Author Archives: johnny void

Week Of Action Against Workfare And Sanctions Begins Tomorrow: Events Announced So Far

Boycott-Workfare-action No workfare. No sanctions. Whoever wins we will resist!

Latest details at: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=4239

25th April, London – Sanction Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice Shops: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=4298

25th April, Chingford – IDS – the Butcher of Benefits must go! DPAC action: https://www.facebook.com/events/630040803794662/

25 April, Leeds – Leeds Welfare Fightback will be out in Briggate throughout the week with stalls and leaflets.
https://www.facebook.com/events/695030883952537/

29th April, Edinburgh – Demonstrate at High Riggs Jobcentre, by Tollcross, Edinburgh: http://edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/165

1st May, Bristol – Bristol May day demo – Combat Workfare: https://www.facebook.com/events/1578782925705919/

2nd May, London – Sanction the Salvation Army: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=4281

Daily leafleting in Haringey, London: email info@haringey.org to get involved

Actions in the Netherlands: http://www.doorbraak.eu/25-april-to-2-may-international-week-of-action-against-workfare-and-sanctions-come-join-us/

Disabled People Against the Cuts have called for a “Revenge Tour” in the same week: https://www.facebook.com/events/726806607436136/

Please share, tweet, blog and help spread the word about all events!

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How Lord Fraud’s Benefit Rules For Self-Employed Workers Will Mean The End Of Enterprise

lord-fraud-freud1Fuck entrepreneurs.  Seriously.  Fuck them.  Most of them are are chinless jumped up idiots squandering their trust funds and boring everyone shitless with their latest wacky idea for raspberry fucking flavoured baked beans.  Or online spivs like Grant Shapps ripping off the public with fake websites and get rich quick schemes.

If you’re poor then the local entrepreneur is likely to be the person people buy their smack from, or your landlord, or someone you borrow fifty quid off knowing some bastard with a baseball bat will probably turn up if you can’t afford to pay it back on time.

Having said that, millions of people are now scraping an income as self-employed workers.  Whether being shafted by online micro jobs that pay 50p for an hour’s work, or working on building sites and forced to register as self-employed to save their employer money, a casualised, insecure and poverty paid working life is the reality of modern capitalism for many.

In his Autumn statement Geroge Osborne announced that from April this year self-employed people claiming Working Tax Credits will have to prove that their self-employment is genuine and likely to pay them the equivalent of 24 hours a week at the minimum wage.  This is called the Minimum Income Floor and when Universal Credit is introduced (stop laughing) it will increase to 35 hours for those without young children or a significant health condition.  A sinister bunch of ghouls called Concentrix have already been hired by the DWP to hound self-employed people claiming Working Tax Credits.  Thousands of people have received letters demanding they prove their self-employment is genuine or accusing them of fraud and expecting them to prove their innocence.

There is no easily found information on Government websites explaining when and how changes to Working Tax Credits for the self-employed will be introduced.  Not for the first time when it comes to Iain Duncan Smith’s shambolic welfare reforms, nobody, including claimants themselves, has a clue what is going on.

What we do know however is that the changes that are planned under Universal Credit will prove devastating for many self-employed people.

Claimants who want to register as self-employed will first have to pass a DWP Dragon’s Den style test with Jobcentre busy-bodies and persuade them that their self-employment is ‘gainful activity’ and expected to make a profit.  Just think about that for a second.  Imagine trying to explain a business concept like facebook or instagram to a DWP Work Coach who can barely work a smart phone.  The Mark Zuckerberg’s of the future will probably end cleaning the bogs in Poundland on workfare schemes rather than creating innovative online products.  Good.  Fuck entrepreneurs.

But think about people working in the creative sector, freelance journalists, actors or musicians.  Or those in the sex industry, or other fringe sectors which are not easily understood by Jobcentre Work Coaches.  Can we really trust that these groups are likely to be considered gainfully self-employed and granted the 12 month start up period during which claimants are exempt from the Minimum Income Floor?  And this is only the start of the bodged process set to be inflicted on the self-employed.

