Category Archives: Fighting Back

The Fight To Save Social Security Won’t Be Over Whoever Wins The Election, Come To The Welfare Action Gathering – 30th May

welfare-action-flyerfrom Boycott Workfare

Saturday 30th May, 10.30am-5.30pm, London Welsh Centre (10 minutes’ walk from King’s Cross station)

Faced with policies that are pushing ever more people into precarity and poverty, thousands of us have been coming together to support each other. We are pushing back workfare, standing up to sanctions, challenging the work capability assessment and fighting insecure, unaffordable housing.

If you are concerned about:

  • Job centres being places of intimidation and sanctions,
  • Private providers bullying claimants on ‘welfare-to-work’ schemes,
  • 35 hour jobsearch under Universal Credit,
  • ESA assessments putting sick and disabled people in fear of destitution,
  • Welfare rights for young people being abolished and replaced with unpaid work,
  • Workfare being required to be eligible for social housing,
  • Housing benefit being part of sanctions under Universal Credit,
  • Claimants in work being sanctioned under Universal Credit too…

…then do something about it and come to the Welfare Action Gathering to hear from other people organising across the UK! Learn about our rights and share ideas and tactics!

This isn’t a day for speakers from the front. Party political representatives aren’t invited. It’s a day for people at the grassroots to get together and work out how we can support each other, defend our rights and continue successfully to campaign against workfare and sanctions.

Organised by Boycott Workfare with Haringey Solidarity Group. Workshops and contributions from other groups are very welcome!

Want to come? Please register your interest now: info@boycottworkfare.org

Will you need help with travel costs? If you are in a local group where people support each other and take action on welfare or housing (or plan to start one), we should be able to help with your travel costs. Please help by booking travel early and accessing other sources of funding if you can. Get in touch as soon as you can to sort travel costs out.

Access info: Please get in touch if there are ways we can help make the event accessible to you. The venue is wheelchair accessible however one workshop room unfortunately is not. If you are a wheelchair user, please contact us in advance to let us know which workshops you’d like to attend, and we’ll make sure they are scheduled on the ground floor.

Want to organise something similar near you? We’d love to help if we can. We especially want to support another gathering in the North in Autumn/Winter 2015, but would need a local group to take the lead on organising it. Please get in touch.

For more details and a list of the workshops organised so far visit Boycott Workfare’s website.

Join the Facebook event and invite others to come too!

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Support The Sweets Way Occupation, Let’s Take Our Cities Back

How the fuck is a child supposed to understand why they don’t have a home? These are kids who see their parents going out to work long hours for shit wages, or battling illness, or struggling to find work. They see a parent who loves them, cares for them, feeds them – who does all the things that a parent is supposed to do – and yet that is not enough. The most basic form of human security, even survival, is now fast becoming something only the affluent can afford in many parts of the UK.

Almost every day seems to bring another story of low income families being forced from their homes to make way for luxury flats, as property developers turn the ground we walk on into a chance for them to increase their millions. And if anyone complains than the rich simply call on the machinery of the state – coppers, courts and bailiffs – to enforce their so-called property rights with unfeeling violence. Kids have no reference point for this kind of behaviour. They are taught to share and look after each other. There could hardly be a worse preparation for the realities of cut-throat capitalism.

Not one of the main political parties gives a shit about the desperate shortage of genuinely affordable housing. Most MPs care far more about their own property portfolios than they do about their homeless constituents. None of them have ever had to explain to their children why they have to move far away from their schools, friends and families, only to be placed in yet more temporary housing, sometimes in a different city, to await their next forced relocation.

The video above tells the story of children currently being socially cleansed from their homes on the Sweets Way estate in Barnet (ht @IzzyKoksal). These are not families that were living in luxury central London homes. Barnet is a suburb, so far from the centre of London that the aristocratic local MP Theresa Villiers used our money to help her buy a second home nearer Parliament.   This was a quiet and modest estate where people had lived for over five years. Now they face eviction, with some offered temporary properties as far away as Birmingham and others abandoned by the council completely.

