Category Archives: Fighting Back

Workfare Abandoned! Mandatory Work Activity and Community Work Placements Both To Be Scrapped

workfare-partyIn a major victory for campaigners, two of the main workfare programmes are to be abandoned the DWP has quietly announced today.  Private sector contracts to run Community Work Placements and Mandatory Work Activity will not be renewed says the department in their response to George Osborne’s spending review.

Community Work Placements involve six month’s forced full time work for the long term unemployed, whilst Mandatory Work Activity is a four week short sharp shock of workfare used to punish claimants who were judged not to have the right attitude by Jobcentre busy-bodies.

Hundreds of charities have pulled out of both schemes or boycotted them completely after furious campaigning from Boycott Workfare, Keep Volunteering Voluntary and claimants across the UK.  Recent performance figures showed that only half of those referred to forced community work actually started a placement.  Eighteen months after Community Work Placements began the DWP is still avoiding telling us whether anyone has actually found a real job through the scheme.  The department is claiming the programmes will not be renewed to save money.

This is not the complete end of workfare, with some claimants still facing forced work on the Work Programme, at least for now.  The ever growing number of  unpaid work experience schemes such as Traineeships – which are officially voluntary but often coerced in practice – are also not likely to be abandoned yet.  And of course we may yet see mandatory unpaid work return under another name, whilst this news doesn’t help those currently serving workfare sentences or those who may be referred before the schemes are wound down.

Ominously the DWP are also announcing a new Work and Health Programme aimed at the long term unemployed along with sick and disabled people.  The fight is far from over, but the scrapping of the two key workfare programmes shows the power of collective action to frustrate and even destroy the Government’s mass workfare ambitions.

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Not All Terrorists Carry Guns, But The Deaths From Osborne’s Cuts Will Be Just As Real

osborne-littleIt is hard to conceive how a Chancellor can look at people surviving on just a few pounds a day and decide it is them who must have their incomes cut to pay for a financial crisis caused by the rich.  What kind of fucking human being would do that?

These are people who may be struggling with a serious health condition, newly unemployed steel workers, the precariously self-employed or those on the lowest pay. These are to be the likely victims of the latest round of economic terrorism that George Osborne is set to inflict in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement.

Be in no doubt, this is terrorism.  Millions of people are now living in a state of stark and permanent panic as reckless Tory cuts strike randomly, demolishing lives, putting homes at risk, endangering health and tragically driving some to suicide. The callous assessments for disability benefits alone have led to 590 people taking their own lives researchers recently revealed in a report that should have brought this Government down.  Yet it was greeted with little more than a murmour.  The UK establishment, in all its guises, cares no more about the lives of the poor than the Isis death cultists cared about those they mercilessly gunned down in Paris last week.  A welfare state that destroys lives whilst masquerading as a safety net is the perfect weapon of class warfare.  The victims kill themselves, or disappear without trace under the burden of desperate poverty.

Such is the carefully constructed poverty trap that there is now almost no chance of escape.  There are just under 2 million people in the UK who are unemployed, and a further two million who don’t have a job and want one but do not meet the strict criteria of official unemployment.  Add to that a couple of million sick and disabled people or lone parents who are now being ordered to endlessly search for jobs. There are just 740,000 vacancies according to the Office for National Statistics.  If every one of those was filled tomorrow there would still be millions looking for work.

Not that finding a job will help the poorest as housing costs soar and in-work benefits are demolished.  Only if you can climb to the ranks of the so-called squeezed middle will you perhaps be able to grab some quality of existence, and even if you get there you’d better not get sick, become disabled or lose your job.  And you won’t ever get there.  Try walking into a Jobcentre and saying you’d like to re-train as a plumber or take an IT course that will actually get you a job rather than just teach you how to turn on a fucking computer.  When they’ve stopped laughing they will point you in the direction of a private training company, who want thousands of pounds, and for which there are no students loans available.  Even then, if you manage to raise the money, the Jobcentre may order you to leave to attend full time workfare instead.

