Middle Class Solutions To Working Class Problems Is Why Charities Like MIND Keep Getting It So Wrong

didnt-go-to-work-todayIain Duncan Smith must be pissing himself.  A report released at the end of last year by mental health charity MIND could not have gone further in endorsing the core ideas that lie behind his bungled and brutal welfare reforms.

The report is titled “We’ve Got Work To Do” and claims to demand ‘fundamental reform’ of the workplace and social security system to better support people with a mental health condition.  Sadly it is calling for nothing of the sort and is underpinned by the exact same lies and toxic assumptions that have driven both Tory and Labour welfare reforms.

Just like the DWP, MIND have adopted the flawed medical consensus that work is good for your health. The charity does acknowledge that this isn’t actually always true, but falls short of saying that work can be bad for your health, instead arguing that “inappropriate or poor quality work can have as negative an effect on people’s mental health as not being in work”.  They base this opinion on research carried out in Australia that found that “the mental health of those who were unemployed was comparable or more often superior to those in jobs of the poorest psychosocial quality.”  In other words work can be worse for your mental health than being unemployed, rather than just equally bad as MIND claim.

It is not nit-picking to point out the discrepency between what this research found and what MIND say it found because it reveals the charity’s opinions to be based on ideology, not facts.  This same factual slippage occurs elsewhere in the report when MIND begin by saying that most people with mental health conditions want to work, which later becomes everyone with a mental health condition wants to work. The truth, as revealed in the footnotes to the report, are that only around 58% of people out of work due to a mental health condition strongly agreed they wanted to return to work whilst 20% did not feel they were well enough.

These two distortions – or let’s call them lies – have allowed the despised Work Capability Assessment, benefit sanctions and workfare all to be misrepresented as ‘support’ or ‘help’.  In truth these measures destroy lives.  The medical consensus that work is good for you does often not apply to those on the lower end of the income scale who face being forced by Jobcentres into the kind of work likely to make them ill.

MIND’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer claims at the beginning of the report that there have been “improvements in how people with mental health problems are supported”, although it is unclear what they are. There then follows an emotive story about someone’s journey through the benefit system after leaving work due to depression.  This is actually where their journey would stop, because unless they could provide reems of medical evidence to the Jobcentre they would be disallowed benefits for giving up work.  That this reports begins by misrepresenting the benefit system as it currently functions just shows how removed these giant disability charities have become from the lives of those they claim to support.

Instead the ‘fundamental reform’ they call for is actually more of the same or worse – such as the dangerous idea that sensitive health information from the Work Capability Assessment should be passed over to Work Programme providers like A4e and G4S.  This is like your boss having access to your medical history and appallingly MIND seem pretty relaxed about this as well.

Much of the early part of the report is taken up by calling for improvements in the working environment for people suffering mental ill-health.  Which is fine, everyone wants that, except greedy employers who worry it might cost them money or who harbour nasty little prejudices about mental health.  According to MIND themselves this is about 40% of them.  Yet one of MIND’s recommendations is that the Maximus run ‘Fit To Work’ service – the new telephone helpline which will be used to certify time off instead of GPs – should more effectively engage with employers.  About the only decent thing about Fit To Work, which is designed to bully people back into the workplace before they are better, is that currently you have the right to keep your boss out of any discussions.

The final part of the report discusses what future welfare-to-work schemes should look like for those with a mental health condition.  The charity are calling for “new specialist scheme for people with mental health problems on
ESA”.  A scheme which should be run by those who “have expertise and experience of working with people with mental health problems”.  And here lies the real reason for this report.  It’s a fucking advert to any incoming Labour Government to give MIND a lucrative contract to run a new welfare-to-work service.

