Mar 042014
 

In April George Osborne’s mass workfare scheme will begin.  Unemployed people will be sentenced to 780 hours community work simply for being unable to find a job. Not even lone parents with young children are to be exempt from the scheme which will see so-called charities like Groundwork UK and the Salvation Army paid by the tax payer to force people to work for free.  Part time workers and those currently genuinely volunteering will also face being sent on unpaid work.

Collective action can halt this forced labour scheme in its tracks.  A week of action against workfare has been called beginning on the 29th March.  An escalation in the campaign against unpaid work is vital and there is no better chance than this.  It only takes a few people to get the ball rolling, and protests against organisations using workfare have proved to be effective.  Boycott Workfare can offer support with publicity, leaflets and advice. Please help spread the word about the week of action and let’s make this the strongest stand against people being forced to work for free that has been seen so far.

From Boycott Workfare:

Tens of organisations have already quit workfare. The government will not reveal which organisations are still using it for fear the schemes will collapse. Its contractors complain that they have lost hundreds of placements due to public pressure.

But they’re trying it again with a new scheme – “Community Work Placements” – launching on 1 April 2014 which will force claimants to work for six months without pay. Six months – 780 hours – is more than twice the maximum community service sentence. Workfare does not help people find jobs and being unemployed is not a crime.

This new workfare scheme is part of a raft of draconian measures, misleadingly called “Help to Work”, which are designed to increase sanctions (benefit stoppages) and undermine wages still further.

For the workfare schemes to happen, they need places to send people, but tens of large charities have already quit. Oxfam stated that the schemes were incompatible with its goal of reducing poverty in the UK. Liverpool CVS has condemned the scheme in the strongest possible terms.

Our action can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting forced unpaid work and make sure this new scheme falls flat on its face. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 29 March-6 April.

Target the charities:

  • Friendly local charity or Volunteer Service? Invite them to commit not to use forced unpaid work by signing our pledge.
  • Big workfare user like RSPCA, YMCA, Salvation Army, The Conservation Volunteers, British Heart Foundation, Barnardos or Cancer Research? Write to them, organise a demo or encourage people you know not to donate until they stop using workfare!
  • Approach workers in the voluntary sector to ask them to pressure their employer not to participate in the scheme. There are often Union branches for voluntary sector workers you could contact.
  • Visit boycottworkfare.org daily during the week to take part in online action!

Target the councils:

  • Find out if we know about workfare in your local council on this spreadsheet.
  • If so, adapt our press release and expose them in your local paper.
  • Contact local Unison, GMB or Unite branches for council workers and encourage them to pass the motion to challenge workfare and to take it up with the council.
  • Find out if any sympathetic local councillors would take a motion to the council for it to boycott workfare. It has been done!

Support each other to get our rights:

  • Order know your rights leaflets to give out at the job centre or around your local community – email info[at]boycottworkfare.org with how many you would like!
  • Thinking about starting a mutual support group? Invite an existing group to help get it going with a workshop or talk.

Want to target the companies involved in workfare as well?
There are currently call outs to target Peacocks, and Grosvenor Casinos. Or there’s our crowd-sourced list of workfare exploiters to whom you may also like to pay a visit.

For more info visit: https://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3353 and follow @boycottworkfare for the latest news.

Please join and share the facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1548766378680842/

Read about the recent inspiring action by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty against workfare exploiters The Salvation Army.

Reposted with thanks from the Void https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/

 Follow on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

Jun 192013
 

While recognizing that there is a real need and desire for a movement which mobilizes activists , unions and communities onto the streets together, we are disappointed that the People’s Assembly looks unlikely to bring it about…
at least while it has an entry fee and a cursory nod to inclusion and accessibility. 

Any attempt at bringing together all those sickened by this Governments shameful and harmful policies to fightback, should include those who have been fighting this fight in the streets, not just in the broadsheets. Those who have led the resistance have earned the right to be part of any movement worthy of the name.

An assembly of this nature can only work if it’s :
Brought about by a collective of workers, activists, communities together:
With a shared vision of what we are trying to achieve:
Working in an inclusive way:
Using every possible means at our disposal:
In a strategic attack on Governments ability to carry out its work,
And bring about its end.

Members attending will not be offered an opportunity to achieve any of these aims. Without grassroots street activists being part of driving this initiative from the outset, any decisions or outcomes are likely to be repeats of tried and tested failures of the past. Without the risk of radical action, the Government is unlikely to be concerned by another march, petition or one day strike. 


