Category Archives: Welfare Reform

This Is Fucking Vandalism, London’s History And Culture Are Being Destroyed In The Name Of Greed

black-capsAround 150 people joined a protest outside The Black Cap public house in Camden yesterday after it closed suddenly and without warning last week.  The long running LGBT venue opened in the 1960s, surviving throughout the days when gay people faced prosecution.  Now it is falling victim to rampant gentrification that respects neither culture or history and seeks only to make as much money as possible for greedy property developers.

Speaking at the protest drag artist Titti La Camp, a former performer at the pub, said 10 gay venues had closed in central London since the current Tory government weren’t elected.  In an all too familiar story, those trying to save The Black Cap believe it is likely to be converted into yet more luxury flats that nobody local can afford.

camden-marketsA few hundred yards away a large part of Camden Market is currently a building site, awaiting being converted into a soulless offices along with 170 new homes of which only 17 will be affordable.  The company behind the development is owned by billionaire Teddy Sagi, the man behind the explosion of fixed-odds betting terminals in bookies which have been called the crack cocaine of the gambling world.  Sagi’s company also owns Stables Market in Camden and several other local sites which are earmarked for development.

hardwaresDown the road in Berwick Street, Soho, a new development has led to the end of many long running local businesses like That’s Andy’s hardware shop which had existed for 20 years.  Many more shops lie empty after being forced to close.shop-signs

walkers-court-sohoThis is Walker’s Court at the end of Berwick Street.  This narrow passageway  was often photographed as an iconic example of Soho’s historic association with sex work.  Now it is boarded up and awaiting development by Soho Estates, the company founded by the late Paul Raymond who made millions out of Soho’s sex trade.  His grand-daughter, one of the UK’s richest women who sits on the board of Soho Estates, is now set to make millions out of the destruction of Soho’s sex work industry.madame-jojos-closedJust around the corner from Walker’s Court the famous Madame Jojo’s cabaret and burlesque venue was closed down at the end of last year.  The club was stripped of its licence after an alleged violent incident took place involving the club’s bouncers.  Madame Jojo’s had replaced both the management and security team after the incident but this was not enough to satisfy Westminster Council.  Those who used and loved the venue believe the real reason it was closed was the Council’s desire to gentrify the area.denmark-streetLess than 10 minutes walk away lies Denmark Street, better known as Tin Pan Alley, once the heart of the UK’s music industry and still a living, breathing community of musicians. Now it is being redeveloped into a “super-flexible, digitally-enabled streetscape” with posh flats, hotels, gigantic advertising boards, a ‘sky bar’ and a new piazza.  The developers call it a run down corner of London.  They should come to fucking Catford.  Actually they shouldn’t, cunts like them are already coming to Catford.  Some of the music shops have moved out of Denmark Street already.sax-shop-closedbailiffs-12barThese signs appear on the empty properties along Denmark Street after Bohemians 4 Soho squatted the 12 Bar Club in a last ditch effort to save the famous music venue from closure.  An army of bailiffs and security guards are now stationed in Central London protecting the property of the rich from the people who live here.st-martins-loftsThis is what is replacing these much loved venues and famous landmarks.  These loft apartments are on the former site of St Martin’s Art school, now re-located to King’s Cross.  A two bedroom flat in this building will cost you £4.5 million.  Of course it’s not just posh flats that are replacing our homes and community venues.new-mcdonalds-sohoLondon does not have a housing problem it has a rich people problem.  The decimation of Soho and Camden is just one side of it.  The other is the tragic evictions taking place everywhere from Barnet to Brixton and the record numbers of people sleeping on London’s streets.

Nobody wants this vandalism except for the grasping property developers, greedy landlords and global super rich who are turning every last brick in the city into an investment opportunity. They could not give a fuck about the people who live here – the people who built London and do the real work that makes it function.  This is not a natural development of the city due to changing fashions and demographics.  It is certainly not regeneration.  It is a robbery.  A city being reconstructed as Disneyland, where no real people can afford to live.  It will be the death of London in the end.  And the rich won’t care, they will be busy destroying somewhere else by then.

