Category Archives: Fighting Back

#WEcan and We Did Fuck Up The DWP’s Online Campaign To Promote Workfare

Once again the DWP have been reduced to a laughing stock on social media after their online campaign to promote unpaid work became dominated with comments from those opposed to workfare.

The #WEcan campaign aimed to enourage employers to provide unpaid work experience placements for young people.  The DWP had also hoped that young people would post up ‘workies’ – apparently the work version of a selfie – on social media alongside their experiences of unpaid work placements.  It turns out though that the young were too lazy and feckless even to bother doing that.  Minister for Employment Priti Patel must be furious.  It wasn’t like this when she worked for the tobacco industry encouraging kids to take up smoking.

Instead what happened is that the hashtag was dominated by people furious at a government that seems obsessed with forcing young people to work for no wages.  Alongside this many people used the hashtag to pledge to boycott some of the companies named as being involved in workfare, such as @marksandspencer, and @Halfords_uk.

Amusingly the DWP also invited people to laugh at them on facebook, where unfortunately for the department the #WEcan hashtag is already in use by the Wellness Education Cannabis Advocates of Nevada. The DWP’s social media team get paid real money – our money – for this bungling shit.

In what seems like an attempt by the DWP to muddy the waters the #WEcan campaign promotes all forms of work experience, including short placements for schoolchildren or paid internships as well as workfare schemes.  This led to some of the organisations backing the campaign complaining that they only do nice work experience and they don’t support the nasty stuff.  These organisations should be at the forefront of challenging the government about ever more exploitative Jobcentre enforced workfare which can now involve 780 hours of forced, unpaid work.  Instead they are quite happily helping the DWP rehabilitate workfare with gushing tweets about how wonderful unpaid work can be.  So fuck them, they are on the wrong side.

The DWP have now resorted to drafting in Jobcentres to tweet furiously and try to rescue the campaign. Make sure it doesn’t work and tell @WEcan what you think of workfare using the hashtag #WECan.  Please spread the word.

Here’s what some people have said so far:

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

#WEcan Fuck Up The DWP’s Online Campaign To Promote Mass Workfare

workfare-stick-upA whole host of corporate vultures have teamed up with the DWP to launch an online campaign celebrating young people being coerced into working for no pay for some of the richest companies in the UK.

Marks & Spencer, Whitbread, Halfords and shamefully the BBC have all signed up to the #WEcan campaign which aims to encourage even more businesses to provide unpaid work experience positions instead of employing young people properly.  The new initiative comes as the Government draws up plans to force all unemployed young people into permanent unpaid work if they are unable to find a job within six months of becoming unemployed.  This means they have to find enough grubby companies and so-called charities who are prepared to take part in this shocking exploitation.  The #WEcan campaign is part of an attempt to achieve this, so let’s fuck it up.

Already parasites from the welfare-to-work industry are tweeting using the hashtag #WEcan whilst a tumblr page has been set up calling for young people to share their experiences of workfare.  The DWP have also posted a host of youtube videos (comments currently enabled) such as this one which says that “whatever you are doing, any experience is good experience”.  Gone is any pretence at providing placements which involve real training or a chance of a job at the end.  Instead they want young people to mop floors and stack shelves for two months and have the fucking gall to claim they are doing them a favour.

Please help spread the word about this and tweet using the hashtag #WEcan.  And let’s make sure everybody knows which companies are using workfare, starting with @marksandspencer, @premierinn, @Halfords_uk, @WhitbreadPLC, @Barclays and @BBC.

For the latest news on fighting back against forced unpaid work visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

I’m still on a break.  Back properly in a week or so.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Fuck The Tories – The Fight To Save Social Security Gets Bigger Every Day

fuck-the-tories

Fighting back against the bastards has never been more important, so here’s an updated list of some of the groups taking action against social security reforms.  This list is far from exhaustive – apologies to those I’ve missed – feel free to post up links to any other claimant groups, websites and facebook groups in the comments. There’s more of us than ever now, keep spreading the word and get involved.

This blog will be taking a break until late August.