DPAC/Black Triangle members will attend the event in an individual capacity to engage with attendees, and encourage others to join us in our call for sustained mass, widespread civil disobedience from every section of society until this Government falls. 

DPAC SG
Johnny Void
Taxpayers against Poverty
Black Triangle
Beat on the Street

DPAC wishes to add that despite trying to feed in to ensure adequate access for the event we have not been listened to by the organizers

May 252013
 

Any campaign from this Government which claims to support disabled people should be viewed with suspicion and the latest offering from the DWP is no exception.

The department yesterday put out a press release boasting: “Celebrities have joined forces with the government to help launch a campaign aiming to promote positive role models for disabled people.”

This campaign features a youtube channel where 50 videos have been posted which have “been produced with a focus on overcoming barriers”.  Many of these videos are unsurprisingly about disabled people who have high flying careers, such as Dame Anne Begg, or are stories of disabled entrepreneurs.

The accompanying press release includes a gushing quote from Emmerdale actor Kitty McGeever explaining how after becoming disabled it ‘took some time to get back into work’ but she managed it with the help of the Government’s Access To Work scheme.

This scheme provides funding for workplace adaptations, travel or some care needs for disabled people in employment.  The number of people benefiting from Access To Work has plummeted by over a third since this Government weren’t elected showing the true situation for disabled people currently seeking employment.

Whilst this campaign may be a cheap attempt to improve those figures, it comes against a background of savage cuts to benefits, services and housing for disabled people.  It is a campaign run by a government which is declaring hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people to be ‘fit for work’ with the aim of stopping their benefits.  A government which has been only too happy to force sick and disabled claimants onto workfare as part of the Work Programme –  with no public scrutiny of where they are being sent or for how long.  A government that is set to force potentially hundreds of thousands of disabled people from their homes due to the bedroom tax, benefit cap and other measures.

And when Personal Independence Payments (PIP) fully replace Disability Living Allowance, this is a Government which will have slashed completely a vital benefit for 20% of disabled people.

This move alone is likely to mean that over 50% of disabled people are forced to leave work as funding for specialist equipment, care and transport disappears*.

Vast numbers of disabled people are set to be plunged into poverty by these measures, and it is this which reveals the true intentions of this latest DWP run project.  One of the charities involved in the campaign is quoted as saying that the “project is about showing what disabled people can do – not what they can’t”.

This is eerily similar to David Cameron’s line when interviewed shortly after the opening of the Paralympic games when he said: “It’s about the inspiration and it will change people’s minds and that’s what matters. It’ll teach people about what they can do, rather than what they can’t do.”

It is also the line used to justify the benefit-stripping Work Capability Assessment which according to the DWP focuses on “what an individual can do despite their health condition, rather than simply what they can’t.”

Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Esther Mcvey also pops up in this week’s press release, and whilst not quite so explicit, her underlying message is the same:  “young disabled people tell me they want to see more inspiring role models to show where disabled people have achieved their ambitions despite the odds being stacked against them”

For young disabled people the odds are stacked against them like never before due to this Government and in this context the true nature of the DWP’s latest campaign becomes clear.  This is not about providing role models for young disabled people or helping people fulfil their potential or even changing perceptions of disabled people as is claimed.  This Government doesn’t care about any of that.  This campaign is yet more insidious DWP propaganda attempting to give the impression that those plunged into poverty due to the ruthless cuts to disability benefits will only have themselves to blame.  If only they’d learnt to play wheelchair rugby, or been a fucking Dame, then they could afford to put the heating on.

The campaign also has a facebook page which might be a good place to share experiences of what people can no longer do due to the vicious cuts to benefits: https://www.facebook.com/Rolemodelsinspire

Dawn Willis writes well about this kind of narrative: ‘I’m not Stephen Fry, how damaging is that?’ from Dawn

*this figure comes from a survey carried out by Disability Rights UK (DRUK) which reported that 56% of those asked said they would have to leave work if they lost their DLA.  DRUK are notoriously in the pockets of the DWP, with Chief Executive Liz Sayce writing a report which recommended the closure of the Remploy factories.  The survey relating to the number of people likely to leave work due to PIP seems to have disappeared from DRUK’s website, for which there is surely an entirely innocent explanation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

With massive thanks to the brilliant Johnny Void for letting us re-post

See more from Johnny at https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/achieve-your-potential-or-starve/

 

Mar 272013
 

An important recent post on Disabled People Against Cuts’ (DPAC) website reveals how the big disability charities once again let down the very people they claim to support by being indifferent at best to the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

As the name suggests, the fund is designed to support the most severely disabled people in living independent lives.  In a chilling sign of what was to come, less than two months after this Government weren’t elected it was closed to new applications.  Funding is now being devolved to local councils, who will have no legal duty to maintain the support offered under the scheme.  All ILF claims are planned to end by 2015.