One of the empty flats on the estate was occupied over the weekend as the tenants mount a fightback against this demolition of both their homes and their lives. Similar struggles are emerging across London and they are winning. We are only powerless when we play by their rules. Occupations and collective action, legal or otherwise, are the only tools we have. Fuck the law, fuck the bailiffs and fuck the rich they serve. This is our city. Let’s take it back.

For more info on the Sweets Way tenants visit Barnet Housing Action’s website or follow them on twitter @SweetsWayN20

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Huge Success For Campaigners As Rage Against Maximus Explodes Onto The Streets Across The UK

Disabled protesters block Victoria Street bringing traffic chaos.

Disabled protesters block Victoria Street bringing traffic chaos.

Over 30 towns and cities held protests yesterday against the involvement of sinister US based outsourcing company Maximus in the despised Work Capability Assessments.

Maximus take over from Atos this week carrying out the tests used to strip benefits from sick and disabled people by finding them ‘fit for work’.  Atos were chased out of their lucrative contract with the DWP after a string of protests destroyed their carefully crafted corporate identity and campaigners have vowed to do the same to Maximus.

In London up to a hundred disabled people and supporters descended on their non-descript London offices where a noisy and determined protest took place outside their front door.  Protesters then took to the streets and occupied a roundabout where a Work Capability Assessment circus was held with events including a jumping through hoops display and a box lifting competition – a reference to one of the criteria in the assessments used to find people fit for work.  The circus ended with a rousing chorus of David Cameron Is A Wanker from the Kilburn Unemployed Workker’s Group.

Protesters then marched towards Parliament Square, stopping briefly outside the locked down and fenced off Department of Work and Pensions before blocking the busy Victoria Street.  Whilst a low key police presence looked on protesters held the road for almost an hour, bringing traffic to a standstill.

The protest was organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), alongside Black Triangle, Mental Health Resistence Network, UK Uncut, #newapproach and many more.  Protests also took place across England, Scotland and Wales, with even a solidarity protest outside Maximus’ offices in Toronto, Canada.  For a round up of tweets, pics, video and reports so far visit DPAC’s website.

The hashtag for the day #maximarse also briefly trended on twitter as thousands of people vented their outrage about the company online.  This proved so popular that a panicking Maximus quickly bought the domain name marximarse.com as spotted by @refuted.

The day was a huge success for campaigners and showed that simply changing the bastards carrying out these assessments has done nothing to dampen the rage against these nasty and vindictive tests.  Yesterday was just the start.    The best thing Maximus could do now is cut their losses and scuttle off back under a rock because all this contract is going to do is cost them lots and lots of money.

For a video of the Victoria Street blockade and report visit: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/03/maximus-protest-videos-pictures-how-people-can-and-will-destroy-big-corporates/

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The Work Capability Assessment Is About To Get Worse, Less People To Be Placed In Support Group Say DWP

wca-review5

Recommendations made by Paul Litchfield in the latest review into the Work Capability Assessment

More sick and disabled people will face sanctions and workfare when Maximus take over running running the despised assessments for sickness benefits say the DWP who have promised the number of people placed in the Support Group is expected to fall.

The department’s comments come in their response to the latest review into the Work Capability Assessment, the shoddy computer based test used to find sick and disabled people ‘fit for work’ and stop their benefits.  Sinister US based outsourcing firm Maximus will take over the assessments from next week after ferocious campaigning by disabled people and benefit claimants led to the notorious Atos ending their involvement with the tests early.

