Category Archives: Fighting Back

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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Statement from the Aylesbury Estate Occupation

fightforourcityThe Aylesbury Estate occupiers have issued the statement below.  Visit and please share/tweet their website at: fightfortheaylesbury.wordpress.com

Since the “March for Homes” demo on 31st January, we have re-opened and occupied a part of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, South London.

We are tenants, squatters, and other people who care about how our city is being grabbed by the rich, by developers and corrupt politicians, socially cleansed and sold off for profit.

The Aylesbury Estate is where Tony Blair made his first speech as Prime Minister in 1997, making empty promises about social housing. Since then, for the past 18 years, Southwark Council and their developer friends have come up with one misguided scheme after another. All with the same result: to dispossess the residents, demolish their homes, and dispose of the land.

In 2001 Aylesbury tenants fought and won a campaign against demolition and voted down the original scheme in a ballot. But now big areas of the estate are emptied and sealed up awaiting the bulldozers, while residents are “decanted” away from the area.

The same bullshit that we have seen on the nearby Heygate estate, and all across London.

No demolition of the Aylesbury.

No yuppy flats.

Homes for all.

We are here to fight for the Aylesbury.

We are here to fight for our city.

We are here to liberate this space and bring it back to life. Come and join us.

PS: Thank you to everyone who has come down to show support, to all our neighbours and to those who have even come from as far away as Hackney bringing tea!

PPS: Come along to our public assembly today at 6.30PM. All neighbours and friendly visitors are warmly invited.

You can find us at 77 – 105 Chartridge, Westmoreland Road, SE17.

For more background info on the Aylesbury Estate and other struggles in
our area check out:
https://southwarknotes.wordpress.com/aylesbury-estate/

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Aylesbury Estate Occupied After Yesterday’s Housing March

aylesbury-bannerUPDATE:  Visit and please share/tweet their website at: fightfortheaylesbury.wordpress.com

A break-away group from yesterday’s housing march has occupied three disused flats on the Aylesbury Estate in South East London and are calling on people for support.

Up to 4000 people braved the shitty weather yesterday to join the largest protest about the desperate shortage of genuinely affordable housing in London that the capital has seen so far.  At the end of the demonstration a boisterous group accompanied by a sound system headed down the Old Kent Road towards the Aylesbury Estate.  Despite a witless and half-hearted police presence the group managed to gain entry to several flats on the estate which are now being occupied with a neighbourhood assembly being called for 3pm today (Sunday).

The Aylesbury Estate is curently being ‘decanted’ as Southwark Council cosy up to property developers who want to build yet more yuppy flats on the site of these formerly working class homes.  Despite soaring homelessness in the capital, several blocks on the estate lie empty whilst developers and politicians work out how they can best line their filthy pockets from the so-called regeneration project.

Yesterday’s demonstration also saw Class War and others briefly occupy the swanky new development on Tower Bridge Road after revisiting the notorious ‘poor doors’ up the road at the luxury 1 Commercial Street.  The group, who are fielding candidates in this year’s general election, are set to re-establish the weekly poor doors protest after negotiations with the toff in charge of the building failed to end the policy of social segregation which forces tenants in the cheap flats to use a different door to the rich.

Two marches from East and South London – each up to 2000 people strong – made their way to City Hall yesterday where demands included rent caps, an end to evictions and a massive increase in social housing.  As housing benefit cuts and soaring rents socially cleanse ever more people from the capital this vital struggle is only just getting started.  But it wil take more than just marching and yesterday’s occupations, alongside the fantastic work of tenant’s groups like the Focus E15 mothers, the New Era Estate and Our West Hendon, points to the way forward.  Everyone deserves a fucking home.  It shouldn’t even need saying.

A Week of Action has been called leading up to the Mayor’s budget on February 23rd when the next large scale protest has been called.

A march for the homeless is also taking place on April 15th.  Please help spread the word about all events.

Above pic via @redrumlisa who will be standing for Class War against Iain Duncan Smith in the general election.

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Fuck Landlords, Fuck Politicians, It’s Time To Take Our City Back From The Rich

right-to-buyIn a world run for people, not private profit, sorting out a place to live would be no big deal. There are already far more empty homes than there are homeless people. They are not even that expensive to build – bricks are cheap. At least not so expensive that building your own home would be a project that takes a lifetime. And that’s how long most of us end up paying for them.

The cost of buying a home is so huge that most of the shrinking few with the incomes to consider it have to take out a 25 year loan at eye-watering interest rates. The rest of us spend much of our working lives making our landlords richer as rents take up an ever higher slice of wages.

Of course this only applies if you are poor, or even just not particularly rich. We may spend our lives grafting and struggling to keep a roof over our heads but if you can afford two roofs, then suddenly the fucked housing market becomes an endless source of free money. Our money.

The antidote to this grotesque exploitation of our most basic human need is socially built, managed and controlled housing at a cost real people can afford. The current system of council and social housing is far from perfect and could be radically improved, but almost anything is better than abandoning millions to slum landlords or homelessness.  That is the choice facing increasing numbers of people as the private housing market soars ever more out of control.

As anyone who’s ever been a private tenant knows, most landlords range from absent and inept to downright criminal and violent. Yet it is them and their bank balances that dictate government policy, not the safety and security of their tenants. That is why in 2013 the Right To Buy bribe, the discount for those wanting to buy their council house, was increased to over £100,000 in London. Since then the number of formerly socially owned houses bought by private individuals has predictably soared – to levels not seen since the height of Labour’s Right To Buy give away. Many of those homes will eventually end up in the hands of private landlords.

Many of these houses are not being replaced by social housing as the government pledged they would be. Last year Inside Housing reported that 80% of councils are struggling to replace houses lost to Right To Buy due to the ‘bureaucratic and inflexible’ nature of the scheme. Which is no doubt exactly what this government hoped for.

Even the tiny amount of social housing that is being built is not council housing in the way most understand it.  Instead the properties are offered on conditional fixed and short term tenancies at so-called affordable rents, set at 80% of those in the private sector and unaffordable for the vast majority.  In London these affordable rents can run to hundreds of pounds a week.  At a time when social housing is needed more desperately than ever it is being quietly eradicated and sold off and none of the main political parties have any real plans to change that.

A city that cannot house its people should be ungovernable.  A string of victories last year, from the New Era Estate, the Class War poor doors campaign and the E15 Focus mums shows that when people fight back they can win.  It’s the chinless fucking idiots living in the glass and concrete penthouses above our heads who should feel insecure in this city, not the people who built it and run it.  Because when it comes right down to it, they need us a lot and we don’t need them at all.

A march for homes will be taking place in London this Saturday 31st January with meeting points in both East and South London.  Campaigners from the E15 Focus group will lead the march from Shoreditch Church, Shoreditch High Street E1 6JN at noon, whilst in South London the assembly point is St Maryʼs Churchyard, Elephant & Castle SE1 6SQ.  Both marches will converge at City Hall by Tower Bridge.  A squatters block will join the march and has been called by the new(ish) Rabble website.   Please help spread the word.

South London facebook page

East London facebook page

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