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Friday, 31 January 2014

Solicitors Handling Housing Law in or near Kilburn

In the casework and members' wellbeing section of yesterday's packed KUWG business meeting, a housing case regarding getting out of homelessness came up. So a resourceful SmartPhone-using newcomer did some on-the-spot research during the meeting into the contact details of relevant solicitors, coming up with a list that she asked the KUWG Secretary to pass on to the meeting participant in question.

But being blog controller as well and realising that one person's casework can be a great primer for findings that can help more than the initial person in mind, the Secretary has decided to publish the list here after a little tweaking. This list is only a starter: it is up to the person requiring the aid of a specialist in housing law in or near Kilburn to ask the listed contacts questions about their services in such a way to decide which one to go with.

Note that legal aid is still available for housing issues, but not all solicitors dealing with housing law take legal aid cases.


157 Kilburn High Road
London NW6 7HU
020 7604 3572
24 Lisson Grove
London NW1 6TT
020 7723 9889
Guile Nicholas Solicitors
— incorporating Donald Galbraith and Co
43 Lodge Lane
North Finchley
London N12 8DJ
020 8492 2290
Livery House
9 Pratt Street
London NW1 0AE
020 7485 8811
Birnberg and Pierce
do not specify 'Housing Law', but state that they deal with
  • Administrative and Public Law
  • Advocacy
  • Civil Liberties and Human Rights
  • Criminal Law
  • EU Law
  • Immigration Law
14 Inverness Street
London NW1 7HJ
020 7911 0166
7-9 Ferdinand Street
London NW1 8ES

020 7267 4246

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Change of pamphlet launch event date and other matters

 From Social Work Action Network London
1. Pamphlet launch date change. 'In Defence of Social Work: Why Michael Gove is wrong'' pamphlet launch with Peter Beresford OBE (Shaping Our Lives and Brunel University), will now be held at 18:30 on Tuesday 11th February at London South Bank University, a change from the originally advertised date which was a week before.
The pamphlet, which was put together as a sharp and swift response to Tory ConDem cabinet member and Education Secretary Michael Gove’s attack on social work, can be ordered by downloading the order form attached or at the following link:
RSVP so your name is on the door at the Keyworth Reception (no need if you have already responded).

The meeting will be held at London South Bank University (Elephant & Castle), while the room booked is now Keyworth Lecture Theatre A, it is in the Keyworth Building as before, on Keyworth Street, London SE1 6NG. Nearest tube is Elephant & Castle, exit from the Bakerloo Line exit (following signs to South Bank University). 

2. SWAN Conf 2014 and call for papers. Please book now for the 2014 SWAN Conference in Durham here. SWAN Conf 2014 call for papers and workshops is attached below. Please send proposals to swannortheast@gmail.com by 28th Feb!
3. UKIP attack on Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS). Many of you will remember our colleagues in BAPS who spoke at last year's conference, defending services from mass privatisation. They have asked us to share with you after a UKIP threat to “crash” a meeting. After their members comments on women, disabled children and gay marriage, I think we know what a nasty, discriminatory organisation they are:

4. Women's Group Skills Swap in South East London. SWAN London member Keeley, has asked us to share with you details of a Women's Skills Swap event on Sunday 2nd February in Ladywell (nr Lewisham) - the first event is an introduction to Turkish!

Best wishes

SWAN London

Take part in the Welfare Action Gathering on Saturday 15 March!

From Boycott Workfare

<<< Please forward to people who might like to come along! >>>
Welfare Action Gathering - Saturday 15th February

Come to an info and skill-sharing day in London on 15 February, 10.45am-5.30pm, Maiden Lane Community Centre near Kings Cross. Directions here.
Getting your welfare rights is about a lot more than just knowing your welfare rights. Across the UK, people are getting together to support each other and pushing back workfare, standing up to sanctions, wrong decisions, and insecure housing.
Meet others from across the UK, hear inspiring stories, learn info about our rights and share tactics that work. This isn’t a day for speakers from the front. Party political representatives aren’t invited. It’s about people at the grassroots getting together and working out how we can support each other and throw even more spanners in the government’s plans!
If you are in a local group where people share mutual support on welfare or housing (or plan to start one), Boycott Workfare should be able to help with your travel costs. Please get in touch as soon as you can so we can sort it out.
Planning on coming? There’ll be tea, coffee and a free lunch! Please let us know you’re coming so we know how many people to cook for!
Want to know what to expect? Check out the agenda here. There’s an open space session in the afternoon if you’d like to offer a workshop too!