The closure of the fund has met fierce opposition from grassroots campaigners such as Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle.  Documents recently revealed in a high court appeal against the fund’s closure reveal it has been met by little more than apathy from the major disability organisations.

The documents show that the DWP recognise “that upon reassessment by LA’s (Local Authorities) most users are likely to see some reduction in the current funding levels, and there are a group of users with low care needs that may not be eligible for local authority support under current needs thresholds in most LA’s.’”

Despite this – according to the DWP at least – Mencap (highest paid earner £190,000 pa*), The MS Society, and Scope (highest paid earner £140,000) all supported the closure of the scheme, although Scope’s support was weak and they showed ‘concern’.  RNIB (highest paid earner £140,000) disagreed with the closure of the fund, but this disagreement was summed up as ‘weak concern’ by the DWP.  Only Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland are mentioned as strongly disagreeing with the closure.

Charities will no doubt argue with the DWP’s assessment of their indifference to disabled people’s lives, however for once it seems the department may be telling the truth (stop laughing).  The documents point out:  “none of the largest national disability organisations requested ministerial meetings and many did not submit responses to the consultation. While we have had an increasing number of letters from MPs on users’ behalf, the proposal to close the fund has received almost no attention in the mainstream media.”

DPAC themselves have requested several meetings with ministers over the closure of the fund.  All requests were ignored.

With thanks to the excellent Johnny Void see more brilliance at: https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/author/johnnyvoid/

Follow  on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

May 272012
 

While there always seems to be plenty of money for some from disability sadly, the trickle-down effect never seems to reach as far as disabled people themselves. We still seem to be being exploited as cash cows for others. Below tells how charities are exploiting disabled people through the evidence of a whistleblower from one of the charities.

 Scandal of charities that bully people off benefits

by Dave Sewell

Charities and voluntary organisations that claim to be helping vulnerable people are instead enforcing government plans to throw them off benefits, Socialist Worker can reveal.

Over 270 voluntary organisations signed up to the government’s Work Programme, which pays contractors to bully unemployed people off benefits.

Sometimes this involves “workfare” schemes—herding unemployed workers into mandatory unpaid work at supermarkets, fast food restaurants and even NHS hospitals (see below).

An “employment advisor” at one of the charities spoke to Socialist Worker anonymously about the practice. “It’s disgusting,” they said. “We get letters from people who are really ill asking why their benefits have been taken away.

“I remember one client with severe psychosis. He didn’t know what day of the week it was—but he was about to lose his benefits because he had missed his appointments.”

The charities claim they are providing a service to help vulnerable people into jobs. But the jobs simply aren’t there.

Last week St Mungo’s became the latest charity to pull out of the Work Programme. It hadn’t made the revenue it expected. And it failed to put a single homeless person into work.

“Charities signed up naively,” the advisor told Socialist Worker. “They thought—we already work with vulnerable people, so why shouldn’t we do the same for a contract?”

Factories

In practice this has meant charities turning into factories designed to process unemployed claimants. And if claimants can’t jump through the government’s impossible hoops, their benefits can be removed.

“There is so much pressure to get results—either by getting people into work, or by getting their benefits sanctioned,” the advisor said.

Around one in ten of those that the charity recommends to be stripped of their benefits are later found to have been sanctioned wrongly, the advisor added.

Their caseload includes people who are claiming Employment Support Allowance and are not obliged to seek jobs, as they are not considered fit for work.

But the advisors are not trained to tell them this. Nor are they trained to help claimants who miss appointments for health reasons—and then find they have lost their benefits as a result.

The voluntary organisations involved in the Work Programme are subcontractors of private sector training firm Seetec. They include charities that work with disabled people, homeless people, single parents, young people and ex-offenders.

But the Work Programme is in a mess over its use of contractors. One prominent firm, A4e, is so mired in fraud allegations that it has had to be axed from the scheme.

And last week the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee called for payments to Work Programme contractors to be frozen. The advisor welcomed this move, saying, “It’s an obscene system. Let’s hope it falls apart soon.”

