Category Archives: DWP

A Bungling Fucking Idiot On A Mission From God, That Was The Real Iain Duncan Smith

IDS-slug

Good riddance, to an absolute tool.

Pass the fucking sick bag.  Iain Duncan Smith’s performance on the Andrew Marr show this morning was one of the most nauseating displays politics has seen in a long, long time – and there’s been stiff competition.  His crass portrayal of himself as a decent man, trying to do the right thing for both the people and his party, is perhaps his greatest self-delusion yet.  Remember one thing from that interview if you were unlucky enough to watch it.  Iain Duncan Smith, quietly amid his bluster, admitted that he agreed with the cuts to disability benefits that he resigned over, but that they should have come as part of a package of wider support.

Every claimant knows what that support would be.  Yet another chance to squander billions pursuing his messianic fantasy of himself as a great welfare reformer with more workfare, more sanctions and more harassment from Jobcentre busy-bodies.  George Osborne said no, cut the fucking crap, we’re supposed to be pretending to save money.  So Iain Duncan Smith did what he always does when he doesn’t get his own way.  He had a tantrum.

This petulant temper is why it has been tactically useful at times to portray him as a conniving and brutal architect of death and hardship. This approach no doubt even contributed to his recent flounce.  The truth though, is that he’s not that clever.  He’s worse than that.  Iain Duncan Smith is a bungling fucking idiot on a mission from God.  And like all zealots before him, so convinced has he been that he is treading the one true path that his eyes, and heart, have remained closed to the consequences of his actions.  Consequences that have been tragic.  Consequences that have included the state’s bureaucracy driving some of the UK’s poorest citizens to their deaths by placing intolerable and unsurvivable pressure on those already living fractured lives.  He has not been called a killer for nothing.

But to view his actions as the work of a mere power-crazed murderer fails to see the entire horrifying picture.  Which is that amongst think-tanks, charities, self-appointed experts in the welfare-to-work industry and even the Labour Party – perhaps most of all the Labour Party – Iain Duncan Smith’s views are not extreme.  There is a consensus amongst these respectably clad vermin, even if not all would have the stomach to play out their ideological beliefs to their logical conclusion – as Iain Duncan Smith was proud and happy to do.  This consensus believes that poverty is an individual failing not a structural problem.  That it can be cured by fixing poor people, not society.  That all it takes is hard work to prosper under modern capitalism and so it is right, natural and unavoidable that our entire lives should be a competition – we must constantly strive, every day, to reach the next rung on the economic ladder.  That happiness is just around the corner if we work hard and do the right thing – and if we don’t then we must be punished, to help steer us on the path to prosperity.

It is, they imply, a competition everybody can win if we all just pull our socks up and put in the hours.  But competitions don’t work that way, especially when they are rigged by private schools, elite universities, inherited wealth and structural unemployment.  A lottery where everyone wins means sharing the spoils amongst us all.  The capitalist class have no intention of ever doing that.  Their ideology is a sham, a crude self-deception to wash away their guilt and justify their greed.  And they are all fucking in it together.

None of this gets Iain Duncan Smith off the hook.  He is a truly nasty man.  A devious bigot, a liar and a calculating plotter without the intellect to back it up.  A proper fucking wanker who needs kicking round a pub car park – not that it would teach him anything,  it wouldn’t, but it would be nice to see him bleed for a change.

Like most of his fellow Tories, his own privilege shielded him from any understanding of what he was really creating.  He seems to think that a benefit sanction – removing the only means of survival for those without work or savings – is just a mild rebuke, a welcome jolt as he put it to encourage people to try a bit harder.  In the world of Iain Duncan Smith money never runs out, so how could he understand what it really means to have nothing at all.  Why would he understand the devastating and debilitating consequences of extreme poverty.  How anguish, hunger and intolerable stress demolishes people.  That destitution means spending the day thinking about where the next meal is going to come from, not updating your fucking CV.  His reckless reforms have been like a doctor injecting cyanide into the veins of his patients and then being appalled when they die.  Then thinking the dose must be too low, they need more poison, to incentivise them back to health.  To help them learn.

Of course the likes of George Osborne have been only too happy to exploit this moral shield that, until now, had masked the cruelty of his government to the dwindling number of genuine conservatives in his party.  Those who believe in God, and charity, who put a penny in the box for the poor and pat cripples on the head.  The ones who don’t want to upset the vicar and only torture kittens when they are absolutely certain no-one else is watching.   Iain Duncan Smith’s social justice facade was the perfect cover for Osborne’s class war.  Austerity appeared to map perfectly to an insistence that those with nothing can be taught not to be poor anymore by making them poorer.  It worked, for a while.  When Osborne pulled the strings IDS danced.  But the Chancellor under-estimated one thing about Iain Duncan Smith – his incessant need for power and status.