Once the initial 12 month start up period is over then the DWP wil assume earnings of 35 hours a week at the minimum wage when calculating benefits, including Housing Benefit.  That’s 35 hours every week.  No holidays, or periods of sickness will be considered in calculations.  If you have a bad month then the DWP will make it even worse by not paying you enough Housing Benefit meaning your home will be at risk.  It won’t take much.  An illness, personal crisis, a downturn, some shyster not paying on time, and people could be driven onto the streets.  How many people are likely to take that risk, when they could get more benefit by abandoning self-employment altogether and signing on the dole?

On top of this the amount of red tape is breath-taking.  Self-employed people, desperately trying to meet their Minimum Income Floor, will have to waste time sending the Jobcentre details of their income and expenses every single month.  This is in addition to their tax return.  Expenses or income cannot be carried over, so whilst if someone has a good month their benefits will be reduced, if they have a bad one then they will not be increased.  A single claimant who earns nothing in a month will have to find up to £950 to be able to pay their rent and survive for that period.  Or go on the dole.  That’s assuming the DWP will let them and don’t disallow them from benefits completely for giving up ‘gainful self-employment’.

It is genuinely astonishing that such a vicious attack on self-employed people is being launched by the party which once claimed to represent entrepreneurs and small businesses – and fuck small businesses as well, bunch of UKIP gobshites who pay their workers less than Tesco.*  These policies can only really be understood once you discover they were largely drafted by comedy toff and Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Fraud.  Out of touch ex-bankers like Fraud don’t really believe working class people can run their own businesses.  They’d far rather we were all working for people like them.  They have no concept of what life is like for low earning self-employed people scrabbling around trying to gain an income wherever they can.  And they don’t care if their welfare changes could leave someone with no money at all, even to pay their rent.  Serves them right for not working hard enough that month they will chuckle to themselves.

Nobody knows how much of the so-called fall is unemployment is down to people registering as self-employed and claiming Working Tax Credits.  What we do know is that some of them will have been bullied into this option by grasping Work Programme companies who can claim a huge job outcome fee everytime someone becomes self-employed.  Hundreds of thousands of people could be hit by these changes and many could be left with barely any money at all to survive on.  They haven’t done anything wrong.  They are both working and claiming a much lower rate of benefit than Jobseeker’s Allowance.  They just aren’t earning enough so the government is intent on making them even poorer.  The less you have the less you get, which just about sums up the last five years of Tory Government.

There’s still more to come on this.  Meanwhile see what will happen to part time workers on Universal Credit: It Had To Happen. Soon You Could Face An In-Work Benefit Sanction … For Going To Work

*Fuck Tescos as well.

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Deconstructing The So Called Jobs Miracle And Why It Has Nothing To Do With Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan SmithRepeatedly over the last few months the Tories have cheered that there are more people working than ever before as if this was some kind of fucking miracle.  In truth it is exactly what you would expect in a growing population.  Unless the economy is in the grip of recession there are almost always more jobs than ever before.  More people means more jobs.  They all have to shop.

According to the Office for National Statistics the total size of the UK’s workforce – which means all of those working, unemployed, or economically inactive, such as long term sickhas grown by 2.6 million since 2010.  In that period the number of people in work has grown by 2 million.  The disparity is partly down to the rise in women’s pension age, a bodge in how the figure are recorded means that all women under 65 are now included in the workforce, even if they are retired.  Previously only women under 60 were included.

The Employment Rate, the percentage of people in work, has only shifted upwards by about a percentage point, from 72.1% to 73.3%.  That’s around half a million people, which is just under the growth in the number of people who have become self-employed since 2010.  How many of them are making any money is anyone’s guess, but we do know that average earnings from self-employment are plummeting.

