Tag Archives: benefit claimants

DWP Ad Agency Launches Attack on Benefit Claimants

Advertising agency Iris, who won a lucrative contract with the Department of Work and Pensions to help launch changes to sickness and disability benefits, have produced an internal document portraying benefit claimants and disabled people as chavs, alcoholics and criminals.

Iris won the £2 million contract tohelp launch Employment Support Allowance back in 2008. The company has several other lucrative government contracts, most famously designing the creepy Wenlock and Mandeville Olympic mascots. They also count Argos as one of their major clients.

The document, called “Iris on Benefits”, features a series pf photographs such as the one above, to illustrate information about the company’s employee benefits schemes such as the page outlining maternity pay – which comes complete with a photograph of a young pregnant woman dressed in typical ‘chav’ attire, smoking a cigarette.

Other pictures show people swigging from bottles of cider, a man on a mobility scooter wearing a Burberry cap, and teenagers in baseball caps apparently running away from a Security Guard.

Perhaps most grotesque of all, the people in the photographs are the chinless Tarquins who actually work for the company. What fun that must have been for the privileged little wank stains: “let’s all dress up as poor people for the day, what absolutely wonderful spiffing fun, we can pretend to loot our cappuccinos from the patisserie”.

So proud were the ‘creatives’ who came up with the idea, that they even submitted what is an internal document to Campaign Magazine to show it off.

Whilst many in the advertising industry have condemned the company, including the blogger who initially published the photographs, others have revealed the true face of many in the coke addled advertising industry. When one commenter observes how this document reveals that people “who receive benefits are ‘fair game’ and how, to use Owen Jones’s phrase, the working class are demonized”, he is answered by Muz, allegedly posting with an Iris email, replies “I smell…(sniff sniff) Jealousy…”.

This blog has generally avoided the liberal outrage every time some twat of a comedian says something unpleasant on twitter. But this is very different. Despite all appearances to the contrary, Iris are not comedians. They are a major advertising agency given huge sums of government money. And this is how they spend it. That a company with such an unpleasant internal culture should win contracts to handle benefit changes, or the Olympic Games, perhaps says more about this and the last government’s attitude towards those with least than anything else. Well it also reveals that a lot of people who work in advertising are cunts. But then that’s not really news.

More of the pictures can be found here and here.

Iris are on twitter @irisworldwide and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/irisworldwide

Speaking of comedians, it’s interesting that Frankie Boyle, virtually alone amongst high profile celebrities, spent last week tweeting furiously to support the Atos protests. That he should be aware of the current brutal treatment of disabled people, but still thinks his jokes are a good idea, makes him a bit like some sleazy Bavarian comedian telling anti-semitic jokes in the Auschwitz staff bar.

Benefit Claimants Fighting Back

The Welfare Reform Bill is back in the Lords today which may yet result in some more tinkering with this desperate piece of legislation.  However the main thrust of the bill, enshrining as it does Universal Credit, benefits caps, mass health and disability testing programmes, workfare and the slashing of benefit for 20% of disabled people, is all firmly established and will become law.

That ermine clad  toffs had no more understanding of the intricacies of the benefits system then Oxbridge MPs is of little surprise.  Few, if any, would have any experience of signing on.  That’s how, based largely on rumour, prejudice, Daily Mail headlines and bad arithmetic, this car crash of a bill came about.  The very mechanisms it enshrines are already failing.  The Atos system of computer based health to tests to establish benefit eligibility is in a shambles, running 80% behind target whilst the appeals system is in melt down.  Major retailers, such as Sainsburys and Waterstones are pulling out of workfare, with more set to follow them.  DWP sources have claimed the idea that Universal Credit will be ready to roll out on time next year is ‘pie in the sky’.

It is in the implementation that this Bill will come apart at the seams, and that is where it has always been most vulnerable.  Eighteen months after the non-election of this government, the fight to save the Welfare State is just getting started  New groups are springing up around the UK to resist the all out assault on the very poorest and after over a year of action claimants aren’t going anywhere just because Cameron has bullied this Bill through the Lords.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) was formed after the 2010 anti-austerity protests outside the Conservative Party Conference and has been at the forefront of the struggle against the Welfare Reform Bill since the beginning.  Recently, along with UK Uncut and others, they helped bring traffic in the West End to a standstill for two hours after wheelchairs users chained themselves together and blocked Oxford Street.  More action has been promised, you can visit their website at: http://www.dpac.uk.net/ or find them on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/DPAC2011/

Also increasingly active, are the Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights, who attended at Oxford Street and have been involved in organising against welfare cuts in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool and Dundee.  They are on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/blacktriangle11?sk=info