This is a man who truly believes himself to be magnificent despite his meagre talents.  Who will happily tear his own political party in two, for the second time, to place himself as the great man of history in control of dramatic events.  Whether his obsession is Europe or social security reform makes little difference as long as he is at the centre of any chaos he creates.  Vain he may be, but he can take the criticisms, the insults and the fact he can’t hang around in a pub car park for too long these days, as long as he can convince himself that he is important.  Despite his claims to be compassionate he loved the thought of the poor being forced to scurry around like lab rats whilst he prodded and poked to see how much they – we – could take.

His grandiose schemes like the Work Programme and Universal Credit have been the props on which this fragile self-belief depended.  Without them he is just another grubby Tory, cutting disabled people’s benefits and whining about the poor.  That is not enough for Iain Duncan Smith.  That is why he resigned.  If he doesnt get to be the messiah then he doesn’t want to play anymore.  Good.  Bring on the next cunt.

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And This Time It’s Personal Psychocompulsion & Workfare: Watch The Video From @WellRedFilms

A good summary of where social security is heading featuring Boycott Workfare, Mental Health Resistance Network and more.

 

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‘Just The Start’ Say Claimants And Disabled People As Blockade Brings Traffic Chaos To Central London

Islington Council have called the scheme Jobs on Prescription. This is an example from MHRN of what those prescriptions might look like.

Islington Council have called the scheme Jobs on Prescription. This is an example from MHRN of what those prescriptions might look like.

Disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters brought traffic chaos to Central London yesterday after blockading a major roundabout in protest at Iain Duncan Smith’s attempt to install Jobcentre funded busy-bodies in doctor’s surgeries.

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Pic from @paulapeters2

Over 100 people gathered for the demonstration which began outside City Road Medical Centre, – one of six surgeries in Islington where so-called Work Coaches are due to be based.  Iain Duncan Smith himself even made an appearance, dressed as a doctor and handing out work cures such as the prescription above.  The protest was good-natured but determined and made a mockery of the health bureacrats who decided the surgery should be closed for the day due to fears over patients safety.  In truth the people really concerned with the welfare of Islington’s poorest residents were out in the street defending them from the latest DWP attack on disabled people and those with health conditions.

After about hour the demonstrators moved off the pavement to march down the busy City Road chanting “We’ve gotta get rid of the rich” and “the NHS makes us well, the Tories make us sick”.  On arriving at Old Street roundabout, a major central London junction, the growing police presence was out-witted and campaigners managed to block traffic moving in all directions.  A banner was unfurled across the road stating that ‘Working isn’t working’ – a reference to the growing insistence from government that low paid insecure jobs are good for our health.

A large crowd of onlookers gathered with many supportive of the action taken to draw attention to the vicious regime being installed for those out of work due to sickness or disability.  A new Health and Work Programme is planned which is likely to include some forms of forced medical treatment for some of those on sickness benefits.  Already tens of thousands of sick and disabled people have had their benefits sanctioned for not meeting the endless petty requirement imposed by Jobcentres.  Others have had benefits stripped away completely after being declared ‘fit for work’ at a Work Capability Assessment in spite of often serious and even life-threatening conditions.

Appallingly the Work Coaches to be stationed in GP Surgeries will come from the same shadowy private company that runs both these assessments and the local workfare scheme in Islington.  The employment advisors, whilst largely funded by the DWP, will be employed by Remploy –  once a provider of employment for disabled people until they were sold off by the government and turned into a welfare-to-work subsidiary of the hated Maximus corporation.

Claimants in Islington could therefore be found Fit For Work by Maximus, then forced to attend the Work Programme with Maximus and now even be coerced into being harassed by a Maximus Work Coach when they go to the fucking doctors.  So claims from council leader Richard Watts, and other DWP apologists in the borough, that this scheme is officially ‘voluntary’ for participants really don’t count for shit.  There have been no public assurances from either Maximus or the DWP that Jobcentres and Work Programme advisors will not force claimants to attend a GP-based work coach under the threat of benefit sanctions.

What is really going on is that this is a pilot scheme intended to provide evidence to justify the upcoming Health and Work Programme.  But just in case the evidence doesn’t show what the DWP want campaigners have been informed that there will be no evaluation of the results of the scheme.  It is little more than a formality in advance of some of the most brutal policies to be inflicted on disabled people that have been seen in generations.  Lefty Islington Council may claim to have had good intentions when they agreed to the pilot, but in reality they have been mugged, by Maximus and the DWP.  Now they know how claimants feel.