The most recent review was carried out by Paul Litchfield, presumably in his spare time as he is also Chief Medical Officer at BT.  Cutting sick and disabled people’s benefits and driving them into poverty is more of a hobby for this bastard.  Litchfield is very concerned that the number of people placed in the Support Group after an assessment has been on the rise and says this should be urgently examined.  Claimants in this group are those even the DWP agree are too unwell to work and who do not have to jump through endless hoops to prove they are looking for or preparing for work.  It is the only group of claimants who cannot be sent on mandated workfare or have their benefits sanctioned for missing a meeting at the Jobcentre.  Litchfield thinks there are too many of them, and is particularly worried about the number of young people languishing about in homes and hospitals with serious health conditions when they could be stacking shelves in ASDA for no pay on workfare schemes – or work related activity as he calls it.

As Litchfield will know however, young people, or those of any age in the Support Group, are able to access the Work Programme if they choose.  If many of them do not then that says more about the bungled scheme than it does about sick and disabled claimants.  The Work Programme is shit. That’s why no-one volunteers for it.

Another of Litchfield’s worries is the use of regulation 35 (2) (b).  This rule means that people can be placed in the Support Group automatically if there is “substantial risk” to their mental or physical health if they are found fit for work.  This can be done without a face to face assessment and is frequently used – often on the advice of a GP or medical specialist – when a claimant demonstrates suicidal behavior or is at risk of self-harm.  Litchfield seems appalled that this group are not being harassed stringently enough by the DWP.  Nowhere does he mention the growing number of suicides linked to the Work Capability Assessment .  Perhaps he thinks there aren’t enough.

The DWP agree with Litchfield that the numbers in the Support Group are too high and in a frank admission say this is down to more paper based assessments being carried out due to chronic delays that have built up in the system.  According to the department: “Following transition to the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (Maximus) and restoration of the usual proportion of face-to-face assessments it is expected that the level of Support Group outcomes will decline.”

Litchfield must be so relieved to hear that even more sick and disabled claimants will soon be dependent on food banks after having their benefits sanctioned.  He won’t be the only one happy at the news.  Maximus would like to see as many people on the Work Programme as possible, because they fucking run huge chunks of that as well.  No wonder their greedy boss can afford to pay himself $5 million a year.

The Work Capability Assessment is set to get worse.  It is more vital than ever that it is scrapped completely.  Help make that happen this Monday 2nd March with the first national day of action against new contractors Maximus.  Protests, demonstrations and actions are planned in 30 locations throughout the UK and even one in Toronto!  Full details of the nearest protest to you are available in this handy post from Disabled People Against Cuts.  Please help spread the word and let’s make Maximus feel uncomfortable for a change.

maximus-circus

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25 Feb Day of Action To Support Activist Arrested At Jobcentre

tony-coxSolidarity with unemployed activist arrested for representing a jobseeker – call out by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty via Boycott Workfare

Take part in a day of action at job centres Britain-wide, 25 February 2015.

Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox was arrested on 29th January after Arbroath Jobcentre management called police to stop him representing a vulnerable jobseeker. We urge you to join a Day of Action on 25th February at Jobcentres round Britain to show your solidarity.  More info.

Actions planned so far:

Edinburgh and the Lothians:-

Leith jobcentre, Commercial St 9am – 11am
South Saint Andrew St jobcentre 11am – 1pm
High Riggs jobcentre 10am – 12 noon
Musselburgh jobcentre 2pm – 3pm

Dundee, Tayside and area:
Solidarity protest at Arbroath Job Centre: There will be a picket of the Forfar court before the hearing on 25 February contact admin@scottishunemployedworkers.net

London:
* 09.45-10.45am, outside Kilburn Jobcentre with Kilburn Unemployed Workers
* 3pm, DWP, Caxton House, Tothill Street London SW1H 9NA (Nearest tube St James’ Park or Westminster) with Boycott Workfare

Cardiff, Wales:
IWW Cymru in Cardiff is in. 12-2 at Charles Street Job Centre, Cardiff..
https://www.facebook.com/events/607720169358185/?ref=3&ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular

Liverpool
11.30 Jobcentre Plus. Eaton Road, West Daerby
https://www.facebook.com/events/805964602791737/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular

UK Wide:

Send a message of support to admin@scottishunemployedworkers.net

Complain to Noel Shanahan, Director General Operations DWP, Caxton House, Tothill Street London SW1H 9NA

Sign the petition

Please help spread the word about all events.