But there are fucking loads more of us than them.  Struggles over housing and community venues are bursting into life everywhere.  London has a long tradition of subversion, disobedience, rebellion and riots.  The London mob must rise again.  All of us, together, against the fucking rich.

The fight to save the Black Cap is not over, visit their facebook page.

Join the mass action against property developers at the vile Property Awards being held at the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane this Tuesday 21st April, full details on facebook.

Reclaim Brixton is taking place on Saturday 25th April, for a run down of what’s taking place visit: http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2015/04/reclaim-brixton-event-on-sat-25th-april-times-places-and-meet-up-points/

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Nick Clegg Wants Even More Debt For The Young, Why Is This Dick Still Talking?

NickClegg-looking-like-a-dickWhen Nick Clegg was negotiating with the two main parties after the hung election he could, if he had really cared, insisted on scrapping tuition fees before entering a coalition agreement.  At the very least he could have argued for fees to be reduced, or even frozen over the course of the Parliament.

But instead he threw away the educational chances of a generation in favour of a stupid referendum on what wasn’t even Proportional Representation when it came to the vote.  And he lost.  Because he is a dick.  Remember that if you have recently graduated with a huge debt.  Every time you make a payment remember you are in debt because Nick Clegg is a dick.

Now he wants young people sucked even further into debt by luring them into taking out huge loans to pay for a deposit on a tenancy agreement.  Deposits that will be far higher than they are now because Clegg wants to set the loans at £1,500 outside London.  According to The Guardian the average deposit is £1,200.  So overnight the standard deposit will shoot up by £300 quid which will have to be repaid over the next couple of years.  So young people won’t be able to afford their rent and will stay at home and not get on the “rented property ladder”, which is Clegg’s ludicrous name for the fucked housing market.  And of course these loans will only be available to young people who have a job, so those most in need of help with housing, with no means to pay up front, will stay homeless.

Just like the other main parties Clegg has no plans to build more housing at social rents people can actually afford.  Or any concrete plans to reverse the savage housing benefit cuts he voted for which are leading to soaring homelessness.  But they will plant a tree for every child born in the UK.  Perhaps that’s where they expect them to live.  What a bunch of dicks.

Whatever you decide to do at the election remember one thing.  If you vote Liberal Democrat you are voting for a dick.  It doesn’t matter how much you might like your Lib Dem candidate, they are a dick.  If there can only be one small sliver of comfort gleaned from the last five years of misery it will be the Liberal Democrat party being consigned to the dustbin of history.  Don’t spoil that for everyone.  Don’t be a dick.  Don’t vote Lib Dem.

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March For The Homeless A Huge Success: This Is Exactly What The Capital Needs

DSC00107Hundreds of people brought traffic chaos to Central London last night as the streets were occupied for the capital’s largest ever March for the Homeless.

Around 500  homeless and ex-homeless people, squatters, tenants and housing campaigners gathered opposite Downing Street where a street kitchen was serving free food.  Soon the protest spilled out into Whitehall which was blockaded with one banner reading ‘No More Deaths On Our Streets’.  With traffic backing up police began warning people to leave the road or face arrest only for a cycle rickshaw carrying a full band to turn up and the lively crowd began heading down the road towards Parliament Square.

The march stopped briefly at David Cameron’s backdoor, the often forgotten other end of Downing Street next to St James Park, before making its way to Buckingham Palace where police were forced to hurriedly make a line in front of the gates to prevent the Palace being stormed.  Sort of.  Then it was onto the Pall Mall squat which had been occupied in protest at London’s housing crisis and was conveniently evicted on the morning of the march.  A line of bailiffs were guarding the building and as the crowd approached one of them unexpectedly lashed out at a protester punching him in the face before being restrained by his colleagues and bundled inside.  This took place in full view of several police officers who chose to do precisely fuck all about an unprovoked and vicious assault.  Is it any wonder people call them the filth?

After a brief sit down protest at Piccadilly, the march turned into Soho where it was met with applause by many of the people drinking outside the busy cafes and bars.  The once thriving Soho gay scene is being devastated as venue after venue closes to make way for chain stores and posh flats.  There is barely an inch left of London that is not being destroyed as property developers seek to turn our homes and communities into soulless investment opportunities for the global super rich.