Originally posted at https://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=28575 nice pic of DPAC protesters there too blocking the road

 see also: https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/shame-of-the-third-sector-how-charities-got-it-wrong-on-workfare/

https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/workfare-isnt-working-so-grayling-plans-more-workfare-this-time-its-for-charity/

 According to DWP charities involved are set out in the following table by area: find your charity here-we’ve kindly highlighted the disability ones for you- let us know if we missed any-for full excell sheet email us at mail@dpac.net.uk

 Btw Disability Works UK includes SCOPE, Leonard Cheshire, Mind, MENCAP, Action for Blind People (or RNIB) Disability Works UK has a turnover value of £654.4 million and a surplus of £15.6 million Recession? What recession?

Work Programme Supply Chains

 
The information contained in the table below reflects updates and changes to the Work Programme supply chains and is correct as at 30 January 2012.
It is published in the interests of transparency. It is limited to those in supply chains delivering to prime providers as part of their tier 1 and 2 chains. Definitions of what these tiers incorporate vary from prime provider to prime provider. There are additional suppliers beyond these tiers who are largely to be called on to deliver one off, unique interventions in response to a particular participants needs and circumstances.
The Department for Work and Pensions fully anticipate that supply chains will be dynamic, with scope to flex and evolve to reflect change within the labour market and participant needs.
The Department intends to update this information at regular intervals dependant on time and resources available.
In addition to the Merlin standard, a robust process is in place for the Department to approve any supply chain changes and to ensure that the service on offer is not compromised or reduced.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
Comparison between the August 2011 stock take and the January 2012 figures shows a small net increase in the overall number of organisations in the supply chains. Both the public and private sector shows slight increases, while the voluntary and community sector shows a small net decrease.
The table below illustrates these changes
 
 
 
 
   
Sector Number of organisations in the supply chain    
Private As at 30 January 2012 – 306 / As at 12 August 2011 – 295*  
Public As at 30 January 2012 – 137 / As at 12 August 2011 – 133*  
Voluntary or Community (VCS) As at 30 January 2012 – 412 / As at 12 August 2011 – 420*  
Totals As at 30 january 2012 – 855 / As at 12 August 2011 – 848*  
   
*Note  These figure have been amended due to organisations being incorrectly recorded in the earlier stock take, which has now been rectified. This included two strategic partners being listed as a tier 2 sub contractor when no contractual relationship was in place; one organisation being incorrectly categorised as voluntary sector when they were in fact from the private sector, and a voluntary sector organisation being recorded under two different names, thus decreasing the voluntary sector count and increasing the private sector.

East of England              
Papworth Trust              
Action for Blind People              
Royal Mencap Society               
East Midlands              
Disability Works (UK)              
Disability Alliance              
Action for Blind People               
Royal Mencap Society              
West London              
Acton for Blind People              
Hammersmith & Fulham MIND              
MENCAP              
Disability Works UK              
East London              
Disability Works UK              
Mencap              
North East              
Action for Blind People              
North West – Merseyside, Halton, Cumbria and Lancashire              
Disability Works UK              
Eden Mencap              
Action for Blind People              
Royal Mencap Society              
North West – Greater Manchester, Cheshire & Warrington              
Disability Information Bureau              
Action for Blind People              
Leonard Cheshire Disability              
RNIB              
Royal Mencap Society ( Mencap )              
Scotland              
Action for Blind People              
Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH)              
Scottish Mental Health Co-operative              
South East – Thames Valley and Hampshire and Isle of Wight              
Disability Works UK              
MENCAP              
South East – Surrey, Sussex and Kent              
Disability Works              
Action for Blind People              
Disability Works UK              
RNIB              
Royal Mencap Society ( Mencap )              
South West – Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset              
NIL              
South West – Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and West of England              
Shaw Trust               
Swindon Mind              
Action for Blind People              
Wales              
Action for Blind People ( RNIB )              
West Midlands – Birmingham, Solihull and Black Country              
Action for Blind People              
Disability Works UK              
Birmingham Disability Consortium              
West Midlands – Coventry and Warwickshire, Staffordshire and the Marches              
Mencap               
Shaw Trust              
West Yorkshire              
Action for Blind People              
South Yorkshire              
Disability Works UK              
Disability Works UK              
North East Yorkshire and the Humber              
Leonard Cheshire Disability              
RNIB              
Royal Mencap Society ( Mencap )              
The Mind Consortium              
               
 
 
 
 
   
May 102012
 

Lord Freud – The Benefit Fraud

With thanks to the ever brilliant Johnny Void for letting us repost this– for more of The Void go to https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/

Lord Freud, the toff banker, will be defending the Government’s savage welfare reforms at a conference called by the National Housing federation on May 23rd.  Freud has been one of the chief architects of the vicious Welfare Reforms as both a Labour and then a Conservative Party member.

