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Friday, 31 October 2014

Welfare State and Living Standards — TUC 'Making Work Pay' 1/2 day Conference, Monday 8 December

From Helen Nadin, Policy & Campaigns Support Officer, Economic & Social Affairs Dept, TUC 

Making Work Pay? What role can the welfare state play in raising living standards?
A half-day free conference to be held at Congress House at 1.30-4.30pm on 8th December.
Lunch available from 12.30 and the conference will be followed by a drinks reception.
At a time of rising high underemployment and falling average weekly earnings, low-paid workers and their families now account for a majority of people living in poverty. But with the public finances under continued pressure, employment policy and welfare reforms need to work together to achieve change.
The conference will discuss the two new key reports that consider the scale of this challenge, as well as debating how it could be met. The authors of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Cumulative Impact Assessment of recent tax and welfare reform will present key findings from their analysis, and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s Head of Staff will set out the findings from the OBR’s first Welfare Trends Report.
Speakers include:
·         Peter Brant, Acting Director of the Secretariat to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission
·         Richard Exell, Senior Policy Officer, TUC
·         Alison Garnham, Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group
·         Andrew Hood, Research Economist, Institute for Fiscal Studies
·         Andy King, Head of Staff, Office for Budget Responsibility
·         Jonathan Portes, Director, National Institute for Economic and Social Research (tbc)
·         Howard Reed, Director, Landman Economics
The conference will be chaired by Nicola Smith, TUC Head of Economic and Social Affairs.
A free drinks reception after the event will provide space for discussion and networking.
Helen Nadin
Policy and Campaigns Support Officer
Economic and Social Affairs Department
Congress House
Great Russell Street
Tel: 020 7467 1224
Mob: 07766 252463
Email: hnadin@tuc.org.uk

More fun than 'work for your benefits'

Title above by Swheatie of the KUWG

The letter introduced below is from Martin Francis' Wembley Matters blog and published online to help compensate for the fact that the Brent & Kilburn Times has not recently included a letters page. A major problem arising from present day deprivation of today's young poor people is that it conspires to prepare them for a life of drudgery and low expectations.
The future for our young people?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Stonebridge: So much more than just a playground

United in the battle to save Stonebridge Adventure Playground
The Kilburn Times is playing a gteat role in publicising and supporting the fight to save Stonebridge Adventure Playground. Unfortunately they have not had a Letters Page for several weeks so I print below a letter I sent them:

 It has been gratifying to see the Brent & Kilburn Times getting behind the local community's fight to save Stonebridge Adventure Playground.

I recently attended the Wembley Connects forum where we were invited to shape a vision for the improvement of the borough. One strong theme that emerged was the need for social spaces where our diverse population could meet, share common interests and learn about each other. It was argued that this  would help produce community cohesion and solidarity.

Stonebridge Adventure Playground is such a space where generations of children and their parents and carers have mixed and shared each others company in an area of disadvantage.  It was noteworthy that Doug and Glynis Lee's MBE nomination for their work on the playground was from grown up children who had helped them build it back in the 1970s.

Continue reading on Wembley Matters blog....

St Mungo's workers strike to maintain quality services

By Peter Kavanagh, Regional Secretary, Unite London & Eastern Region

Unite members prepare for a further 10 days of strike action in their fight to maintain quality services!

St Mungo's Broadway have made no effort to resolve this dispute and the workers are determined to preserve quality services for the homeless and resist the imposed detrimental changes to their terms and conditions.

The workers have only just finished a week long strike in an attempt to get management back into meaningful talks.

Please show your support for the St Mungo's Broadway workers by asking your MP to sign the Emergency Day Motion (EDM) 394 sponsored by Jeremy Corbyn MP.

This EDM asks for support for the workers and also calls on the executive and Board of St Mungo's Broadway to honour their recognition agreement with Unite and act to resolve this dispute immediately.

Aside from the blatant unfairness between huge pay rises that top bosses have recently recieved, including £30,000 pocketed by the new Chief Executive whilst new project workers seeing their pay slashed by £5,000, workers are deeply concerned at the long-term negative effects of the proposals that will result in cheap labour, downgraded roles and staff working under minimum standard policies and procedures.

Please support these workers and ask your MP to support this EDM.

In solidarity
Peter Kavanagh,
Regional Secretary, Unite

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sickening system — what is it fit for?

Swheatie responds to the Carer Watch blog posting about Opposition Day Debate

Sanctions and fear of sanctions leave people traumatised
Hi, CW

'Welfare reform' is a sickening industry

I note that one of the 'related posts' you cite is from me from over two years ago, and linked to a letter I had published in Camden New Journal — 'Tongue-tied but no longer isolated'.