Monday, 27 January 2014


Guest blog by Rev'd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty


How does any government start to put growing inequality into reverse? One answer is to reverse the decisions in the 1980s to deregulate lending, abolish rent controls and allow the free flow of cash in and out of the UK. The result is a chaotic housing market sucking billions of personal income away from the shops, building and maintaining infrastructure and from investment in companies that create jobs. International speculation in UK land and homes is forcing house prices and rents upwards. Meanwhile, landlords, who treated housing benefit like a cash cow for decades, continue to profit from a housing market in short supply while the poorest tenants are punished with three caps on the housing benefit.

High rents, now unpaid by housing benefit, are enforced against the tenants’ incomes, which were entirely available for food, utilities, transport and clothes up to April 2013; since then, council tax, plus court and bailiff costs has begun to wreak havoc in the tenants’ lives.
Reversing inequality requires statutory minimum incomes in work and unemployment, after rent and council tax have been paid, to be enough to ensure a healthy life, and to diminish the billions paid by taxpayers to the NHS to treat poverty-related physical and mental ill health, and to the schools to cope with poverty-related educational underachievement.

The Reverend Paul Nicolson

Taxpayers Against Poverty

​PS ​
A worrying graph from an LSE blog
inequality in land ownership.


Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty

Guest Blog: Amanda Jacobs 4 weeks' holiday per year is an EU right, not a red tape imposition

KUWG members on a 1-day-break
I like my holidays to escape these grey shores and so when I'm able to work, I really treasure my annual leave. In the UK, we're all entitled to four weeks’ paid holiday a year (plus bank holidays).

That right actually comes from Europe, not UK legislation. It’s from the same piece of European law that also guarantees us lunch and rest breaks and stops us being forced to work too many hours.

Surprise surprise - some Tories don’t think that law is good for Britain: they think it’s ‘costly’, ‘red tape’ and a ‘burden’ and that we'd all be better chained to our PCs all day and at weekends.

A group of businesses and employers has called for the law to be scrapped and 95 Tory MPs are calling for the UK to have a veto on all European laws, so that they can “lift EU burdens on business”.
  Cameron is trying to negotiate in Europe for a new arrangement. He wants to “restore social and employment legislation to national control.” If he gets his way, Tory MPs and many businesses will be lining up to call for our rights to be watered down. Whose side are they on?

I’ve just signed a letter to our beloved PM to say our rights at work are not ‘red tape’, they’re essential. I'd be really grateful if you'd consider signing it too, regardless of the fact that some of you lucky people are no longer in the daily grind.  Go to:


Important date change: Benefit Cap Appeal and Protest to be held on Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 January

This is instead of Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 January dates that were previously posted. For more details, go to
Benefit Cap traps women in violent relationshipsFr...

Friday, 24 January 2014

Water Cannons Threatened in London

From Liberty


Water Cannon Consultation 

As a Liberty member in London, we are writing to you to speak out against the potential introduction of water cannons. Water cannons, often considered a symbol of inflammatory and brutal policing, have never before been used in England and Wales. Boris Johnson and the Metropolitan Police are currently arguing they are necessary to prevent disorder.

A public consultation into the use of water cannons in London has opened up: you can have your say here.

5 reasons to speak out on water cannons:
  1. Water cannons are inflammatory, militaristic and brutal. They are liable to cause panic, in addition to pain and distress and are capable of causing serious injury.
  2. Police foresee the use of water cannon in protest-type situations. The very threat of their use is likely to chill peaceful protest in much the same way as damaging measures such as kettling.
  3. Water cannons are indiscriminate. Even where violent or criminal acts take place, it will be impossible to protect innocent bystanders and peaceful protesters from the blanket effect of the weapon. 
  4. At a time when the Metropolitan Police are rightly concerned to address a crisis of public confidence in policing, this approach is likely build barriers rather than promote trust.
  5. After the aftermath of the August 2011 riots, the Association of Chief Police Officers were very clear that water cannon would not have helped with countering criminal behaviour during the riots. 
If you are concerned by the proposals to introduce water cannons to London's streets please e-mail watercannonengagement@mopac.london.gov.uk by 28 February.

Friday, 17 January 2014

DWP makes it harder for claimants to appeal against sanctions or even avert sanctions

The above pics show two plard designs inspired by what was uncovered in casework from yesterday's KUWG business meeting.