The protest was organised by Disabled People Against Cuts, Mental Health Resistance Network and Boycott Workfare.  A range of other groups came out in support including grassroots trade union United Voices of the World, Class War, Winvisible and Kilburn Unemployed Worker’s Group.  Doctors, psychologists and healthcare workers were also present in support.  One message rang out loud and strong.  This is just the start of a disruptive and militant campaign to destroy Iain Duncan Smith’s Health and Work Programme.

Watch a video of the protest on facebook.

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Urgent 3pm Today 4th March Online Protest! Kick The Jobcentre Out Of The NHS #DoNoHarm

do-no-harm

Bit late with this, but if you can’t make the protest today against Maximus Work Coaches being stationed in GP Surgeries then join in online.

Friday 4th March 3-5pm – Online Twitterstorm – Please share the tweetlist.

Use hashtag #DoNoHarm and sign up to the Thunderclap

Please also support by using the template letter (amend as you wish) to send to your MP and your Doctor. (Click on links Template Letter to your MP and Template letter to your doctor to download).

You can tell Islington Clinical Commissioning Group what you think @IslingtonCCG or go direct to the leader of Islington Council who back the scheme @RichardWatts01

Follow @boycottworkfare and @Dis_PPL_Protest or join the Mental Health Resistance Network facebook page for the latest news.

Please spread the word!

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Tory Think Tank Gives The Game Away – Benefit Sanctions Are About Keeping Wages Low

The 'reservation wage' is an economic term which means the lowest possible amount that greedy bosses can get away with paying people.

The ‘reservation wage’ is an economic term which means the lowest possible amount that greedy bosses can get away with paying people.

 

A chilling vision of the future has been presented by Tory think-tank Reform who have called for all out of work sickness and disability benefits to be scrapped, even for the most seriously ill, alongside a Jobcentre programme of forced medical treatment.

In a report published this month Reform argue that paying those with serious health conditions more money than those simply on the dole acts as a disincentive to find employment.  Instead every claimant, no matter how unwell, should receive just over £70 a week, although they concede that this should be combined with an increase in Personal Independence Payments – the benefit paid to those either in or out of work which is intended to cover the additional costs of living with a disability.   Many people on out of work sickness benefits are not eligible for these payments however.

The report also calls for increased conditionality for sickness benefits including a mandatory occupational health plan.  This could involve a requirement to take up medical treatment with the threat of benefit sanctions for non-compliance.  Astionishingly this treatment plan would not be agreed with a claimant’s GP but would instead be drawn up by a ‘Healthcare Professional’ working under the supervision of an Occupational Health specialist.  Reform generously warn that sanctions would have to be carefully applied – they are opposed to people being sanctioned because they didn’t get better they claim – but elsewhere they raise the prospect of a sanction being inflicted because someone failed to follow the correct state-mandated diet.  North Korea eat your fucking heart out.

This system should be tested on those with a mild to moderate health condition the think tank declare although it is unclear where they would draw the line between a moderate condition and for example, someone who’s only got a few months to live.  In fact those with a terminal illness, or the most serious health conditions, are completely overlooked by the report’s authors who presumably see nothing wrong in dying people being bullied into low paid work for the last few weeks of their life.

As ever there is lots of talk of working in partnership with claimants, with even proposed personal budgets to access ’employment support’, although all this means is you’ll get to choose your own workfare provider, and even then you won’t really have a choice. Quality training leading to real qualifications is expensive, so as with all welfare-to-work scheme to date, you’ll get what you’re given and if you don’t like it then you’ll get sanctioned.  That’s what they mean by choice.

The real reason for these proposals are not to help people but to save money and help Iain Duncan Smith acheive his aim of throwing one million people off sickness benefits by pretending that they aren’t really sick or disabled anymore.  And as the quote above taken from the report indicates, ensuring strict conditions for benefits helps keep down the ‘reservation wage’ – the minimum amount that people are prepared to work for.  The inference is clear, those on sickness benefits should be pushed into the lowest possible paid work as quickly as possible.  The only flimsy evidence available that work is good for your health is quite clear that this only applies if you have a good job.  Reform want to force sick and disabled people into work which is likely to be harmful as a lesson to the rest of us not to get ill in case we become unproductive and the profit that the rich glean from our work might fall slightly.