The Opposition Day Debate was not the only thing happening yesterday in terms of the 'welfare reform' agenda.  There was a demonstration against the axing of Access to Work for disabled people as the money 'saved' by closure of Remploy factories seems to have got us nowhere.

Meanwhile, no longer isolated, I was celebrating my birthday with friends from Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group outside North Kensington Jobcentre Plus — or, as we have dubbed it, 'North KenSanctions Slave Centre' in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. That is somewhat in the 'beyond' bit of our operating area definition of 'Brent & Camden & Beyond!' (Our heartland of Kilburn is split between the boroughs of Brent & Camden.) And we were there with our blogger friend and Honorary Member Kate Belgrave (all the way from SE London), reflecting on the huge gulf between the Metro freebie newspaper's 29 October banner headline "Migrants 'ready to die for your British benefits' — Mayor of Calais warns MPs of growing crisis" and what we actually hear from jobcentre customers — especially at the North KenSanctions Centre! (I wish there was a gagging law against purveyors of such nonsense, while the owner of the newspaper group of which the Metro and Daily Mail are a part lives outside the UK.)

The sad fact in response to those words attributed to the Mayor of Calais — apart from the facts of people fleeing wars in their native lands — is that sanctions and fear of sanctions is making people traumatised and too ill to work or do pointless jobsearch, and more and more people are being driven into daily signing on with fluctuating signing times that make for no real quality time in jobsearch and a very punitive system, especially at the NKS Slave Centre. How much of that can anyone humanly take?

At that sanctions centre more than any other so far, we encounter people who have been sanctioned. (Usually elsewhere it's people who have been threatened with sanction if they do not comply with what the jobcentre 'adviser' has told them they must do, which is often far more than the claimant is really legally obliged to do.)

And in this day and age, one of the greatest impediments to benefit justice is a desire to do waged work in a world that is not geared for your inclusion. What sort of chance has a person in such a situation got for claiming ESA?

As per our official motto: "Never attend anywhere official alone!" exercising my liberty in support of social and economic justice gave a new context to my attending a jobcentre on my birthday as the progress I have made in life from the time that I was going nowhere as a disabled person who really wanted to do something meaningful in my life but not able to in a world that has laws against disability discrimination but no real enforcement of those laws.

Where does MPs' more-informed debate get us?

New post on Carer Watch's blog

Opposition Day Debate and disabled people

by Carerwatch

There was an Opposition Debate yesterday in the House of Commons – called by Labour on a motion to condemn the recent statement by Lord Freud about disabled people possibly working for less than the minimum wage. Lord Freud has since apologised and the motion was lost.
However for those of us who have been watching the debates on Welfare Reform since 2007 – it was chance to see how far in some ways we have come and how far in others  we haven’t moved forward at all.
For the first few years of welfare reform no one had a clue what it would be like in reality. All we had was Freud and James Purnell talking pure theory.
That has certainly changed. All MP's now have a deluge of disabled constituents coming in to their surgeries, and they have found out what it is about. So the debate is finally informed amongst MPs. Yet still they do nothing.
Fundamentally the big problem with Employment Support Allowance remains. Both Tory and Labour parties have not Read more of this post on the Carer Watch blog

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Supreme Court decides unanimously against council over 2012 Council Tax Consultation

News of a victory for local campaigners from Revd Paul Nicolson a great birthday gift for Swheatie of the KUWG

Haringey Council loses to local campaigners in Supreme Court battle over 2012 Council Tax Consultation

Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
07961177889 – 02083765455


The Supreme Court has unanimously allowed the appeal against Haringey Council’s 2012 council tax consultation and declared it unlawful. However they have not ordered the council to undertake take a fresh consultation.

“This is a powerful win for local campaigners who opposed the taxation of benefits by Haringey Council. The council is taxing the lowest benefits that are needed for food, domestic fuel and shelter. The judgement leaves the council free to re-consult all the residents about whether council tax should be increased by an average of 86 pence a week to restore the 100% council tax benefit for the poorest residents. Alex Rook of the lawyers Irwin Mitchell and I believe that should now happen” said The Rev Paul Nicolson.

"On the 7th October I was given leave in the High Court to seek a judicial review of the £125 costs imposed by Tottenham Magistrates at the request of Haringey council on late and non payers of council tax 1000s at a time whatever their means.  National and local governments have ignored  the oppressive  impact of council tax and its enforcement."

Continue reading on Taxpayers Against Poverty website....

