May 142013
 

Wednesday 15th May, 9.30am

Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2A 2ll.

Please join us outside the Royal Courts of Justice to show solidarity and support to the claimants taking a challenge against the Government’s ‘Bedroom Tax’ that came into force on 1 April this year. The ten claims, made by a range of people affected by the Bedroom Tax, will be heard together over three days starting on Wednesday 15 May.

The ten claims, made by a range of people affected by the Bedroom Tax which came into force from 1st April this year, will be heard together over three days starting on Wednesday 15 May.

Jacqueline who has spina bifida is not able to share a bed with her husband and as there is not enough space in her bedroom for a second bed he sleeps in a second bedroom. The couple have been awarded a Discretionary Housing Payment to cover the 14% under-occupation penalty on their housing benefit that came in from 1st April but this payment will only last 6 months and they do not know how they will meet their rent when it ends.

Richard is a wheelchair user whose disabled stepdaughter lives in university halls of residence during term time. He uses his third bedroom to store equipment including a hoist, power chair and shower seat. He has had his housing benefit reduced by 25%, on the basis that he is under-occupying by two bedrooms but there are no suitably adapted properties for him to move to in either the social rented or the private sector.

The challenge comes less than a week after the Sunday People told the story of how disabled mother Stephanie Bottrill tragically took her own life after being ordered to pay an extra £20 per week under the government’s vicious bedroom tax.

The vigil is being called by Camden United for Benefit Justice, Disabled People Against Cuts, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Taxpayers Against Poverty, and WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities).

For more information about the hearing:

http://wearespartacus.org.uk/bedroom-tax-hearing-starts-15-may/

http://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2013/March-2013/Government-lose-Bedroom-Tax-challenge-decision

 

 

May 132013
 

DEFEND LONDON’S NHS

●Save Our Hospitals

●No to Privatisation

DEMONSTRATION

SATURDAY 18 MAY

12 noon Jubilee Gardens, Waterloo

Belvedere Rd, SE1

Join BAPS contingent:

Meet 10:30 for 11 set off, outside Finchley Central tube station

OR

Watch out for Barnet Alliance banner in the assembly point, Jubilee Gardens.

Appeal from the organisers:

PLEASE HELP IN THE FINAL WEEK!

DEFEND LONDON’S NHS DEMONSTRATION 

SATURDAY 18 MAY 12 noon

Belvedere Road, Waterloo SE1

 

REMINDER 

LONDON COORDINATING MEETING  + DISCUSSION ABOUT WHAT NEXT

TUESDAY 14 MAY 6.30pm

Camden Town Hall Judd St WC1 (Kings X Tube)

 

LATEST SUPPORT FOR DEMO 

Includes London Regions of Unison and RCN 

See full list here:      http://defendlondonsnhs.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/events/121307804726666/?notif_t=plan_user_joined

 

LEAFLETS, POSTERS & POSTCARDS

There are still some postcards to publicise the demonstration available. You can also download black and white leaflets and posters here:

A5 Leaflet

http://defendlondonsnhs.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/18_may_bw-a5-updated-pdf.pdf

A3 Poster

http://defendlondonsnhs.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/18_may_poster_bw.pdf

 

STEWARDS URGENTLY NEEDED

If you or your group can volunteer as stewards please let us know as soon as possible.

Please can stewards meet at 10:30am at Concert Hall Approach SE1 

 

CAN YOU HELP MAKE PLACARDS?

Please let us know if you could help make placards on Wednesday or Thursday 15/16 May.

 

PRESS

Can you get your local papers to cover the demonstration?

Do you have any local patients or others who it would be good to include in a London press release?

 

DONATIONS STILL URGENTLY NEEDED

We have managed to pay for the postcards through donations, but would like to be able to print posters, make  placards and hire a bus, so please do make a donation if you haven’t already.

Please send cheques to Camden Keep Our NHS Public c/o 32 Savernake Road, NW3 2JP

 

More information from   http://defendlondonsnhs.wordpress.com/  and www.keepournhspublic.com

* * *

REMINDERS:

Tuesday 14 May 2013, 6:30 pm, Greek Cypriot Centre, Britannia Road N12 9RU

FREE Recruitment & Fundraising training, by an experienced trainer – ALL WELCOME

* * *

Tuesday 21 May 2013, 7-9 pm, Greek Cypriot Centre, Britannia Road N12 9RU

Public Meeting: BARNET NHS UNDER THREAT?

Speakers include:

David Lawrence & Anne Summers from The Nationsl Health Action Party (NHAP)

Linda Peanberg King (38 Degrees)

John Morton, Chief Operating Officer, Barnet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

Dr Onkar Sahota (GP & Save our Hospitals)

NEW:

Saturday 1st June, 2-5 pm, Larches House,  1 Rectory Lane, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 7LF

FREE Public Speaking training, by a professional trainer – ALL WELCOME

 

Follow @BarnetAlliance

barnetalliance.org

 

May 132013
 

What councils don’t tell you about the enforcement of council tax. 