One of the reasons for the growth in both population and new jobs is migration.  In an astonishing fact, curiously ignored by the Tory press, there are one million more people in employment who were not born in the UK than in 2010.  That’s over half the growth in jobs during the current administration.*

What those million new workers tell us – and some will be UK citizens who happened to have been born overseas – is that most of the growth in jobs has fuck all to do with Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled welfare reforms.

To look at the impact of social security policies means delving into the unemployment figures, and crucially long term claimants.  Figures quietly released last week showed that the number of people who had been on benefits for three out of the last four years has fallen by just 91,000 since 2010.  This is despite economic growth, the Work Programme, mass benefit sanctions and the country recovering from a deep recession.  And even this figure is likely to be revised down as more data comes in.

There were just over 600,000 fewer unemployed people recorded in the latest figures than there were in the last period of the previous Government, and there are still almost 2 million of them.  Most of the jobs the Tory’s are claiming have been created have not gone to people who were unemployed.  And the quality of these jobs is also relevant.  People can be included as offically in employment if they are on workfare for example – although there are currently less people on unpaid work schemes than during the Labour administration.

As well as the growth in self-employment, nearly half a million of the new jobs are part time.  You only have to be working a few hours a month to be classed as employed.  The growth of zero hours contracts is well documented.  The quality of most of these new jobs is shit.

The Labour Market Statistics, on which all this information is based, are messy, not least because they are based on a survey.  What they suggest however is that unemployment has fallen, but not by that much, and that many of the new jobs are part time or low earning self-employment.  This is hardly a great fucking success story for a country emerging from a recession.

Perhaps a better guide to what is really going on are the Housing Benefit statistics.  This is an exact figure and reveals the number of people who need help to pay their rent.  The only two criteria for claiming Housing Benefits are a low income and low or no assets.  By the very nature of the benefit, everyone who is claiming it is poor.

There were 4.751 million people claiming Housing Benefit in May 2010.  In November 2014, the latest month for which figures are available, there were 4.883 million claims.  More people are poor now than before the Tories weren’t elected, despite the so-called jobs miracle   And that is the figure on which Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms should be judged.

*Before anyone starts feeling all UKIP remember this is not a one way street.  A study released last year found that up to 70% of graduates are planning to fuck off soon in the search of somewhere less shit.  For every Polish builder who turns up we might soon lose a marketing graduate from Surbiton.  On balance we’ve probably got the better end of that deal.  Whatever your views on immigration policy, the very worst thing that could happen is for working class people of different nationalities to be be tricked into fighting each other over the scraps they hand down.  The capitalist class of Europe – the bankers, property developers, business owners and landlords – are united.  We need to be as well.

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare and Benefit Sanctions beginning on April 26th.

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This Is Fucking Vandalism, London’s History And Culture Are Being Destroyed In The Name Of Greed

black-capsAround 150 people joined a protest outside The Black Cap public house in Camden yesterday after it closed suddenly and without warning last week.  The long running LGBT venue opened in the 1960s, surviving throughout the days when gay people faced prosecution.  Now it is falling victim to rampant gentrification that respects neither culture or history and seeks only to make as much money as possible for greedy property developers.

Speaking at the protest drag artist Titti La Camp, a former performer at the pub, said 10 gay venues had closed in central London since the current Tory government weren’t elected.  In an all too familiar story, those trying to save The Black Cap believe it is likely to be converted into yet more luxury flats that nobody local can afford.

camden-marketsA few hundred yards away a large part of Camden Market is currently a building site, awaiting being converted into a soulless offices along with 170 new homes of which only 17 will be affordable.  The company behind the development is owned by billionaire Teddy Sagi, the man behind the explosion of fixed-odds betting terminals in bookies which have been called the crack cocaine of the gambling world.  Sagi’s company also owns Stables Market in Camden and several other local sites which are earmarked for development.

