Category Archives: Welfare Reform

Mustn’t Embarrass The Queen: DWP Blank Out Statistics Rather Than Admit To The Failure Of Workfare

mwa-stats-blank

In the Queen’s speech this morning power crazed Elizabeth Windsor announced that her Government – her fucking Government – would introduce a new mass workfare scheme for those under 21.

She also claimed that new measures would lead to full employment, but what she really means is that people will be forced to work for the pittance of benefits.  Who’d have thought it?  The Queen of fucking England demanding her subjects labour full time for barely enough money to even eat.  Nothing changes, unless we make it change.

What she probably doesn’t know, although David Cameron does, is that workfare schemes are on the brink of collapse.  Most decent charities don’t want to be involved with workfare anymore after realising the horrifying impact of benefit sanctions inflicted on those who don’t want to work for free.  According to the latest Labour Market Statistics there were less people on unpaid work schemes in the latest recorded period than there were at the end of Labour’s administration five years ago.  Community Work Placements – which comprise of six months forced work – have now been in place over a year yet the DWP has been too scared to release any statistics at all concerning how many people have actually been on the scheme, and crucially, got a job at the end of it.

Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) – the four week short sharp shock of forced work which people can be sent on from the first day of their claim – has been a dismal failure.  So dismal that the DWP, who were due to release statistics on MWA today, decided to leave the table blank (pdf) in the part of the statistical release which would have told us how many people have started on the scheme in each of the latest six months.

No doubt the DWP will say this was all a terrible mistake, after all they are nothing if not incompetent. But it was a very convenient error, coming on the day the Government announced new workfare measures.  Luckily we can actually work out the total number of people who started on MWA in the six months between August 2014 and February 2015 by looking at the previously release and comparing the total.  It comes to 13,010, or 2,170 people a month, by far the lowest figures over a six month period so far.  And now they claim they are going to find hundreds of thousands of new workfare positions for young people.  They are living in a fucking dream world.  The pressure on workfare exploiters must be kept up.  But the fact they are so desperate to hide the truth about workfare shows that we are winning.

UPDATE (as spotted by @refuted): The DWP have now corrected the statistics and the figures are available.  They confirm the collapse of MWA with just 1,470 starts on the scheme in December 2014, the lowest figure so far and down from over 4000 a month at the start of 2013.

Come to the Welfare Action Gathering this Saturday 30th May hosted by Boycott Workfare.

UK Uncut are also out on the streets this weekend, keep an eye on their website for full details.

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

We Deserve Queen’s Award For Industry Says Housing Boss Currently Evicting The Sweet’s Way Families

sweetsway1Housing activists fighting evictions are ‘ludicrous’ and ‘we shouldn’t worry too much about them’ say out of touch housing association bosses defending regeneration schemes which are forcing people out of their homes.

The astonishing comments form part of a feature on London’s growing housing movement which Inside Housing published on their website last week.  The largely positive piece highlighted the anger created by the desperate shortage of social housing in the capital and told the stories of the tenants, homeless people, squatters and frontline housing workers who are fighting back.

Unfortunately it also featured outbursts from whining housing association bosses who complain that social media means that they are now being held accountable for the things that they do.  It’s not fair they say, with the boss of  Notting Hill Housing Association, Kate Davies, even claiming they deserve a ‘pat on the back’ and the ‘Queen’s award for industry’ for all their tireless work decanting and evicting families from their homes.

Davies is in charge of the Sweet’s Way housing estate in Barnet where, as Inside Housing point out, 142 former military homes now mostly containing low income families are being replaced by a redevelopment in which just 59 new properties will be ‘affordable’.  And affordable means rents that could be as high as 80% of those in the private sector, meaning few can really afford them.  None of the new homes built will be available for ‘social rent’, the kind of low but still substantial rents that used to be normal in housing association and council properties.  The current residents who are set to lose their homes have launched a furious fight back but Davies implies she doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.  She must think we’re fucking idiots.

Simon Dow, boss of the Guinness Partnership, is equally unrepentent.  He concedes his organisation has some responsibility to explain to current tenants ‘where they fit into’ regeneration plans – yet the reality, and problem, is that many don’t fit into these plans at all, such as the Guiness tenants on the Loughborough Estate in Brixton who are facing imminent eviction.  But Dow says he is ‘less interested’ in the views of those not from the estate, meaning the housing campaigners who have worked alongside those facing the loss of their homes to try and stall and prevent evictions.  It is this kind of social solidarity that concerns Dow who concludes that if this militancy amongst tenants spreads throughout the sector then they might have to worry about whether what they are doing is a good idea.

And one of the things they are doing is paying themselves huge sums of money.  In 2012/13 Simon Dow was paid over a quarter of a million pounds.  You read that right – a quarter of a fucking million pounds.  Enough to buy a new home every year.  Kate Davies, of the Notting Hill Housing Association was paid just short of £200,000.  Is it any wonder that they are so out of touch and aloof from the people they are paid with both tax payer’s and tenant’s money to house?