It remains to be seen how seriously the government will take these proposals as they draw up plans for sweeping reforms of sickness and disability benefits.  Cuts already announced will soon slash the rate of sickness benefits to the same rate as the dole for many new claimants.  Reform’s desire to extend this to everybody needs to be taken seriously because they are not swivel-eyed cranks of the fringes of the debate, even if that’s what they sound like at times.  They were recently graced with the presence of Lord Fraud, the comedy toff brought in to oversee welfare reforms who these days is being kept very much behind the scenes.  Fraud was invited to a roundtable meeting at Reform as part of this report’s launch and whilst what he said has not been made public there are some hints available of a possible new direction.

This blogger was at the discussion and reports that Fraud raised the possibility of privatised social security, raising the question of why employer’s ensure against sickness absences but individuals do not.  It is also reported that Fraud said there would soon be no additional benefits paid for anyone with a health condition or disability suggesting Reform may have already got one of their key demands met*.

With George Osborne bottling out of cuts to Tax Credits for the lowest paid workers the only place left to look for significant savings in the social security system is disability and sickness benefits.  As such both him and Iain Duncan Smith have deluded themselves that this can easily be achieved by making life so difficult for disabled people on benefits that they will magically get better and go to work. Osborne’s spending projections depend on it.  The cuts already announced will just be the start.  War is soon to be waged on disabled people and those with long term health conditions like never before.  Be ready.

You can read Reform’s report at: http://www.reform.uk/publication/working-welfare-a-radically-new-approach-to-sickness-and-disability-benefits/

*It should be pointed out that the blogger who wrote this is a private consultant who runs a company claiming to be experts in public services reform and as such he’s possibly talking a load of old shite and has got what Fraud said mixed up with what was proposed by Reform.

Join the fight to keep Jobecntres out of healthcare – please help support the protest outside City Road Medical Centre, 190-196 City Road , London, EC1V 2QH on Friday 4th March from 3pm by helping spread the word and sharing the facebook page.

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Keep The Jobcentre Out Of The NHS – The Fightback Against The Health And Work Programme Starts Now! #donoharm

do-no-harm

Job coaches in GP Surgeries? No!

We call on GPs to #‎DoNoHarm.

Join DPAC, Boycott Workfare, Mental Health Resistance Network on

4 March, 3pm at the City Road Surgery, 190-196 City Road, London EC1V 2QH.

Groups supporting benefit claimants and disabled people are uniting for a protest on the 4th March following the news that Employment Coaches from shadowy US outsourcing company Maximus are to be stationed in GP surgeries in Islington.

The demonstration will take place outside City Road Medical Centre, one of six GP practices in the borough who have opted to take part in the DWP funded pilot scheme.  These surgeries will now have their own Employment Coaches drawn from the welfare-to-work industry who will provide the kind of Jobcentre harassment that disabled people and those with health conditions are already all too familiar with if they are unable to work.

The scheme has been devised by Islington Clinical Commissioning Group who oversee healthcare in Islington and is backed by the local Labour Council who say on their website that this service will create ‘jobs on prescription’.  Many claimants fear the reality could be benefit sanctions on prescription, as doctors are turned into a weapon to impose labour market discipline and bully unemployed, disabled or unwell people into low paid or unsuitable work.

GP referrals to Employment Coaches will not be compulsory to attend – yet.  But this pilot scheme forms part of a national strategy by Iain Duncan Smith to bring Jobcentres into the heart of the NHS.  A new Health and Work Programme is being planned, with the aim of slashing spending on already meagre sickness and disability benefits.  Even those with the most serious conditions may soon to be forced to prove they are constantly looking for work whilst the government are examining the possibility of compulsory treatment for some health problems.

Campaigners warn that any attempt to merge healthcare with the vicious benefit cutting agenda of the DWP will demolish the trust that exists between doctors and patients.  An activist from Disabled People Against Cuts warns that “many disabled people already feel they have to watch every word they say when seeing their GP in case it is used against them at some point to stop their benefits.   Placing Jobcentre funded staff in doctor’s’ surgeries could destroy the doctor/patient relationship and may lead to some people not accessing vital healthcare when they need it most.”

Perhaps most appalling is that the Employment Coaches in Islington are set to come from Remploy – once a government run service that provided jobs for disabled people – now sold off and turned into a privatised welfare-to-work company responsible for sanctioning disabled people’s benefits.  Remploy have become a subsidiary of Maximus – the same company who run the despised Work Capability Assessment used to declare that disabled people or those with a long term health condition are ‘fit for work’.  Maximus are also providers of the Work Programme, a Jobcentre scheme which involves compulsory training or workfare with brutal benefit sanctions inflicted for ‘non-compliance’.