There is no longer any doubt that endless Atos assessments, workfare and benefit sanctions are creating a crisis in the lives of those with a mental health condition.  The tragic death toll rises ever higher.  Yet nowhere in this report does MIND call for these brutal policies to be scrapped.  Even if MIND were handed a contract to be nicer to people on ESA this would still leave those who have been found fit for work abandoned and dumped onto mainstream unemployment benefits alongside those whose condition is at yet undiagnosed.  On twitter yesterday MIND claimed they couldn’t call for sanctions to be scrapped for people who are unemployed because it wasn’t a key issue.  If your mental health condition isn’t bad enough to be able to claim ESA then tough shit seems to be the charity’s response if you get sanctioned.

The thing is, naked profiteering aside, MIND are not bastards.  They have dedicated front line workers who don’t get paid anywhere near enough and are sincere committed people.  Workers who would probably agree that benefit sanctions and the Work Capability Assessment should be scrapped immediately.  They see the carnage that is being caused everyday.

The problem is that reports like these are overseen and commissioned by highly paid charity executives who live lifestyles that their service users and lowest paid staff can only dream of.  These lifestyles lead them to make assumptions based on their own distorted experience of the world.  Over time they become unable to avoid inflicting solutions to the problems faced by working class people based on their own middle class values because that is all they know.  Often these solutions are utterly bizarre, like the boss of homelessness charity Thamesreach Jeremy Swain’s obsessive belief that the biggest problem facing homeless people is that beer is too cheap.  You read that right.  Too cheap.

It is near impossible for someone on a huge salary who does a job they love to understand why someone may not feel up to working at present.  That, to someone like MIND Chief Executive Paul Farmer, really does seem like madness. Likewise charity bosses have no real understanding of why it might be dangerous to allow other bosses to snoop around your health records.  Bosses think bosses are lovely people who would never abuse their powers – or at least not without a damn good reason.  And bosses know best, they tell each other that all the time.

Charity bosses in particular have their own view of themselves as benevolent experts confirmed everyday by politicians and journalists who would far rather talk to them than someone on the dole.  Their whopping salaries provide further proof of their own ability.  As do arse-licking middle managers who continually tell them how wonderful and clever they are, to their faces at least.  So Paul Farmer must be is right because he’s Paul Farmer and MIND are right because they are MIND and anyone criticising them just doesn’t understand.  Because they are not experts.

That’s how MIND alongside other disability and anti-poverty charities can so easily dismiss the demands of grassroots campaigns comprising of disabled people and benefit claimants.  Groups which are more or less united in calling for benefit sanctions and the WCA to be scrapped completely.  These people are not experts.  At worst they might even be service users.  And you don’t want them getting too uppity.  Before you know where you are you’ll have working class people running organisations together to address working class problems.  Then there’d be nothing at all for poor Paul Farmer to do.    He might even have to get a real job.

Please sign/share/tweet the petition Benefit Sanctions Must Be Stopped Without Exceptions.

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Rachel Reeves Is A Lying Bastard

boycott-workfare-real-jobsLabour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves has probably never done a real day’s work in her pampered fucking life.  After graduating from Oxford and then the LSE she was handed a non-job at the British Embassy in Washington before returning to the UK to work in the banking sector.  She is every bit as clueless and out of touch as the chinless toffs in government she claims to oppose.

This week Reeves and her creepy underling Shadow Employment Minister Stephen Timms have been boasting about Labour’s plans to bully and impoverish unemployed people with their Compulsory Jobs Guarantee.  And just like Iain Duncan Smith she is quite happy to bend the truth to further her benefit sanctioning agenda.

According to Reeves, long term unemployment has soared recently with “a staggering 224% increase in the number of people (25 and over) who have been unemployed for over two years and claiming benefits.”

If this were true then readers of this blog would have heard all about it.  But it’s not, it’s a lie and Reeves knows it.  All government’s cook the books when it comes to unemployment and the last Labour administration were no exception.  Back then and just like now those on workfare were considered employed for the purposes of the unemployment figures.  According to the Office For National Statistics there were more people recorded on “government training & employment programmes”, otherwise known as workfare, in April 2010 than in January 2015.

