KUWG on Twitter

Friday, 28 February 2014

Are Atos worried about loss of 'Work Capability Assessment' contract? Or should you be more worried?

It could be you/your confidential medical data that they get to process!!!

Thanks to Helen1 of the KUWG for flagging this up.

You may have heard about the wrangle between the Department for Work & Pensions and Atos about the failings of the 'Work Capability Assessment' and whether the Atos axeman should be axed to give way to other companies such as Crapita, or whether it is more within Atos' interests to break the contract first.

But check out this Computer Weekly item and note that Atos is being put in charge of confidential medical data relating to a larger field of the UK NHS population! So, it could be you/your confidential data that Atos gets put in charge of!!!
"The [care.data] scheme proposes to upload all patient records from GP surgeries and hospitals into a central database, to be used for medical research by the NHS and private companies."
Q: How has Atos previously handled [or not handled] the ESA50 forms people have sent them?

A: Let Sue Marsh explain:
Mail to Atos Healthcare is opened as part of the DWP's ... Before we even get to the stage where you send the ESA50 back and it's opened by a Royal Mail ...

So, if you would like to opt out of the 'GP data extraction' project', what can you do?



Thursday, 27 February 2014

Say 'No' to use of water cannon in London today!

You can add your signature to a form letter at
and adding your name, e-mail address and optionally post code.

I have taken the liberty of adding this paragraph to the standard letter text supplied:

I further note as a member of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, that far more is required to eliminate the causes of civil unrest that might bring about a perceived 'need' for the use of brutal policing tactics. As an example, people unjustly denied benefits in a 'sanctions' clampdown on the numbers of those 'unemployed and claiming benefits' results in greater disaffection and people being banned from their local jobcentre. And i note that one of the most graphic examples of how brutal the impact of 'water cannon engagement' has been was in the 1960's in Birmingham Alabama where they were used to try to preserve racial segregation.

Regarding the use of water cannon -- aka 'fire hose' -- in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960's, see


Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group members leafleting at Marylebone Jobcentre, Lisson Grove on Wednesday 26 March

We leafleted accompanied by Kate Belgrave who took the original of the photo below.

KUWG members "more angry than frightened" at Marylebone Jobcentre
One new claimant told Kate that he had been instructed to apply for 25 jobs per week, Clarence and the KUWG 'bull horn' helped inform passers by why we were there, "more angry than frightened" as the KUWG Placard Flower's answer to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's 'Budget Box' proclaimed, and one immaculately dressed lady asked: "How can I make a donation to your group? I think that what you are doing is very important."
KUWG setting up at Lisson Grove 1

KUW setting up at Lisson Grove 2
Expressionists with an Old Master

Rev Paul Nicolson - Refusal to state a case by Tottenham Magistrates

 Guest blog piece by Rev'd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty. (Tottenham in Haringey is not Kilburn in Brent or Camden, but the same principles apply.)

Dear all, 

I have today sent [a] letter to the High Court asking them to order the Tottenham Magistrates to explain themselves!

I have also received the first approach from the bailiffs addressed to the "occupier" of my home address asking him or her to tell them where The Reverend Paul Nicolson has moved to!! 

It seems the council didn't tell them I still live here in Tottenham at .... two streets from Tottenham Hotspur. 

Sadly that happens too often with sometimes sad results when the wrong person intimidated into paying a tax or a fine they do not owe. 

I will not be paying the tax this year or next unless Haringey council increases the council tax for those who can afford it by the average of 86 pence a week to keep the 100% council tax benefit for those who cannot afford it, let alone the rent arrears due to the housing benefit caps. 

The single adult unemployment benefit of £71.70 will increase by only 70 pence a week on April 7th, due to the 1% pa freeze in benefit increases, adding to the food and fuel poverty experienced by many people in Haringey. 

Good wishes, 


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Options are not really representative of 'choices'

by Swheatie of the KUWG

KUWG placard: Jobcentre options ain't real choices

KUWG placard: 'Lifestyle choices'? On JSA?
I've just been engaged for something like the last hour and more in completing The Co-operative's 'Have Your Say' online survey. It is advertised as taking about 20 minutes to complete, and that does not recognise that some people have considerably slower operating paces than others. To comply with that 20 minutes, it would probably be far more apt for me to decide from the outset that my standard response would be along the lines of the 'Don't Know' boxes provided — but how could that represent my views? Wouldn't it just be 'a box ticking exercise', saying that I had accomplished the task in the time allocated?