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Don't axe Access to Work for deaf and disabled! Wednesday 29 October 2014: 12 till 1pm, Old Palace Yd, SW1

Subject heading above by Swheatie of KUWG

Content below from Ellen Clifford at Inclusion London

StopChanges2ATW – Westminster rally

Wednesday 29th October 2014 : 12 – 1pm: Old Palace Yard

On Wednesday the DWP select committee is holding its final oral evidence session for its inquiry into Access to Work. Mark Harper, Minister for Disabled People, will be giving evidence.
The StopChanges2ATW campaign will be attending the evidence session as observers and then holding a rally in Old Palace Yard to protest against changes to Access to Work that are driving Deaf and disabled people out of employment and undermining our employability.
Speakers will include Andy Greene, Disabled People Against Cuts, Geraldine O’Halloran, Inclusion London and co-founder of StopChanges2ATW, Jenny Sealey, artistic director of Graeae Theatre Company, , David Buxton CEO of the British Deaf Association.
For more information contact: ellen.clifford AT inclusionlondon.co.uk
For more information about the changes to Access to Work and how they are impacting on Deaf and disabled people go to: http://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com/
Kind regards,
Ellen Clifford
Campaigns and Communications Worker
Inclusion London
336 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AA
Tel: 020 7237 3181, (office SMS: 0771 839 4687)
Tracey.Lazard AT inclusionlondon.co.uk
Visit our Power Up Project website for information on free training and events for London’s disability sector run by Inclusion London and Transport for All. www.powerupproject.org.uk

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Z2K: Crisis report finds homeless people turned away

From Z2K — Justice for vulnerable debtors

Crisis report finds homeless people ‘Turned Away’

imagesI was delighted to attend the launch earlier this week of homelessness charity, Crisis’ new research into the treatment of single homeless people by local authorities.  The research was carried out by people who had formerly experienced homelessness themselves “mystery shopping” 16 local authorities in England to check the quality of advice and assistance they provide to single homeless people.  Crisis found that, while in 37 out of 87 visits, applicants were given adequate advice and assistance, in the remaining 50 they were not.  Most of those were in London.

The report was introduced by Crisis’ new Chief Executive, John Sparkes, and MPs from each of the main three political parties set out their response to its findings. But it was formerly homeless, “Danielle” who stole the show.  In a powerful presentation, she set out not only the difficulties she had in getting council officers to properly assess her situation, but the slew of jibes and negative comments she endured at their hands.  On one occasion, she was told to go and ask a group of men hanging around outside the offices if she could stay with them.

Continue reading at Z2K website....

Brent ARC opposing state racism, while Swheatie points to the real source of UK housing and job shortages

From Martin Francis' Wembley Matters blog

Preface by Swheatie of the KUWG

LB Brent is one of the London boroughs targeted by a racist Home Office witch hunt and Brent Anti-Racism's demonstration and awareness raising exercise in Wembley this morning cannot get everywhere.

So I have decided to post the start of Martin Francis' blog piece about the matter on this blog, concluding with a link to the full blog post on the Wembley Matters blog. The KUWG blog has viwers around the globe, and so hopefully there will also be viewers from the other London boroughs targeted.

The Home Office may have threatening arms, but the KUWG currently has a global following that should include the other London boroughs where the current ethnicity-based witch hunt is taking place.

And Swheatie wishes to point out that the London housing crisis arises more from successive UK government's under-investment in social housing stock, taxpayer-subsidised Right to Buy's erosion of social housing stock, and the greed of global capitalists who love gambling on shortages and spongeing off the UK state in their own ways.

And capitalism loves exporting jobs to wherever the working conditions are most slave like in the interests of profit, while global corporations pressurise nation states and the EU to make conditions for the reserve army of labour/slavery ever harder so that those who can will take up whatever 'job offers' are presented to them. And the Tory flagship 'Universal Credit' will, it is feared, bully the people claiming Working Tax Credits to find more working hours.

The real problem when people claim Universal Credit is more likely to be skinflint employers providing wages that are too low, and/or limits to the number of hours the employee can manage to make.

Brent Anti-Racism Campaign steps up rights campaign over Operation Skybreaker

Brent is one of five London boroughs to be chosen as the target for Operation Skybreaker. This follows targeting of the borough by racist organisations such as the BNP, Britain First and the South East Alliance and by the UK Border Agency and Home Office through the racist van and raids on tube stations.

Today the Brent Against Racism Campaign (BrentARC) will be in Wembley Central  distributing the leaflets below informing the public and businesses about their rights regarding Operation Skybreaker.

The leaflet below is particularly aimed at small business owners:
Continue reading this blog piece on the Wembley Matters blog....