There it became more plain in casework that people are being belatedly sanctioned into loss of a month's JSA from January for not attending appointments relating to pre-Christmas appointments that they were allegedly informed about in letters that they never received.

A further worrying development is that in being told about a month's JSA sanctions that also eliminate access to any Council Tax benefit, claimants are also being told that they have no right of appeal until a mandatory reconsideration has taken place. We know that mandatory reconsideration regarding ESA eligibility can take several months.

So that the placard messages stand out at a distance, no contact details are given in these versions.

Optimum word limits for placards also rule against such wording as

Alan Wheatley
KUWG Secretary

Rev'd Paul Nicolson's complaint to OFCOM about Benefits Street

Demo against 'Benefits Street' makers 'Love Productions', Monday 13 January 2014

KUWG was there!

"I have been working with benefit claimants over 20 years and am the founder of Zacchaeus 2000 trust, and Taxpayers Against Poverty. Benefits Street is very unfair to the 5 million unemployed benefit claimants who since April 2013 have suffered worsening poverty, due to one or several of caps, cuts and council tax. The program does not set out arithmetic of the debt creating reduction of JSA, IS, ESA, child benefits by rent and council tax which creates rent and council tax arrears, threats of eviction , bailiffs, prison against people and families who genuinely cannot pay. It shows the chaotic consequences of the government's austerity package in the lives of very few claimants but does not show the details of the way it reduces incomes and creates unmanageable debts and misery for a vast majority of claimants. I can provide those details."

Benefit Cap traps women in violent relationships

From Women Against Rape

Please sign urgently.  The legal challenge this petition supports is coming to court on 28 & 29 January. 
The petition has just under 500 signatures.  We need as many as possible

Signatories include:
Dr Bridget Anderson
Natalie Bennett, Leader Green Party
Dr Lynn Bindman JP
Zena Edwards, poet
Dr Charmian Goldwyn
Selma James, Global Women’s Strike
John McDonnell MP
Mrs Jessica Mccarnun, Bedroom Tax campaigner
Waveney Women’s Aid - Jenny Webber
Women’s Health Project, South London
Splitz Support Service - Jacqueline Mundy
Dr Felicity de Zulueta

Dear friends,
The benefit cap is trapping women and children in violent relationships.  A legal challenge in defence of women who have already been affected will be heard on 27 and 28 January at the Court of Appeal.
What you can do:
·         Sign the petition to scrap the cap NOW, get your organisation to endorse it, like it to you friends on facebook and twitter – we need as many signatures as possible. 
·         Join the protest outside the court on 27 & 28 January, 9.30 am, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand WC2A 2LL.
·         Listen to Kim Sparrow from Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, who has endorsed the petition, on BBC Radio 5 Live about the reality of the Benefit Cap. (Starts 1:08 minutes into the show, move cursor along.) Like it to your friends.

Petition to Scrap the Benefit Cap
which traps women and children in violent relationships.
In support of legal challenge to be heard 27-28 Jan 2014

WAR outside the High Court in Oct 2013
Women Against Rape (WAR) and others have launched a petition asking the public to support women and children impoverished by the Benefit Cap after escaping violent relationships.  A legal challenge on behalf of affected families will be heard in the Court of Appeal on 27 and 28 January 2014.
Solicitor Rebekah Carrier describes the Cap as ‘catastrophic, cruel and arbitrary’.

Please sign online here

For more information about the petition contact WAR
Tel: 020 7482 2496 

About the legal challenge: Rebekah Carrier, Hopkin Murray Beskine.  
Tel: 020 7272 1234 
·     One third of women have suffered domestic violence.  Every week two women are killed by partners or ex-partners, in England and Wales.
·     The Benefit Cap limits a family’s total benefit to £500 per week, including rent and Child Benefit.  Extortionate rents, including for some refuges and hostels, leave mothers and children with little or no income to live on. 
·     A test case is being fought in court on behalf of families impoverished by the Benefit Cap after escaping violence.  So far, there is no exemption from the Cap for victims of violence. 
·     Many victims of violence are unable to get a job immediately or to move to a cheaper area – they need to stay close to friends and relatives for support, and time to recover and to reassure distressed children.
Women Against Rape was among the groups demonstrating at the High Court in October.  We heard in court what the mothers and children have gone through, including living for years in rundown housing. 
They are represented by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine, who describes the Cap as catastrophic, cruel and arbitrary:
"Two of the families have fled domestic violence in circumstances where they were financially reliant upon their abusive partners, and they now face a stark choice between descending further into poverty and risking losing their homes, or returning to their abusers in order to escape the imposition of the cap."
Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape says:
We call on the government to put the safety of women and children first by lifting the Benefit Cap so no one is trapped in a violent a relationship where they risk injury, trauma and even death.” 
The petition is endorsed by the Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Legal Action for Women, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities) and Women Against Rape.