Those who have had benefits sanctioned for missing a meeting, or failing to attend workfare, now survive on around £41 a week – and only then if they qualify for Hardship Payments. Those under 25 who are looking for work will fare little better with a weekly income barely over £50 whilst the older unemployed receive just £73.10.  Some of these claimants will be paying the Bedroom Tax, as well as Council Tax out of that sum.  Others will be frantically trying to make up rent payments to cover Housing Benefit shortfalls as private rents soar and benefits intended to pay them are capped and frozen.

Any further cuts to Housing Benefits will be devastating and could plunge some into a negative income as unavoidable costs like rent, water and Council Tax leave them with no money at all, just a steadily increasing debt.  This will include the working poor who have little more to live on than those on the dole, making a mockery of Iain Duncan Smith’s claims that his reforms are making work pay.  Whether Osborne cuts Tax Credits, Housing Benefits, or child benefits this week will make little difference to those affected.  Their lives are earmarked for economic destruction however the Chancellor chooses to cut.

In the face of such an onslaught we have no choice but to fight back.  There is no slack in the social security system left at all – in fact there never was any to begin with.  Street homelessnes is already at record levels and the full impact of the last round of cuts has not yet been truly felt.  Gideon Osborne is playing a dangerous game that could leave millions with nothing left to lose and no futures to plan for.  The rich may sleep comfortably in their mansions tonight.  But there will be consequences, there must be, because one death was too many and we cannot allow this to continue.

As ever Class War are taking te fight direct to the pampered elite calling for a picket of George Osborne’s family business to coincide with his speech on Wednesday.  Meet outside Osborne & Little, 204 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 from 12-2pm on Wednesday 25th November. Spread the word.

Apologies for the extended absence.  Back to normal now hopefully.

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The Temperature Is Rising, Let’s Show Them We Fucking Mean It

two-days-of-rageThey will keep coming back for more and more if we let them. They will come for our homes, our pensions, our benefits, our health service, everything they think they can grab. Everything that working class people have won.

Don’t think having a job will save you. As the bungled attempts to cut tax credits shows, they don’t give a fuck about that anymore. If your wages are low, then tough shit, you obviously aren’t working hard enough is the new mantra from the rich. To be poor now, whether working or not, is a sin in itself and the only way for redemption is to be poorer, to teach us a lesson. They think this will make us like them – grasping venal capitalist scum, exploiting at every turn, fucking over our neighbours in a desperate scramble to hoard wealth for ourselves whilst around us bodies huddle in shop doorways. That is what they mean by being a striver. It is the morality of thieves, the worship of the worst of human nature. And it must be stopped.

None of this has happened by accident. The working class had to be broken before this capitalist coup could be enacted. This destruction of organised labour, the endless succession of petty laws, an obedient and ever ready to be violent police force, the erosion of living standards and housing, all of these were necessary to eradicate the kind of collective action of the scale that is needed to resist this attack. But the truth is that the class war is far from over. We are not broken, not by a long way. It is the pampered rich, who think their privilege is safe behind the walls we built, who are the real vulnerable ones. Their entire cosseted existence depends on us remaining compliant. That is why even the most trivial act of political disobedience or rebellion terrifies them. They are as scared of us building the level of resistance necessary as we are cynical about whether that can be achieved. But it can be done, history shows us that. And it will start in the fucking streets.

On Wednesday (4th November) students will be taking to the streets demanding free education. Thousands are expected to attend what promises to be a lively demonstration. The march will depart from Malet St, outside the former University of London Union, at 13.30pm. For more info visit the organiser’s website.

The next day (bonfire night, Thursday 5th November) will see the annual Million Mask March take place in cities across the globe with Class War promising to drag an effigy of Tory London mayor candidate Zac Goldsmith in chains down Whitehall.  This event was huge last year and begins at 18.00 in Trafalgar Square.  More details on facebook.

Finally on Saturday 7th November the Class War Women’ s Death Brigade will be back outside the vile and unwanted Ripper Museum on Cable Street, E1.  Meet at the Cable Street Mural at 2pm and help drive this creepy bunch of gentrifying wannabe psychopaths out of the East End for good.

Please help spread the word about all events.

