Author Archives: johnny void

Iain Duncan Smith Is Still A Fucking Idiot – And Only We Can Stop Him

Incapacity Benefit for new claimants will go, replaced by Employment and Support Allowance with the emphasis on what a person with a physical or mental health condition can do, rather than what they can’t.

Peter Hain, Labour Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007

We need a system focussed on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need – and not just on what they can’t do.

Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2015

It’s just the same old shit, over and over again, whichever bunch of bastards is in charge.  The above two comments were made almost a decade apart and in that period the number of people claiming out of work sickness benefits has barely changed.  And why would it?  In any society there will be some people who cannot work due to illness or disability and as the pension age gets ever higher then that number as a percentage of the workforce will grow.

There is nothing unusual or unexpected about this.  Whoever you are reading this, one day you will get sick and then you will die.  If you are lucky this will not happen until you have reached retirement.  If not then you will be helped on your way to an early grave by politicians desperate to cover up for their failure to provide enough jobs by blaming unemployed, sick and disabled people for unemployment.

Iain Duncan Smith’s speech yesterday was a masterclass in this deception, but everything he said has been said before.  So out of ideas is the Secretary of State that he is now misrepresenting the entire process for claiming sickness benefits – pretending it is a binary system which “decides that you are either capable of work or you are not”.  This is simply an outright lie and he knows it.  Currently claimants are assessed as being fit for work, unable to work, or placed in the Work Related Activity Group which means capable of some work, or of being able to work in the future.  In the recent budget George Osborne declared that this group is to be scrapped, creating precisely the binary system that Iain Duncan Smith says he opposes.  Perhaps he hopes we won’t notice.  Perhaps even he hasn’t noticed.

The UK does not spend significantly more on out of work sickness and disability benefits than other comparable economies.  According to the OECD we spend a fraction more than Poland as a percentage of GDP on ‘incapacity’ – and less than Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, Belgium. Luxembourg, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.  It is true as Iain Duncan Smith said yesterday that the UK spends more than France, Germany and Japan.  In humane society this would be a source of pride.  Or at least it would be until you found out that Germany spends over three times as much on unemployment benefits whilst France and Japan – where the retirement age is lower – both spend almost double what the UK spends on pensions.  And the incapacity spending figures by the way come from 2011, before most of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts had been implemented.

Only an astonishing degree of self-delusion could explain Iain Duncan Smith’s latest belief that more workfare, more assessments, and more benefit cuts will magically cure those unable to work because of illness.  But then he is deluded.  That’s why he could claim yesterday that  “The Work Programme is … the most successful back to work programme we’ve ever seen.”  That’s the Work Programme that has seen less sick and disabled people enter employment than it was estimated would have done if the scheme hadn’t existed.  Hundreds of millions of pounds spent on making things worse.  This is what Iain Duncan Smith calls a success.

Rarely, if ever, has such a fucking idiot been given so much power over so many people’s futures.   If the human cost were not so great then the best response would be to point and laugh.  But we can’t do that, not as millions of lives are destroyed.  If society means anything at all it means looking after each other and that means driving Iain Duncan Smith back into the sewer he crawled from before he can do anymore damage.  No-one should stand idly by now.  We need to be relentless as he is, to wake up every day with one thought on our minds – to destroy Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms before they destroy us.

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Begging Is A Lifestyle Choice Says Leeds Councillor As Homelessness Charities Launch The Nastiest Campaign Yet

think-before-you-give

Leeds City Council have teamed up with the police and so-called charities, to come up with the nastiest campaign yet aimed at discouraging the public from giving a bit of spare change to homeless people.

The above poster has been placed at key sites across the city warning people not to give money to beggars because it may help fuel their addictions.  As ever the homelessness industry demands that people give the money to them instead so they can spend it on drink soaked conferences in posh hotels that cost £700 quid a ticket.

No thought at all seems to have been given about how this campaign will further stigmatise homeless people who already often face abuse and even violence from some members of the public. Those attacks will now be more likely as homeless people are smeared as addicts or drunks by the very organisations that claim to be on their side.  The dehumanisation of the very poorest is no longer just coming from the pages of the right wing press.