Finally the march stopped outside a new plush squat recently occupied by the same group who were just kicked out of Pall Mall.  With music pouring from the windows protesters mingled with passers-by many of whom were supportive of the squatters.

This march was exactly what needs to happen in a city where an entire generation of children are growing up who will not be able to afford to live here when they are older.  A housing movement that thinks creatively, takes no shit, does not ask permission and is fun to be a part of can only grow as ever more people see their homes come under threat.

The only down point to the event was the late arrest of long standing housing activist Phoenix, who was reportedly nicked for little more than not going inside the building when the coppers told him to.  This follows the recent arrest of Jasmine from the E15 campaign and the string of vindictive arrests at the Poor Doors protests.  This is starting to look like a deliberate strategy of trying to silence the anger in the capital over lack of housing by targeting the people that police have decided are ring-leaders.

Phoenix was unbowed, saying after his release: “Homes for all, keep squatting and occupy everywhere.  Viva the resistance … one day we will all have a home”.

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Labour And The Tories, Not Just Fucking Wankers But Fucking Idiots Too

idiots

Only a bunch of spivs and two-bit confidence tricksters like the current Tory front bench could have come up with a reckless get rich quick policy like extending right-to-buy to housing associaion properties.

Handing a small number of tenants a huge tax-payer funded give away whilst decimating the supply of desperately needed genuinely affordable housing is quite possibly the single most stupid fucking thing that any politicans could do in the midst of an escalating housing crisis.  And there is some stiff competition. Labour’s policies to build more homes no-one can afford or introduce regional benefit caps so no-one can pay their rent are equally fucking stupid.

A further cap on housing benefits will only lead to yet more homelessness and both parties want it.  The truth about the benefit cap that has already been introduced is that many people’s benefits haven’t been capped – their housing costs are simply being paid via the council and Discretionary Housing Payments.  It will only be after the election – whoever wins – that we will see the devastating impact of families with children socially cleansed from more affluent cities and forced into areas already scarred by poverty and unemployment.

On workfare both parties are proposing policies which are unworkable in practice – with Labour taking the lead in attacking the young who will lose benefits completely unless they undertake forced ‘training’ (stop laughing they mean workfare).  The Tories have said this will not happen until someone has been on benefits for six months, when they will then be bullied into workfare, or a shoddy unpaid Traineeship.  But they will stop their Housing Benefit.  Probably, in some cases.  Labour have not even bothered to say whether scrapping benefits for those under 21 means they will stop their Housing Benefit as well.

Where all these workfare placements will come from nobody knows.  Already there is a desperate shortage as growing numbers of charities reject forced unpaid work completely.  The amount of unpaid work experience on Traineeships was recently reduced after even businesses said it was unfair to make young people work too long without a wage. The only people who actually want workfare are fucking idiots like Cameron and Miliband who are both obesessed with the idea.  It’s hardly surprising, neither of them has ever done a real day’s work in their lives.  They want us to work for free whilst they do fuck all and earn a fortune.

Even Labour’s so-called Compulsory Jobs Guarantee isn’t a proper job.  Instead it will include ten hours a week unpaid workfare with the rest of the time on a tax-payer funded minimum wage. It’s just a huge subsidy so employers can get free workers, and looks a lot like Nick Cleggs disastrous subsidised employment scheme that was recently scrapped for being both shit and probably illegal.

It is hardly surprising that a Hamspstead clown like Miliband and a Chipping Norton toff like Cameron have policies so similar you could barely fit a fag paper between them.  They have far more in common with each other’s pampered lives than they do with most normal people.  Neither of them would last five minutes in a debate about politics in their local Wetherspoon. And when Cameron was given a well deserved kicking round the pub car park, Miliband would be chucking up in the bogs after one too many bacon sandwiches.

There are other, better, ways of being politically active then voting for some fucking idiot who hates you once every five years.  Across the UK people will be taking direct political action in the run up to the election.  Tomorrow (15th April) sees a March for the Homeless taking place in cities throughout the England and Scotland whilst a Day of Action for Fast Food Worker’s Rights will see protests outside McDonalds.  Later in the month Disabled People Against Cuts will be visiting the constituencies of both Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey.  Boycott Workfare are holding a week of action against unpaid work and sanctions from the 25th April, the same day that an anti-gentrification protest will take place in Brixton.  And on May 1st Class War will be holding a fuck parade, complete with 12 volt soundsystems outside the notorious poor doors at 1 Commercial Street, London E1.