How to help stop TTIP

More 'armchair activism', this time from 38Degrees

Swheatie's preface

I have just signed the below, adding the paragraph:
My country's Government backs TTIP but that same Government is a coalition without a mandate for the savagery of the cuts to public services that it is committing. Those cuts make a mockery of the coalition constituent parties' commitment to equality for disadvantaged minorities, particularly sick and severely disabled people.
And concluding:
 Please also work to ensure that the EU commission website is much more accessible to disabled people.

What use is EU equalities legislation if it is to be waived aside by the whim of global corporations that pursue and exacerbate inequality?
Please be aware that the KUWG accepts no responsibility for such content as requests for financial assistance on other sites that it has links to.

38 Degrees write:

Great news. It looks like the EU is wavering on TTIP - the dodgy EU-US trade deal. Jean-Claude Juncker, who’s due to start a new job as the new EU Commission President, is hinting that ISDS could be removed. That's the bit of the deal that allows corporations like McDonald's or Marlboro to sue our government. [1]

This is one of the worst parts of TTIP - getting rid of it could help us see off the whole deal. But there’s a problem: our government is lobbying to keep it in. [2]

Right now, we need to show that the UK government isn’t speaking for us, the people of the UK. Thousands of us have already written to the EU to tell them that ISDS should be dropped. And it looks like it’s finally sinking in - so let’s not let our government undo our hard work.

If enough of us email Juncker directly, we can make sure TTIP is impossible to ignore. He won’t be used to this many ordinary people getting in touch! Can you email him today?

The deal was locked behind closed doors - only politicians and big businesses were supposed to hear about it. Together, we’ve changed that. We’ve signed petitions, we’ve spread the word about TTIP in our communities and we’ve put it firmly on the agenda of our MEPs. [3] And its paying off.

As Juncker takes office as the new EU Commission President, we can show him that he can stop hinting - we’ll support him removing ISDS from the deal. If we flood his inbox now, he’ll be left in no doubt that the idea of McDonald's or Marlboro suing our government is a no go area.

Please can you email Jean-Claude Juncker right now? There’s already some suggested words, so it’ll only take a minute or two:

Thanks for being involved,

India, Nat, Blanche & the 38 Degrees team

[1] Jean Claude Juncker speech to the European Parliament:
International Business Times: TTIP and ISDS: The obscure trade clause threatening to tear European politics apart:
[2] Financial Times: EU States tell Juncker not to water down trade deal:
[3] TTIP Days of action on Youtube:

Importance of 'armchair activism'

From Carer Watch — the online self-help network for and of family-based carers

Don’t knock armchair activism – its an important part of our work

copied from DPAC

There are a lot of activists who don’t like petitions. They don’t sign them. They don’t share them. They look down on them as not being worthwhile.

And quite often they are right. Most petitions are a waste of time and energy. But just occasionally one petition will take off and it will change the world, just a little bit.

A case in point is this petition - Hold an inquiry into benefit sanctions that killed my brother

After 211,778 signed this petition the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee have taken up the case and launched an inquiry :-

Here is the press release from Change.org and an article in the Mirror about it

 Continue reading on Carer Watch website....

Friday, 24 October 2014

Supreme Court decision on LB Haringey's Council Tax consultation — 29 October decision date

Rev Paul Nicolson 
07961177889 - 02083765455


This case was kicked off by a telephone call to lawyers from The Rev Paul Nicolson, a resident of Haringey, on behalf of Taxpayers Against Poverty. I was concerned that one of the alternatives to the draft council tax reduction scheme, about which the 2012 consultation took place, did not include was the option of increasing the average band D by 86 pence a week which would have kept the 100% benefit for low income households in work and unemployment. 

We now have the unfair 20% of council tax on benefits, which takes away with one hand what has been given with the other, on top of the 1% freeze, the bedroom tax, rent due to cuts in housing benefit, increasing rents and the escalating prices of food and domestic fuel. 

On top of that  imposition on the lowest incomes in the borough the Magistrates imposed £125 costs on 27,882 households in 2013/14, the first year benefits were taxed. The bailiffs then add to the impossible debts a minimum of £75 and another £235 for a visit. 

Those £125 costs are now subject to judicial review in Nicolson v Tottenham Magistrates & Haringey Council. The High Court leave was given on the 7th October. 

NB. the council tax reduction scheme (CTRS) devised by local authorities replaced the council tax benefit (CTB) administered by central government in the Local Government Finance Act 2012. 