Why Michael Gove is wrong — Social Work Action Network pamphlet launch with Peter Beresford, 4th Feb

From our friends in Social Work Action Network London

On Friday, 17 January 2014, 8:20, Swan London wrote:
Dear SWAN London list members

Pamphlet launch at 18:30 on 4th February at London South Bank University

SWAN is about to launch the pamphlet, 'In Defence of Social Work: Why Michael Gove is wrong'. This publication was put together as a sharp and swift response to Tory ConDem cabinet member and Education Secretary Michael Gove’s attack on social work. On the 12 November 2013, Gove repeated some familiar right-wing themes in his ‘considerations’ on social work. In particular Gove attacked social work education and practitioners who hold a strong social justice analysis and motivation at the centre of their work. 

Peter Beresford OBE, who contributed the chapter 'Frontline and social work education' will be speaking and holding a short discussion session as part of the launch. Peter is Professor of Social Policy at Brunel University, a long term mental health service user and Chair of Shaping Our Lives, the disabled people’s and service users’ organisation and network. Twitter: @beresfordpeter

Copies of the pamphlet will of course be available to buy at the launch event. The cover price of the pamphlet is £3, but we will be selling it at the discounted rate of £2. We can offer further discount to bulk purchases from trade union branches and universities. 

The meeting will be from 18:30-20:30 on Tuesday 4th February. This will be held at London South Bank University (Elephant & Castle), Lecture Theatre A, in the Keyworth Building Keyworth Street, London SE1 6NG. Nearest tube is Elephant & Castle, exit from the Bakerloo Line exit (following signs to South Bank University). 

The pamphlet can be ordered by going to 

This will be a great event to bring along colleagues and friends who are not familiar with SWAN and our work. 

NB: RSVP BY EMAIL TO THIS ADDRESS. This helps us plan numbers for the event. 

See you in February


SWAN London

Social Work Action Network (SWAN) London
Visit the SWAN London blog for latest information here.
Visit the national SWAN website here.
Sign up for the Critical and Radical Social Work journal for free here.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Protest against 'Benefit Street'

Monday 13th Jan 3pm
Love Productions 43 Eagle Street London WC1R 4AT

Please spread this around other London groups.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Notice of a meeting on Citizen's Income, and of a petition deadline

Anne Gray, author of a book on workfare, writes:

 If you agree with national Green Party policy in advocating a citizen's income, please sign this international petition to ask the European Commission to study the possibility of a Europe-wide one. Deadline is MONDAY. Also a potentially interesting meeting on March 4.

 From: Citizen's Income Trust <info@citizensincome.org>
Date: Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 9:54 AM
Subject: Notice of a meeting on Citizen's Income, and of a petition deadline
To: info@citizensincome.org

Dear Citizen’s Income Newsletter reader:
I normally only write to you when a new Citizen’s Income Newsletter appears on our website. As the next Newsletter will not be published until February I thought that you might like notice of a meeting date and also a reminder of a petition deadline.
Tuesday 4th March: a meeting at the House of Commons
On the evening of Tuesday 4th March there will be a meeting at the House of Commons on Citizen’s Income. This will be one of a series of meetings held as part of John McDonnell MP’s People’s Parliament initiative.
If you would like to attend then please let me know and I shall then send you further details as soon as they become available.
The European Citizens’ Initiative
Many of you will already be aware of the European Citizen’s Initiative on Universal Basic Income. This is a petition that asks the European Parliament to study a Citizen’s Income and the options for funding it. If the petition gathers a million signatures across the European Union, with minimum numbers in seven states, then the European Parliament is obliged to debate the proposal.
The deadline for signing the petition is this Monday.
You will find a link to the petition on the home page of our website.
I shall write to you again when the next Citizen’s Income Newsletter is available.
With best wishes
Malcolm Torry
Dr. Malcolm Torry, Director, Citizen’s Income Trust

