With thanks for reblog to Johnny Void
Big Disability Rides To The Rescue With Too Little Much Too Late
In an unprecedented show of absolutely fuck all, members of the Disability Benefits Consortium – which includes some of the UK’s largest disability charities – have written a stern letter to Iain Duncan Smith asking him not to cut disabled people’s benefits.
In the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, due to be debated in the House of Lords next week, plans have been announced to slash some out of work sickness and disability benefits by almost a third. New claimants in the so-called Work Related Activity Group, meaning people assessed as likely to be fit for work at some point in the future, will receive just over £70 a week – the same amount as those currently on the dole. People in this group include those with degnerative or progressive diseases such as Multiple Schlerosis, Parkinson’s disease or cancer. This vicious benefit cut is not being done to save money, but to ‘incentivise’ people to find a job. It is about as vile as anything that Iain Duncan Smith has done so far, and he’s done a lot.
In response the Disability Benefits Consortium have written a letter, which only half of their members bothered to sign, and which was published in the Daily Mirror over the weekend. Big fucking deal.
According to their website the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a“national coalition of over 60 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.” They include Disability Rights UK, an organisation who have recently been handed a huge contract to work for Maximus – the shady US conglomerate who carry out the despised Work Capability Assessments which will be used to decide which disabled people face a benefit cut under the new rules. Other charities involved in pretending to defend social security are MIND, RNIB, Leonard Chesire and Mencap – all of whom happily accepted lucrative sub-contracts to run Iain Duncan Smith’s mandatory Work Programme which disabled people are forced to attend under the threat of vicious benefit sanctions. Also on the list are the workfare supporting Papworth Trust, along with Age UK who in 2013 were accused of running a ‘workfare warehouse’ in East Sussex. Citizen’s Advice, who welcomed the introduction of the Claimant Commitment under which unemployed people are forced into pointless jobsearch for 35 hours a week under threat of benefit sanctions, are also included in this fight for a fairer benefits system.
Despite the vast resources possessed by the 60 charities who make up the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), their website is hosted for free on wordpress.com. It looks like someone knocked it up on a cheap smartphone during their fag break. Last year this group of fearless campaigners made a total of 12 posts on their blog – and I thought I was getting slack. According to the website they have not been arsed to contribute to a government consultation on welfare reform since 2012.
Compare this to the now defunct Disability Works campaign – launched with a glitzy House of Lords reception by many of the DBC charities and used to lobby the government to hand them juicy welfare-to-work contracts and you see the true priority of these organisations. Money.
The very worst thing that could happen is big disability charities hijacking the fight against welfare reforms, although there is little danger of that. The fucking awful Hardest Hit demonstration they organised in 2011 was little more then a march to protect disability charity funding, not disabled people’s benefits. And it’s been downhill ever since. For every statement released by charities condemning social security cuts a story emerges of them quietly sidling up to the DWP in the hope of lucrative contracts. Until disability charities form a united stance of complete non co-operation with this government then their words mean fuck all when their actions are complicit in destroying the lives of sick and disabled people.Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid
And just to illustrate what Johnny means for anyone with any doubts.
Action for Children unions ballot for industrial action in pay dispute
High-handed action by bosses over pay at the charity Action for Children has prompted Unite and UNISON to ballot their members for industrial action.
The unions said that management intends to impose a one per cent pay award for 2015/16, with no cost of living rise for 40 per cent of the 5,000 strong workforce. They also intend to remove contractual pay increments for new starters, refuse to pay the UK living wage of £8.25 (£9.40 in London) and cut mileage rates.
Both unions’ ballots for industrial action short of a strike and/or strike action open on Tuesday 26 January and close on Tuesday 16 February.
The charity’s chief executive Sir Tony Hawkhead has refused the unions’ request to involve the conciliation service Acas to resolve the dispute and has stated his intention to impose the pay offer overwhelmingly rejected by the joint union membership in consultative ballots.
While squeezing the pay of the workforce, the number of senior executives at the charity earning over £70,000 a year increased from 16 to 21, and there is now an additional member of the management team on £120,000.
The unions said that in the last three years Action for Children has made an average surplus (profit) of £5.4m each year, while it would have cost about £2m a year to have given each member of staff a cost of living pay rise in line with inflation.
Unite national officer for the not for profit sector Sally Kosky said: “What we have here is an all too common case of a profitable organisation, with highly paid executives, unwilling to give a decent pay rise to our members. Average pay of the workforce has fallen in real terms by 52 per cent since 2010/11.
“The management is behaving in a high-handed manner trying to bulldoze a wholly inadequate pay offer onto our members and point blank refusing to involve Acas in the dispute. Just because people work for a charity they don’t deserve the prospect of poverty wages.
“The organisation has a healthy surplus and some of these reserves should be used to fairly reward its hard-working staff.”
UNISON national voluntary sector officer Simon Watson said: “The dedicated staff who work for Action for Children are without doubt its best resource. Every year they help thousands of vulnerable families in communities up and down the country.
“Action for Children claims that it is strapped for cash, yet it has managed to find the money to increase the number of its highest paid managers. Meanwhile staff haven’t had a pay rise in six years.
“The decision to move to a ballot for action is always a reluctant one, but despite over a year of negotiations, the charity still refuses to see sense. As a result many employees are being forced into extreme hardship. Some are having to use the same food banks as the families they are trying to help. It’s still not too late to prevent action, and we hope the charity uses the coming weeks to think carefully about its next steps.”
For more information please contact:
Unite: Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869
UNISON: Liz Chinchen on 0207 121 5463 or 07778 158175
Some further information on Action for Children’s funding. You can see their charity return here –
In short they brought in £173,070,000 last year, and spent £159,887,000. That’s a surplus of £13,183,000. And, like the unions say, they make a surplus year on year, often over £10M –
There are many questions that go with these sorts of incomes, including –
– What do they do with the surplus? Is it sitting in a bank somewhere making someone loads of interest?
– Why are they not spending this surplus – as a charity they are not meant to sit on money, while they are continuing to raise new money from the public.
– Does the public know they are not spending this money? And if they are not spending it why not? The money is raised to help children, presumably, which is not doing if it is sitting in a bank.
To deny their staff the living wage is a scandal.
If we look at the charity sector as a whole this very quickly adds up to unimaginable amounts of money. And yet they’re still opening charity shops and rattling tins