Change will not come from the ballot box, that is the point of them.  Whichever twat you vote for, if you can be bothered to vote at all, get out on the streets and let’s make sure the fucking lot of them know we don’t need or want their shit anymore.

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Welfare Reform Has Failed – And These Latest Statistics Prove It

ids-slug1Welfare reforms have barely made a dent in the number of long term benefit claimants figures quietly released last week revealed.  There are just 91,000 fewer people who have been on an out of work benefit for at least three of the last four years compared to 2010 despite grandiose claims that a million new jobs have been created during the period.

The figures are one of the Government’s ‘social justice outcome indicators’ and include everybody on sickness benefits, the dole and unemployed lone parents.  2.381 million of these groups had been on one, or a combination of, these benefits for three out of four years in 2014 compared to 2.472 million in the period following the recession in 2010.

Perhaps most significantly the slight fall in the figures coincides with a huge rise in benefit sanctions suggesting that people are just being stripped of  benefits, not finding jobs.  The statistics do also not include people hounded into low (or no) earning self-employment by their Work Programme provider and now claiming Working Tax Credits – a practice which has been well documented.  The most recent year’s figures do not even include people who had benefts stopped temporarily following a sickness benefit assessment but have since appealed and are now claiming again.  The truth is that when these factors are taken into account then welfare reforms may have had no impact at all on the number of long term claimants.

Billions of pounds has been squandered by Iain Duncan Smith to bully these 91,000 people out of the benefits system.  Longer term claimants are exactly the group that all of his reforms were aimed at and the dire results show beyond doubt that he has failed.  Economic growth may have returned, but the very poorest are poorer than ever and there are just as many of them.  The cost of these reforms to the tax payer has been astronomical – far more than if these 91,000 people had just kept claiming.  The impact on the lives of those affected by endless assessments, sanctions and benefit cuts has been devastating.

One million people were forced to depend on a foodbank in the last year.  The number of suicides linked to withdrawal of benefits grows ever higher.  Every measure of homelessness has risen steeply.  And it has all been for fuck all.  Billions of pounds spent on brutalising people for no reason and with no results should be the only remembered legacy of Iain Duncan Smith’s nasty little experiment at the Department of Work and Pensions.

Join Disabled People Against Cuts on April 25th when they will visit Iain Duncan Smith Chingford constituency.

You can view the latest statistics at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/duration-on-working-age-benefits-april-2010-to-march-2014

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Take Action Against Soaring Homelessness: Support The March For The Homeless On April 15th

march-for-homelessSupport the March for the Homeless.  April 15 2015, Whitehall SW1, 6pm.

On last Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show Iain Duncan Smith said that homelessness had not risen since he implemented savage Housing Benefit cuts like the Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cap.  Even for a politician this was a breath-taking lie.

Every possible measure of homelessness has risen since the current Government weren’t elected.  The number of homeless families has soared by 27% and charities say the problem is far greater than even this, attacking the figures as no longer reliable.  The number of people sleeping on the streets has leapt by 50% and is now at the highest ever recorded level.  It is shocking that a Secretary of State can so openly attempt to deceive the public and astonishing that a highly experienced poltical interviewer like Marrs would let him get away with it.

According to a recent report produced by charities working on the front line, Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are driving the rise in homelessness.  Perhaps of most concern is that just one in ten  local authority homelessness managers who were surveyed for the report believed that the impacts of benefits cuts had largely ‘run their course’.  Most believed things are set to get worse over the next two years.  Soaring rents, shrinking benefits and the threat of further cuts to come could yet create a homelessness crisis on a scale rarely if ever seen before in the UK.