Channel 4 (@Channel4): Stop broadcasting Benefits Street and make a donation to a relevant charity for the harm caused

Reverend Paul Nicolson writes:

Hi all,

I've just signed the following petition "Channel 4 (@Channel4): Stop broadcasting Benefits Street and make a donation to a relevant charity for the harm caused" and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

Our goal is to reach 7,500 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here:

Bedroom tax loophole for people with long tenancies

A Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group activist writes:

There's been some information circling around the internet about a loophole the government didn't spot in their bedroom tax legislation.
It seems that anyone who has BOTH been in the same property since 1996 AND been in continuous receipt of housing benefit during that time, should not have been paying bedroom tax.
The tories simply missed out amending the previous regulations.
You can read an explanation of this here: http://speye.wordpress.com/2014/01/
Here is a template of a letter for people to send to their local authority-
Dear Sirs,
I ask you to reconsider my bedroom tax decision in your HB decision notice dated DD/MM/YYYY in accordance with HB regulations and with regard to statutory instrument 217 of 2006 in terms of my protected “eligible rent” the Consequential Provisions Regulations 2006 holds as I maintain I have been in continuous receipt of Housing Benefit since at least the 1 January 1996 and have have lived at my current address in all that time.
Yours etc

The DWP has admitted the existence of this loophole and TODAY has sent a circular HB U1/2014 out to local authorities which you can read here:
The ConDems are said to be working on rushing through an emergency piece of legislation to close the loophole which they will try to make retroactive, but at the moment there is a window of opportunity. for long term tenants to send off the letter and gain exemption from the bedroom tax.

From Cannon Fodder to Sanctions Fodder, 'Your Country Needs You'?

While the Royal Mint is releasing a 'your country needs you' coin to commemorate the start of WW1, I believe these words from an August 2010 blog post by Peter Beresford are highly relevant:

Fear and insecurity

These days as I listen to the radio, overhear conversations or have casual contact with strangers, I am increasingly hearing people highlight two targets from a growing sense of fear and insecurity. I am shocked at how often conversations turn to attacks on immigrants/asylum seekers and people on benefits and how much 'they' are costing 'us'.

These are both groups with more than their fair share of problems to bring to social work and social care, yet the prevailing response is increasingling negative and hostile. I have had to listen to such poisonous tirades when I've bough things in shops. I've overheard such rants from neighbours in a supermarket café, standing in a post office queue and sitting on a bus. Worst still are the radio phone-ins where tam experts who'll to the dominant line encourage callers who respond in kind. But perhaps worst and most irresponsible of all, are government websites that encourage all kinds of hate mail against people on benefits.

Grimly fascinating

There's something reminiscent of the mindless cruelty of first world war conscientious objector tribunals and medical boards set up to drive people into the bloodbath of the western front in these developments. With it comes a sense that it may be more and more risky and difficult to speak out against them....

Isn't it marvellous that instead of creating real waged employment for people, this Government is finding more and more stupid reasons to deprive tens of thousands of JSA claimants per month of an income?

Alan Wheatley

PS: Peter Beresford has since commented on my comments:
 thanks for this Alan, what a dreadful coin and how true your comment is. all v best peter
A current example of how the Government is maligning benefit claimants while letting extortionate landlords get away with robbing the public purse is this January 2014 headline from the Daily Mail: Revealed: How 33,000 families were claiming more than £26,000 per year in benefits before benefit cap was imposed.

Of course, as Mike McNabb pointed out in 2011, the Mail tends to focus on maligning vulnerable people rather than highlighting how offshore companies have been the ones really milking the system. And when I was interviewed by a Mail on Sunday reporter in February 2003 about something entirely different, I mentioned to the reporter that I was a disabled jobseeker who had applied to teach computing skills to [other] disabled people. So, presumably to give my witness account greater credibility to Mail on Sunday readers, the reporter stated that I taught computing skills to disabled people and did not mention my true source of income.

Alan Wheatley

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Guest blog from CarerWatch

URGENT Call for information – Independent review of Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions

We’ve had a request today for comments on Jobseeker Allowance sanctions, which is being carried out by Matthew Oakley.
He would like views from as many people as possible by 10 January 2014.  For further information, please click on the below link:   https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/256044/jsa-sanctions-independent-review.pdf
If you have any comments, please send them to sanctions.review2013@dwp.gsi.gov.uk