National Groups

Boycott Workfare – fighting forced labour and unpaid work:  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/ also on facebook and twitter @boycottworkfare

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) – National group who’ve organised many actions in London and elsewhere including blockading Oxford Street and occupying the DWP: http://www.dpac.uk.net/  Join the facebook group or follow them on twitter @Dis_PPL_Protest

DPAC also have a network of local groups – for local contact details visit: http://www.dpac.uk.net/contact-details-for-local-dpac-groups/

Black Triangle Campaign – involved in organising protests throughout Scotland against the Work Capability Assessment and Welfare Reform as well as lobbying and campaigning work: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/  Also have a facebook page and are on twitter @blacktriangle1

Mental Health Reistance Network – Called the recent protest against the re-location of mental health services in Streatham Jobcentre and have promised more action is to come, on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mental-Health-Resistance-Network/479666938752033

Carer Watch – resisting the constant attacks on Carers, visit their website and follow them on twitter @CarerWatch

UNITE Community Union – the attitude of UNITE’s leadership to claimants has been woeful but there has been some great work achieved by local groups throughout the UK, for more info visit: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/unitecommunityactivegroups/

Local Groups

Birmingham Against the Cuts – not just benefits related but have organised lots around welfare: http://birminghamagainstthecuts.wordpress.com/

Brighton Benefits Campaign – long running campaign which organises regular actions and protests: http://brightonbenefitscampaign.wordpress.com/

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty – another long running campaign, lots of info on their website at: http://edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Edinburgh-Coalition-Against-Poverty/181015481950367

Haringey Solidarity Group – Long running local group, very active against workfare: http://www.haringey.org.uk/

Ipswich Unemployed Action – long running group with a recommended website at: https://intensiveactivity.wordpress.com/

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group – hold weekly meetings, organise protests and regularly picket Jobcentres, more info at: http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/

Leamington Claimants’ Union have a website and seem to be recruiting new members: http://lcu.iopan.co.uk/

London Coalition Against Poverty – long running umbrella group campaigning on a range of issues: http://www.lcap.org.uk/

Norwich Claimants’ UnionOn facebook and more details at: http://www.norwichclaimants.org/

Poor Side of Life – blogging and organising around Ashton Under lyne Jobcentre, details at: https://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/

Winvisible – Women With Visible and Invisible Disabilities – based in Crossroads Women’s Centre, Kentish Town: http://www.winvisible.org/

Online

Benefit Claimants Fightback – facebook group for all claimants and supporters, ask to join at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/116432071735566/

Kate Belgrave – stories from the front line of welfare reforms, on twitter @hangbitch and at: http://www.katebelgrave.com/

Welfare Weekly – comprehensive social security news, on facebook and at http://www.welfareweekly.com/

DWP Examination forum – friendly forum for all those struggling with the WCA and welfare reform: http://www.dwpexamination.org/

Unemployment Movement Forum – forum for all things claimant related: http://unemploymentmovement.com/forum/index

ilegal – fighting to rescue social welfare law: http://ilegal.org.uk/

Refuted – Your rights on sanctions, workfare, mandated activity and more, on twitter @refuted and at: https://wwwrefuteddotorgdotuk.wordpress.com/

Disability News Service – regular news on disability and social security, on twitter @johnpringdns and visit: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/

Disability Defence – Facebook group fighting for disabled people’s rights: http://www.facebook.com/groups/disabilitydefence/

Respect for the Unemployed and Benefit Claimants – long running facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/25024876259/

Other claimant related blogs and websites include Where’s The Benefit, Same Difference, Slutocracy, Joe Halewood, Vox Political, WOW Petition, Jayne Linney, AAV, Crippen  and Keep Volunteering Voluntary – please put a link to yours in the comments.

Housing

There are too many groups fighting against social cleansing, gentrification and housing benefit cuts to mention in this post but in London some of the main campaigns are Focus E15, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, Streets Kitchen, Radical Housing Network, Action East End, Reclaim Brixton, Reclaim Hackney, Sweets Way Resists and Eviction Resistance.

Other related national groups

Class War – stood candidates at the recent elections including challenging Iain Duncan Smith in his Chingford constituency.  Have consistently supported action by claimants and organised protests against the notorious Poor Doors in East London.  Class War are on facebook and twitter @ClassWar2015

Solidarity Federation – Not specifically a claimant group but have run national campaigns against workfare including forcing Holland & Barrett to stop using unpaid labour – for all details: http://www.solfed.org.uk/

International Workers of the World (IWW) – One big union supporting all workers and claimants.  Have been particularly active against welfare reforms in Liverpool and Scotland.  For local branches and details of how to join visit: https://www.iww.org.uk/

Other national groups which have been involved in action against welfare reform include UK Uncut, Occupy, Anarchist Federation, People’s Assembly and the Right to Work Campaign.