At a time when some claimants have been driven to suicide by the constant bullying, assessments, threats and sanctions that now form part of the UK’s benefits system, there must be no place in the NHS for Jobcentre busy-bodies.  Disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters can and will defeat this appalling attack on the fundamental principle that healthcare professionals should ‘first do no harm’.  Join campaigners from DPAC, Mental Health Resistance Network and Boycott Workfare outside City Road Medical Centre, 190-196 City Road , London, EC1V 2QH on Friday 4th March from 3pm.  Please spread the word and make this huge!

An online protest will also be held for those unable to attend in person.  Watch this space for further details and in the meantime please tweet using hashtag #DoNoHarm

See the Facebook Event Page for more details and please support the Thunderclap – timed to go off just as the protest begins

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How Islington’s Labour Run Council Are Dancing To Iain Duncan Smith’s Tune

ids-laughing2

So the doctor says to their patient “I’ve got some good news, and some bad new.   The bad news is you’ve only got six months to live … but the good news is that I’ve found you a temporary job working in Poundland.”

You might have noticed that this joke is not very fucking funny.  But this is the dream of council bureacrats in one London borough who are developing a horrifying strategy for local healthcare which will see “employment viewed as a clinical outcome.”

Whilst the final plans for Iain Duncan Smith’s localised Health and Work Programme have not yet been released, the Labour dominated Borough of Islington are jumping aboard the gravy train early and have set up their own scheme to tackle what they call  ‘health-related worklessness’.  In a report published in 2014 the so-called Islington Employment Commission – a bunch of local employers, councillors, Jobcentre busy-bodies and a token TUC representative – called for radical change in the borough’s employment support strategy. Their proposals mirror almost exactly the current direction of Tory social security policy, even down to using the same words.

All young people should be ‘learning or earning’ according to the commission, a phrase first used by David Cameron when he announced the yet to materialise mass workfare programme for all those under 21.  They also claim that many long term sick or disabled people are not receiving enough employment support because “their benefit does not require them to look for work”.  And for those who do have to look for work as part of their benefit conditions, they say the support is not good enough, and they think they could do better.  In fact salaries depend on it.  As such they recommended establishing a local Health and Work Programme to make ‘maximising employment a priority’ for healthcare services.

Six months later Islington Council teamed up with Islington Clinical Commissioning Group who oversee local healthcare and ominously formed a partnership with Jobcentre Plus. The DWP were  only too happy to help and agreed to fund the salary of an Employment Lead worker to be based at the heart of Islington’s NHS services to “to drive employment outcomes through strategic health commissioning”.  What this means is money meant for healthcare will instead be shovelled into the hands of grasping welfare-to-work parasites with the aim of reducing “entrenched worklessness among residents with a health condition or disability in the borough.

One of the first moves, which is already sparking local outrage, is to introduce Employment Coaches into six GP’s surgeries in Islington.  These tax payer funded busy-bodies will come from Remploy who were recently sold off to giant US outsourcing company Maximus who already run many Jobcentre services. Doctors will be encouraged to refer patients for employment support with the same company who carry out the despised Work Capability Assessment used to stop disabled people’s benefits by finding them fit for work.  A company that has been the target of ongoing protests by disabled people and benefit claimants.  It is hard to imagine a bigger insult to disabled or long term sick people in Islington.  But then perhaps that is the point.

This is leafy, lefty Islington, and so there is lots of gushing talk about quality of life and creating living wage jobs in the proposals for the new scheme.  They don’t really mean it though.  In Islington Employment Commission’s report they discuss how some residents object to taking the first job they are offered because it might be unsuitable or low paid.  According to the commission local employers have told them this is not the case and that people should be prepared to take a job that isn’t perfect no matter how shit, just to get their foot on the ladder.  But then they would say that wouldn’t they. Islington’s Health and Work service is being designed with the needs of employers in mind, not local people.

As such, whilst evidence shows that low paid, insecure, or unsuitable work is bad for your health, doctors will still be encouraged to coerce their paients into taking these jobs.  And whilst Islington Councillors and healthcare bueracrats salve their consciences by telling themselves about all the wonderful opportunities they are creating for disabled people, their partners, Jobcentre Plus will provide the teeth – in the form of vicious and life destroying benefit sanctions – to ensure compliance.  Iain Duncan Smith must be pissing himself as the liberal elite dance to his tune in Jeremy Corbyn’s backyard.  If he can get away with this shit here, he will consider he can do it everywhere.  And that is why it must be stopped.

A protest has been called outside City Road Medical Centre, 190-196 City Road , London, EC1V 2QH on Friday 4th March from 3pm.  Please spread the word, more details on the facebook page.

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Over Half Of All Businesses Launched On Government Enterprise Scheme Would Be Shut Down Under Universal Credit

Precariously self-employed?  The Minister of Death is coming for you.