In Haringey 20% of council tax was imposed on benefit claimants in work and unemployment from April 2013.  
Article from Local Government Lawyer
Supreme Court to hand down key ruling next week on consultations
Thursday, 23 October 2014 14:07
The Supreme Court is expected to hand down next week (29 October) a key ruling on the proper approach to consultations.
The case of R (on the application of Moseley (in substitution of Stirling) v London Borough of Haringey specifically considered consultations conducted under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 in respect of proposed ‘council tax reduction schemes. These schemes were introduced to replace council tax benefit.
The appeal considered whether a fair consultation required that consultees be informed not just of the proposals of the local authority, but also of the reasons for the proposals.
It also considered whether consultees should be given sufficient information to enable them to critically examine the thinking that led to the proposals.
The case arose out of Haringey’s consultation upon its council tax reduction scheme. The Government subsequently announced a Transitional Grant Scheme (TGS) but the authority adopted its council tax reduction scheme without re-consultation.
Haringey argued that the Transitional Grant Scheme did not affect the draft scheme.
The local authority won in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal in February 2013.
Before the Supreme Court, the appellant argued that the consultation process was unfair and unlawful because:
  • Consultees had not been provided with sufficient information to understand that there were alternatives to the draft scheme; and
  • Haringey should have re-consulted when the Transitional Grant Scheme was announced.
A five-justice panel of the Supreme Court – comprising Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson and Lord Reed – heard the case on 19 June.


Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road, 
London N17 0BF
0208 3765455
07961 177889
also at www.z2k.org 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

European Commissioners, social inequality and climate change

From the Media Office of Jean Lambert, London's Green Party Member of the European Parliament*


For Immediate Release

October 22, 2014

UK Green MEPs reject new European Commission

The new European Commission has today been accepted by the European
Parliament but was voted against by many MEPs, including the UK’s three
Green MEPs.

The Greens/EFA political group in the Parliament opposed the appointment of
the entire Commission. Two of the appointments causing concern for the UK’s
Green MEPs is that of Miguel Arias Canete, a former Spanish minister who
has family ties to the oil industry. Canete was dubbed “senor petrol head”
[1] by The Sunday Times and was today appointed Commissioner for the
position of Climate and Energy. Another is the appointment of Lord Hill of
Oareford, but the Greens’ criticism go beyond individual Commissioners.

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, said:

‘We have seen the cost of growing inequality across the EU and we are
beginning to appreciate the true cost of ignoring climate change. With a
global climate deal due in 2015, I am not convinced that this new
Commission can face the challenges before us. I cannot see the joined-up
thinking needed to lead the EU on a more just and sustainable path, so I
voted “no”.’

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, said:

‘The appointment of an oil baron with past and present links to the fossil
fuel industry as Climate Commissioner makes a mockery of European politics.
Europe’s response to climate change is of global importance, but this
appointment inspires no confidence.’

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, said:

‘The withdrawal of responsibility for bankers' bonuses from Lord Hill's
portfolio demonstrates why he is entirely inappropriate for this role. The
only way that he could be acceptable as European Commissioner for Financial
Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union is if everything
that the UK Government opposes in terms of financial regulation were
removed from his brief, which would leave him nothing to do.’


Notes to Editors


* Swheatie of the KUWG is a Green Party member, while KUWG is non-party-politically aligned. But what does the alignment of the European Commission members say about where this trading block is heading?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Placard designs for KUWG's next demo

Placards designs by Swheatie of the KUWG

 The above placard paraphrases feedback on a recent Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group from a friend of Swheatie who recently attended a KUWG meeting to find out about people who are poor from themselves rather than from statistical studies. (Kwuggies is one of many nicknames KUWG members have for themselves and each other.)
 Whoever devised the system by which JobSeekers Allowance claimants are obliged to attend the jobcentre/slave centre every day at alternating times, did they do it to enhance the mental health or employment prospects of the daily attendance fodder?

For more on this, see our Honorary Member Kate Belgrave's blog piece Daily JSA sign on: more sadism for the hell of it from the DWP.

 Another KUWG Honorary Member, blogger Johnny Void, writes that the DWP has launched another boring 'grass up your neighbour' campaign that allows the real megabucks benefit fraudsters a very easy ride.

Are the perpetrators of such campaigns pleased with their correlative impact on disability hate crime?

While the Gagging Law is now an Act of Parliament, taxpayers money is being used to further hate crimes against disabled people.
 With all the attacks on poor people through the benefits system, what is the 'end game' of these attackers?
Every Atos 'Medical Examination Centre' should have a warning placed outside it
When Atos 'Disability Analysts' are inducted to believe that as they are 'only assessing claimants' the Hippocratic Oath does not apply, where are their core values? Doctors worked in Nazi concentration camps and later claimed they were 'only following orders'. See Sickness benefit clawback firm tells GP people are 'claimants, not patients'

Call for bedroom tax impact assessment examples

From Henrietta Doyle of Inclusion London — promoting equality for London's deaf and disabled community

Inclusion London has been asked for examples of the impact of bedroom tax on disabled people in London by Labour London assembly members. I would be very grateful if you could send any cases you are willing to share to me at: Henrietta.doyle AT inclusionlondon.co.uk.  All the examples will be anonymised so the identity of the person won’t be revealed.     