That’s all for a bit folks, enjoy the Summer.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Striving For Revolution, Let’s Bring The Bastards Down

striveIf you take a step back for a while then the view is grotesque.  Next week a Government led by people born into vast wealth will introduce new laws that will plunge many of the UK’s poorest children into desperate poverty and imminent risk of homelessness.  Other legislation will mean that those who are assessed as currently too sick to work, but might have the possibility of working in the future, will now be abandoned to survive on just a few pounds a day.  Not only that, but they will be forced to cope with endless Jobcentre harassment intended to bully them into constantly looking for and applying for jobs that even the Jobcentre themselves admit they are not well enough to do.  And this is being called help.

Sick and disabled people in this group can even be sent on workfare, usually for a so-called charity.  If they fail to attend, or miss a meeting, then their benefits will be sanctioned – cut to a government loan of just over £40 a week – and then only if they meet the stringent means test for Hardship Payments.  For those paying the full Bedroom Tax – around £25 a week -this will mean surviving on just £2 a day, and out of that they will probably have to pay some Council Tax.  There is no way out for these people.  It is not a choice.  Even if jobs were abundant, and they are anything but, they are too ill to take them.  The sickness benefits regime could not be better designed to demolish the health and lives of those who depend on it, it is unspeakable cruelty in one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

Next week Tory MPs will cheer and applaud even further attacks on those least able to fight back as the latest welfare reforms are laid out in Parliament.  Larger families now face a third benefit cap being imposed in just five years.  A tiny percentage of families, trivial in cost to the tax payer, have been singled out again and again.  Just as they find somewhere new to live the government strikes with new laws and forces them to move again.  Many are already likely to be living in B&Bs, sharing just one room with their children in Dickensian conditions.  The number of families living this way rose by a third in just the last year, a fact that went barely reported.  It is the children in these families who are suffering the most, their lives and futures vanishing with every new stroke of legislation.

Five years of welfare reforms have turned the social security system into a nightmarish experience inflicted on those often already struggling to stay healthy, sane and alive.  These people strive everyday – just to feed themselves, raise their children and keep a roof above their heads.  Sometimes they are working, sometimes even on workfare for no pay, yet they are still smeared as lazy and feckless by politicians and the press.  Young people on poverty paid Apprenticeships, unpaid internships or work experience are told they need yet more ‘help’ to teach them how to get out of bed in the mornings.  These lies have been told over and over agan yet they fall apart the second you walk into Tesco and see dozens of people, many of them in-work benefit claimants, doing some of the hardest work in society.  It is these people, along with those desperately looking for work, or coping with illness, who have born the brunt of austerity – and they had nothing to begin with.  This was never about saving money, but turning the most marginalised, the bottom 1%, into a scapegoat to be endlessly tormented to distract from the crimes of the rich.

And yet so unempathic has society become, so casually indifferent to suffering, that almost everybody involved in this horror story feels perfectly happy and justified in what they are doing.  The true banality of evil is Harriet Harman saying it would not be right for the opposition to quibble with yet more atrocities heaped on the poor in case it upsets the tiny handful of swing voters who chose Tory over Labour.  It is Iain Duncan Smith on a religious crusade to save the poor from themselves and barely even noticing the trail of dead bodies he leaves in his wake.  It is the welfare-to-work company bosses who have justified this abuse by telling themselves if it wasn’t them getting rich out of poverty it would just be someone else – the same reasoning used by every gangster and war profiteer in history.

This casual approach to abuse trickles down the system.  Happy-clappy Jobcentre managers so wrapped up in themselves they can barely understand why they have become a grim laughing stock delude themselves that benefit sanctions are helping people.  Slithering tabloid hacks manufacture stories designed to inspire hatred of the poor and are so isolated from the impact of their behaviour that they seem to think it’s all a big laugh.  As do the television production companies who hunt down ever more genuinely vulnerable people so they can edit and splice their lives to present them as scroungers or layabouts.  And half the country – and it is only half – shouts ‘get a fucking job’ in unison despite living in a society where mass unemplyment is an economic fact of life and even Tory think tanks say reducing unemployment to zero is neither feasible or desirable.

It is not true, yet, that tens of thousands of people have died due to welfare reforms, although the number of deaths is growing.  But the lives of hundreds of thousands have been reduced to  a daily battle for survival and soon the number will turn into millions.  This suffering is a deliberate attempt to create a society based on an ideology that serves only a handful of people at the very top.  It is only in the interests of the rich that we spend our lives striving, suffering or both, rather than creating a world that works in the interests of everybody.  If we have to strive for anything then it should be to topple these bastards once and for all.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

George Osborne Declares War On The Working Class. Are We Fucking Up For It?

