Category Archives: Poverty

Iain Duncan Smith Is Still A Fucking Idiot – And Only We Can Stop Him

Incapacity Benefit for new claimants will go, replaced by Employment and Support Allowance with the emphasis on what a person with a physical or mental health condition can do, rather than what they can’t.

Peter Hain, Labour Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007

We need a system focussed on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need – and not just on what they can’t do.

Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2015

It’s just the same old shit, over and over again, whichever bunch of bastards is in charge.  The above two comments were made almost a decade apart and in that period the number of people claiming out of work sickness benefits has barely changed.  And why would it?  In any society there will be some people who cannot work due to illness or disability and as the pension age gets ever higher then that number as a percentage of the workforce will grow.

There is nothing unusual or unexpected about this.  Whoever you are reading this, one day you will get sick and then you will die.  If you are lucky this will not happen until you have reached retirement.  If not then you will be helped on your way to an early grave by politicians desperate to cover up for their failure to provide enough jobs by blaming unemployed, sick and disabled people for unemployment.

Iain Duncan Smith’s speech yesterday was a masterclass in this deception, but everything he said has been said before.  So out of ideas is the Secretary of State that he is now misrepresenting the entire process for claiming sickness benefits – pretending it is a binary system which “decides that you are either capable of work or you are not”.  This is simply an outright lie and he knows it.  Currently claimants are assessed as being fit for work, unable to work, or placed in the Work Related Activity Group which means capable of some work, or of being able to work in the future.  In the recent budget George Osborne declared that this group is to be scrapped, creating precisely the binary system that Iain Duncan Smith says he opposes.  Perhaps he hopes we won’t notice.  Perhaps even he hasn’t noticed.

The UK does not spend significantly more on out of work sickness and disability benefits than other comparable economies.  According to the OECD we spend a fraction more than Poland as a percentage of GDP on ‘incapacity’ – and less than Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, Belgium. Luxembourg, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.  It is true as Iain Duncan Smith said yesterday that the UK spends more than France, Germany and Japan.  In humane society this would be a source of pride.  Or at least it would be until you found out that Germany spends over three times as much on unemployment benefits whilst France and Japan – where the retirement age is lower – both spend almost double what the UK spends on pensions.  And the incapacity spending figures by the way come from 2011, before most of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts had been implemented.

Only an astonishing degree of self-delusion could explain Iain Duncan Smith’s latest belief that more workfare, more assessments, and more benefit cuts will magically cure those unable to work because of illness.  But then he is deluded.  That’s why he could claim yesterday that  “The Work Programme is … the most successful back to work programme we’ve ever seen.”  That’s the Work Programme that has seen less sick and disabled people enter employment than it was estimated would have done if the scheme hadn’t existed.  Hundreds of millions of pounds spent on making things worse.  This is what Iain Duncan Smith calls a success.

Rarely, if ever, has such a fucking idiot been given so much power over so many people’s futures.   If the human cost were not so great then the best response would be to point and laugh.  But we can’t do that, not as millions of lives are destroyed.  If society means anything at all it means looking after each other and that means driving Iain Duncan Smith back into the sewer he crawled from before he can do anymore damage.  No-one should stand idly by now.  We need to be relentless as he is, to wake up every day with one thought on our minds – to destroy Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms before they destroy us.

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Begging Is A Lifestyle Choice Says Leeds Councillor As Homelessness Charities Launch The Nastiest Campaign Yet

think-before-you-give

Leeds City Council have teamed up with the police and so-called charities, to come up with the nastiest campaign yet aimed at discouraging the public from giving a bit of spare change to homeless people.

The above poster has been placed at key sites across the city warning people not to give money to beggars because it may help fuel their addictions.  As ever the homelessness industry demands that people give the money to them instead so they can spend it on drink soaked conferences in posh hotels that cost £700 quid a ticket.

No thought at all seems to have been given about how this campaign will further stigmatise homeless people who already often face abuse and even violence from some members of the public. Those attacks will now be more likely as homeless people are smeared as addicts or drunks by the very organisations that claim to be on their side.  The dehumanisation of the very poorest is no longer just coming from the pages of the right wing press.

The truth is that the homelessness industry’s own figures show that only around half of street homeless people have a drink or drug problem.  And even these people still need to eat.  All that campaigns like these achieve – if they are successful – is that homeless people who do have drug or alcohol dependencies are forced to beg for longer.  No-one is going to give up smack because some bunch of fucking idiots have put a few posters on the walls after all.  Meanwhile those forced to beg because their benefits have been sanctioned are left to go hungry.  But then this is just a lifestyle choice according to Leeds Labour Councillor Mark Dobson.

What people in poverty need is more money, however it comes   There is plenty of research which shows this.  Yet this research is repeatedly ignored, not just by politicians obsessed with cutting benefits, but also by charities whose bosses are currently doing very well out of poverty and homelessness.  To attempt to smear and impoverish one of the most marginalised groups in society with campaigns like this is bad enough.  To do it to further line the pockets of overpaid charity chief executives is beneath contempt.

This is far from the first initiative aimed at stopping the public helping homeless people directly, but it is one of the most of unpleasant.  Luckily it has been a dismal failure, with just £50 raised according to the justgiving website. The people of Leeds have shown they are better than this.  It’s time these organisations realise that if they continue to attack homeless people then they won’t see a fucking penny of our money.  Give a beggar a quid instead.  At least you know it won’t be spent on campaigns like this.

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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.

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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.

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Fuck Sotheby’s, Fuck The Rich, Let’s Take The Class War To Their Front Doors

sothebys-protestWalking through Mayfair you would not believe that this could be a country where the poorest are abandoned to survive on just a few pounds a day.  Mayfair screams money, and there the rich play openly, driving their sports cars, holidaying in luxury hotels and sitting outside expensive restaurants whilst a few hundred yards away people bed down in shop doorways.