Many thanks,


Henrietta Doyle
Policy Officer
Mobile: 07703 715091
Direct line (Wednesday’s only) 020 7036 6033
Office Tel: 020 7237 3181, SMS: 0771 839 4687
Visit our new Power Up Project website for information on free training and events for London’s disability sector run by Inclusion London and Transport for All. www.powerupproject.org.uk

Description: Description: inclusion_london_logo (Medium)

Inclusion London is a London-wide Deaf and disabled people’s organisation promoting equality for the capitals 1.4 million Deaf and disabled people and providing capacity building support to London’s Deaf and disabled people's organisations.

Sunday, 19 October 2014


Report by CK — that's not Calvin Klein but Clarence Kwuggledite of the KUWG

No to MIPIM rocks!

Kuwg banner outside Centre (banner was slightly on 6.30pm bbc news with my hat and Robin's head/teeshirt, and Yiannis and Berlin Pauline).

KUWG banner at No to MIPIM
I visited The 'House of cards" built by protestors! Met Franz (Pauline took my photo) and I spoke to Darren Johnson (Green Party member of the London Assembly) who said to say hello to Swheatie of KUWG. [Swheatie adds: Darren Johnson is author of a report Crumbs for London: Why the Mayor of London's housing strategy will do little for ordinary Londoners.]

Great informed and organised protestors from Unite Community & Radical Housing Network mainly. A lot of the MIPIM people going in seemed genuinely bemused that their 'good deeds' (Regeneration) could be criticised, but many took leaflets.

Over and out.
Clarence Kwuggledite at No to MIPIM


KUWG says, "No to MIPIM."

Friday, 17 October 2014

Paradoxes of welfare reform under capitalism

By Swheatie of the KUWG — writing in a personal capacity*

An alternative to means-testing claimants?
Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) has broadcast a 'mass call out' for the sacking of Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud. This follows a statement Lord Freud made at a recent Tory Party conference fringe event, when he told a Tory councillor that some disabled people are "not worth the minimum wage," and that he would "have to go away and think about" how to get away with paying "some disabled people could be paid as little as £2 an hour." (Independent article Lord Freud: Tory Minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth' the minimum wage includes an actual voice recording of Lord Freud saying that.)

David Cameron later apologised for the former investment banker Lord Freud's remarks, saying that they were not a true reflection on the views of the Tory Party. A Yahoo search and my long term memory bring to mind and historical record Philip Davies MP (Tory) using disabled people's potential lower productivity as an argument against the use of minimum wage legislation:
A Tory MP has sparked anger by suggesting that disabled people should work for less than the minimum wage to increase their chances of being taken on by employers [see footnote].
Philip Davies told the Commons: "If an employer is looking at two candidates, one who has got disabilities and one who hasn't, and they have got to pay them both the same rate, I invite you to guess which one the employer is more likely to take on.

"Given that some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable that, given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same, they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.

"My view is that for some people the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.

"If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that's some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don't see why we should be standing in their way."
And I note that under the original 'descriptors' for the 'Work Capability Assessment' through which I won a tribunal for Employment & Support Allowance eligibility in 2009, I scored 15 points — the full threshold amount! — for a descriptor regarding time taken to execute tasks. That factor had been a major bug bear and cause of friction between scapegoatist co-workers and me in my first waged job, as they complained that the amount of time I took to complete tasks was so slow that the section manager assigned tasks to them instead of me, and that I should be forced to take a wage cut to compensate them!

And note also that it was Labour DWP Secretary who signed off the authorisation for the 'harsher test' in 2010 before the General Election of that year to 'simplify' the 'Work Capability Assessment'. (Sheffield Forum: Even harsher new ESA Medical approved.) And so under such legislation, slower disabled workers are not protected against the potential financial abuse that they could be exposed to by being short-changed under quantitative 'piece rate' that epitomises capitalism's orientation toward only valuing people in an instrumental sense — as means of production.

What about an hourly rate that is laid out on the basis of valuing people in terms of their commitment to taking part?

Yet what does Lord Freud's talk of paying disabled people as little as £2 per hour and compensating them through Universal Credit say regarding the matter of juggling 'protecting the vulnerable' with the Tory mania for an 'overall benefit cap'?