Join the rebellion and fight back against the rich at the Fuck Parade, Sat July 11th, outside Camden Town tube, spread the word.

Join the rebellion and fight back against the rich at the Fuck Parade, Sat July 11th, outside Camden Town tube, from 7 or earlier for the special warm up event. Spread the word.

Do not be fooled by some pissy rise in the minimum wage that will all be clawed back in Tax Credit cuts anyway, George Osborne’s budget speech represents the most savage attack on the working class that has been seen in decades.

Just look at who is being hit – both council and low income private tenants, public sector workers, sick and disabled people, low paid families, the poorest students, lone parents, young workers and unemployed people.  At every strata of working class life those who do not have a million pound house to hand over to their children are being attacked.

From 2017 if you fall ill, and have to leave work, and you will now face desperate poverty with sickness benefits being slashed by almost a third for new claimants.  That’s people with cancer, MS, Parkinson’s Disease and other long term, debilitating and sometimes terminal conditions abandoned to live on just over £70 a week whilst struggling with the additional costs of living with illness or a disability.

Have one child too many, and this government has decided they should starve, as Child Tax Credits are demolished for larger families in the name of economic eugenics designed to stop working class people from having children.  This might seem short-sighted in a country with a falling birth rate and aging population, but the bastards have even got a plan for that – new Pensions Minister Ros Altmann wants us all to work until we’re dead.

Freezes to housing benefits, when according to one report rents are rising at 10% a year, will hit millions of private sector tenants who are already struggling with rent.  Combined with the Tax Credits massacre, this will mean families who were far from wealthy but just about maintaining some quality of life, will soon be amongst those queuing at foodbanks.  Some of them will be public sector workers whose future wage prospects have also destroyed.

Even low income home owners have not been left out.  The budget document announces that in future Support for Mortgage Interest, the scheme which pays mortage interest should someone have to leave work due to sickness or redundancy, will in future become a loan.  That’s right, you will have to borrow from the government to pay interest on the money you owe to the bank.

Others measures which have not yet been widely reported include plans to force lone parents to look for work as soon as their child turns 3 or face benefit sanctions.  Meanwhile young people, who will not benefit from the minimum wage increase, will be forced into permanent workfare between the ages of 18 and 21 if they can’t find a job, whilst the removal of Housing Benefit for this group will lead to even more over-crowded family homes and growing youth homelessness.

It is not just the very poorest who are being attacked any longer, George Osborne now has the entire working class in his sights. The stripping of away of maintenance grants for students from the lowest income families will mean kids brought up with nothing facing the propspect of huge debts should they pursue an education.  The introduction of eye-watering rents for council tenants as soon as they reach even a modest income – one earnt by many nurses or skilled manual workers, or if they are a couple bus drivers and retail workers  –  is intended to send a clear message.   George Osborne wants to put the working class back in their place and if you manage to drag yourself out of the shit and earn a few quid then he will be there to take it all away.

The only opposition to this savage government will come from us, the people affected directly.  Now there are millions of us.  Despite the fawning headlines in the compliant press, George Osborne declared a class war on us all yesterday, and one that will devastate our lives and communities.  The UK will look a very different place in five years time unless we show them that we are fucking up for the fight, and that it’s a fight we intend to win.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Disabled Protesters Bring Chaos To Central London To Say #Balls2TheBudget

dpac-arrest

A police mob descends on a disabled protester outside the budget yesterday.

Disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters brought chaos to central London yesterday at a lively and angry demonstration against George Osborne’s budget.

Whilst inside the House of Commons the Chancellor was slashing sickness and disability benefits by almost a third for many new claimants, outside disabled people repeatedly outwitted a heavy police presence to bring traffic to a standstill in the capital.

The day began in Whitehall where the protest spilled across the street and the Downing Street gates were pelted with balls.  Demonstrators then moved down to Westminster Bridge as a huge banner was unfurled opposite parliament reading #Balls2TheBudget.  Eventually the banner was brought onto the bridge which remained blockaded for over an hour.  The protest received a a huge amount of support from several waiting bus drivers, as well as fire and ambulance crews who were allowed to pass quickly through the blockade.

Demonstrators then moved onto Parliement Square where mounted police were stationed in anticipation.  This didn’t deter the protesters and at one point the banner was stretched across two roads effectively shutting down the movement of traffic in all directions.

Police eventually moved in and began violently shoving disabled people out of the road and seizing the banner, to the horror of many passing tourists.  Four people were arrested, including one wheelchair user, who was surrounded by dozens of police after being carried off the road and forced to wait for almost an hour whilst bungling coppers tried to work out how to arrest someone in a wheelchair.

sadiq-khan

On the wrong side, along with his party, Sadiq Khan couldn’t get away fast enough.