On Wednesday April 15th a March for the Homeless will take place in Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada and the USA.  In London a mass rally will be held in Whitehall from 6pm with music, speakers, a free shop, street kitchen  and more.  Please help spread the word, for more info visit: http://streetskitchen.co.uk/?p=2072

For news of what’s happening in other cities join the facebook page or visit their website.  Campaigners are using the hashtags #NoMoreDeathsOnOurStreets and #March4Homeless

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It Had To Happen. Soon You Could Face An In-Work Benefit Sanction … For Going To Work

ids-anyonecanlivePart-time workers could face a benefit sanction for going to work under draconian new rules which force claimants of in-work benefits to constantly look for more, or better paid work.

When Universal Credit is fully introduced (stop laughing) Jobcentres will have the powers to dictate how many hours a claimant should be working to remain eligible for what are now called Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.  Those without children, who do not have a health condition, will be required to spend up to 35 hours a week either working or taking part in work related activity such as looking for additional work or even attending workfare.  Failure to comply will result in a sanction.

The implications are chilling.  Under the new rules part-time workers will have to attend a job interview with just 48 hours notice  or their benefits will be stopped.  This is likely to mean someone required to take time off their existing employment – at short notice – to attend a job interview somewhere else.  If they go to work instead of the interview they could face a sanction.  As anyone who has ever had a real job will know, this will place claimants in an impossible position forcing to them to make the choice between risking being sacked or sanctioned.  And unfortunately their boss will probably find out they are looking for a new job  whatever they do because part of their work related activity may include being mandated to set up an online profile to “draw attention to their availability” for alternative employment.

Claimants should not face a sanction if they can demonstrate a ‘good reason’ (pdf) for not carrying out work related activity such as attending an interview.  But no-one is likely to tell them this.  Anyone who thinks that these new rules will not lead to people being sanctioned for going to work has not seen the ever growing lists of sanctions handed out to claimants for petty, inappropriate and sometimes even bizarre reasons.  Not being able to carry out work related activity because your boss makes it impossible is not even mentioned in the decision maker’s guidance, the rule book for the faceless back office Jobcentre staff who impose sanctions.

Ministers had said that people would not face a sanction if it means giving up a part-time job to attend a temporary position with longer hours.  But even the guidance on this is vague.  Decision makers are advised that someone should not be forced to leave their job to take up a fortnight’s full time temporary work but beyond this it is left to them to take a “common sense approach”.

It is astonishing, and horrifying that Iain Duncan Smith’s obsession with benefit sanctions could now actually cost people their jobs.  It is what will happen to those who are sanctioned however that reveals the breath-taking cruelty behind this policy.

Somebody working 16 hours a week on minimum wage and paying £90 a week in rent (around the average Housing Benefit award) will receive £104 a week in wages and £111 under Universal Credit, a total of £215.  If they are sanctioned they will lose the equivalent of a Jobseeker’s Allowance payment, currently £72.40, for each week the sanction remains in place.  Depending on where they live they will almost certainly have to pay some Council Tax from that sum, around here that would be £8 a week for someone living in the cheapest band.  After paying this, and their rent, the claimant will be left with just £44.60 a week to pay for food, clothes, bills and fares to work.  This sum will be enough to disqualify them from claiming Hardship Payments or any other form of additional help.

It is difficult to imagine how someone could maintain the level of health and hygeine necessary to hold down a job on such a paltry income, unless they stop paying their rent.  Homelessness or unemployment will be the stark choice facing sanctioned working claimants – although if they leave their job they will be sanctioned again, or possibly disallowed any benefit completely.  Even if they are able to increase their hours it will barely make a difference.  For every pound they earn they will lose 65p of what little benefit they have left whilst their Council Tax liability may also rise as they earn more.  Working another four hours a week would still not give them an income above £50 a week according to the turn2us benefit calculator.  There will be no escape.  People who are working will be condemned to desperate poverty and the longest sanctions can last for three years.

All of the main political parties support the principles behind Universal Credit, even if they are sceptical about whether the IT necessary for the system is genuinely achievable.  Few of them seem to have looked into the details of what they are supporting – and what will happen to people who are self-employed is even worse (watch this space).  These rules are aimed at people with jobs, not the unemployed.  The DWP is out of control under Iain Duncan Smith and the suffering that is yet to come unless someone puts the brakes on will dwarf anything we have seen so far.

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