Since when someone started workfare they were no longer classed as unemployed, then Labour decided they were no longer long-term unemployed.  That’s why Reeves can make the ludicrous claim there were only 41,100 people who had been out of work for two years in 2010.  What she means is there were only 41,100 people who were lucky enough not to have been sent on one of Labour’s shit training or workfare schemes for two years.

In an effort to make Labour look bad when Iain Duncan Smith took over he decided that in future people who have attended workfare should still be considered long-term unemployed, even if they are temporarily removed from the current unemployment figures.  This is the reason long term unemployment looks to have risen so steeply. That this actually ended up making Iain Duncan Smith look bad just shows what a dick he is.

This is not the only lie that Reeves has been parroting this week.  Labour will not force anyone’s who’s been out of work over two years to take up a job as the Daily Mail declared this week.  They can’t.  There aren’t enough jobs.  What they will do is force claimants to attend their workfare plus a sandwich scheme for six months or face benefit sanctions.  What this will mean is people required to work for 25 hours a week on the minimum wage plus another ten hours for free.  Which of course means they won’t be working for the minimum wage, but substantially less.

Reeves claims that this extra ten hours a week won’t be work at all, it will be ‘training and development’ provided by the employer.  An employer like Poundland.  She must think we’re fucking idiots.  She also declares that this will not have an impact on existing jobs, or at least that’s what she might mean when she says “Employers won’t be not be able to replace existing jobs or vacancies”.  For all her elite education she can barely string a sentence together.

Labour’s Jobs Guarantee is workfare.  It may be slightly different to Tory workfare, but the impact on jobs and working conditions for everybody will be the same.  As will the impact of benefit sanctions for those who refuse or are unable to do this forced work.  Perhaps most disturbingly it is a direct attack on the minimum wage, with participants only to be paid for two thirds of the hours they are actually working.  And it will be the tax payer funding those paltry wages, not employers who will no doubt be dump people back on the dole once the six month wage subsidy is over, as recently happened on the now abandoned Wage Incentive scheme introduced by Nick Clegg.

Make no mistake the current Tory Government are vermin.  But just like Iain Duncan Smith, Rachel Reeves is a lying bastard.  A lying bastard who is currently trying to cosy up to claimants by pretending Labour will tinker with the savage sickness benefits regime whilst her leader Ed Miliband hints that they might save the Independent Living Fund.  They have no fucking intention of doing either and they have no intention of ending workfare.  The so-called choice at this year’s general election is between a bunch of privileged toffs who are open in their intentions, or snivelling fake Oxbridge twats in the Labour Party who will happily use our poverty to further their careers and then stab us in the back just as hard.  Fuck the lot of them.  Vote for Class War, with a brick or a ballot paper.

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Evict The Bailiffs!

evict-the-bailiffsvia Focus E15

#EvictTheBailiffs at the British Credit Awards! Weds. Feb. 11, 18:00 SHARP!

Focus E15 invite you to the Brewery (52 Chiswell Street, EC1Y 4SD) for 6pm sharp on Weds. Feb. 11, to welcome those arriving at the 2015 British Credit Awards’ £4,000-per-table black-tie affair, in which bailiffs and debt collectors will be receiving awards for making families homeless.

Since companies like ‘The Sherriff’s Office’ receive nominations by throwing people and their belongings out onto the cold streets of London, we intend to turn the front entrance of the Brewery into a mock eviction site for attendees to experience before an evening of champagne, three-course dinners, and the kudos of their peers.

We encourage anyone concerned with social cleansing and the criminalisation of poverty to bring rubbish bags, boxes, and broken pieces of furniture to scatter across the front entrance of the Brewery as guests arrive to receive awards like ‘Enforcement Team of the Year,’ ‘Third Party Debt Collection Team of the Year’ and ‘Consumer Collections Team of the Year.’

We encourage a peaceful but outraged action, and particularly hope those with first-hand experience of bailiff evictions will come out and share their stories with attendees as they enter the venue.

SPREAD THE WORD! EVICT THE BAILIFFS!

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Money For Old Rope … How The Work Programme Poverty Profiteers Are Fleecing The Tax Payer

Former A4e boss Emma Harrison made millions out of the welfare-to-work scam before retiring just as the company became mired in fraud allegations.

Former A4e boss Emma Harrison made millions out of the welfare-to-work scam before retiring just as the company became mired in fraud allegations.

If there is one place that a culture of worklessness really does exist it’s in the offices of the companies running Iain Duncan Smith’s Work Programme.  Some welfare-to-work advisors have been languishing on tax-payer funded salaries for years whilst barely lifting a finger.

Last week the DWP published an update of the Minimum Service Delivery standards for all of the main Work Programme providers.  These are the very basic levels of service that everybody referred to these companies can expect to receive as promised in their contracts with the DWP.  As the document reveals, you shouldn’t expect too much.

Appallingly a claimant on Employment Support Allowance can expect to wait eight weeks before Maximus will be bothered to help them produce a CV.  Those placed with the notorious A4e will only have contact with a named advisor once a month, whilst the most other providers are offering is just fortnightly meetings.  At these meetings participants are likely to be given a string of conditions they must meet, which might include workfare, or they will have their benefits stopped.  Then they’ll be politely asked to fuck off for another fortnight.  And that’s the Work Programme.  That’s the wonderful, flexible, intensive, tailored to the individual, innovative, half-arsed piece of shit that bungling Iain Duncan Smith has so far wasted close to a billion pounds of our money on.  And that’s why the performance of the scheme has been so dire and you are more likely to have your benefit sanctioned than find a job on the Work Programme.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this of course.  Whilst Work Programme providers were initially paid a small fee for every participant, this has been gradually reduced.  The bulk of the funding comes from those who find work – with payments of up to £13,000 should claimants from some groups find and stay in a job.  This payments-by-results funding model was intended to ensure that whilst these companies are free to do as little as they choose to help people find jobs, if they are not successful they won’t get paid.

The problem with this model is that people get jobs under their own steam every single day.  The welfare-to-work sector barely existed before Tony Blair launched the New Deal in 1997 yet for hundreds of years people had been managing to find jobs without any help at all from an A4e Work Coach.  What this means is that even if these companies do nothing at all they will still get paid as long as they can claim the credit for these people finding jobs.  It is a scam, and it always has been.

Since these companies are guaranteed a large chunk of tax payer’s cash whatever they do they have two choices.  Firstly they can target their resources at the so-called hardest to help, which means people with little work history, extensive criminal records or who face other problems such as homelessness or addiction.  This is expensive however and a big gamble.  Employers are not rushing out to hire street drinkers or those with a conviction for violence after all.  And even if they find someone from this group a job, if they lose it then the company will lose most of their job outcome fee.  That’s why Maximus, and their charitable partners the Careers Development Group, are using ‘expert volunteers‘ to provide help for those “identified as having substantial barriers to work”.  It’s much cheaper that way.

The second, and most profitable option for these companies is to do nothing at all.  The job outcome payments will roll in regardless, so they make their money by keeping expenditure to an absolute minimum.  Of course they can tinker round the edges.  They can bully someone into a shitty job when if that person had held out a bit longer they would have found themselves a better job in their usual field.  They can ensure that someone who is at college is forced to leave and take up minimum wage work rather than use a short period of unemployment to gain a qualification and further their career.  They can pressurise someone into becoming self-employed and claiming Working Tax Credits even if that self-employment is unlikely to result in any real income.  There’s lots of ways they can tinker round the edges and almost all of them involve fucking up someone’s life.

The tragedy is that all that money squandered on the Work Programme could have been so much better spent.  Imagine if you walked into a Jobcentre and they told you about a course you actually wanted to go on.  A course that would train you in a real job – to be a spark, a chef, a beauty therapist or IT programmer.  Imagine if you could pick up a fork lift truck licence, or even driving lessons.  Or find out about a community project providing genuine and interesting volunteering.  Or even just have access to a half decent computer, stamps, fares, a phone and stationary so you can get on and find a job yourself.

But even that is beyond the welfare-to-work sector who instead sit on their arses all day sanctioning people’s benefit claims because they were five minutes late to their monthly meeting.  And for that we pay them hundreds of millions of pounds and make their bosses very, very rich.

Join the Day of Action Against Maximus on March 2nd.

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A Government That Permits The Psychological Torture Of Benefit Claimants Does Not Give A Fuck About Mental Health

mental-health-toolkit

DWP Denial, An Example Of The Shoddy Mental Health Training Given To Jobcentre Staff

This Government do not give a shit about people with mental health conditions, and neither did the last one.  Whilst politicians of all parties offer soundbites and fake sympathy the treatment of people with a mental health condition by the benefits system now amounts to little more than psychological torture.

This is not hyperbole.  Whilst the medical establishment has stood ildly by, and mental health charities have veered between mild disapproval and outright collaboration, the DWP has lanched an all out war on the most marginalised people in society.

Consider the ‘claimant journey’, to use their language, for someone unable to work due to mental ill health.  The first step is to claim Employment Support Allowance, a process which may take months due to a huge backlog of cases.  During this period the claimant will be paid the Assessment Rate, the same amount as mainstream unemployment benefits, and a pittance at currently £72.40 a week.

Finally a dreaded brown envelope will drop through the door from the DWP – an invitation to have your mental health assessed by the notorious Atos.  At this assessment you may be found fit for work, fit for some work, or possibly placed in the Support Group.  What this means is that you might suddenly have your income – your only income – stopped.  The stress this places on people who are desperately in need of stability and consistency can be unbearable.  Is it any wonder that the number of suicides linked to this callous regime grows ever higher?

We know from the number of successful appeals that many of these assessments are wrong.  Equally importantly, these assessments have been ruled discriminatory towards those with a mental health condition in the courts.  It will not be a psychologist and is even unlikely to be a mental health trained nurse who carries out the assessment – it could be a physiotherapist or paramedic, and they will use a crude computer based test to come to their decision.  This decision will be endorsed by a DWP Decision Maker, who will not be a trained mental health worker either and who will never have met you.

If you are placed in the Support Group you will be left alone, for a while.  But you can and will be re-assessed at some point in the future.  When that will be is anyone’s guess, it could be six months it could be six years.  Don’t plan ahead.  Your entire livlihood could disappear at any point with the stroke of an Atos assessor’s pen.

It is those who are found ‘fit for work’ or placed in the Work Related Activity Group, meaning possibly fit for work at some point in the future, who face the full force of Iain Duncan Smith’s tyranny.  If that happens your money can be stopped seemingly on a whim by Jobcentre staff working to unofficial targets to do exactly that.  Thousands of people with mental health conditions face sanctions every month.  The front line advisors, fed a steady diet of propaganda that work is always good for you no matter what,  have no more qualifications in mental health than the person who found you fit for work.  You might even be sent off to a private sector shark like A4e and G4S where a low paid goon with a GCSE in being a twat might ship you off on six months workfare.  If you are unable to attend you will be sanctioned, your benefits stopped, and you might lose your home.  If you miss, or are even late to a meeting the same thing is likely to happen.  The very symptoms that some mental health conditions cause – forgetfulness, lack of organisation, bleak depression that stops you leaving the house – will be used against you to stop your benefits.  Report after report has shown that these sanctions cause ill health, suicidal behavior and desperate poverty.

At this week’s sanctions enquiry Employment Minister Esther McVey went on, and on, about how much the Jobcentre does to protect so-called vulnerable people – and if you’re not vulnerable when you start out then you will be by the time the bastards have finished with you.  But in the Jobcentre Decision Maker’s Guidance, the rules on sanctioning are vague.  Whilst it is acknowledged that someone with a mental health condition may have a ‘good reason’ for not complying with a requirement, the judgement rests with a DWP Decision Maker who has never met the claimant and who is acting on a recommendation from a from a front line advisor, or Work Coach.  The decision to apply a sanction is therefore little more than a guess, and not even an educated one, the training given to Work Coaches on mental health is a disgrace.

The quote in the above picture, which suggests Work Coaches will probably never meet anyone in real mental distress and therefore they shouldn’t worry about it, comes from the Employment and Wellbeing Toolkit (PDF).  This is the training document in mental health for frontline Jobcentre staff who now have such huge powers over unemployed people’s lives. It reveals a breath-taking ignorance of the reality of some mental health conditions.

If a claimant says their mental health is causing such problems they feel like giving up, possibly indicating suicidal thoughts, then Work Coaches should attempt to encourage “Better ability to cope to boost self- confidence and help individual develop a more positive appraisal of their skills and prospects, help to break out of a pattern of reinforcing depression and low mood that can undermine their sense of self worth and purpose.”  If a claimant points out their doctor has told them to avoid stress the advice to the Work Coach is to: “Reflect back that not being able to cope and feeling stressed affects almost everyone at some point, but there are still things that can help.”  Cheer up in other words, everyone has a bad day.

The basis of the training rests almost entirely on the ideological assumption that work is always good for you, in any circumstances.  Even medical treatment should be framed as ‘a step towards employment’.  The toolkit even claims that the “search for a job goal can, in itself, have a beneficial effect on mental wellbeing, in much the same way as having a job can promote better health, because it provides a purpose and meaningful activity.”  Looking for a job is now good for your health as well according to the DWP.  This is fucking mumbo jumbo and if this training document was written by a qualified psychologist they should be struck off.

The idea that work is always good for your mental health dates back to a report produced in 2006 called Is work good for your health and well-being? An independent review by researchers Gordon Waddell and A Kim Burton.  It formed part of the evidence that was used to justify the introduction of the Atos run Work Capability Assessment by the Labour administration.  Conveniently for the party that wanted to strip out of work sickness benefits from one million people, it claims that work is good for both people’s mental and physical health.  This position has come to be regarded as a medical consensus.

However this comes with one vital caveat which is that “account must be taken of the nature and quality of work and its social context; jobs should be safe and accommodating”.  A  later DWP backed report looking into work and mental health specifically notes that the benefits of work do “not apply to some individuals in some circumstances and that the social context and the nature and quality of the work are important factors.”

This follow up report also points out that: “People with mental health problems who do find work are more likely to be underemployed, employed in low status or poorly remunerated jobs or employed in roles which are not commensurate with their skills or level of education (Stuart, 2006). They are overrepresented in the secondary labour market, which consists almost entirely of parttime temporary jobs. Whilst many who have had mental health problems might value the flexibility, jobs in the secondary labour market are often unstable, poorly remunerated or open to exploitation.”

In other words, exactly the kind of jobs that unemployed people with mental health conditions are likely to get are the ones that are likely to be bad for their mental health.  That this stark fact has been ignored lies at the root of the atrocity that is currently taking place in Jobcentres across the UK as Work Coaches are pushed to get people into any job, as quickly as possible.  If they then leave, or get sacked from that job, they face benefit sanctions.

The medical consensus is wrong.  Work is not always good for you.  Some work is good for some people,  and some work is bad for some people. If you spend your life sitting around writing DWP reports on a nice salary then of course, depending on your health condition, you will probably be better off at work than living in poverty on benefits.  But if you are in a low paid, insecure job, where some jumped-up wanker with a clipboard sets time limits on toilet breaks or threatens you with the sack for taking a day off, then work can be very, very bad for you.  Sadly, at the bottom end of the labour market, this is increasingly what work looks like.

The attitude of many employers to people with a mental health condition is appalling.  Discrimination is rife, as it is towards those with any health condition or disability.  The government’s Access To Work fund which is supposed to help disabled people find work is a shambolic disaster. The number of claimants on sickness benefits who find jobs through the Work Programme is tiny, especially amongst those recently judged fit for work by Atos.  There are currently just short of two million unemployed people in the UK and that doesn’t include most of the two million people on sickness or disability benefits who are classed as ‘economically inactive’.

This is the reality of the labour market and no amount of benefit sanctions or Work Capability Assessments will change that.  Instead of employers being taken to task for their shoddy treatment of people with mental health conditions, that discrimination has been weaponised against claimants to cut their benefits.  People with mental health conditions are being sanctioned to death in some cases for the crime of not having a job when there’s no fucking jobs to be had.  It is right that urgent work needs to be done to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health conditions – and that stigma, in part emanates from the DWP Press Office and their snide insinuations that people on benefits are feckless or lazy.  It is also correct that far more should be done to end the prejudice in the workplace that causes people with mental health conditions to become excluded from the work force.  All of these things can happen without blaming claimants themselves for the dire situation.

There is no such thing as a fair benefit sanction, and the claim is not true that these kinds of conditions have always been at the heart of social security, benefit sanctions were barely used prior to 1997.  We live in a society with high unemployment, where real full employment – that is everyone having a job – is deemed neither feasible nor desirable by the very same think-tanks who dream up policies to punish unemployed people.

Benefit sanctions can now last three years and are causing desperate suffering.  It will always be the most marginalised, people with mental health conditions, homeless people, those with already damaged lives, who face the brunt of these policies.   It is time to condemn this mass malpractice to history and work towards a system that provides humane care and security for everybody.  Benefit sanctions must now be scrapped with no exceptions.

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14 Towns And Cities And Counting Lined Up To Take Action Against Maximus On March 2nd #ScrapWCA

Maximus-same-circus-different-clownsMaximus claimed that they would not face protests due to their involvement with the Work Capability Assessment.  They couldn’t have been more wrong.  14 towns and cities have already called events as part of the National Day of Action Against Maximus on March 2nd.

Please help spread the word about events near you and join in, as organisers Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) say: “If there isn’t a protest where you live – why not organise one? – we can help you with advice, leaflet designs, placard designs and put you in contact with local groups near to you, if you are interested email us on mail@dpac.uk.net”

Have you been sanctioned by Maximus?  DPAC have also asked for people to contact them if with their experiences of attending the Work Programme or other forced work schemes with the company.

For all the latest details on the day of action visit: http://dpac.uk.net/2015/01/maximus-day-of-action-2nd-of-march-list-of-events-around-the-uk-scrapwca/

List if towns and cities so far …

Balham:  Irene House, 218 Balham High Road, Balham, London, SW12 9BX, Time: 10.30 am – 12 noon

Facebook events link for Balham action: https://facebook.com/events/921882261178305/

Brighton:  West Lees House, 21-35 Dyke Road, Brighton, BN1 3GD, (North End of the Clock Tower, Next to Old Job Centre.) Time: 1pm onwards.

Facebook events page for Brighton action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1542104427509/?fref=ts

Cardiff:  (This protest organised by DAN Cymru) Block 2, Government Buildings, St Agnes Road, Gabalfa, Cardiff, CF14 4YJ.  Time: 1 -4 pm

Facebook events page for Cardiff action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1541199339470550/

Croydon:  Stephenson House, 2 Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon, CR0 6BA, Time: 10 am – 6pm.

Facebook events page for Croydon action: https://www.facebook.com/events/641182419342826/

Glasgow:  Corunna House, 29 Cadogan Street, Glasgow, G2 7RD,  Time: 12.30 -2 pm

Facebook events page for Glasgow action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1429430507348206/

Ipswich: Medical Assessment Centre, St. Felix House, Silent Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 1TF.  Time: 1 pm onwards.

Facebook events page for Suffolk action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1513102252288548/

Lincoln:  Medical Assessment Centre, Viking House, 98 Newland, Time: 1 pm onwards

Facebook events page for Lincoln action: https://www.facebook.com/events178533808358604/

Leicester:  Leicester assessment centre, 1st Floor, Rytland Centre, Halford Street, Leicester, LE1 1TQ, Time: 1 pm onwards

Facebook events page for Leicester action: https://www.facebook.com/events/522105471264765/

London – Maximus HQ:  Maximus HQ Level 1, Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9BU,  Time: 1 – 5 pm

Contact for details of London Central action: DPAC via mail@dpac.uk.net

Facebook events page for London Central Action: https://www.facebook.com/events/771842739517758/

Manchester:  Albert Bridge House, Bridge Street, Manchester, M60 9AT, Time: 12 noon until 4 pm

Facebook events page for Manchester Action: https://www.facebook.com/events/346833825508275/

Plymouth:  Argosy House, Longfield Road, Plympton, Plymouth, PL6 8LS, Time: 12 noon until 3 pm

Facebook events page for Plymouth action: https://www.facebook.com/events/951081494902471/

Reading:  St Mary’s Butts, Reading, RG1 2LG, Time: 11 am – 1 pm

Facebook events page for Reading Action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1404292959867177/

Sheffield:  Medical Assessment Centre, 1 Hartshead Square, Sheffield, S1 2FD.  Time: 1- 3 pm (meet first at 12.30 pm at City centre)

Facebook events page for Sheffield Action: https://facebook.com/events/1526799147602672/

Truro:  Pydar House, Pydar Street, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 2XD (the current WCA Assessment Centre),  After a while spent there protest will move on to Truro City Centre outside the JobCentre Plus.  Time: Noon till 2pm

Facebook events page for Truro Action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1002956276384446/

And Online!

Visit DPAC for details of the online protest: http://dpac.uk.net/2015/02/social-media-events-for-the-day-of-action-against-maximus-2nd-march-scrapwca/

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No Statistics On Benefit Uptake Published In Five Years, What Have The DWP Got To Hide?

What the Institure for Fiscal Studies thought about scrapping statistics on benefit uptake rates

What the Institure for Fiscal Studies thought about scrapping statistics on benefit uptake rates

The DWP are trying to hide the truth about the collosal sums of benefits that go unclaimed by using endless statistical meddling as an excuse for no longer revealing this vital information.

Back in the days before the current government weren’t elected the DWP used to publish statistics on an annual basis showing the number of people who were eligible for a particular benefit but didn’t claim it.

The numbers were often used to embarrass the government by showing that far more people do not claim the benefits they are entitled to than falsely receive payments.  They showed for example, that in 2009/10 that the amount of  Jobseeker’s Allowance that went unclaimed was between £1.28 billion and £1.95 billion.  Housing Benefits were under-claimed by between £1.85 billion and £3.10 billion, whilst out of work sickness and disability benefits were under-claimed by anything from £0.75 billion up to £2.04 billion.

Unfortunately, these figures – which were published by the Tory administration but cover Labour’s last year in office – are the last we have.  In 2012, Iain Duncan Smith published a consultation on scrapping these statistics on the grounds that it would save some money and that no-one really cared anyway.  The response to the consultation was clear – some organisations cared very much indeed.  A host of think tanks, charities and academics condemned the plans and the DWP relented and agreed to continue publishing this information.  Or at least that’s what they said they would do.

Initially the department said they would publish the figures for 2010/11 and 2011/12 in February 2014 and then didn’t.  After four years of pretending to tinker with the statistical methods they were expected to finally publish the information this month.  But they aren’t doing that now either.  The latest news is that the statistics are “provisionally due to be published in May or June 2015″.  Which conveniently is after the general election.

So after five years of welfare reforms we will not know whether the brutal cuts have made any difference to the number of people who take up benefits.  We won’t find out whether sanctions and increased conditionality are driving people away from claiming unemployment benefits, or whether the vicious assessments for sickness and disability benefits are putting people off accessing the help they need when they are too ill to work.  We won’t know what the impact of Universal Credit has been, or the changes to Housing and Council Tax benefits.  We won’t know much very much at all, which is exactly what Iain Duncan Smith wants.  Anyone would think they’ve got something to hide.

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