hardwaresDown the road in Berwick Street, Soho, a new development has led to the end of many long running local businesses like That’s Andy’s hardware shop which had existed for 20 years.  Many more shops lie empty after being forced to close.shop-signs

walkers-court-sohoThis is Walker’s Court at the end of Berwick Street.  This narrow passageway  was often photographed as an iconic example of Soho’s historic association with sex work.  Now it is boarded up and awaiting development by Soho Estates, the company founded by the late Paul Raymond who made millions out of Soho’s sex trade.  His grand-daughter, one of the UK’s richest women who sits on the board of Soho Estates, is now set to make millions out of the destruction of Soho’s sex work industry.madame-jojos-closedJust around the corner from Walker’s Court the famous Madame Jojo’s cabaret and burlesque venue was closed down at the end of last year.  The club was stripped of its licence after an alleged violent incident took place involving the club’s bouncers.  Madame Jojo’s had replaced both the management and security team after the incident but this was not enough to satisfy Westminster Council.  Those who used and loved the venue believe the real reason it was closed was the Council’s desire to gentrify the area.denmark-streetLess than 10 minutes walk away lies Denmark Street, better known as Tin Pan Alley, once the heart of the UK’s music industry and still a living, breathing community of musicians. Now it is being redeveloped into a “super-flexible, digitally-enabled streetscape” with posh flats, hotels, gigantic advertising boards, a ‘sky bar’ and a new piazza.  The developers call it a run down corner of London.  They should come to fucking Catford.  Actually they shouldn’t, cunts like them are already coming to Catford.  Some of the music shops have moved out of Denmark Street already.sax-shop-closedbailiffs-12barThese signs appear on the empty properties along Denmark Street after Bohemians 4 Soho squatted the 12 Bar Club in a last ditch effort to save the famous music venue from closure.  An army of bailiffs and security guards are now stationed in Central London protecting the property of the rich from the people who live here.st-martins-loftsThis is what is replacing these much loved venues and famous landmarks.  These loft apartments are on the former site of St Martin’s Art school, now re-located to King’s Cross.  A two bedroom flat in this building will cost you £4.5 million.  Of course it’s not just posh flats that are replacing our homes and community venues.new-mcdonalds-sohoLondon does not have a housing problem it has a rich people problem.  The decimation of Soho and Camden is just one side of it.  The other is the tragic evictions taking place everywhere from Barnet to Brixton and the record numbers of people sleeping on London’s streets.

Nobody wants this vandalism except for the grasping property developers, greedy landlords and global super rich who are turning every last brick in the city into an investment opportunity. They could not give a fuck about the people who live here – the people who built London and do the real work that makes it function.  This is not a natural development of the city due to changing fashions and demographics.  It is certainly not regeneration.  It is a robbery.  A city being reconstructed as Disneyland, where no real people can afford to live.  It will be the death of London in the end.  And the rich won’t care, they will be busy destroying somewhere else by then.

But there are fucking loads more of us than them.  Struggles over housing and community venues are bursting into life everywhere.  London has a long tradition of subversion, disobedience, rebellion and riots.  The London mob must rise again.  All of us, together, against the fucking rich.

The fight to save the Black Cap is not over, visit their facebook page.

Join the mass action against property developers at the vile Property Awards being held at the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane this Tuesday 21st April, full details on facebook.

Reclaim Brixton is taking place on Saturday 25th April, for a run down of what’s taking place visit: http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2015/04/reclaim-brixton-event-on-sat-25th-april-times-places-and-meet-up-points/

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Nick Clegg Wants Even More Debt For The Young, Why Is This Dick Still Talking?

NickClegg-looking-like-a-dickWhen Nick Clegg was negotiating with the two main parties after the hung election he could, if he had really cared, insisted on scrapping tuition fees before entering a coalition agreement.  At the very least he could have argued for fees to be reduced, or even frozen over the course of the Parliament.