So, maybe, yes Lord Freud should be sacked, but who is going to replace him and what will they espouse as the future for disabled people in a capitalist system under which people are only valued in terms of their quantity of output?

* The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Slave centres show lack of 'customer care'

Placard and accompanying text by Swheatie of the KUWG

"Given indefinite sanction" = Given fuck all service

Any obscenity relating to the above placard design is really in the lack of 'customer care' in the way that economically vulnerable people are treated at the so-called 'North Kensington Jocentre Plus', and in the orders they are given from 'on high'.

Being forced into daily signings on with fluctuating attendance for allegedly spending too long on JobSeekers Allowance is one thing when there are not enough waged jobs around. But bullying claimants into handing over their Universal Jobmatch password is an illegal act, so why do they sanction a person for defying that order?

It is just pure, malevolent punishment.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

KUWG join PCS picket North KenSanctions Slave Centre on Wednesday 15 Oct, 3pm to 4pm

By Swheatie of the KUWG

Civil Service should really mean just that.
This Wednesday the KUWG were to join any picket line that may exist at Kilburn Jobcentre on the national strike day of the Public & Commercial Service Union (PCS). PCS includes salaried jobcentre staff.

But in the meantime we received a request from someone associated or formerly associated with North KenSanctions Slave Centre [officially known as North Kensington JobCentre Plus]. And on our tour of duty there on Wednesday 8 October we had an overwhelming realisation that our presence is urgently required at that place to help bolster the quality of customer service delivery — we have decided to do our 'secondary picketing' there this week. So to we return to that place whatever we call it, near Ladbrok Grove Stn, in Kensal Road, W10 5BL.

Secondary picketing is a form of bridge building
(Bringing together social work practitioners, service users, academics and students toward rescuing social work from the clutches of managerialism and privatisation is the mission of Social Work Action Network. Similarly, KUWG wants to cooperate with jobcentre workers in rescuing jobcentres from the clutches of market driven 'welfare reform' — and to remind the civil servants involved what the customers really want and that they are there to serve the public rather than millionaires.)

'Secondary picketing' — i.e., picketing by people not of the trade union immediately involved in a strike — was perceived correctly by the Thatcher Government as being against the perceived mission of that Government and so of course they sought to abolish it. (Not that that mission was transparently stated with all the media manipulation involved and talk of 'the enemy within' after the defeat of an Argentinian military junta that had been financed and armed by successive UK and US Governments before going a little too far in its own military ambitions after it had 'disappeared thousands upon thousands of Argentinian citizens.)

Claimant status doesn't invalidate human rights
 Enough of the Modern History lesson. In much more recent history, jobcentre staff have been threatened and bribed to clamp down on the right of claimants. The contract between Monster Jobs and the Department for Work & Pensions under which the 'Universal Jobmatch' program was created states that the claimant has an inviolable right to their password privacy — echoing what is already in the Data Protection Act.

Password privacy yours by right
But under sanctions performance targets and a chain of bullying that DWP Secretary Iain Duncan Smith denies exist, jobcentre staff frequently demand that claimants tell jobcentre staff their password. ("Never believe anything till it has been officially and vehemently denied"?) Once the staff have access to the claimant/customer's password, electronic surveillance of the jobseeker is made much easier.

Yet at North KenSanctions Slave Centre, staff all too routinely tell claimants/customers that they will be sanctioned if they do not give over their 'Universal Jobmatch' password.

Is sanctioning 'customer service'?

The KUWG wants to remind all jobcentre staff that if they don't join with claimants in claimants' struggles, it will be all too easy for the privatisation of jobcentres into the clutches of companies like G4S and Serco to continue. Employment Minister Esther McVay has already shown a keenness for contracted staff on the Supervised Jobsearch Pilot scheme to be given license to sanction claimants. That was previously only something that staff directly employed by the DWP could do. But as she gives privately contracted staff 'employment officer' status, what next for the jobcentre staff in their struggle against privatisation?

 So where is the job security for jobcentre staff in 'only following orders' as Nazis did?

Whose side are North Kensington Jobcentre staff on — in an economic climate in which even the most diligent of JSA claimants, stripped of a real work environment's networking opportunities toward professional advancement, are more likely to be sanctioned than find another job within six months?

Sanctions mercenaries? No thanks!

'No to MIPIM UK'-inspired-or-related placard designs

By Swheatie of the KUWG

Who ever voted for MIPIM UK?
When people voted for their councillors, mayors etc., did they have any inkling how the people they voted for would be wined and dined by property developers who are more interested in investing in puppets than furthering democracy?