If Davies and Dow actually lived on the estates they are currently demolishing then they might have some understanding of the utter devastation that eviction, homelessness or forced relocation can cause to the lives of already struggling families.  They might realise that one fucking eviction is one too many, and that the chronic lack of social housing means the situation is now at breaking point.  Instead they whinge about government funding cuts whilst still drawing huge wages and complain about tenants being too uppity and not understanding the challenges poor housing bosses face.  Their only glimmer of dissent has been to team up with the other villains in this story – property developers – to join the Homes for Britain campaign, a shoddy front aiming to use the housing crisis as an excuse to build more houses for rich people.

If you find yourself calling riot police on housing campaigners, or using bailiffs to violently evict families from their homes, then you are on the wrong fucking side.  A five year could could tell you that.  The kids currently living in shitty temporary accommodation miles from friends and families know that.  There is no room for argument.  If housing association bosses really don’t like what the government is doing then good, it’s time they did something about it.  Whether that means getting out on the streets, or not co-operating, or even just paying themselves a bit less and paying a few people’s bedroom tax instead, is for them to decide.  Or perhaps they could get out of the way altogether, and let tenants, not highly paid bureacrats, manage the homes and communities they live in.

Visit the Radical Housing Network’s event calendar for details of upcoming protests, action and meetings and keep July 11th free for when Class War’s anti-gentrification Fuck Parade takes to the streets of Camden.

Class War will also be out on the streets tomorrow (Wednesday 27th May) on the state opening of Parliament.  Meet at 11am prompt in Parliament Square.  Later in the day the National Coalition against Fees and Cuts have called a march from 5pm – assemble in Trafalgar Square.

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

Important Information: DWP Finally Admits To ESA Sanction Safeguarding Policy

esa-sanctionsSickness benefit claimants with a mental health condition who have been forced to attend the Work Programme should not have their benefits sanctioned without a face to face meeting first the DWP have finally admitted.

This important clarification, which could mean many people have been wrongly sanctioned, was finally published in an amendment to the Work Programme Provider Guidance.  This is the rule book that companies running the Work Programme must follow and last week a new chapter was added detailing the procedures for safeguarding so-called vulnerable claimants.

According to the guidance, claimants of the main sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance only, who have “mental health conditions or learning disabilities or conditions affecting communication/cognition” must not be referred for a sanction without safeguarding activity being carried out.  This means a home visit if necessary to establish a face to face conversation to ensure that the participant understands the reason they have been sanctioned.  If this face to face contact does not happen, or if the Work Programme provider believes the claimant did not understand the requirement to carry out mandated activity, then a sanction referral must not take place.

These rules, which also apply to Jobcentre busy-bodies hoping to sanction sick and disabled people’s benefits, are not newHowever they were previously only published in internal Jobcentre documents and only came to light due to a Freedom of Information request.  It is likely that this is the first time many Work Programme providers have even heard of them.  Anecdotal evidence has repeatedly warned of people only finding out they have been sanctioned when they check their bank balances and find out they don’t have any money.  The number of sickness and disability claimants who have had their benefits sanctioned is soaring, with almost 125,000 sanctions applied since new rules came into place.  Some of those sanctions should not have been applied.  How many is anybody’s guess.

Whilst these safeguarding rules will mean it is now harder for Work Programme companies to sanction people’s benefits, many claimants will not relish the prospect of some A4e dickhead turning up at their front door to interrogate them about why they didn’t attend workfare.  The best piece of advice?  Never answer the fucking door to any cunt with a clipboard.

You can download the safeguarding rules at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/427708/wp-pg-chap-4b-v1.pdf

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

Austerity Might Be An Opportunity Says Welfare-To-Work Boss As She Eyes Up Jobcentres

Pauline could be heading for a P45 if ERSA get their way

Pauline could be heading for a P45 if ERSA get their way

Further austerity and welfare reforms might be seen as an opportunity says the chief spokesperson for the welfare-to-work sector Kirsty McHugh.

McHugh is Chief Executive of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade body established to lie on behalf of grasping welfare-to-work  parasites like G4S and Maximus.  In a blog post published after the election McHugh warns that some in her sector may view further austerity with trepidation, but points out that others may see it as an opportunity.

The reason for this optimism is because many of the leases for Jobcentre Plus offices are up for renewal over the next five years.  This could mean, according to McHugh, the possibility of out-sourcing Jobcentre services.

This is the long term ambition of the welfare-to-work sector, to take over Jobcentres completely.  Already ERSA have accused the current benefit sanctioning policy of being ‘bonkers’ and lobbied for Work Programme companies to be given a role in deciding whether to stop someone’s benefits.

This slow power grab has been ongoing for over a decade.  The DWP spends billions on salaries and admin costs and ERSA would like to see those billions going towards the companies they represent.  Of course this will mean tens of thousands of Jobcentre workers becoming unemployed (stop laughing).  But it will also mean the removal of any last lingering traces of humanity in the social security system as unemployed, sick and disabled people are transformed into nothing more than human commodities to be bought, sold and destroyed for profit.