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Oh Ros, You’re An Embarrassment We Can’t Ignore #DontIgnoreIt

WorkieThe last time the DWP used the word workie they were encouraging young people to tweet pictures of themselves whilst they were being exploited on unpaid work experience schemes. It was a predictable disaster that was roundly ignored by the nation’s youth.  Now they have decided that a Workie is actually a giant multi-coloured monster like the one pictured.  Really.

This is Pension Minster Ros Altmann’s big idea to encourage small employers to sign up their staff to Workplace Pensions.  The Workie will debut on prime time televion tonight in a series of ads accompanied by a twitter campaign using the hashtag #DontIgnoreIt.

It is astonishing that the (unelected) Pension’s Minister should attempt to treat the public like small chldren. This is what the government thinks of normal people.  That we are fucking idiots who can be persuaded to do as we’re told by a giant furry kid’s TV character.  At a time of so-called austerity latte slurping wankers at some advertising agency have been paid real money for this embarrassment.  Our money.  £8.5 million pounds of it.  According to a gushing DWP press release Ros Altmann was personally involved in designing the character.  You can tell. It’s shit.

There are lots of things currently taking place that shouldn’t be ignored, besides workplace pensions.  Like Ros Altmann’s idea that we should work until we die.  Or record street homelessness.  Or the growing number of deaths linked to welfare reforms.  This bungled pensions campaign is a good chance to let everybody know just how far the chaos and carnage dealt out by the DWP has gone.  #DontIgnoreIt

Disabled People Against Cuts are also calling on people to tweet using the hashtag #PMQs to highlight the human rights violations of disabled people:

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Workfare Week Gets Worse! Work For Up To A Year Without Getting Paid Says #WEWeek2015


A government funded so-called charity is today encouraging employers to break minimum wage laws and hire unpaid interns with “no financial obligations in terms of salary”.

The advice is being offered by Fair Train who last year were paid £283,000 of tax payer’s money to promote unpaid work schemes and workfare.  The organisation are currently holding a Work Experience Week with a different form of unpaid work celebrated everyday.  Yesterday it was the turn of unpaid – and soon to be mandatory – Traineeships.  Today they have decided to focus on internships, with their official guidance (pdf) suggesting they need not be paid and that a placement could last up to a year.

In almost all cases unpaid internships are illegal.  According to the government: “An intern is entitled to the National Minimum Wage if they count as a worker.”  What this means is that anybody who actually does some work for an organisation, unless they are a charity volunteer or it is part of en educational study programme, should be paid at least the minimum wage.  This specifically applies if this work is done for a “benefit in kind, eg the promise of a contract or future work.”  Astonishingly Fair Train even seem to be encouraging employers to offer exactly this, saying that: “Many employers use internships to train and evaluate potential new recruits before offering them permanent employment, creating a win:win situation for both the young person and the employer.”

Several companies have been taken to court and forced to backpay wages due to hiring unpaid interns.  Fair Train don’t mention this in their guidance.  In fact they don’t mention interns getting paid at all, even as a recommendation.  It is not even a requirement to qualify for one of their bogus Work Experience Quality Standard awards which they say exist to ensure unpaid work placements are of a high standard.  It appears that a company could qualify for a Gold Level Quality Standard award and still be flouting the law by using unpaid interns.  What a joke.  Just watch them fucking wriggle now.

You can tell @FairTrainOrg what you think of their promotion of unpaid work on twitter using the hashtag #WEWeek2015.

You can report unpaid internship at:

To join the fight against forced unpaid work visit Boycott Workfare’s website or follow them on twitter @boycottworkfare.

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It’s Workfare Week! Tell The Bastards What You Think On #WEWeek2015


Workfare industry bosses react with delight to news David Cameron intends to attend their next conference.

The vile welfare-to-work sector are teaming up with a DWP controlled front organisation this week to hold a celebration of all the money they are making out of unpaid work.

The inaptly named Fair Train are funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, a government body under the control of both the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and Iain Duncan Smith himself.  Despite their name, this so-called charity exists to promote unpaid Work Experience schemes, by flogging off dubious Quality Standard awards to workfare exploiters.  In 2013 they were paid a whopping £283,000 of tax payer’s money to promote unpaid work schemes.