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This Is Our City Not Theirs, It’s Time To Tell The Rich To Fuck Off

poor-doors-pitchforks

As glass and concrete spindles made of luxury flats climb into the clouds above London below them lives a generation of children who will never be able to afford to live here when they are grown up.

Across the capital families and communities are being fractured as rents soar beyond poverty wages and benefit caps mean eviction and forced relocation for those who fall on hard times.  In central London at night huddled bodies in sleeping bags fill the shop doorways whilst camps of homeless migrants hide beneath bridges and in tunnels after finding out the city’s streets were actually paved with shit.  Social housing estates are being slowly run down, decanted and demolished to make way for the rich and a handful of so-called affordable properties that nobody local can afford.  Gentrification forces up rents and closes down well loved local pubs and markets to be replaced by hipster twats selling over-priced cupcakes or bowls of fucking Coco Pops to each other.

The rich should not just be unwelcome in this environmnent, they should be despised.  None of this has happened by accident.  As property prices rocket out of reach every last fucking brick has become an investment opportunity.  London does not have a housing problem, some of the most expensive properties in the city are empty and unused.  London has a rich people problem.

Yet as the social and cultural heart of the capital is ripped apart, a spectre is haunting London.  A spectre of toff-hating fucking rage.  Recently up to four thousand people marched on City Hall demanding homes, whilst a breakaway groups took to the roads and occupied empty flats on the Aylesbury Estate. Abandoned properties have been occupied throughout the capital from Stratford to Mayfair.  Shadowy American property developers Westbrook Partners were chased out of their ownership of the New Era Estate after threatening to hike rents.  Local groups who face losing their homes have brought construction sites to a standstill with blockades.  Last week bailiffs, the attack dogs of the rich, were pelted with paint bombs at their glitzy annual award ceremony.   And the boisterous Poor Doors demonstrations are back after pampered property developer Taylor McWilliams declared there was nothing he could be arsed to do to end social segregation in the building his company owns.

It is little wonder that the rich want us out of their playground.  Property developers now boast in adverts that there will be no social housing tenants in their luxury new flats.  Poor doors force low income tenants to use a different entrance to their homes than the rich who live in the same buildings.  Even gardens that were promised to low income residents are now to be fenced off and made available for posh cunts only.  David Cameron has threatened a policy which will socially cleanse the poor from the entire South East of England within a week of any Tory election victory.  But we are not fucking going anywhere.

At the recent housing march it was declared that the growing movement for homes is the beginning of the end of London’s housing crisis.  Escalation is now vital on every front.  It’s time to make the rich feel unwelcome.  To let them know that if they leave their luxury buildings empty they will be occupied.  If they force us to use poor doors we will mob their buildings and spoil their dinners.  That from the trust fund Tarquins destroying local communities to the plutocrats, bankers and global super-rich buying houses to keep empty as investments, we will hunt them down and make their lives as uncomfortable as they want to make ours.  There are fucking loads more of us than them.  The rich are here by our consent.  It’s time to tell them to fuck off.

Next Thursday (19th February) the Poor Doors demo will start at 6pm sharp, 1 Commercial Street, E1 and march to the site of the stolen garden at Tower Bridge SE1.  Then on Monday 23rd February Boris Johnson will be the target as housing campaigners flock to City Hall to block his budget.  If you have kids growing up in this city or plan to grow old here then you should be there, at both if you can.  This is our London, not theirs and we need to take it back.

Please help spread the word about both events, for more info on the Poor Doors protest visit Class War’s website and join/share the facebook event page for Block the Budget.

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14 Towns And Cities And Counting Lined Up To Take Action Against Maximus On March 2nd #ScrapWCA

Maximus-same-circus-different-clownsMaximus claimed that they would not face protests due to their involvement with the Work Capability Assessment.  They couldn’t have been more wrong.  14 towns and cities have already called events as part of the National Day of Action Against Maximus on March 2nd.