Millions of people who do not pay the council tax now will be charged 8.5% to 30% from the 1st April. Millions will not be able to afford it; councils knew that when they made those irrational decisions.

Councils will not tell you;

1. That they have the discretion to write off the tax for vulnerable and impoverished people  under clause 10 (1) 13A (1) of the Local Government Finance Act 2012. It is necessary for the council tax benefit claimant to write a letter to the council setting out their financial circumstances, all debts, and all relevant information such  as health/disability. Payment of the bedroom tax, rent due to the overall benefit tax and the rent due to the housing benefit tax would be relevant.

2. That the bottom line is the income left after rent and council tax needed for food,  fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities; that has to be a reasonable amount if councils (and jobcentres) abide by the Wednesbury Principles as required by law and endorsed by coalition ministers.

3.That page 9 of the National Standards for Enforcement Agents, published by the Ministry of Justice in 2012,  sets out a procedure for bailiffs to return vulnerable cases from the door step to all creditors, including councils for council tax and courts for fines. A change of circumstances since the debt, fine or council tax arrears were incurred is another reason for applying page 9 procedure.

4. That Ministers from the DWP, the DCLG and the MOJ all stated during the passage of the Acts of Parliament, which are creating such misery, how concerned they were for vulnerable people; see their statements as recorded in Hansard in the attached file. Councils and Jobcentres should be reminded that is the coalitions policy; even though crocodile’s tears come to mind.

The details are on the TAP website on this PDF

ENFORCEMENT OF ARREARS, OVERPAYMENTS AND FINES IN THE WAKE OF WELFARE REFORM AND IN THE CONTEXT OF AUSTERITY. (1)

  Rev Paul Nicolson

Taxpayers Against Poverty

93 Campbell Road,
Tottenham,
London N17 0BF
0208 3765455
07961 177889
also at www.z2k.org

 

 Posted by at 19:48
May 122013
 

Grandmother Stephanie Bottrill was forced by this Government to find £20 a week that she didn’t have for the bedroom tax. She had lived in her terrace house for 18 years. Last Saturday she left her home for the last time to walk to Junction 4 of the M6 where she walked out in front of lorry- she was killed instantly. She is the first known suicide to result from the heinous bedroom tax imposed by the Tories. She left notes for her family in which she said: don’t blame yourselves, blame this government. Days before her death she told neighbours ‘I can’t afford to live anymore’. Read more of this harrowing story at http://www.cantpaywontpay.org/publish/?p=2655

A deputy head of a London school wrote to the DWP asking if they knew about the effects that sanctions were having. She described children who hadn’t eaten, children fainting from hunger, children unable to attend school because they did not have shoes.

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/dear-department-for-work-and-pensions/

This is 21st century Britain; a place where the suicides and premature deaths from the DWP and Governments regimes are increasing with alarming speed; a place where people are unable to feed their children or their selves.

On the day Stephanie’s tragic story was exposed by the Mirror, the Benefits Justice Summit2 was happening in London. The second of two successful summits and a model that has been replicated in local areas for a ‘fight back’ to this attack on disabled people and people on low incomes by the multi-millionaires and corporate companies running this country. A country that is the sixth richest in the world, but one which sees no end to the demonization and increasing desperation and destitution of ordinary people like Stephanie and many others. We cannot allow this any longer, we must all join together to fight these horrendous attacks on ordinary people!

May 082013
 
TURN UP THE HEAT ON BRITISH GAS: PROTEST AT THE BRITISH GAS AGM
When? Monday 13th May, from 1pm
Where? Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London, SW1P 3EE
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/Vf1rI
On Monday 13th May, Centrica – parent company of British Gas – are holding their 2013 AGM.
British Gas bosses and shareholders will be planning to pat themselves on the back after another year of soaring profits. We’re planning to turn their AGM into a public embarrassment.
While shareholder activists from Fuel Poverty Action, the Greater London Pensioners’ Association and Disabled People Against Cuts will be speaking out inside the AGM, we’d like you to join us for a protest outside.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH BRITISH GAS?
>> British Gas are making a killing from annual energy bill price hikes. British Gas bosses earn multi-million pound payouts every year on the backs of the millions of us forced to choose between heating and eating. Pensioners and disabled people are among the worst affected.
>> British Gas are buying off ministers to ensure that energy policy prioritises their profits over the public interest.
>> British Gas are lobbying for a new generation of dirty and expensive gas power stations instead of cheaper, clean renewable energy.
TURN UP THE HEAT…
Join us outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster from 1pm. Bring banners and placards and come along to speak out against British Gas and the impact of their profiteering on our lives.
Community owned renewable energy and mass investment in insulation and energy efficiency would bring down bills, keep our homes warm, tackle climate change and put power back in people’s hands.
There are alternatives, but Big Six bullies like British Gas are getting in the way. They’ve got the government in their pockets, so it’s down to us to turn up the heat…
FIND OUT MORE
@FuelPovAction
Facebook.com/fuelpovertyaction
07586 482 157

