authority reported that the bill would reach £12.8 billion.

Even this is far from the whole story.  Community Work Placements, the latest mass workfare scheme, will cost almost a third of a billion.  The costs of other Jobcentre schemes, such as Mandatory Work Activity, are not included in the above figures.  At the very least the budgeted costs of welfare reform exceed £25 billion pounds.  The true figure is likely to be much higher as reforms such as the Bedroom Tax unravel and start to cost the tax payer even more money.

The good news is that not all of this budget has been spent.  It had been assumed by the DWP that the Work Programme would actually help some people get jobs.  They thought wrong.  Such has been the dismal performance of the payment by results scheme that it is one of the few of Iain Duncan Smith’s pet projects that is actually running under budget.

The bad news is that this kind of crazed optimism has led to ludicrous spending projections in which IDS has decided his reforms will lead to the cost of Jobseeker’s Allowance falling by over a third by 2017.  This is likely to be because of all the new jobs that he thinks will be magically created by Universal Credit.  What it means is that there is a time bomb in the social security budget for whichever bunch of bastards manages to win the next election.

With all this money being thrown around to bully and harass claimants off benefits it might be expected that spending on social security would fall, especially as those benefits themselves have been subject to huge cuts.  This is not the case however and total spending on social security this year is forecast to be £10 billion higher than before the cuts began.  This figures includes pensions, but spending on unemployment benefits, housing benefits and tax credits has reached record levels under this Government.  Even spending on sickness benefits seems back on the rise despite Atos and the DWP’s attempt at curing people with endless assessments and workfare.  It turns out people are still getting sick.

It is genuinely astonishing that a Government obsessed with austerity has given a blank cheque-book to a fucking idiot like Iain Duncan Smith.  The real tragedy is that if some of this money had actually gone into to those who needed it then some of the worst impacts of the economic downturn could have been avoided.  Instead the opposite has happened.  The very poorest have been driven to destitution whilst billions has been shovelled into the pockets of grasping crooks in the welfare-to-work industry like A4e and G4S.

We are all paying the price of this reckless spending spree, and the social costs of child poverty, homelessness and despair that Iain Duncan Smith has spent billions creating will last for generations.  One day people will look back in horror that one man’s folly was allowed to run rampant through so many lives.  But for now the horror show continues unabated, and the financial cost is nothing compared to the tragedy of future’s destroyed and lives demolished.

To view the Major Project Authority report visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-government-major-projects-portfolio-data-2014

To see benefit expenditure and projections download the spreadsheet: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/310483/outturn-and-forecast-budget-2014.xls

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Welfare Reform Has Failed: Number Of Long Term Claimants Soars Under Tories

long-term-claims-tableThe number of long-term claimants on the main out of work benefits has almost doubled since 2010 when this Government weren’t elected DWP statistics have revealed.

In 2010 a total of 698,000 people had been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, the Work Related Activity Group element of Employment Support Allowance (WRAG ESA), Income Support for Lone Parents (ISLP), or a combination of these, for three out of the last four years.  By 2013 this figure had leapt to an astonishing 1,244,000.

This does not represent everyone who has been on long-term benefits.  Whilst the statistical release doesn’t explain why these claimants were singled out in the figures it seems likely it is because all of those on these benefits are subject to ‘conditionality’.  That means they face workfare, benefit sanctions and all the so-called ‘help’ of the welfare-to-work sector to try and bully them off benefits.  Many will have endured two years of the shambolic Work Programme and like most sent on the scheme have failed to find lasting work.

The figures are particularly embarrassing for Iain Duncan Smith as this is exactly the groups of claimants many of his bungled welfare reforms have been aimed at.  Billions has been spent harassing and stigmatising this group only to make the problem far worse than when the Tories came into office.

The analysis of the figures points out that one reason for the growing number of this kind of long term claimant is that it does not include all those on working age benefits including people in the Support Group of ESA – who are not forced to look for work, or those still claiming the old Incapacity Benefit.  The DWP’s excuse is that the Atos re-assessments, which have found hundreds of thousands of people ‘fit for work’ and so placed them under a conditionality regime, are responsible for this huge rise in the number of long-term claimants.  Whilst on the surface this seems to make sense, it actually turns out to be complete bollocks.

This is because the total number of people on all working age benefits for three of the last four years –  including the ones left out of the first figures – has also risen since 2010, from 2.46 million to 2.49 million.  The ESA re-assessments, which have caused untold suffering and are linked to an ever growing number of suicides, have not made a dent.  This is backed up by the official figures for the number of people on all forms of out of work sickness or disability benefits which despite Atos, has only fallen by about 200,000 since 2010.  This comes nowhere near to explaining the jump of half a million people on long-term conditionality based benefits.

Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms are absolutely hurting – unprecedented numbers of people are finding themselves dependent on foodbanks to feed their children.  Welfare reform is costing a fortune, with billions of tax payer’s money being shovelled into the pockets of grasping parasites like G4S.  But it clearly isn’t working.  4% of the working age population has now been on benefits for three out of the last four years, up from 2.3% in 2010.  Iain Duncan Smith’s reckless experiment has failed.  And the cost of his breath-taking arrogance has been homelessness, child poverty and in some tragic cases, even death.