KUWG members will be celebrating the launch of No to MIPIM UK
Jet-setters are just not domesticated
People who have too many homes and who squander others' ability to find a place to live by gambling on and exploiting 'supply and demand' are not really fitted to be world citizens, anywhere that they happen to be.
Housing Benefit tenants are not 'useless eaters'
 Chancellor George Osborne and his ilk represent housing benefit tenants very much like the Nazis portrayed disabled people — as burdens on society. In fact it has been the mercenary nature of offshore landlords and the collusion of mainstream television companies with the concept of home ownership and 'buy to let' housing that have drainedd the public purse for private profit and corporate bail out of irresponsible lenders. See Mike McNabb's very revealing analysis of a Daily Mail article about Somali asylum seekers, and how the reporter's lack of due proportionality leads readers — and subsequently voters — astray with its messaging. Link to Asylum seeker's £2m home: but who's playing the system?
Global parasites strip us of our assets
Poor people are all too frequently portrayed as parasites. As a Quaker, I believe there is something of God in every person. (KUWG is not a religious organisation but includes people who are religious and spiritual.) But in the sense that what people live for is to a large extent what they become, the wealthy lay themselves open to being described as parasites.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Payday loan ads and TV advertising watershed. House of Lords to start debating Monday 13 Oct 2014

The Children's Society

From Katie Curtis of the Children's Society

Today, the House of Lords will start debating whether they should back our call to ban payday loan adverts before the 9pm watershed.
If, like us, you believe children should learn about money from their school and family – not from irresponsible payday loan advertising - please join us and take action by lobbying a Lord. We’ve only got a few weeks left to change the law to protect children.
Thank you for your support,
Katie Curtis,
The Campaigns Team
The Children’s Society
P.S. You can read more about why we believe payday loan advertising has a negative impact on children and families in our report, Playday not Payday.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

"They say 'prosperity'; we say 'slavery'" — paraphrasing Lois Weiner

Preface by Swheatie of the KUWG

The Oct | Nov 2014 issue of Red Pepper magazine has a special feature on 'GERM' (the Global Education Reform Movement') and revealing that it has little really to do with the 'choice' that its advocates claim it promises.

Here is a snippet of the article 'Teacher Training' by Anna Wolmuth based on an interview with teacher and anti-GERM activist Lois Weiner. Surely, what Lois Weiner says regarding classrooms could as easily apply to jobcentres and the establishments to which jobcentres consign benefit claimants deemed unworthy of any 'lifestyle choices' and at taxpayers' expense?

Teacher Training

Anna Wolmuth talsk to US teacher and writer Lois Weinver about what the UK can learn from global education struggles

"If we fail to make the unions what they should be, most students... will be trained for a life of mental labour, poverty, or imprisonment." This is the stark warning given by Lis Weiner in her book The Future of Our Schools. The lifelong teacher union activist, based in New York , believes teachers' unions have the potential to halt the global assault on education but only if they are radically transformed.

The attacks on public education in the US are strikingly similar to those we are experiencing in the UK. Weiner, and others working in the field, see them as part of a global project to recast education as a profitable service sector of the economy. According to Weiner, "Education is a very lucrative sector, one of the last sections that isn't marketised, and they're after that."

The increased marketisation of education is not part of a secret agenda, but is openly discussed in business journals, Wall Street and World Bank and IMF documents. Weiner points to a 2002 World Bank report that identified teachers and teachers' unions as 'the biggest threat to global prosperity'. "When I used to say this people laughed but nobody laughs now because they realise that teachers have been targeted." The thinking is that teachers 'capture' government and use their power to block privatising reforms. An essential pillar of the GERM project is to destroy and weaken teacher trade unions as they are potentially the most powerful resistance."

A different kind of union

Trade unions have clearly not managed to block these reforms, however, and Weiner argues that to do so "we need a different kind of union." The problem with teaching unions in their current form, she suggests, is "not just a matter of cowardly or confused union teachers, which is not to say they don't exist, but it runs deeper than this."....

To continue reading this article, get or order a copy of the Oct | Nov 2014 issue of Red Pepper magazine from your local newsagent or from Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, N1 or from Bookmarks Bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, WC1B 3QE. The price is £3.95.

Meanwhile, Swheatie notes parallels between the situation of teachers and their students, and cites the development of Social Work Action Network as aiming for the field of social work what Lois Weiner advocates in the form of collaborations between teachers' unions "and parents and students in challenging neoliberal policies."

Note also that one of the major players in the GERM project is publishing company Pearson, that owns the Financial Times. What does that say about the need for transparency among the corporate world?