That highlights a major difference between prescribed 'options' and real 'choices' as in the infamous statement that people are poor because of the 'lifestyle choices' that they/we make for themselves/ourselves.

It also ties in with my recent thinking about the impact of global inequality on London's housing queues. There is the old nonsense/lie that "teenage mum get pregnant to jump housing queues." That sort of villification diverts attention from the fact that there are people with more than one house in London, say, and that parts of London are being bought up by Chinese billionaires who were or had family links with ruling Communist Party big bods. (That tie-in between China going to an extreme capitalist model and the 'who stood to benefit' in the process, as Naomi Klein points out in 'The Shock Doctrine', was the real issue issue that led to the Tianment Square rebellion and cruel crushing of public dissent.)

As an example of how this 'Have Your Say' survey questions do not really represent my views, there is a stream of questions about attitudes toward The Co-operative's financial support given to The Co-operative Political Party. The starter questions around that are to do with whether it is right for big businesses to sponsor political parties. Nowhere does it seem to consider that members of a political party other than The Co-operative Political Party might wonder about how to get The Co-operative to sponsore their political party, or about how the chosen political party is chosen for sponsorship.

Computerised surveys tend to be more about controlling respondents than listening to their viewpoints, and in that sense engaging in a survey methods training course that outlines the differences between 'quantitative research methods' and 'qualitative research methods' can be a vital educational experience in the field of citizenship, as also can training in producing a computerised survey form.

Later, defining questions along the lines of 'who are you that is filling in the survey' appear such as this on main occupation:

Which of the following best describes the occupation of the main income earner in your household? By main income earner, we mean the person with the largest income, whether from employment, pensions, investments or any other source.
There is not an option for, say, "My main occupation is as a family-based carer engaged in more than 35 hours per week of caring for a sick or disabled person who is on middle or higher rate Disability Living Allowance." [That is the criteria for qualifying for Carers Allowance.] My main occupation is trying to change myself and the world around me toward making a society in which 'work' boosts health and well-being rather than sickens.

I'll leave it at that for now. I still have not completed the survey that I am reportedly 79% of the way through at the point where I have not specified my 'main occupation'.

Now, if I ask you, "What do you think about all this?" the comments and maybe even guest blog pieces that emerge are more like 'choices'. So, what do you think about all this?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Newham council walks out of public meeting to avoid Focus E15 Mums protest

That's the latest blog from Kate Belgrave. Much the same has happened in Brent, when Robin of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, Brent Housing Action and Unite Community got manhandled out of the uncivil Civic Centre that cost a mint to be built.

And this is my latest placard design in response to London's housing shortage.
Now it's not just burning crops that keeps prices high

So many of the ills that our society faces are actually caused by the policies of this Con-Dem central government. It is a great tragedy that Naomi Klein's book 'The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism' was so little known at the time of the 2010 General Election in the UK. While local councillors probably feel powerless to act against the gluttony of global capitalism, but they should at least show some solidarity with poor people.

Maybe Newham Council felt that it would be 'bad for their image' to rough handle the Focus E15 Mum out of the building in the same sort of way that Brent Council saw our Robin 'escorted out' of the Brent Civic Centre when he gave them a piece of his mind. But what Newham Council members on higher allowances than the social security benefits that the Focus E15 Mums receive are surely a greater 'drain on democracy' and the local women are.

Swheatie of the KUWG

Monday, 24 February 2014

Working Men's College free lectures

Helen2 of the KUWG, who is a Working Men's College mature learner herself and one of the two followers of this blog so far, forwards this notice:

Book now! WMC free lectures Tue 4 Mar 7pm "The UK & the EU" John Mills & Jonathan Scheele - plus 25 Mar 'Osborne's Austerity'

To: "Lectures at WMC" <lectures@wmcollege.ac.uk>

Tom Schuller, chair, and Satnam Gill, principal, of WMC-The Camden College are delighted to invite you to the next 2 free lectures on these two very current concerns – The UK & the European Union, and Osborne’s AusterityDo feel free to forward this invitation to any of your colleagues or friends as these lectures are open to the public.