The truth is that the homelessness industry’s own figures show that only around half of street homeless people have a drink or drug problem.  And even these people still need to eat.  All that campaigns like these achieve – if they are successful – is that homeless people who do have drug or alcohol dependencies are forced to beg for longer.  No-one is going to give up smack because some bunch of fucking idiots have put a few posters on the walls after all.  Meanwhile those forced to beg because their benefits have been sanctioned are left to go hungry.  But then this is just a lifestyle choice according to Leeds Labour Councillor Mark Dobson.

What people in poverty need is more money, however it comes   There is plenty of research which shows this.  Yet this research is repeatedly ignored, not just by politicians obsessed with cutting benefits, but also by charities whose bosses are currently doing very well out of poverty and homelessness.  To attempt to smear and impoverish one of the most marginalised groups in society with campaigns like this is bad enough.  To do it to further line the pockets of overpaid charity chief executives is beneath contempt.

This is far from the first initiative aimed at stopping the public helping homeless people directly, but it is one of the most of unpleasant.  Luckily it has been a dismal failure, with just £50 raised according to the justgiving website. The people of Leeds have shown they are better than this.  It’s time these organisations realise that if they continue to attack homeless people then they won’t see a fucking penny of our money.  Give a beggar a quid instead.  At least you know it won’t be spent on campaigns like this.

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#WEcan Expose The Wannabe Tory Councillor Behind The DWP’s Workfare Campaign

After failing to become a Tory Councillor Laura-Jane Rawlings decided she was the voice of youth employment instead

After failing to become a Tory Councillor Laura-Jane Rawlings decided she was the voice of youth employment instead

It’s been a humiliating week for the DWP on social media.  Yesterday hundreds of people used the hashtag #fakeDWPstories to take the piss out of the them after Welfare Weekly revealed that they were inventing case studies in support of benefit sanctions.

Whilst all this was taking place the DWP were desperately trying to rescue their #WEcan campaign which had also become a laughing stock on twitter.  This was a shabby attempt to promote unpaid work schemes, and came with a gushing press release promising that up to 12,000 young people would be posting ‘workies’ and sharing their stories of unpaid work experience.  Those 12,000 young people were supposed to come from their campaign partners Youth Employment UK (@YEUKYouth).  They never turned up.  Fucking kids eh.

At first glance Youth Employment UK appear to be exactly what they say, which is “The Voice for Youth Employment in the UK”.  On twitter yesterday they claimed that both the organisation, and the woman who runs it, are politically neutral and all they care about is helping young people get jobs.  They emphatically denied that their Chief Executive, Laura-Jane Rawlings, is a Tory.  That tweet has now been deleted.

In truth Laura-Jane Rawlings stood as a Conservative candidate in the 2011 Corby Council elections.  She lost and shortly afterwards set up Youth Employment UK.  And be in no doubt, Laura-Jane Rawlings is Youth Employment UK.  She is the sole director, the website is registered to her and even one of her claimed corporate patrons – plotr – is a company run by her.

Her qualification for this lofty position as The Voice for Youth Employment is that she’s a life coach.  In a nice little sideline business if you pay her £35 quid she will talk to you on the phone for 50 minutes.  Her coaching, according to her, is inspired by the discredited pseudo-science neuro-linguistic programming along with counselling and Cognitive Behavoir Therapy – neither of which she seems to be qualified in.  As she boasts on her website, she isn’t really qualified in anything at all.

But of course none of that matters if you know the right people in the Conservative Party and are prepared to say the right things.  Yesterday she gave a cautious welcome to the announcement that young unemployed people are to be sent on bootcamps or face benefit sanctions.  She sounds far more like the voice of the Conservative Party pretending to be neutral than she does the voice of youth employment.  And she has been well rewarded for it.  Whilst Youth Employment UK say they have not been paid by the DWP for the #WEcan campaign, they have received a huge of amount of free advertising including national media coverage.