View the figures at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/307634/duration-on-working-age-benefits-may-2014.pdf

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The Unemployment Timebomb At The Heart Of Universal Credit

self-employed-earnings-graphIain Duncan Smith’s response this week to soaring low paid self-employment shows he remains as clueless as ever about what is really going on in the jobs market.

According to IDS, figures showing that the number of self-employed workers has jumped by 600,000 is a sign of “entrepreneurial spirit” and proves that his bungled and reckless policies are working. What is really going on is very different and lays the foundation for an unemployment time bomb at the heart of Universal Credit.

Some of the rise in self-employment is almost certainly down to falling living standards.  People who have taken early retirement are  setting up small businesses in an effort to pay soaring bills, along with so-called mumpreneurs – parents forced out of the workplace due to huge childcare costs and shit wages. The rise of the internet has also allowed some of those who are unemployed to generate a small income from self-employment, such as an ebay shop, or by carrying out small amounts of paid work online through micro-job sites.  Many companies use flaky self-employment contracts for sporadic or casual work to help them dodge minimum wage laws, or providing other benefits such as holiday pay.  These are some of the reasons self-employment is soaring, but few are really making much money.

Alongside this Jobcentre staff and Welfare-to-work companies are known to have encouraged unemployed people to claim Working Tax Credits and set up as self-employed, even if there is little chance of them earning a livable income. This gets them off the unemployment figures and onto a lower rate of benefits, although it may be a risky move for the claimant.  A claim for Working Tax Credits demands that those without children spend  30 hours a week working as part of their self-employment.  If they are unable to prove this then at some point the Tax Office may decide to take back the money that the DWP advised them to claim.

According to a report released late last year, the average annual income for self-employed workers (who earn less than £100,000) was just under £10,400 in 2011, a fall from from £15,000 in 2000.  There are currently four and a half million people who are self-employed.

£10,400 a year works out at £200 a week –  less than somebody working 35 hours a week on the current minimum wage would earn. That means that many, if not most, of these workers will be unable to claim the upcoming (stop laughing) Universal Credit as self-employed earners.

When Universal Credit is fully introduced, only those earning the equivalent of a full time minimum wage salary will be eligible for self-employment part of the new benefit which replaces Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.

Claimants will be given a year to achieve these earnings – although first they will have to pass the planned Jobcentre Dragon’s Den assessment to prove their self-employment is financially viable. If after 12 months they are not hitting the required earnings they will see benefits slashed as they will be assumed to be earning the full-time minimum wage when their claim is calculated.  Many will be forced to forsake self-employment at this point, and some will be told to do so by the Jobcentre.  Instead they will become ‘unemployed’ and expected to spend 35 hours a week carrying out ‘work related activity’ such as attending endless courses on how to write a CV or even full time workfare. They may even have to give up the work they are doing which makes them a small income because – astonishingly –  Jobcentre busy-bodies will have the power to sentence claimants to unpaid work instead of allowing them to carry out paid work on a self-employed basis.

Iain Duncan Smith may have convinced himself he has created a new spirit of entrepreneurship, but seems to have forgotten that even if this were true – and it isn’t – he plans to kill it stone dead.  And then all those self-employed workers will suddenly be back on the dole, and we will see the true extent of unemployment in the UK.

Above graph from the Tax Research report on plummeting earnings for the self-employed.

For the latest red tape ridden rules planned for self-employed Universal Credit claimants visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/254254/uc-and-self-employment-quick-guide.pdf

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DWP Block Report To Cover Up Work Programme Shambles

IDS-slugThe DWP are refusing to release an evaluation of the floundering £6 billion pound Work Programme despite the report having recently featured on Channel 4 news.

The evaluation is believed to be critical of the Work Programme and in particular benefit sanctions, warning that they found: “no conclusive evidence that sanctions were changing job search behaviour or increasing job entry rates.”

A Freedom of Information request asking to see the report has today been refused by the DWP on the grounds that they plan to publish it at an unspecified later date (PDF).  The evaluation was scheduled to be released in the Summer of last year.

This is not the first time the DWP have treated Freedom of Information (FOI) rules with contempt in a shoddy effort to conceal what’s really going on, and wrong, with the department.  A ruling by the Information Commissioner;s Office (ICO) ordering the release of the names of charities benefiting from free labour under the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme has been completely ignored.  A second ICO ruling (PDF) ordering the DWP to confirm whether a charity was involved in workfare was issued last month, and has so far been snubbed.  The DWP were found in breach of the FOI again (PDF) at the end of last month when they were slammed in a ruling for not taking the reasonable steps required to clarify another request relating to Mandatory Work Activity.

The DWP have claimed that if the public were allowed to know who is using workfare then the scheme might collapse.  They pretend this would stop people benefiting from the ‘disciplines’ that workfare offers and may even harm the economy.  After all, if people knew that household names such as The Salvation Army, the YMCA, Groundwork and The Conservation Volunteers were all forcing people to work without pay then they might decide these charities were a bunch of wankers and never give them a penny again.

There is no such excuse for refusing to release an evaluation into the Work Programme however – a report produced with our money.  The only person likely to look like a wanker if people see this document is Iain Duncan Smith himself who is still pretending how wonderful the Work Programme is.  The Work Programme statistics already show the scheme is a disaster and steadily getting worse. No doubt the DWP hope they can hide just how much of a wanker Iain Duncan Smith actually is until after the next election.  But it’s too late.  Everybody knows.

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