Precariously self-employed? The Minister of Death is coming for you.

Over half of all small businesses launched under the DWP’s flagship New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme will be ruthlessly closed down when draconian new benefit conditions for self-employed people are introduced as part of Universal Credit.

New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) is the Jobcentre scheme under which claimants receive a small allowance for starting a small business for the first six months as long as they agree to occassional harassment from some dickhead advisor from the local welfare-to-work company.  It has been a huge success according to a gushing press release published by Minister of Death Priti Patel today, who claims that 80% of those who started out as self-employed on the NEA are still trading, with nine in ten of them having been in business for over 12 months.

Patel was responding to a survey carried out amongst NEA participants examining the success of the scheme.  A total of 1,500 of those who had taken part were questioned and the vast majority had been sucessfully self-employed for over one year.  The so-called support offered by NEAs was not so popular however.  Of those still trading at the time of the survey 70% had not accessed any help from their provider after the initial launch of their business.  They appreciated the money though, despite it being the miserly amount of £65 a week for the first three months on the scheme and then falling to just £33 for the remaining period.  This is because skint people need money, not lectures from some DWP busy-body whose entrepreneurial flare is so astounding that they ended up working in the fucking Jobcentre.

According to the survey the majority of these businesses were sole traders, with some of the most common sectors including cleaning, health and beauty, IT repairs or gardening.  In other words these are largely precariously self-employed workers, struggling to get by from week to week.  And this is reflected in the amount of money they are making.  Over half of small businesses (58%) questioned at the time of the survey had a monthly turnover of less than £1000, and for 37% it was under £500.  Almost of all these businesses will be forced to close when Universal Credit is fully introduced.

Savage new rules for in-work benefits are soon to mean that after one year self-employed people will be expected to be earning the equivalent of the national minimum wage for 35 hours a week if they have no young children or health condition.  That means profit, not turnover, of at least £985 per calender month at the current minimum wage rate – and as that rises this will become ever more difficult for self-employed people to achieve.  Those who do not meet this threshold will not be classed as ‘gainfully self-employed’ by the Jobcentre and so will be forced to claim mainstream unemployment benefits*.  They will then be expected to carry out ‘work related activity’, which means looking for a job, for up to 35 hours a week.  Self-employed activity may not be counted towards this and they could be stopped from doing it at all and forced to attend full-time unpaid workfare instead.  From budding entrepreneurs starting out as their own boss  to benefit scroungers at the stroke of DWP Minister’s pen.

For those with monthly profit at or close to the threshold and passing the test for ‘gainful self-employment’ then the situation will be little better.  These claimants will then be assumed to be earning the minimum wage rate for full time work when their in-work benefits are calculated.  This will include benefits intended to cover housing costs as well as the replacements for both Child and Working Tax Credits.  So should someone self-employed go through a lean patch for a couple of months they will not only suffer through lack of earnings but their Universal Credit will not reflect that loss of income.  The only solution will be to go back on the dole in an effort to restore housing benefits, and that’s assuming the Jobcentre lets them and doesn’t suspend their claim for giving up gainful self-employment.  This is what Minister of Death Priti Patel secretly has in store for all those small businesses she is cheering on today.  Financial destitution and bureacratic chaos.  And once they on their knees, sanction their benefits for not trying hard enough.  Build’ em up and knock ’em right back down.  She hasn’t had so much fun since she was working in PR for the tobacco industry encouraging poor people to take up smoking.

*Such is the shambles in the delayed roll out of Universal Credit that there is a crass attempt being made to bolt this kind of conditionality onto the current Tax Credit system.  As reported in the trade journal Nursery World (h/t @stukisu) many child miners are being inundated with demands from HMRC to prove that their small businesses are genuine and that they are striving their hardest to make a profit.  Perhaps most appallingly, as this is being done before Universal Credit has been implemented, they are threatened not just with loss of their current in-work benefits but a demand for a repayment of all benefits to date – potentially plunging some into thousands of pounds worth of debt.  That’s child minders, working all the hours God sends for shit money, being persecuted and driven into unescapable debt for not making quite enough profit or being able to produce detailed business plans and advertising strategies on demand to government bureacrats.

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Working Full Time And Think You’re Safe From The Jobcentre? Not If The DWP Get Their Way.

When I click my fingers you will wake up, and all your benefits will have been stopped.

Are you striving hard enough? The nudge unit is watching you.

A study released by the DWP today shows that tens of thousands of Tax Credits claimants  – some of them with full time jobs – have received letters and texts encouraging them to contact government busy-bodies for advice on how to increase their earnings by finding a new job or gaining promotion.