But instead he threw away the educational chances of a generation in favour of a stupid referendum on what wasn’t even Proportional Representation when it came to the vote.  And he lost.  Because he is a dick.  Remember that if you have recently graduated with a huge debt.  Every time you make a payment remember you are in debt because Nick Clegg is a dick.

Now he wants young people sucked even further into debt by luring them into taking out huge loans to pay for a deposit on a tenancy agreement.  Deposits that will be far higher than they are now because Clegg wants to set the loans at £1,500 outside London.  According to The Guardian the average deposit is £1,200.  So overnight the standard deposit will shoot up by £300 quid which will have to be repaid over the next couple of years.  So young people won’t be able to afford their rent and will stay at home and not get on the “rented property ladder”, which is Clegg’s ludicrous name for the fucked housing market.  And of course these loans will only be available to young people who have a job, so those most in need of help with housing, with no means to pay up front, will stay homeless.

Just like the other main parties Clegg has no plans to build more housing at social rents people can actually afford.  Or any concrete plans to reverse the savage housing benefit cuts he voted for which are leading to soaring homelessness.  But they will plant a tree for every child born in the UK.  Perhaps that’s where they expect them to live.  What a bunch of dicks.

Whatever you decide to do at the election remember one thing.  If you vote Liberal Democrat you are voting for a dick.  It doesn’t matter how much you might like your Lib Dem candidate, they are a dick.  If there can only be one small sliver of comfort gleaned from the last five years of misery it will be the Liberal Democrat party being consigned to the dustbin of history.  Don’t spoil that for everyone.  Don’t be a dick.  Don’t vote Lib Dem.

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March For The Homeless A Huge Success: This Is Exactly What The Capital Needs

DSC00107Hundreds of people brought traffic chaos to Central London last night as the streets were occupied for the capital’s largest ever March for the Homeless.

Around 500  homeless and ex-homeless people, squatters, tenants and housing campaigners gathered opposite Downing Street where a street kitchen was serving free food.  Soon the protest spilled out into Whitehall which was blockaded with one banner reading ‘No More Deaths On Our Streets’.  With traffic backing up police began warning people to leave the road or face arrest only for a cycle rickshaw carrying a full band to turn up and the lively crowd began heading down the road towards Parliament Square.

The march stopped briefly at David Cameron’s backdoor, the often forgotten other end of Downing Street next to St James Park, before making its way to Buckingham Palace where police were forced to hurriedly make a line in front of the gates to prevent the Palace being stormed.  Sort of.  Then it was onto the Pall Mall squat which had been occupied in protest at London’s housing crisis and was conveniently evicted on the morning of the march.  A line of bailiffs were guarding the building and as the crowd approached one of them unexpectedly lashed out at a protester punching him in the face before being restrained by his colleagues and bundled inside.  This took place in full view of several police officers who chose to do precisely fuck all about an unprovoked and vicious assault.  Is it any wonder people call them the filth?

After a brief sit down protest at Piccadilly, the march turned into Soho where it was met with applause by many of the people drinking outside the busy cafes and bars.  The once thriving Soho gay scene is being devastated as venue after venue closes to make way for chain stores and posh flats.  There is barely an inch left of London that is not being destroyed as property developers seek to turn our homes and communities into soulless investment opportunities for the global super rich.

Finally the march stopped outside a new plush squat recently occupied by the same group who were just kicked out of Pall Mall.  With music pouring from the windows protesters mingled with passers-by many of whom were supportive of the squatters.

This march was exactly what needs to happen in a city where an entire generation of children are growing up who will not be able to afford to live here when they are older.  A housing movement that thinks creatively, takes no shit, does not ask permission and is fun to be a part of can only grow as ever more people see their homes come under threat.

The only down point to the event was the late arrest of long standing housing activist Phoenix, who was reportedly nicked for little more than not going inside the building when the coppers told him to.  This follows the recent arrest of Jasmine from the E15 campaign and the string of vindictive arrests at the Poor Doors protests.  This is starting to look like a deliberate strategy of trying to silence the anger in the capital over lack of housing by targeting the people that police have decided are ring-leaders.