Youth Employment UK claim to be led by their young members and youth ambassadors rather than just a Tory spiv with a big mouth.  If this is the case then those young people need to know they are ripping off themselves and millions of their fellow young people by endorsing workfare and benefit sanctions.  There is no evidence that Work Experience schemes help people get jobs.  A recent DWP evaluation found that young people who refused workfare were more likely to find work than those who went on the scheme.   Demand a wage and join the fight to destroy workfare.

Visit Boycott Workfare’s website for more info on the fight against unpaid work.

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#WEcan and We Did Fuck Up The DWP’s Online Campaign To Promote Workfare

Once again the DWP have been reduced to a laughing stock on social media after their online campaign to promote unpaid work became dominated with comments from those opposed to workfare.

The #WEcan campaign aimed to enourage employers to provide unpaid work experience placements for young people.  The DWP had also hoped that young people would post up ‘workies’ – apparently the work version of a selfie – on social media alongside their experiences of unpaid work placements.  It turns out though that the young were too lazy and feckless even to bother doing that.  Minister for Employment Priti Patel must be furious.  It wasn’t like this when she worked for the tobacco industry encouraging kids to take up smoking.

Instead what happened is that the hashtag was dominated by people furious at a government that seems obsessed with forcing young people to work for no wages.  Alongside this many people used the hashtag to pledge to boycott some of the companies named as being involved in workfare, such as @marksandspencer, and @Halfords_uk.

Amusingly the DWP also invited people to laugh at them on facebook, where unfortunately for the department the #WEcan hashtag is already in use by the Wellness Education Cannabis Advocates of Nevada. The DWP’s social media team get paid real money – our money – for this bungling shit.

In what seems like an attempt by the DWP to muddy the waters the #WEcan campaign promotes all forms of work experience, including short placements for schoolchildren or paid internships as well as workfare schemes.  This led to some of the organisations backing the campaign complaining that they only do nice work experience and they don’t support the nasty stuff.  These organisations should be at the forefront of challenging the government about ever more exploitative Jobcentre enforced workfare which can now involve 780 hours of forced, unpaid work.  Instead they are quite happily helping the DWP rehabilitate workfare with gushing tweets about how wonderful unpaid work can be.  So fuck them, they are on the wrong side.

The DWP have now resorted to drafting in Jobcentres to tweet furiously and try to rescue the campaign. Make sure it doesn’t work and tell @WEcan what you think of workfare using the hashtag #WECan.  Please spread the word.

Here’s what some people have said so far:

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#WEcan Fuck Up The DWP’s Online Campaign To Promote Mass Workfare

workfare-stick-upA whole host of corporate vultures have teamed up with the DWP to launch an online campaign celebrating young people being coerced into working for no pay for some of the richest companies in the UK.

Marks & Spencer, Whitbread, Halfords and shamefully the BBC have all signed up to the #WEcan campaign which aims to encourage even more businesses to provide unpaid work experience positions instead of employing young people properly.  The new initiative comes as the Government draws up plans to force all unemployed young people into permanent unpaid work if they are unable to find a job within six months of becoming unemployed.  This means they have to find enough grubby companies and so-called charities who are prepared to take part in this shocking exploitation.  The #WEcan campaign is part of an attempt to achieve this, so let’s fuck it up.

Already parasites from the welfare-to-work industry are tweeting using the hashtag #WEcan whilst a tumblr page has been set up calling for young people to share their experiences of workfare.  The DWP have also posted a host of youtube videos (comments currently enabled) such as this one which says that “whatever you are doing, any experience is good experience”.  Gone is any pretence at providing placements which involve real training or a chance of a job at the end.  Instead they want young people to mop floors and stack shelves for two months and have the fucking gall to claim they are doing them a favour.

Please help spread the word about this and tweet using the hashtag #WEcan.  And let’s make sure everybody knows which companies are using workfare, starting with @marksandspencer, @premierinn, @Halfords_uk, @WhitbreadPLC, @Barclays and @BBC.

For the latest news on fighting back against forced unpaid work visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

I’m still on a break.  Back properly in a week or so.

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Fuck The Tories – The Fight To Save Social Security Gets Bigger Every Day

fuck-the-tories

Fighting back against the bastards has never been more important, so here’s an updated list of some of the groups taking action against social security reforms.  This list is far from exhaustive – apologies to those I’ve missed – feel free to post up links to any other claimant groups, websites and facebook groups in the comments. There’s more of us than ever now, keep spreading the word and get involved.