This startling fact is contained in an evaluation of the ‘In-work progression advice trial’ quietly carried out in 2014.  This pilot scheme, run by the DWP in conjunction with the shadowy Nudge Unit, involved 75,000 Tax Credit claimants receiving a letter encouraging them to contact the National Careers Service for advice on how to progress in work.  Around half of participants also recieved a text message.

Claimants were chosen largely at random from those earning a monthly income of £330–£960, so those working full-time at the then minimum wage were included in the study.  When Universal Credit is fully introduced (stop laughing) part-time workers will be forced to endlessly look for ‘more or better paid work’ during the hours they are not working.  They could even be sent on unpaid workfare schemes and if they refuse then vital in-work benefits, including money required to pay for housing costs, could be stopped.   What this pilot suggests is that policies are being considered to ensure even those with full time jobs are subject to Jobcentre conditionality if they are paid low wages.

Of course what the evaluation of the scheme showed is that it was a fucking disaster.  Of the 75,000 people offered this so-called help from the National Careers Service only 1.1% agreed to take part.  Of those only 19 were prepared to take part in the evaluation of the scheme despite being offered a twenty quid shopping voucher by the DWP.  15 people who hadn’t taken up the offer also agreed to be interviewed.  Such a small sample out of tens of thousands of people renders the results of this research worthless as even the Nudge Unit quacks know.  But this is about manufacturing evidence, not any real attempt to find out if this is something people actually want or need.

Of the few people researchers spoke to they found exactly what you would expect.  Many older claimants, such as those in their 50s, were quite happy with their work and saw no reason to change anything.  Often people had caring responsibilities that limited what work they could do – usually looking after children or elderly relatives.  Interestingly both those who took up the advice and those who didn’t were found to have similar motivations and attitudes to work.  Many lone parents said they would look to progress in work as soon as their children were older.  Others had clear career goals already and were merely curious about any advice offered.  It turns out that people are quite capable of making their own decisions about work and their lives, usually on perfectly rational grounds, without any help at all from the government.  Also, and amusingly, the evaluation found that the magically written ‘self-efficacy’ letter, presumably produced by the nudge unit, had no impact at all on whether people got in touch.

Whilst this pilot encouraged participants to call the National Careers Service – a fairly benign helpline which does not have the power to sanction benefits – the report provides some chilling pointers to the DWP’s plans.  In a section discussing how advice might be provided in the future it mentions that Jobcentre Work Coaches might be used as ‘delivery agents’.  Whilst the report’s authors note that Jobcentre staff were not included in the pilot study, they say they include this suggestion for ‘policy reasons’.  More ominously elsewhere in the document it says that “current evidence explores attitudes, communications and support needs outside of the conditions of Universal Credit. It will therefore be important to understand how these factors are affected when the idea of compulsion is introduced.

What in-work conditionality for benefits shows, no matter how it finally takes shape, is that it is no longer enough to be hard working, you are expected to constantly compete.  The days when a life working as a council care worker or cleaning up the park might have got you some kind of civic award or picture in the local paper when you retire are long over.  There is no dignity in work now – not real work.

Instead the Tories imagine a UK PLC – some kind of giant version of The Apprentice, full of selfish grasping wankers, ruthlessly fucking each other over until the second we retire – if we get to retire at all. They want to make us like them – obsessed with money and status above all else.  And so the people who do the hardest work in society, vital work on which everybody’s lives depend, are now to be re-cast as scroungers, who aren’t trying hard enough and so need to be punished with forced work, compulsory ‘personal development’ training and benefit sanctions.  It is the worst of all worlds – cut-throat capitalism mandated by a nanny state that seeks to control every second of our time unless we become rich enough to shake them off.  Economically enforced ideology designed to manufacture Tories and destroy any notion of community or solidarity.

Welcome to dystopia, now get back to fucking work.

You can read the evaluation at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/in-work-progression-advice-trial-evaluation

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Iain Duncan Smith and Frank Fucking Field – Two Sides Of The Same Coin

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If it looks like a wanker, and sounds like a wanker, it’s probably Frank Field.

Few people in the modern Labour Party are as much of a wanker as Frank Field – and there’s some fierce competition.

Reportedly a Tory in his youth, Field has slithered around the margins of UK politics for decades, always looking for a way in and always fucking it up whenever he is given one.  After the 2010 election he even slimed his way into David Cameron’s affections, being granted the title of Poverty Tsar – a lord of misery with an insincere smile sent out to provide ideological cover for the Tory Government’s vicious social security cuts.