Tue 4 Mar 7pm – The United Kingdom & The European Union  John Mills & Jonathan Scheele  A former Camden councillor and experienced Labour politician who is a very successful European businessman debates key issues with a high ranking European Commission official of many years service.

Tue 25 Mar 7pm – Osborne’s Austerity: Was it Worth It? Robert Skidelsky and Chris Giles A top political economist who is a prize-winning biographer of John Maynard Keynes debates the issues with the Economics Editor of the Financial Times.

To reserve free places just email lectures@wmcollege.ac.uk or phone 020 7255 4748. Lectures start at 7pm with refreshments first from 6.30pm.

We hope to see you at one or both lectures. 
Best wishes from
WMC The Camden College ref gw 44 Crowndale Road London NW1 1TR
Outstanding College, Ofsted 2013 Educating adults for over 160 years
Connect with us!  www.wmcollege.ac.uk | www.facebook.com/WorkingMensCollege | @wmcollege

Swheatie wishes that these events were not on Tuesday nights as that is when he has his guitar class as a learner, and also he has pre-booked to miss his guitar class for the John McDonnell MP 'People's Parliament' talk about 'Citizens Income' on Tuesday 4 March. The 25 March debate is especially interesting though, Swheatie reckons.

From Sue Marsh: Spartacus network survey on ESA; and 'Magic Mondays' to seek to explain to people the real impact of these welfare reforms

  1. Spartacus network survey on ESA to be submitted to the Work and Pensions select committee as a response to their recent call for evidence. What do you say?
  2. Help roll out the "Magic Mondays" campaign from today! Try to explain to just one person a week about the real impact of these  welfare reforms!

I'd be very grateful if you could help spread the word a little and support in any way you can. 

The usual love and squidges, 

Sue xx

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Kate Belgrave asks: 'Why is middle class feminism so disinterested in women hit by austerity?'

Swheatie of the KUWG gives a response that is more one of, "Are people afraid to stand up in defence of villified minorities while exploiters seek to divide us?"

Kate Belgrave, friend of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, asks the above very interesting question, comparing
  1. Minimal media coverage of the plight of single mothers in a substandard E15 [Newham] hostel who are threatened with benefit-cap-induced migration from their London support networks to the isolation of Hastings where they would not be welcomed and would be denied their existing neighbourhood supports; with
  2. The extraordinary coverage and endless twitter broadcasting gifted to middle-class feminism’s campaign to have Jane Austen's face printed on a banknote – banknotes that low-income women in Jasmin's situation struggled mightily to get their hands on from one day to the next.
Who is really jumping the housing queues?
While I am a man and not a woman, I believe it may be inappropriate for me to comment on middle-class feminist values. And one of the uncertainties for me is whether there has been any real rise in the UK numbers of homeless single parents since the days over 20 years ago that the vicious right wing Tory Secretary of State for Social Security included
young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing queue
in his parody of the Lord High Executioner's 'little list' from Gilbert & Sullivan's 'The Mikado'. But I note that for all of the perniciousness of the tabloid press attacks that have gone on since the 1990's re 'teenage mums taking up housing places', official statistics quoted in a single-parent charity's factsheet on demography of single parents state that "less than 2% of single parents are teenagers."

This fact is highlighted by #2 position on the relevant Gingerbread — oneparent families — factsheet.

I also note from memory that at the time that I was a spokesperson on disability in 2008 I helped draw attention to how a single parent in her 40's with two daughters, one of whom was disabled, were treated in the housing system, Gingerbread factsheet was referring to 1 in 7 single parent families having at least one family member who was disabled. Lack of support for family members increased the pressures on struggling families that lead to family break-up, it was argued.