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

And The Minister For Housing Is … A Fucking Landlord

landlord-jailedThe interests of tenants and landlords are in direct opposition.  Tenants need secure homes with low rents and which are well maintained.  Landlords however want to charge the highest possible rent for the least possible work and be able to throw a tenant out of their home the second they get a better offer.

This means that you cannot claim to support both tenant’s rights and landlord’s profits.  You have to pick a side.  And we know which side the new Housing Minister Brandon Lewis is on because the register of MP’s interests tells us.  He’s a fucking landlord.

Lewis was first appointed as Minister of Housing in June 2014, replacing parliament’s nastiest, slimiest MP Kris Hopkins.  He was re-appointed by David Cameron last week where he wil continue his work ensuring the UK has one of the most expensive and least regulated private rental sectors in the world.

One of his first moves has been to introduce legislation banning local authorities from introducing licencing schemes for landlords – such as the one recently developed by Liverpool Council.  In future any council which wants to introduce a scheme that affects more than 20% of privately rented homes will be forced to go crawling to central government for permission.

It is astonishing that you need a licence to drive a mini-cab, open a pub or work as a security guard, yet any old crook can set themselves up as a landlord.  The only entry requirement is money.  These are bastards who have a key to our homes, and whose actions, or lack of action can devastate our health and even place our lives at risk.  Is it any wonder that landlord abuse, from sexual harassment, to violence, to illegal eviction to simple neglect, is rampant in the UK?

According to Housing Minister Brandon Lewis only a small minority of landlords are ‘rogue operators’.  Yet almost anyone who has rented privately will have tales to tell of bullying, theft, discrimination, harassment and often criminal negligence.  Even landlords who remain within the law can hike rents, evict without reason or charge eye-watering fees and deposits which exclude many people from any housing at all.   The private rental sector is broken beyond repair and Lewis has no plans to change that.  In fact he intends to continue making money from it.

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

Minister for Disabled People’s Cosy Relationship With Mayor Sacked In Disgrace For Disability Hate Comments

tomlinson-martinNew Minister for Murdering Disabled People Justin Tomlinson refused to condemn his long-standing colleague Mayor of Swindon Nick Martin who was forced to resign after making vile comments about disabled people.

Martin was forced put of his position in 2014 after he was heard asking “”Are we still letting mongols have sex with each other?” at a council meeting.  Despite initially denying making the comments he eventually resigned after he was found guilty by the Council’s Standards Committee of making abusive and insulting references to disabled people.

Throughout the affair, Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, refused to condemn his long-standing colleague for the remarks.  This prompted local Labour Party parliamentary candidates to issue a public letter to Tomlinson asking whether they supported Nick Martin remaining a councillor and member of the Conservative Party.  Tomlinson apears to have simply ignored this letter.

The truth is that Tomlinson and Nick Martin go way back.  As recently as last week the new Minister spoke warmly of how Martin introduced him to local politics over 15 years ago after he had contacted him about an overgrown hedge.  As can be seen above, Tomlinson and Martin remain facebook friends.

Nick Martin will be grateful for his colleague’s lack of condemnation, he was re-elected as a Councillor at the local elections last week.  And Tomlinson went off to the DWP for his new job designing and implementing disability strategy.  His voting record on matters that concern disabled people already speaks for itself.  But if you can judge a person by the company they keep, then Tomlinson’s cosy relationship with the former Mayor of Swindon tells us everything we need to know about his true attitude towards disabled people.

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 4 Million People Who Want Jobs: Is The So-Called Jobs Miracle Shuddering To A Halt?

work-or-riotNewly appointed Minister of Death, Priti Patel, was allowed to write her first DWP press release this morning as labour market figures showed there were just 35,000 fewer unemployed people in the last three months.  This is the smallest quarterly fall in unemployment in nearly two years, and it is not the only bad news for the DWP – amongst those born in the UK the number of people with jobs fell slightly.

Youth unemployment, for people between 18 and 24, also rose in the latest period, for the second quarter running.  As did the number of hidden unemployed – people without a job who want one but are classed as ‘economically inactive’ rather than officially unemployed – which now stands at 2.298 million meaning the true number of unemployed people is 4.129 million.

The Claimant Count, which means the shrinking number of unemployed people who are still entitled to Jobseeker’s Allowance, fell by just 12,600, the smallest drop since March 2013.  The ‘experimental claimant count’ however, which also includes unemployed people transferred onto Universal Credit, fell by just 6,500.  The number of people claiming out of work sickness benefits rose by 5000 in the same period.

As ever, a large number of people who are officially employed are working part time – and the number of part time workers who want a full time job also rose in the latest period.  There are also 105,000 people on “government supported training and employment programmes”, better known as workfare, who are classed as employed in the official statistics.

The s0-called jobs miracle on which the Tories based much of their election campaign was always largely a myth that was more down to a growing population that Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled welfare reforms.  Today’s labour market figures suggest that even this may be coming to an end.  What they also show, beyond doubt, is that with over 4 million people chasing 750,000 vacancies, there are still no fucking jobs.

You can view the latest Labour Market Statistics on the ONS website.

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