Benefits Claimants Fightback began as a facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/116432071735566/) back when the onslaught against claimants first began under Labour and aims to be a meeting place and online organising tool for all benefit claimants.  A website of the same name attempts to keep track of action against benefit cuts at: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/

Boycott Workfare has organised actions and protests and is maintaining a register of organisations who refuse to support the government’s forced labour scheme.  The next action is on 3rd March which has been called as  a National Day of Action Against Workfare, with other resistance already planned in Liverpool and Brighton.  They have a new facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Workfare/222201111204955

A Boycott Workfare group has also been established in Birmingham, whilst last weekend Brighton Benefits Campaign held a picket of Poundland in protest at their use of workfare.  The word on the street is that Brighton Poundland will no longer be accepting workfare placements.  This shit works.  Brighton also has a DPAC group on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/BrightonDisabledPeopleAgainstCuts/

Other regional groups include the Crutch Collective in Glasgow who will be continuing their houding of the local Atos sharks with a picket outside their offices on Friday 17th February.  The long established Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty have organised countless protests and actions and have a wealth of information on their website at: http://edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/

Winvisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities) and Single Mother’s Self-Defence have long been involved in supporting claimants and organised the recent series of lobbies and vigils outside the Lords where the debate was taking place, as well as helping co-ordinating the joint letter to the BMJ and RCN expressing disgust at the activities of Atos Healthcare.

The Spartacus Report was compiled by disabled activists and highlighted the shoddy consultation and inhumane changes implicit in the move to Personal Independence Payments.  Several authors of the report blog at Diary of a Benefit Scrounger and they can be found on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/wearespartacus/

Also on facebook is the busy Disability Defence page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/#!/groups/disabilitydefence/  whilst After Atos Alliance provides support and discussion for victims of the Atos testing regime at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/afteratos/

Other groups on facebook opposing the benefit cuts include the Social Welfare Advocacy page at: http://www.facebook.com/SocialWelfareAdvocacy  and Respect for Unemployed and Benefit Claimants: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Respect-For-the-Unemployed-Benefit-Claimants/128136787240200

Elsewhere online, the Atos Register of Shame, DWP Examination, Work Programme and Watching A4e are just some websites keeping track of the assault on welfare and those, like A4e and Atos, who are making a fortune from the changes.

Pat’s Petition against the benefit cuts now has nearly 30,000 signatures, you can sign it at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968

Sol Fed, UK Uncut, Anarchist Federation and Right To Work are other groups that have been supportive and helped organise action, whilst support has come in the political press from Freedom, Schnews and the enduring Morning Star.  Union support has come from the PCS at national and branch level and the RMT.

It would be impossible to list all of the groups, websites and organisations involved in challenging the Welfare Reform Bill and vast apologies to all those that have been missed in this list.  Please post links in the comments to any and all groups fighting to retain a system where losing your job, becoming sick or disabled, having children, or being low waged, does not mean a life of poverty, homelessness and state harassment.

Please also share groups on facebook, post links to organisations, tweet and help make sure that every last one of the millions of claimants set to be devastated by the upcoming benefit changes has access to local support, and more importantly the chance to organise and take action.

We will not stop, we will not die, escalation is called for, let’s watch them crumble.

Benefit Claimant Fightback Begins – December 15th 2010

It’s starting small, embryonic even (as in going to get a lot fucking bigger) but the fight back against benefits cuts has begun.

A group of autonomous benefit claimants from around the country have called for a National Day of Protest Against Welfare & Housing Benefit Cuts on December 15th.  They call on all claimants, unemployed action groups, service users and service providers to organise protests in their area.

Suggestions have included sit ins at Civic Centres, Town Halls and MP constituency offices, mass sign ups to the housing register or why not call a Christmas party in your local Housing Benefit office.

London claimants will be attending the Housing Emergency Demonstration at Downing Street at 12.30pm, organised by newly formed Housing Emergency Coalition.  Bring cardboard and sleeping bags to create a cardboard city and then onto Trafalgar Square at 3pm for Christmas fun under the tree.

Rumours abound of events already being plotted in Edinburgh and possibly Brighton.  Please join the event page on facebook and help spread the word far and wide.  This is our first chance to say no to these cuts and warn we won’t pay for their crisis.

The students have shown the way, now it’s our turn.

Talking of students, they’ll be getting up close and personal with Lib Demmers at their London conference on Saturday whilst elsewhere activists will be visiting Top Shop’s flagship store at Oxford Circus.