Please help spread the word about events near you and join in, as organisers Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) say: “If there isn’t a protest where you live – why not organise one? – we can help you with advice, leaflet designs, placard designs and put you in contact with local groups near to you, if you are interested email us on mail@dpac.uk.net”

Have you been sanctioned by Maximus?  DPAC have also asked for people to contact them if with their experiences of attending the Work Programme or other forced work schemes with the company.

For all the latest details on the day of action visit: http://dpac.uk.net/2015/01/maximus-day-of-action-2nd-of-march-list-of-events-around-the-uk-scrapwca/

List if towns and cities so far …

Balham:  Irene House, 218 Balham High Road, Balham, London, SW12 9BX, Time: 10.30 am – 12 noon

Facebook events link for Balham action: https://facebook.com/events/921882261178305/

Brighton:  West Lees House, 21-35 Dyke Road, Brighton, BN1 3GD, (North End of the Clock Tower, Next to Old Job Centre.) Time: 1pm onwards.

Facebook events page for Brighton action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1542104427509/?fref=ts

Cardiff:  (This protest organised by DAN Cymru) Block 2, Government Buildings, St Agnes Road, Gabalfa, Cardiff, CF14 4YJ.  Time: 1 -4 pm

Facebook events page for Cardiff action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1541199339470550/

Croydon:  Stephenson House, 2 Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon, CR0 6BA, Time: 10 am – 6pm.

Facebook events page for Croydon action: https://www.facebook.com/events/641182419342826/

Glasgow:  Corunna House, 29 Cadogan Street, Glasgow, G2 7RD,  Time: 12.30 -2 pm

Facebook events page for Glasgow action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1429430507348206/

Ipswich: Medical Assessment Centre, St. Felix House, Silent Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 1TF.  Time: 1 pm onwards.

Facebook events page for Suffolk action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1513102252288548/

Lincoln:  Medical Assessment Centre, Viking House, 98 Newland, Time: 1 pm onwards

Facebook events page for Lincoln action: https://www.facebook.com/events178533808358604/

Leicester:  Leicester assessment centre, 1st Floor, Rytland Centre, Halford Street, Leicester, LE1 1TQ, Time: 1 pm onwards

Facebook events page for Leicester action: https://www.facebook.com/events/522105471264765/

London – Maximus HQ:  Maximus HQ Level 1, Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9BU,  Time: 1 – 5 pm

Contact for details of London Central action: DPAC via mail@dpac.uk.net

Facebook events page for London Central Action: https://www.facebook.com/events/771842739517758/

Manchester:  Albert Bridge House, Bridge Street, Manchester, M60 9AT, Time: 12 noon until 4 pm

Facebook events page for Manchester Action: https://www.facebook.com/events/346833825508275/

Plymouth:  Argosy House, Longfield Road, Plympton, Plymouth, PL6 8LS, Time: 12 noon until 3 pm

Facebook events page for Plymouth action: https://www.facebook.com/events/951081494902471/

Reading:  St Mary’s Butts, Reading, RG1 2LG, Time: 11 am – 1 pm

Facebook events page for Reading Action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1404292959867177/

Sheffield:  Medical Assessment Centre, 1 Hartshead Square, Sheffield, S1 2FD.  Time: 1- 3 pm (meet first at 12.30 pm at City centre)

Facebook events page for Sheffield Action: https://facebook.com/events/1526799147602672/

Truro:  Pydar House, Pydar Street, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 2XD (the current WCA Assessment Centre),  After a while spent there protest will move on to Truro City Centre outside the JobCentre Plus.  Time: Noon till 2pm

Facebook events page for Truro Action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1002956276384446/

And Online!

Visit DPAC for details of the online protest: http://dpac.uk.net/2015/02/social-media-events-for-the-day-of-action-against-maximus-2nd-march-scrapwca/

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