Of course the people working in those restuarants and hotels do not share in this vast wealth – most are working for a minimum wage that will not even pay for the basic necessities of life.  These people do some of the hardest work in society, working long hours for fuck all, cleaning up the shit and detritus of the rich.  And after Wednesday’s budget they will be made even poorer to pay for a huge inheritence tax cut for the children of millionaires.

At Sotheby’s auction house in the heart of Mayfair, billionaires bid for scrappy pieces of art, spending more on trinkets than most families will ever earn in their entire lifetimes.  Yet the cleaners and porters who work there do not even get decent sick pay, and four of them were just sacked for complaining about it.  The rich, and the lackies like Sotheby’s that serve them, treat the poor with utter contempt, as if the only purpose of these living, breathing human beings is to generate them ever more wealth that all, ultimately, comes from the work we do.

In the past during periods of such grotesque inequality the rich lived in terror, hidden away behind locked doors, praying that their guards and servants did not slit their throats as they sleep.  Yet now they flaunt their fortunes for all to see, laughing and braying in the London sun as they boast about their property portfolios and bark orders at those they consider beneath them.  There is no indignity too great that it cannot be inflicted on the plebs, the chavs, or whatever they are fucking calling us this week.

The class war is real, it is destroying our lives and they will take everything unless we start to fight back.  There should be no comfort for millionaires whilst  children go hungry –  the rich should not be permitted to eat and sleep and enjoy their pampered lives as if everything is as it should be.  This has gone on for far too long, and it could be stopped in a heartbeat if we re-learn to act collectively on the scale that is required.

So fuck elections and get out on the streets.  Advance to fucking Mayfair, starting this Wednesday, and support the sacked cleaners who lost their jobs for daring to raise their voices.  Join Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) earlier in the day and say Balls to the Budget.  Come to the Fuck Parade in Camden on Saturday and fight back against rampant gentrification.  Wherever there is trouble run towards it, because it is time to rediscover our pride and show our strength and our rage.  There is fucking more of us than them.  Let’s start to make sure they know that.

Disabled People Against Cuts are gathering outside Downing Street at 10.30am on Wednesday July 8th, full details at: http://dpac.uk.net/2015/06/wednesday-8th-june-at-westminster-and-online-balls-to-the-budget/

The protest demanding the re-instatement of the sacked Sotheby’s workers is on the same day, meet outside the United Colours of Benetton, at Oxford Cicus from 5.30pm or head to Sotheby’s at 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA, more info at: http://www.uvwunion.org.uk/upcoming-events/2015/7/8/shame-on-sothebys-reinstate-the-sothebys-4

In the meantime everyone is piling on Sotheby’s on twitter @Sothebys and their facebook page.

Class War’s anti-gentrification Fuck Parade is meeting outside Camden Tube at 7pm on Saturday 11th July, info at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1476014982689696/

If you are outside London or can’t make these protests please help by sharing, tweeting and blogging about them.  Feel free to post details of protests around the UK in the comments.

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Priti Patel Hands Award To Poverty Pay Employer That Pays Just £2.68 An Hour

priti-deathThe DWP’s new Minister of Death Priti Patel last night handed out an award to a company who pays just 11 pence an hour more than the minium wage to staff in a supervisory role whilst retail staff on Apprenticeships earn just £2.68 per hour.

Patel was the main speaker at the annual awards ceremony held by the Employment Related Service Association (ERSA), the trade body established to lie of behalf of the welfare to work sector.  Every year the likes of G4S and A4e gather for a slap up meal at a luxury London venue to celebrate another year of fleecing the tax payer and dole out awards to employers who have helped them gain ‘job outcome’ payments.

This year’s Large Employer of the Year award went to Poundbakery, a not very large employer who run a chain of bakery shops.  Accrding to ERSA, this was for demonstrating “exceptional commitment in creating opportunities for disadvantaged and long term unemployed jobseekers.”

Some of those ‘”fantastic and rare” opportunities involved working in one of their shops on the Apprenticeship scheme for as little as £2.68 p/hr for 24 hours a week.  These apprenticeships could last for up to two years, reflecting the length of time it takes to train people to sell loaves of bread rather than just being an excuse for the company to dodge minimum wage laws.  Or at least that’s what grasping employers claim to ensure this grotesque exploitation remains legal.

Other vacancies for the company ask for people with “ideally some retail management experience” to work as supervisors for the princely sum of £6.61 an hour, just 11 pence more than the minimum wage.

You might have thought that the welfare-to-work industry would want to give awards to ethical employers, who pay at least the Living Wage, but sadly this is far from the case. Previously the Large Employer award has gone to companies involved in unpaid schemes such Greggs and B&M Stores who will be the target of workfare protests later this month.  It is unclear whether Poundbakery also making use of Jobcentre programmes providing free labour, but with their retail assistants working for the pittance of £64 a week, they hardly fucking have to.

Poundbakery are on twitter (and facebook) if you want to ask them to pay their workers properly: @poundbakery

Bakers everywhere can fight for better wages by contacting the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union

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How The Benefit Lies Begin: Claimants Offered Cash And Fame To Say They Don’t Want Jobs

ally-einsteinThe above pic comes from the facebook page of Alley Einstein, the so-called journalist behind yesterday’s appalling Sunday Mirror attack on an elderly woman’s wedding.

It is hard to imagine anything more vile than finding people in poverty and bribing them say they don’t want a job just so you can smear them as a scounger in the media.  But that’s exactly what some freelance journalists are up to.  Do not fucking talk to them.  And do not talk to Alley Epstein.  The money will run out and it will fuck up your claim.

ally-einstein2

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