Duirng the previous Labour administration Field was briefly Minister for Welfare Reform – a position now occupied by the equally odious Lord Fraud.  During this period he proposed a breath-takingly complex reform of the entire benefits system based on restoring the link with National Insurance.  So garbled were his plans that nobody but him could understand them and Tony Blair –  for once in his miserable, wretched, mass-murdering life – made the right decision and sacked him immediately.

Field has remained obessed with restoring what he calls the contributory principle, despite the stark historical fact that it never worked.  By 1951 almost one and a half million people were already claiming National Assistance, which was not funded from the National Insurance pot.  In fact the overall take from the insurance based scheme – which charges the rich a far lower percentage of their income than the poor – was so low that many people were having pensions and benefits topped up by National Assistance.  But just like Iain Duncan Smith, Field has never let evidence get in the way of his own messianic insistence that if only people would listen to him then he could create a utopian form of capitalism with no poor people.  And he would achieve this by making the poor poorer, to teach them a lesson and turn them into productive strivers.

In 2015 Field was given a new job, elected by fellow MPs to chair the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the body tasked with scrutinising welfare refoms.  This was not good news.  There is barely a fag paper between his views and those of Duncan Smith, and it is in this context that his report examining welfare reform- published this week by the Civitas think tank – should be considered.

Field has made a couple of headlines by pointing out what everyone already knows which is that Universal Credit is a shambles that will not make work pay.  He is also critical of the current benefit sanctioning regime, a bizarre position for someone to take who in 2011 called for greater use of sanctions for people on the Work Programme.  His solution to the mass poverty being engineered by Jobcentre sanctions is not to scrap them, but to introduce the so-called yellow card system – the patronising early warning initiative first dreamed up by a chinless five year old from the Policy Exchange think-tank.

Field also proposes a Future Jobs Fund Mark 2, a revamp of the last Labour government’s short lived scheme which involved paying huge subsidies to employers to provide jobs for young people.  This call comes despite his objection to in-work benefits which he says subsidise low wages – he wants to scrap Tax Credits completely for those without kids.  In other words he’s quite happy to subsidise employers, but not workers, who presumably will just fritter all that extra money away on food and gas bills.

Elsewhere in the report he is mildly critical of the despised assessments for sickness and disability benefits, although his chief objection seems to be that not enough people are being found fit for work.  He claims a long drawn out assessment, made up of several appointments, would be better system, whilst he would expect all sick and disabled people to sign an ‘improving your life’ contract.  Really.

Field also praises the introduction of Personal Independence Payments – the replacement to Disability Living Allowance which is currently stripping benefits from around 23% of disabled people.  He’d just like to see people lose their benefits faster, complaining that not enough money has been saved so far.

He is equally gushing about the Benefit Cap, repeating Iain Duncan Smith’s lies that it has encouraged people to find work – a claim not backed by evidence according to the head of the UK Statistics Authority.  On housing he falls into parroting Labour’s election policy that more houses should be built without any real further details of how and who for.  He then goes wildly off-script by worrying that there might not be enough brick layers.  Luckily he has another brilliant idea.  Young people on benefits could be forced to a attend a ten week brick-laying course at a private college and then spend a year learning brick-laying properly in a presumably compulsory minimum wage job.  To pay for this enforced training he suggests that these young people take out a loan, similar to the student loan scheme.  You’ve never fucking had it so good kids.

Field reserves his most lavish praise for George Osborne, for doing what even Thatcher failed to achieve and cutting social security spending.  He acknowledges that this had little to do with five years of welfare reform and was simply down to an old-fashioned cut – the decision to freeze benefits at below the rate of inflation.  Still Field calls this a big success, whilst he also praises Iain Duncan Smith’s obsession with family values and insistence that non-traditional families, like single parents and gays, cause poverty.  It’s like the last half century never fucking happened.

By this point you’re probably thinking who gives a shit what this condescending relic from the past thinks.  Surely a dickhead like this, whose political career is riddled with failure, can never achieve any real influence.  But that’s what everybody thought about Iain Duncan Smith.  Just like his Tory counterpart did in the early part of the century, Field is now positioning himself as an expert on poverty and friend of the poor.  His vile opinions have gone almost unmentioned as he exploits the ineptness of the DWP to raise his own political profile.  With Labour’s social security policies seemingly non-existent he is well placed to position himself as the natural opposition to Tory welfare reforms – despite his rhetoric and ideology being near identical.  He just think’s he’d be better at being Iain Duncan Smith then the Work and Pensions Secretary is himself.  He must never be allowed to get there.

You can read his stupid report at: http://www.civitas.org.uk/publications/fixing-broken-britain-an-audit-of-working-age-welfare-reform-since-2010/

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