This blog will be taking a break until late August.

National Groups

Boycott Workfare – fighting forced labour and unpaid work:  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/ also on facebook and twitter @boycottworkfare

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) – National group who’ve organised many actions in London and elsewhere including blockading Oxford Street and occupying the DWP: http://www.dpac.uk.net/  Join the facebook group or follow them on twitter @Dis_PPL_Protest

DPAC also have a network of local groups – for local contact details visit: http://www.dpac.uk.net/contact-details-for-local-dpac-groups/

Black Triangle Campaign – involved in organising protests throughout Scotland against the Work Capability Assessment and Welfare Reform as well as lobbying and campaigning work: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/  Also have a facebook page and are on twitter @blacktriangle1

Mental Health Reistance Network – Called the recent protest against the re-location of mental health services in Streatham Jobcentre and have promised more action is to come, on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mental-Health-Resistance-Network/479666938752033

Carer Watch – resisting the constant attacks on Carers, visit their website and follow them on twitter @CarerWatch

UNITE Community Union – the attitude of UNITE’s leadership to claimants has been woeful but there has been some great work achieved by local groups throughout the UK, for more info visit: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/unitecommunityactivegroups/

Local Groups

Birmingham Against the Cuts – not just benefits related but have organised lots around welfare: http://birminghamagainstthecuts.wordpress.com/

Brighton Benefits Campaign – long running campaign which organises regular actions and protests: http://brightonbenefitscampaign.wordpress.com/

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty – another long running campaign, lots of info on their website at: http://edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Edinburgh-Coalition-Against-Poverty/181015481950367

Haringey Solidarity Group – Long running local group, very active against workfare: http://www.haringey.org.uk/

Ipswich Unemployed Action – long running group with a recommended website at: https://intensiveactivity.wordpress.com/

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group – hold weekly meetings, organise protests and regularly picket Jobcentres, more info at: http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/

Leamington Claimants’ Union have a website and seem to be recruiting new members: http://lcu.iopan.co.uk/

London Coalition Against Poverty – long running umbrella group campaigning on a range of issues: http://www.lcap.org.uk/

Norwich Claimants’ UnionOn facebook and more details at: http://www.norwichclaimants.org/

Poor Side of Life – blogging and organising around Ashton Under lyne Jobcentre, details at: https://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/

Winvisible – Women With Visible and Invisible Disabilities – based in Crossroads Women’s Centre, Kentish Town: http://www.winvisible.org/

Online

Benefit Claimants Fightback – facebook group for all claimants and supporters, ask to join at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/116432071735566/

Kate Belgrave – stories from the front line of welfare reforms, on twitter @hangbitch and at: http://www.katebelgrave.com/

Welfare Weekly – comprehensive social security news, on facebook and at http://www.welfareweekly.com/

DWP Examination forum – friendly forum for all those struggling with the WCA and welfare reform: http://www.dwpexamination.org/

Unemployment Movement Forum – forum for all things claimant related: http://unemploymentmovement.com/forum/index

ilegal – fighting to rescue social welfare law: http://ilegal.org.uk/

Refuted – Your rights on sanctions, workfare, mandated activity and more, on twitter @refuted and at: https://wwwrefuteddotorgdotuk.wordpress.com/

Disability News Service – regular news on disability and social security, on twitter @johnpringdns and visit: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/

Disability Defence – Facebook group fighting for disabled people’s rights: http://www.facebook.com/groups/disabilitydefence/

Respect for the Unemployed and Benefit Claimants – long running facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/25024876259/

Other claimant related blogs and websites include Where’s The Benefit, Same Difference, Slutocracy, Joe Halewood, Vox Political, WOW Petition, Jayne Linney, AAV, Crippen  and Keep Volunteering Voluntary – please put a link to yours in the comments.

Housing

There are too many groups fighting against social cleansing, gentrification and housing benefit cuts to mention in this post but in London some of the main campaigns are Focus E15, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, Streets Kitchen, Radical Housing Network, Action East End, Reclaim Brixton, Reclaim Hackney, Sweets Way Resists and Eviction Resistance.