Week Experience Week is part of this gushing celebration of exploitation, so it is no suprise to see ERSA, the trade body established to lie on behalf on the welfare-to-work sector, joining in the festivities.  Fair Train say that want others to get involved with Work Experience Week, with aim of encouraging as many companies as possible to stop paying wages and start using workfare.  You can let the bastards know what you think on twitter using the hashtag #WEWeek2015.

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Fixing Poverty Is Simple: Poor People Need More Money and Homeless People Need Homes


In the UK today the poor are a commodity and poverty is big business.  That’s why the homelessness industry can afford conferences in luxury hotels, with slap up meals and drinks receptions.  It’s why charity chief executives earn such eye-watering sums, or business empires like the Big Issue can be built beneath a charity facade.  And these are the fuckers who are supposed to be helping.  Alongside them lie the vultures of the welfare-to-work companies like Serco and G4S – a £20 billion industry designed to punish the poor with benefit sanctions and forced work schemes.

At no point in this elaborate system of so-called support, incentives and sanctions will the people who are poor be given what they need – which is more money.  In fact much of the help is designed to do the opposite as it attempts to  create behavior change by inflicting more poverty.  Benfits are cut to ‘incentivise’ people to find a job whilst charities run advertising campains further stigmatising beggars to encourage them not to be homeless.  Other anti-poverty organisations demand that the price of cheap alcohol is raised to stop people being alcoholics and call for bans on handing out free food to make life difficult for those on the streets.  As these demands grow ever more shrill, the number of genuinely affordable homes and jobs that pay an adequate income shrink, alongside already meagre benefit payments. Yet because of the wonderful support the poor are offered – and all that money being spent – when people keep getting poorer then frankly, even most charity bosses think, it’s probably their own fault.

It is fucking grotesque.  What poor people need is more money and what homeless people need is homes.  As well as being glaringly obvious, this is also what the evidence shows.  A study was featured in the Washington Post this week which tracked the personalities of 1,420 low income children in North Carolina over a period of 20 years.  By pure chance during this period about a quarter of the children’s families received a windfall due to being part of a Native American tribe whose land had been used to host a casino.  This led to the families receiving annual payments of around $4000 and meant that the researchers could measure the impact of this small rise in income on the children’s personalities.  The results were clear – according to the researchers “there are large beneficial effects of improved household financial wellbeing on children’s emotional and behavioral health and positive personality trait development.”

The study also found that relationships between parents improved, family arguments decreased, and siginifcantly parents who had more money tended to use drugs and alcohol less.

Back in the UK, in 2010 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an anti-poverty think tank, carried out an experiment with some of the ‘hardest to help’ rough sleepers.  What they did was simple; they identified 15 people who had been sleeping on the streets for a minimum of fours years, they asked them what they needed and then they bought it for them.  Seven of the original fifteen had moved into stable accommodation when the project was evaluated with two more making plans to pove off the streets.  Some participants reported improved mental and physical health, and several said their drinking had reduced.  Three people started educational courses whilst the one individual involved who had a serious drug problem had begun treatment and was on a methadone programme.  Despite the success of this approach it has not been adopted by the UK’s homelessness industry.

Something else which remains largely ignored in UK housing policy is the success of the Housing First scheme at reducing homelessness in the US.   This model simply acknowledges that homeless people need to be given a home before other issues such as substance misuse, unemployment or mental health are addressed.  This approach has been successful in cutting homelessness amongst US army veterans by 30%.  A small pilot project is now being carried out along these lines in the UK, but don’t expect significant change yet.  Much of the homelessness industry still believes that homeless people need to be somehow ‘fixed’ with an approach that dangles the possibility of secure housing at some distant point in the future as a reward for good behavior whilst arresting people in the present if they sleep rough in city centres.

This weekend World Homeless Action Day will feature two events in the UK aiming to promote the Housing First model and protest against the growing criminalisation of homeless people.  In Manchester campaigners are organising a sleep out on Saturday night (10 October) to raise awareness of the problems facing homeless people in the city.  In London there will be speakers and music outside Euston Station on the same night before activists head out on mass into the city to distribute food and supplies to the homeless.  Other events are also planned, please share the facebook page, spread the word and come if you can.

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