Freud was asked by Tony Blair to review the benefit system way back in 2006, despite Freud saying he knew nothing about it.  This didn’t stop him from leaping at the opportunity to claim that single parents should be sent to work, lay the foundations for the Atos shambles and encourage the use of fraudulent bastards like A4e to run huge chunks of the Welfare State.

The great welfare rip off has seen companies paid billions of tax payers’ money to provide barely existent training courses or claim huge fees every time someone unemployed finds a job.  The likes of the now disappeared Emma Harrison formerly of A4e have awarded themselves multi-million pound dividends whilst their staff, under enormous pressure from above, have ended up cooking the books to pay for them.  Like all the best scams, the companies involved don’t even have to break the law to make off with the cash.  Training providers on the Government’s flagship Work Programme can be paid up to £13,000 for claiming to have helped someone get a job who has barely even met them. 

Private sector sharks have also been brought in to carry out assessments for sickness and disability benefits, another of Freud’s ideas.  The Atos assessment system has turned out to be a disaster, costing a fortune in appeals against their flawed decisions, whilst being devastating for those forced to undergo the stressful and demeaning tests. This hasn’t stopped Atos creaming £100 million a year off the tax payer.  And Atos, along with prison companies like G4s and national joke Capita, are set to pick up huge contracts for re-creating the exact same shambles to re-assess over three million people currently claiming Disability Living Allowance.

With George Osborne promising up to £5 billion in cash to Work Programme contractors, it seems the gravy train for private sector sharks infecting the Welfare State is far from over.  Meanwhile millions of people face poverty and homelessness due to ideas generated on the back of an envelope by Lord Freud and his chums.

Lord Freud is a member of the pervy Freud dynasty and went to Whitgift Public School and then Oxford.  On leaving university he just happened to be offered a job at the Financial Times.  After a few years he ditched financial journalism to begin work as a professional crook for stockbrokers Rowe & Pitman (later to be taken over by SG Warburg).  His first job was to compile research on companies he was also taking money from, a practice which was made illegal after analysts were found publicly backing clients whilst slagging them off behind closed doors.

During his career Freud cost the tax payer a fortune when he botched the Eurotunnel flotation in a deal he describes as a ‘shambles’ and claims he ‘sold the market a pup’.  He did a similar thing with the Eurodisney flotation, costing investors millions.  Asked to handle the flotation of doomed company Railtrack, Freud priced the shares at £3.50 despite them being worth over four times that figure.  Freud remained a senior figure at SG Warburg helping to oversee the collapse of the investment bank in 1995 when it was taken over by the Swiss Bank Corporation.

David Freud’s omni-shambles career is best summed up by himself:

“Nearly everything I’ve done has been total chaos. I cannot believe it’s just because of me.”

This is typical of arrogant little posh boys like Freud.  Believing they are born to rule, their old school chums will prop them up as they fail time and time again.  In return they offer kickbacks, like the multi-billion pound give away to the private sector that Freud has overseen whilst involved in welfare reform.  They really are all in it together.  A self-serving smug elite sharing around power and money like pass the fucking parcel whilst the rest of the country gets on with doing the real work that keeps them rich.

When Freud saw which way the wind was blowing under the Labour Government he jumped ship to the Tories where he was immediately made a life peer and given a Baroncy.  As Minister for Welfare Reform he has wasted no time in continuing the incessant lies about benefit claimants he began telling under Blair.  The man who’s worth millions is outraged that single mums should be paid a pittance to feed their children, or large families in cities should have somewhere to live.

If the fraud Freud had been born on a council estate he’d probably be banged up by now for flogging fake Armanis or nicked ipods down the boozer.  Instead he picks up huge sums of tax payers’ cash he doesn’t need to advise the Government on something he knows nothing about.  All that’s required for the rich to succeed is the old school tie and a commitment to staying on the right side in the class war.  Brutality and incompetence is the hallmark of the English ruling class and there has rarely been a better example than Lord Fraud and his chinless cabinet cronies.

Freud will be speaking at the National Housing Federation’s Welfare Reform Conference on the 23rd May.  Join protesters at 9.15 to tell him what you think outside the Commonwealth Club, 25 Northumberland Avenue,
London, WC2N 5AP

See also: ‘A Tale of Two models: disabled people vs Unum, Atos, Government and Disability Charities’ for more on Freud’s doings and the sell out of welfare https://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/04/a-tale-of-two-models-disabled-people-vs-unum-atos-government-and-disability-charities-debbie-jolly/