 

 Posted by at 21:25
May 062013
 

Adding Insult to injury
The majority of disabled people, whether service users or not, are unlikely to know that this event is taking place. The fact it is ‘about them’ rather than an event seeking to involve them perhaps gives us the clearest message yet regarding the utter disregard the Coalition government has for the rights of disabled people. Sadly, with the shadow spokesperson on disability issues also participating in this patronising farce, it would seem we have a tri-partisan approach to displaying disabled people and service provision in the brave new ‘market place’. Every aspect of this National Disabilities Conference stink to high heaven – ideologically and politically – it adds insult to injury by stealing the language and concepts of the Disabled People’s Movement and transforming them into tools that will assist in the dismantling of the Welfare State.
Janus politics – creating a new culture of social exclusion
On the agenda are issues such as employment, independent living and disability hate crime, however, none of these subjects are likely to be discussed in the context of current government policies; policies that have contributed to disabled workers losing jobs, done nothing to challenge disabling barriers in the labour market, resulted in claimants losing benefits and many severely impaired people having their services reduced or removed. How can there be a discussion on independent living against a backdrop of the closure of the Independent Living Fund? How can people listen to a presentation on Disability Hate Crime and not round upon the role played by the Department of Works and Pensions in feeding material to fuel the ‘scroungers’ agenda? The answer is these issues will be discussed in terms of ‘opportunities’ – providing workfare programmes, making money by providing services within the voluntary and private sectors or increasing marketization in the public sector.
Since the mid-1990s we have seen the development of Janus politics where disability charities, parts of the voluntary sector and certain disabled people’s organisations have launched a new Disability Movement that speaks of rights on the one hand, whilst seeking to serve the neoliberal agenda on the other. The NDC is populated by individuals and organisations who want to foster the Big Society and buy a piece of the action as the services are hived off – it is an auction and disabled people’s lives will be placed under the hammer.
Nothing about us – without us!
This Conference employs patronage and an oppressive methodology. The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Disabled People advocates self-determination – nothing about us without us – yet, the blurb for the NDC is clearly at odds with the methodology that underpins the Convention because it portrays disabled people as passive receivers of ‘care’. Consider the following:
This event will provide delegates with the opportunity to debate and discuss the key issues around supporting disabled people across the UK. With key speakers, high level policy makers & drivers and important stakeholders present, this event is one not to be missed.

Add to this statement, the central purpose of the event:

Network with peers from across the health, work, crime and academic sectors, as well as stakeholders for central and local government. Just in case you are still unconvinced by the social exclusion of disabled people from this “Disabilities” event, take a close look at the Delegate price list: 1. Private £470 + VAT
2. Central Government £420 + VAT
3. Local Government £370 + VAT
4. NHS/Emergency Services/Police £350 + VAT
5. Third Sector/Charity £320 + VAT
6. Academic £350 + VAT
7. Trade Association £325 + VAT

Can you imagine the shock among disabled people who have come across this Conference and its agenda? Disabled activists fighting the austerity measures and promoting disability politics are being encouraged to take a stand against this Conference because it upholds everything the Disabled People’s Movement has fought against for the last forty years. The NDC 2013 epitomises the very essence of Janus politics by employing a dependency model approach to those sick and disabled people cast in the role of ‘deserving of care’ and a phoney ‘rights approach’ to those considered ‘lazy and workshy’ – in the words of Iain Duncan Smith, “….a hand up and not a hand out.” The Conference therefore can be seen as a watershed; it sets out the market stall for future government policies and draws a line in the sand vis-à-vis any progressive steps towards inclusive practices or the equalisation of opportunities for disabled people.
Protest and Resist
It is time to say enough is enough to this sheer hypocrisy; time to defend our struggle for emancipation against the patronising service providers who seek to exploit us and keep us dependent upon them; now is the time to demand Esther McVey sticks her disablist policies where the sun fails to shine!
There will be those who will fail to see what the fuss is all about; it is only a conference. The truth is the NDC is more than a conference; it is the first glimpse of a route map that will take us away from building an inclusive society and towards further marketisation, social exclusion, poverty and greater exploitation of both disabled people and those who work alongside them. It is vital to see this conference as yet another ideological and political attack on disabled people’s rights and welfare. We cannot afford to how the NDC to go ahead unchallenged.

Bob Williams-Findlay, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts and member of the Social Work Action Network steering committee.
May 2013

update: cartoons by Dave Lupton aka Crippen

 Posted by at 17:32  Tagged with: , , ,