Phoenix was unbowed, saying after his release: “Homes for all, keep squatting and occupy everywhere.  Viva the resistance … one day we will all have a home”.

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Labour And The Tories, Not Just Fucking Wankers But Fucking Idiots Too

idiots

Only a bunch of spivs and two-bit confidence tricksters like the current Tory front bench could have come up with a reckless get rich quick policy like extending right-to-buy to housing associaion properties.

Handing a small number of tenants a huge tax-payer funded give away whilst decimating the supply of desperately needed genuinely affordable housing is quite possibly the single most stupid fucking thing that any politicans could do in the midst of an escalating housing crisis.  And there is some stiff competition. Labour’s policies to build more homes no-one can afford or introduce regional benefit caps so no-one can pay their rent are equally fucking stupid.

A further cap on housing benefits will only lead to yet more homelessness and both parties want it.  The truth about the benefit cap that has already been introduced is that many people’s benefits haven’t been capped – their housing costs are simply being paid via the council and Discretionary Housing Payments.  It will only be after the election – whoever wins – that we will see the devastating impact of families with children socially cleansed from more affluent cities and forced into areas already scarred by poverty and unemployment.

On workfare both parties are proposing policies which are unworkable in practice – with Labour taking the lead in attacking the young who will lose benefits completely unless they undertake forced ‘training’ (stop laughing they mean workfare).  The Tories have said this will not happen until someone has been on benefits for six months, when they will then be bullied into workfare, or a shoddy unpaid Traineeship.  But they will stop their Housing Benefit.  Probably, in some cases.  Labour have not even bothered to say whether scrapping benefits for those under 21 means they will stop their Housing Benefit as well.

Where all these workfare placements will come from nobody knows.  Already there is a desperate shortage as growing numbers of charities reject forced unpaid work completely.  The amount of unpaid work experience on Traineeships was recently reduced after even businesses said it was unfair to make young people work too long without a wage. The only people who actually want workfare are fucking idiots like Cameron and Miliband who are both obesessed with the idea.  It’s hardly surprising, neither of them has ever done a real day’s work in their lives.  They want us to work for free whilst they do fuck all and earn a fortune.

Even Labour’s so-called Compulsory Jobs Guarantee isn’t a proper job.  Instead it will include ten hours a week unpaid workfare with the rest of the time on a tax-payer funded minimum wage. It’s just a huge subsidy so employers can get free workers, and looks a lot like Nick Cleggs disastrous subsidised employment scheme that was recently scrapped for being both shit and probably illegal.

It is hardly surprising that a Hamspstead clown like Miliband and a Chipping Norton toff like Cameron have policies so similar you could barely fit a fag paper between them.  They have far more in common with each other’s pampered lives than they do with most normal people.  Neither of them would last five minutes in a debate about politics in their local Wetherspoon. And when Cameron was given a well deserved kicking round the pub car park, Miliband would be chucking up in the bogs after one too many bacon sandwiches.

There are other, better, ways of being politically active then voting for some fucking idiot who hates you once every five years.  Across the UK people will be taking direct political action in the run up to the election.  Tomorrow (15th April) sees a March for the Homeless taking place in cities throughout the England and Scotland whilst a Day of Action for Fast Food Worker’s Rights will see protests outside McDonalds.  Later in the month Disabled People Against Cuts will be visiting the constituencies of both Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey.  Boycott Workfare are holding a week of action against unpaid work and sanctions from the 25th April, the same day that an anti-gentrification protest will take place in Brixton.  And on May 1st Class War will be holding a fuck parade, complete with 12 volt soundsystems outside the notorious poor doors at 1 Commercial Street, London E1.

Change will not come from the ballot box, that is the point of them.  Whichever twat you vote for, if you can be bothered to vote at all, get out on the streets and let’s make sure the fucking lot of them know we don’t need or want their shit anymore.

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