Other related national groups

Class War – stood candidates at the recent elections including challenging Iain Duncan Smith in his Chingford constituency.  Have consistently supported action by claimants and organised protests against the notorious Poor Doors in East London.  Class War are on facebook and twitter @ClassWar2015

Solidarity Federation – Not specifically a claimant group but have run national campaigns against workfare including forcing Holland & Barrett to stop using unpaid labour – for all details: http://www.solfed.org.uk/

International Workers of the World (IWW) – One big union supporting all workers and claimants.  Have been particularly active against welfare reforms in Liverpool and Scotland.  For local branches and details of how to join visit: https://www.iww.org.uk/

Other national groups which have been involved in action against welfare reform include UK Uncut, Occupy, Anarchist Federation, People’s Assembly and the Right to Work Campaign.

That’s all for a bit folks, enjoy the Summer.

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DWP Hires Miracle Lifestyle Guru Who Claims 95% Success Rate In Curing Mental Health Conditions!

definition-isanityFears that the psychological treatments to be introduced in Jobcentres will amount to little more than unscientific quackery look well founded with the appointment of a so-called stress and anxiety management company to provide service for claimants with a mental health condition.

Earlier in the month ITV reported that a company called Start Smiling Again would soon be working across several Jobcentres in South Wales.  According to Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, this is part of a package of support that shows that supporting people with a mental health condition is a priority for the current Government.

Start Smiling Again are run by David Rahman, who calls himself a Coach & Blueprint Therapist.  It is unclear whether anyone else is currently involved in the company as their website contains no company information, landline phone number or address.  Instead potential customers are invited to call Dave on his mobile.  Classy fuckers.

David Rahman claims to be a bit of a miracle worker.  Not only can he cure stress, depression and anxiety, but even ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia – all previously thought incurable by real doctors.  According to Rahman 95% of his patients have made a full recovery based on his magical techniques.  It’s all in the mind he seems to suggest, and as soon as you find the root cause of your anxiety, depression or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome then your condition will disappear.  He calls this Blueprint Therapy.  He invented it.

Rahman boasts gaining Diplomas in Hynotherapay, Coaching and Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP) along with being a trained practitioner in ‘Time Line Therapy‘ and ‘The Chrysalis Effect’ (don’t ask).  Most of these diplomas were gained at the esteemed NLP training centre Inspire 360 where some courses last as long as a week!

If Rahman has any real qualifications in mental health or psychology he makes no mention of them – his background is as an optometrist. Proper psychologists don’t generally spend their days posting endless self-help messages on social media like the one above claiming that insanity means being unhappy and not being prepared to change the way you think.  He also runs a sideline in writing ebooks such as this one on how to attract women and his misogynist streak shows in his recent facebook posting.

The DWP's new provider of mental health services shares some insightful advice.

And he thinks he’s a lion.

rahman-lion

Rahman should fit right in at the Jobcentre which is riddled with this glassy-eyed nonsense but the appointment of his company is a new low even for the DWP.  Ever since plans were announced to introduce Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)  into 350 Jobcentres serious concerns have been raised not just about the quality of this coerced ‘support’ for claimants with a mental health condition, but also the ideology that lies behind it.  Iain Duncan Smith seems to think that all someone with a mental illness needs to do to get better is cheer up and start applying for jobs in Tesco. And if that doesn’t sort their life out he’ll stop their benefits to teach them a lesson.  And now he’s got a lifestyle guru to force people to start smiling again.  Or else.

It is genuinely horrifying that unscientific drivel like this is soon to be inflicted on some of the most marginalised people in the UK.  People who have often lived through desperately traumatic events, or have serious and complex mental health conditions and could have their lives demolished by this kind of horseshit.  The DWP is now at risk of actively harming the mental health of all those unlucky enough to be forced to depend on Jobcentres.  It is time for  mental health workers, from psychiatrists to charity workers, to get behind those they support and find ways to bring down and discredit the current DWP regime.  Anything else now is collaboration.

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