One person who didn’t support the protesters was Labour MP, Sadiq Khan who slithered through the crowd whilst all this was taking place.  Khan, who has wild fantasies about becoming London Mayor, was asked to support the arrested disabled protester as concerns grew over the handling of the situation by the police.  At the very least you might have expected a Labour politician to check he was okay, or offer a message of support to the demonstration.  The sad truth is he couldn’t give a fuck and scurried away as quickly as possible.  Remember that London, when Khan had a chance to show support for disabled people, acting on behalf of the capital’s poorest residents, he turned his back and fled.  The coward is on twitter @SadiqKhan.

Despite the arrests the day was a huge success.  It is rare that a protest called in the morning achieves such a boisterous and defiant crowd.  Something is stirring, throughout the UK, and two demonstrations later in the day – in support of the sacked Sothebys workers, and a ‘die in’ at Parliament Square – were both well attended.

The protest was called by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and supported by Class War, Streets Kitchen, Black Dissidents, London Latinxs, Columbian Women in Action, Occupy,Brick Lane Debates, Winvisible, London Black Revs, Reclaim Hackney, Camden Resists, Never Again Ever and many more.

For a round up including pics and video from the day visit DPAC’s website.

Protests continue over the weekend in the capital with a demonstration in support of the outsourced university workers due to be held today (Friday 9th July) at 1.30pm outside the Royal College of Music.

Then on Saturday the long awaited second Fuck Parade is set to take Camden by storm from 7pm on Saturday night.  Get there early to catch a specially planned warm up event and share the fuck out of the facebook page.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Over 90,000 Children Now In Temporary Accommodation As The Homelessness Epidemic Gets Even Worse

homeless-march1There are now over 90,000 children living in temporary accommodation according to the latest official statistics – a rise of over 15% in just one year.

The number of these families living in B&Bs – which usually just means one room, often with shared facilities – has leapt by a shocking 35% compared to a year earlier.  990 of these families had been living in this kind of accommodation for over six weeks, over double the number from the same period last year.

Every measure of homelessness has risen according to the latest statistics, with 13,520 households accepted as homeless by Local Authorities between January and March 2015, a jump of 8% on a year earler.

The main reason for families becoming homeless was the loss of an assured tenancy with a private sector landlord.  Soaring rents, stagnant wages and shrinking benefits – combined with a barely regulated private rental sector where landlords can evict on a whim – is driving the homelessness epidemic as many people can simply no longer afford to pay their rent.

This week’s figures only represent a very small sample of the true number of homeless people in the UK.  Only those legally eligible for help from local authorites are included, which in practice means only those with children, significant disabilities or health problems and people over pensionable age.  Homelessness charities have warned that this measure only shows the tip of the iceberg of even these groups as recent changes to the law mean families fobbed off into insecure private rented accommodation by councils are no longer included in the figures.

A recent report found that rents have risen by 10% in the last year, and that’s across the UK, not just in London.  George Osborne has already pegged rises in Housing Benefits at just 1%.  The impacts of the Bedroom Tax and first Benefit Cap have still not been fully felt as local authorities have used Discretionary Housing Payments to top up Housing Benefits.  These payments will soon come to an end.  The number of houses built at a social rent, meaning they are genuinely affordable to low income families, fell to the lowest level in the history of council housing in 2013/14.

A perfect storm has already been created and we have not yet seen anything like the worst of it.  The full impact of Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled welfare reforms have not yet been fully felt according to managers of homelessness services in local councils when questioned by homelessness charities last year (PDF).

But even this will just be the beginning.  The government have already pledged a lower Benefit Cap, which will leave almost the entire private rented sector in the south of England unaffordable for out of work families.  Tens of thousands of people in social housing will also be affected, particularly larger families who will have nowhere they can afford to go.  Osbourne is also likely to scrap housing benefit completely for those under 21, whilst a mass sell off of housing association properties is also on the cards.  And that’s just what we know about.  Billions more is set to be cut from the social security budget, and however the Chancellor does that it will mean many people can no longer afford to stay in their home.

Disabled People Against Cuts have already called a protest outside next week’s budget.  Everyone who cares about having somewhere to live over the next few years should join them and say #balls2thebudget.  Please join, share and tweet the facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1455266081436327/

You can read the latest homelessness statistics at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statutory-homelessness-in-england-january-to-march-2015

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid