As Homelessness Soars Number Of Empty Homes In London Hits Seven Year High

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London doesn’t have a housing problem it has a rich people problem.  Despite soaring homelessness in the capital, figures recently released by the government show that the number of homes left empty in the city has risen for the first time since 2009.

There are currently 59,881 empty homes in London.  That is enough to house everybody currently living in emergency temporary accommodation in the city  – and everyone sleeping on the streets.  20,000 of these properties have been empty over two years.  These are not second homes, properties which are rented out or homes used for holidays.  They are empty, abandoned in some cases, or more often deliberately left vacant as investment opportunities.

It is this that is likely to be the reason the number of empty homes is rising in the capital but falling everywhere else in the UK.  Luxury penthouses built not for living in, just for making money out of.  These cunts are so rich they can’t even be bothered to rent out the properties they own – they just sit back and profit as house prices soar.  Or at least they did.  The party may soon be over with central London house prices now starting to fall.

This is the legacy of Boris Johnson.  A capital city remade as a grotesque monument to capital.  The real people of London forced out, or condemned to a life on the margins whilst billionaires built their own corporate Disneyland.  A sterile landscape of glass and steel now dominates the city whilst once beautifully chaotic streets are overrun with chain stores and wacky trust fund businesses selling bowls of cereal for a fucking fiver.  There is no place for human life in this city at all.  It is just a place that money lives now.

An army of security guards stalk the privatised city streets handing out fines to kids playing football or folk enjoying a quiet beer in the park.  Racist cops ruthlessly shut down working class culture wherever they find it, even banning clubs from playing music they don’t like.  Uniformed filth carrying machine guns glare at people on the public transport system.  Occassionally they shoot someone.  The message is stark and clear.  This is not our city anymore, this is a giant bank where the crooks of the world can store their wealth.  And so we must be constantly policed, always watched in case we present a threat to the pampered lifestyles of the wealthy minority.

According to charities the number of people who slept rough on the streets of London this winter rose by 15% in just one year to 2,561.  Beneath the glitzy facade poverty stalks the city. Bodies huddle in shop doorways whilst champagne glasses clink in restaurants where a meal costs more than a week’s wages.  Children go hungry in grotty hostels beneath empty shyscrapers where the flats cost millions of pounds yet no-one lives there.  This is what Boris has created.  A ghost-town in sky that has shut out the city’s light.

Quietly though, everywhere, people are organising.  Thousands of people whose homes are under threat grow more militant everyday.  Students are on rent strike across the capital.  Towards the end of the 2011 riots a mob headed towards Notting Hill and Sloane Square, smashing up designer shops and attacking restaurants.  Unlicenced and boisterous street parties are shaking the newly gentrified enclaves that once belonged to the working class.  Tenants facing eviction are barricading themselves in their homes.

Direct action, disruption and outright defiance are the weapons of choice, not petitions, or voting, or boring marches.  Everyone knows now who is too blame and where they live.  A reckoning is surely coming.  Be ready.

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Who Will Be Hit By Benefit Cap? People Like Stephen Crabbs’ Own Mother

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An estimate of Stephen Crabb’s mother’s benefit claim were she raising children today.

New Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb would have faced possible homelessness and desperate poverty as a child if the benefit reforms he is introducing had been in place.

Savage new rules due to come into force in Autumn will slash social security to £20,000 a year for parents unable to work due to unemployment, sickness,  disability* or caring responsibilities.   This will leave many struggling families with just a few pounds a week to feed their children after eye-watering rents have been paid.  According to Crabb the caps on benefits are necessary to avoid ‘sky high’ payments and will incentivise single parents – even those with newly born babies – to get a job.  Yet the people who will suffer most from this cut will be lone parents just like his own mother.

Crabb has been all too happy to drag his family’s traumatic past into the spotlight when it serves his political needs.  He has spoken at length of the poverty his mother suffered when – in his words – she became “welfare dependent”.  In an interview with The Spectator he even admits to truanting from school so he could work on a farm to buy some trainers.  This was around the time his hero Margaret Thatcher claimed that “people who are living in need are fully and properly provided for”.  So fuck knows what he’s complaining about.  Perhaps he thinks children should have to work on farms so they can afford shoes.

Crabb says he was just 8 years old when his mother left a violent relationship with his father and took him and his two brothers to Scotland where they stayed in a spare room in his grandparent’s council property.  Of course this was before the Bedroom Tax intended to stop council tenants from having an extra room that extended families or grandchildren could stay in.  And this is far from the only protection that Crabb’s mother relied on that has been brutally dismantled by the current Tory government.

After returning from Scotland, Crabb’s mother was able to secure a council property in Haverdfordwest, the area of Pembrokeshire they had previously fled from.  Today chronic social housing shortages would leave Crabb’s mother abandoned to the far more expensive and insecure private rented sector – assuming she wasn’t forced into homelessness and sub-standard temporary accommodation.

The Tory government has already slashed housing benefit payments for private sector tenants by introducing  a four year freeze on payments regardless of how much rents rise.  They also introduced new rules to ensure that housing benefits would only cover the cheapest 30% of properties in the local area.  Whilst rents in Haverfordwest are far lower than many parts of the UK, a search of one of the largest property websites reveals there are only two 3 bedroom flats in the area which have rents low enough to be met by the £120.83 a week housing benefit rate for the town.

Her problems would not end there.  According to the government’s recommended benefits calculator an unemployed lone parent with three children would currently be entitled to £413 a week (plus Council Tax Support) in Haverfordwest .  This is too much according to Crabb who seems to be relishing the chance to lower the benefit cap to just £384.55 a week.  That’s nearly £30 quid a week Crabb is taking from people just like his own mother.

This is the reality of the modern Tory Party.  They are only too happy to take when it suits them.  Look at the number of Oxbridge MPs whose elite university education was paid for by the tax payer.  But they don’t want anyone else to have it.  The horrifying truth is that it is people exactly like Crabb’s mother who have been attacked over and over again by vicous social security reforms.  That doesn’t mean life wasn’t bleak in the 1980s for those on benefits.  But the toxic combination of housing shortages, benefit sanctions, workfare and successive cuts, caps and freezes to child benefits mean that many lone parents today face complete destitution.  And it’s about to get much worse.

If even mid size families in low rent South Wales are to be hit by the cap, the situation in many cities will be even more dire.  A family with three kids in Bristol –  assuming they can find a property at the local housing allowance rate – will be left with just over £200 a week.  In Brighton they will have just £154 a week.  In Hackney, in spite of the cap being slightly higher in London, they will be left with £88 – just £2.50 per person per day.  This will be Stephen Crabb’s legacy.  The re-introduction of poverty not seen in generations into the UK.

*The government are claming disabled people are exempt from the cap.  This is a lie, only the most severely disabled people are exempt.  Many claimants, including those with serious conditions such as cancer, MS or Parkinson’s Disease will be affected.

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Universal Credit Will Be Worse Than Tax Credits Says Think Tank Run By Tory

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How Universal Credit won’t make work pay for many (click to enlarge)

The DWP is attempting a defence of Universal Credit as criticism of the bungled reforms to the social security system grow ever louder.

The Resolution Foundation, a think-tank run by a former Tory minister, have slammed Universal Credit today warning that it will no longer make work pay for many claimants due to savage cuts.  According to a report published by the group the changes to the benefit’s system will “on balance be less generous than the tax credit system for working families”.   Those hardest hit are likely to be second earners and working lone parents.  These impacts will still be felt despite the rise in the minimum wage and cuts to income tax.  This will leave a suspicion that Universal Credit has become “a simple exercise in cost cutting” warns the organisation.

Making work pay was the official reason for Iain Duncan Smith’s sweeping changes to the social security system.  The original plans for the reform did indicate that many of those in work would receive a small rise in income – particularly those working a small number of hours per week. Then along came George Osborne who realised that widescale changes to social security were an opportunity to disguise the most savage cuts to the working poor’s benefits in decades.  And so the amount of money that people will receive when Universal Credit is finally introduced has been stealthily cut away to the point where it is now less generous than the current system.  As such the carrot – the term used by wankers who work in think tanks to mean any improvements in benefit levels – has disappeared.  Universal Credit now is just a big fucking stick designed to beat the poor into a lifetime of low paid endless toil.

The Resolution Foundation’s report acknowledges this saying ominously that  the success of Universal Credit now rests on the shoulders of ‘in-work conditionality’.  This is the elaborate system of benefit sanctions and Jobcentre harassment that is about to be inflicted on part time workers to force them to constantly seek to obtain more, or better paid work.  The implications are chilling.  It will no longer matter that you are working already.  It will not even matter if the job the Jobcentre wants you to take will make you worse off.  You will have no choice.  Do what your Work Coach tells you, or face benefit sanctions.  This system is already being piloted in some parts of the UK with devastating results.

Until now much of the DWP’s strategy has been based on the warped concept that unemployed people are responsible for unemployment.  And so they claim Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal welfare reforms worked, unemployment is currently relatively low. All those sanctions, the lives demolished, soaring homelessness, the deaths, have all been worth it.  This is ‘tough love’.  Sure some people die but for everyone else, well they get a job in Poudland on the minimum wage.

But even this horrifying mirage is untrue.  When the Tory government weren’t elected back in May 2010 the UK was emerging from a bleak recession and unemployment was high.  When growth returned, however slight, the jobs market picked up. It had nothing to do with Iain Duncan Smith’s endless crazy schemes, it’s just what hopefully happens after a recession.  If it hadn’t former millionaires would be stabbing each other over tins of tuna by now.

It’s there that the good news ends however.  Much of the rise in employment has been due to part time or temporary work and an increase in self-employment.  The number of working households claiming Housing Benefits because of low pay has doubled to over a million in the last six years.  That’s why the government are turning their attention to working benefit claimants.  So now it is not just that unemployed people are responsible for unemployment, but those who are low paid are also to blame for getting shit wages.

The Resolution Foundation say that simply harassing part time workers to get a second job will not be enough to ensure the success of Universal Credit as even the recently increased minimum wage will not provide a genuine living wage for most.  Instead they are calling for measures to be introduced to ‘help’ people earn more, although they suggest these should be outside of a conditionality regime.  The report notes that in some sectors, such as care or retail, almost half the workforce are paid at the level of the new minimum wage. Even if these people are working full time they will still need benefits to survive and so they must be encouraged to earn more says the report.

It is here that this think-tank stops thinking.  Just like the DWP they seem to believe that all of these low paying jobs would magically disappear if people stopped being so unaspirational.  That we could all have fantastic full time jobs with generous salaries and free fucking vol-au-vents everyday like think-tank workers do.  It is a middle class fantasy that assumes capitalism would be so nice for everyone if only the poor would just stop being so poor. Everyone can do a non-job and sit at a desk all day for thirty grand a year if they try hard enough.  The bins will empty themselves after all.

It does not take much to find the truth behind this happy clappy facade.  Whilst the DWP gushingly announce to claimants that Universal Credit will help them earn more money they are telling bosses that the new system will allow them to fill ‘any job’ and help manage the ‘peaks and troughs’ of their business.  That it will help employers “identify opportunities for flexible working” and increase competition for vacancies.  That does not sound like a reform intended to help workers raise their wages or increase job security.  The Resolution Foundation are wrong, and they know it.  They are simply too committed themselves to half-baked ideology that blames the poor for their plight to call for the obvious solution to the problems they raise in their report.

Universal Credit should be scrapped, tomorrow.  It has barely even been implemented anyway.  There is no computer system currently capable of handling the scale and variety of claims it will need to process, just a trial going on in a couple of Jobcentres.  Only the simplest claims, single newly unemployed people without kids, are currently being asked to claim Univeral Credit in most parts of the country and these are being administered in almost the exact same way as current unemployment benefits.  As one DWP insider put it, “it’s still exactly the same just under a different name.“

Iain Duncan Smith has gone and good fucking riddance.  Now is the perfect time to end this shambles.  Don’t hold your breath though, new Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb is a dick.  Worse, he’s an ambitious dick without the brains to back it up.  The financial security of millions of people now lies in the hands of some God-bothering chipmonk who once saw an episode of The Office and decided that David Brent would make a good role model.  We’re fucked.  Nothing left to lose and might as well have a revolution fucked.  Start buying tins of tuna.  And pitchforks.

Still for now at least we can trash the DWP’s facebook campaign singing the praises of Universal Credit.

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Sell! Sell! Sell! Join The Fuck Parade And Let’s Burst The London Housing Bubble

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London is currently a giant building site.  Wherever you go new developments, in identikit glass and steel, snake up towards the skies, blotting the light, and the life, out of the capital.

Nobody normal can afford to live in these so-called luxury apartments – so-called because they are being built on the cheap as quickly as possible.  You wouldn’t know that from the price however – even modest flats in the poshest postcodes can cost a million pounds or more.  According to the Financial Times there are around 50,000 properties planned or under construction in this price range as every last brick in the city is turned into an investment opportunity.  The losses to the capital’s history and culture are incalcuable.  The end of Tin Pan Alley, once the heart of London’s music industry.  The destruction of Soho’s gay scene.  Half of Camden Market flogged off to a dodgy developer to build high price flats.  London’s skyline damaged beyind repair.  And, most tragically of all, the mass social cleansing of every working class area of London. Pubs, markets, community centres and libraries all gone to make way for the global super rich.  If you are on a low or even moderate income, and stuck in the cut-throat private sector, then you’ve probably left already.  If you are in social housing, hold tight, they are coming for the council estates as well.

But there are signs that the feeding frenzy is coming to an end.  There may well be 50,000 high value properties on the way, but as the FT also points out, just 3,900 homes costing more than £1m were sold in central London in 2014.  The villains at Foxton’s have recently announced falling profits whilst financial experts are warning openly of a crash.  And the Office for National Statistics recently revised how house price statistics are calculated which resulted in a shock fall in London’s prices between January and February this year.

Now is the time to send a message to every pampered hipster, spiv banker, property developer and global billionaire that we do not want you in our fucking city.  Let’s crash their party and their market.  Rage against horrifying inequality in the capital grows ever fiercer and it is the rich who are becoming the targets.  There have always been consequences when the decadence of the upper classes becomes too visible or obscene, and there is an obscenity taking place in London right now.  It’s time to make them feel unwelcome.  To let them be the frightened ones for a change.  To take the class war to their fucking front doors just like they have done to us.  The battle of the capital is just getting started.  Don’t be late.

The fourth London Fuck Parade will take place on May 1st.  This boisterous anti-gentrification street party made headlines around the world last time.  The parade starts at One Commercial Street, Aldgate East, London E1 7PT at 6pm.  For the latest news visit the website at: https://fuckparade.wordpress.com/

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Vile Tory Who Referred To Scummy Housing Estates To Speak At Workfare Industry’s Annual Meeting

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Pub bore rants for hire, Fraser Nelson will speak at the workfare industry’s AGM.

A hard right magazine editor who once referred to ‘scummy’ Scottish social housing estates and cheered unemployed people being forced to sleep under a bridge has been invited to be to keynote speaker at the latest tax-payer funded skive for welfare-to-work bosses.

Fraser Nelson, who oversees the pub bore rants published in The Spectator, will be speak at the annual general meeting of the Employment Related Services Asscoiation (ERSA), the trade body established to lie on behalf of the workfare industry.  Nelson is an avid supporter of coercing people to work without pay and once claimed that those sent to sleep under a bridge before being used as unpaid stewards at the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations were being given an opportunity to show they were ‘dutiful’ workers.  According to Nelson forcing ‘suspected malingerers’ to work in return for benefit payments is ‘tough love’.  So tough, in fact, that it can kill, as the growing number of deaths linked to benefit sanctions and welfare reform reveals.

Nelson has previously faced protests after referring to the Glasgow districts of Castlemilk and Easterhouse as “beautiful names, scummy estates”.  When called on to justify these comments he launched into in a vile tirade about “drug-addled welfare ghettoes” where children play around broken vodka bottles and pubs were boarded up to save them from attack.

Nelson’s invitation to speak at ERSA’s annual meeting is a new low for the welfare-to-work sector that often attempts to hide behind a mask of caring for the poorest whilst demolishing their lives with forced work and benefit sanctions.  But with Iain Duncan Smith’s spending spree coming to an abrupt end the workfare industry will need hacks like Nelson to ramp up the rhetoric to justify ever more government spending to persecute unemployed and disabled people.  He will be happy to oblige.  Despite reams of evidence that unpaid work has little or no value in helping people into sustainable jobs and risks driving people into desperate poverty there are few bigger workfare cheerleaders than Fraser Nelson.

The event is being held this Wednesday at the swanky London offices of top law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, an understandable choice for the fraud ridden welfare-to-work industry. Keep your Tory friends close, but keep the lawyers even closer.

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A New Direction From Crabb And The DWP: Outright Fucking Lies

crabb-resignUnemployment has risen in the last three months but you wouldn’t know that from today’s gushing press release from the Stephen Crabb and the DWP.

There were 21,000 more unemployed people in the latest period and, in further bad news for the government, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by just under 7000.  Neither of these key facts are mentioned on the DWP websites and it is only by digging into the Labour Market Release produced by the Office for National Statistics that this information is available.

Previously the DWP has sulkily acknowledged any rise in unemployment whilst pointing out how wonderful everything else is.  The truth is that the Labour Market Statistics contain a huge amount of information and normal fluctuations within the figures mean that they can usually be cherry-picked for both good and bad news.  Stephen Crabb does just that today by claiming that a small fall in the number of people who are economically inactive is a huge triumph.  This by the way is always a sign of desperation.  A fall in economic inactivity can mean a massive amount of things, from variations in the number of those who are long term sick to a drop in the number of people taking early retirement.  In the latest figures it largely represents a fall in the number of students and of those taking time from work to look after the family home.

Crabb is also celebrating a tiny rise in the total number of people with jobs with the DWP claiming this is driven by those entering full time work.  But even this is hugely misleading.  Population increases combined with a just about growing economy mean that there are almost always more people in work than ever before.  The question is whether the rise in the number of jobs is keeping pace with growth in the working age population.  This month that didnt happen.  The number of working age people rose by 27,000 in the latest three month period, but the working population grew by just 22,000.  And whilst there was an increase in full time work as Crabb claimed, this was only amongst those who are self-employed.  The number of people working full time for an employer fell by 34,000.

These figures don’t matter much unless we see them repeated over the coming months.  What is critical is the way they were, or in most cases werent announced by the government.  Departmental communications are bound by rules intended to ensure both impartiality and objectivity. Yet today’s press release from the DWP was an attempt to deliberately mislead the public about the true state of the UK’s labour market and that’s called lying.  Even Iain Duncan Smith didn’t try and pull this sort of shit.  Not that often anyway.  Stephen Crabb is moving in a dangerous direction.  Don’t believe a fucking word he says.

Image above from the recent protest in Wales calling on Crabb to resign from his local Mencap branch over supporting cuts to disabled people’s benefits.

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How The Welfare To Work Industry Is Ripping Off The Tax Payer #esday16

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Snouts in the trough, just another busy day at the offices of a welfare to work provider.

The way the welfare to work industry scam works is simple.  The real profit in lucrative government contracts to ‘help’ people back into work is not made supporting the most marginalised benefit claimants or providing quality training.  The money comes from finding those who would have got jobs anyway and then claiming huge job outcome fees when they secure employment.

Sometimes the welfare to work company doesn’t have to do anything at all.  Leaked documents from the fraud ridden A4e even instructed their staff on how to claim job outcome payments when someone referred to the Work Programme found work themselves before they had even started on the scheme.  A4e in this case would have done nothing at all other than persuading someone to sign a piece of paper to say they had started on the Work Programme.  Bribes are often used to secure signatures like these.  With job outcome payments as high as £13,000 it is well worth slipping someone £50 in clothing vouchers or for travel expenses.  It is not unknown for welfare to work bosses to ask staff to quiz friends and family to see if anyone they know is on benefits and likely to find work soon.  Welfare to work companies are far more concerned with finding the lucrative ‘job ready’ participants than they are in helping those struggling to find work.

Of course even the so-called job ready pay a price.  The welfare-to-work sector seeks to destroy aspiration by mandating people into low paid, low quality work as quickly as possible.  Benefit sanctions are used to enforce compliance.  Many people, especially the young, have even been forced to give up college courses and instead attend welfare-to-work companies where they will be bullied into the first shitty job that comes along.  This is why the welfare-to-work sector does not provide any real training beyond the odd session on how to write a CV and happy clappy motivational workshops.  They are not acting with the interests of unemployed people in mind, but their own profits.  The pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo that now dominates the sector is intended to encourage people to give up their dreams and instead take the first job available.  That’s how welfare-to-work companies make money.

If the most employable are deskilled and demoralised, the situation is even worse for those deemed ‘furthest from the labour market’.  If they are lucky they will be ‘parked’, meaning largely abandoned and left to their own devices.  More commonly however this group will be relentlessly bullied with workfare and ever more condionality intended to pummel them into being profitable.  Bored welfare to work staff, often riddled with nasty little prejudices about unemployed people, take out their frustration on those who might be homeless, or have a mental health condition.  They are sanctioned, repeatedly and sometimes to death, as a message to everybody else what might happen if you don’t do what you’re told.

The welfare-to-work industry has been given billions of pounds of tax payer’s money over the years to operate what is little more than a giant benefit scam.  Prior to the launch of Tony Blair’s New Deal, the sector did not even exist yet unemployed people still managed to find jobs without any help at all from a Work Programme busy-body.  But the government’s intention in funding the sector is not about finding unemployed people jobs.  Welfare-to-work, and workfare, benefit sanctions and all the human misery that comes with them, are  firstly about establishing the workhouse principle of ‘less eligibility’.  This means ensuring that the life of an unemployed person is ‘less eligible’ or more shit, than the life of the lowest paid worker.  It is intended not just to punish the poor but impose workplace dicipline in everybody else.  And this is the second function of welfare-to-work.  It is the PR wing of capital, encouraging and enforcing people to work in shit jobs, to never complain, to not ask for more and accept the life of low paid drudgery that makes those we work for so rich.

Today the welfare-to-work industry has been trying to drum up publicity by holding an Employability Day.  There’s still time to join in.  They claim to want to show the impact of the sector on communities, inviting MPs and councillors into their premises in the hope of yet more tax payer’s money.  So tell the truth about the real activities of this vile bunch of poverty profiteers on twitter using hashtag #esday16 or using this handy tweetlist: http://dftr.org.uk/Songbird.php?TweetFile=ESDay16

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