The latest version of that figure on the Gingerbread website states, using DWP figures:
Where single parents are not working, this is often because there are health issues that make work difficult: 33 per cent of unemployed single parents have a disability or longstanding illness (25) and 34 per cent have a child with a disability (26)
One might think as the DWP are recording such data, that they recognise that single parents with disabled children have real difficulties and that they should therefore get support rather than bullying. The reality from the experience of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group's listening to claimants appears to be that Peter Lilley's 'little list' of people whose statutory supports must be axed has been brought forward and extended. Being in that 34% does not exclude single parents with a disabled child from being threatened with a sanction for 'not trying hard enough' to follow the jobcentre's prescribed poverty cure, even while the single parent concerned is doing all they can.

I fear that such use of statistics risks a 'divide and rule' situation by which charities such as Gingerbread consider teenage parents as not part of their core business and therefore not such a high priority, while the reality is that all disadvantaged groups are being regarded as of such little importance that, in Peter Lilley's parody words, "they will not be missed."

And of course, we should remember the implications of Pastor Martin Niemöller's famous text about German intellectuals not standing out against the persecution of various groupings. If we are motivated by the disinterest that manifests itself as, "That is not our core concern," and fail to challenge the hidden agendas of those who spread malicious smear stories, we really do risk leaving the spoils of a malicious campaign of villification and spitefulness to the perpetrators.

Similarly, regarding middle class values, American Educational Psychologist Dr Haim G Ginott challenged a group of parents at a parenting workshop to consider, "What have we accomplished if we have raised children to be 'well-adjusted' and top of their class, if those children go on to use their intellect to exploit and abuse others. The Nazis did that," he argued. (Source: Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish's book 'Liberated Parents, Liberated Children: Your Guide to a Happier Family', read and absorbed about 20 years ago. The exact wording may be slightly wrong, but not the gist of what Ginott is reported to have said is still valid.)

And Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group recently followed up receiving a £20 street donation cued by "Derail 'Slash & Burn' of 'Austerity'" placard message in support of tube workers whose jobs are threatened by ticket office closures, by channeling £10 to the RMT union, and a £10 solidarity donation to funds of the E15 Mums campaign.
Now, it's not just burning crops that raises our cost of living

Friday, 21 February 2014

Atos to pull out of Work Capability Assessments!

Thanks to Giselle Winstone of the KUWG for flagging this up:

Work Test Whistelblower: Atos Throws in the Towel

Giselle notes: "I only hope that the other 'Outsource service providers' will be thinking twice about bidding for the contract, have a look at this analysis"
Thanks to Helen1 of the KUWG for forwarding this:

People stripped of benefits could be charged for challenging decision

Critics argue that proposal in leaked document from Department for Work and Pensions would hit poorest people in the country
by Shiv Malik and Patrick Butler
The Guardian, Thursday 20 February 2014 19.45 GMT

Helen1 aptly includes a quotation from Mark Twain [aka Samuel Clements]:
"In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer." - Mark Twain
For me as a Quaker, the actions of HM Government often severely try my faith that "there is that of God in every person." The Guardian has had over 1600 comments on this Guardian piece. How about some comments here for a change?

What would you say about the matter?


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Winvisible write: Dear friends, please spread the word!

Friday 21 February 9.15am

Come to the Vigil:

Judgement on appeal vs the bedroom tax –

disability discrimination

Vigil 9.15am – called by Disabled People Against Cuts, Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation,
with Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Taxpayers Against Poverty, WinVisible, others.
Royal Courts of Justice, Strand (off Kingsway), London WC2A 2LL
9.55am – judgement in Court 72 – “case of M.A”
  •  Five disabled women and men challenged the disability discrimination that cuts our Housing Benefit if we can’t “downsize” or need extra room. They include Charlotte Carmichael of Southport, Merseyside, who is unable to share a bed with husband Jayson.  
  •  Other bedroom tax challenges – by separated parents who need room for their children, domestic violence survivors rehoused with special security -- are on hold, and could be affected by the result. 
  • Before this came to the Court of Appeal, disabled children won exemption; Steven Bottrill, son of grandmother Stephanie Bottrill who tragically killed herself, fearing losing her home, found out she should have been exempted under regulations for long-standing tenants!
  • Judgement in the separate appeal against the total Benefit Cap is still to be announced. The Cap is even more harmful than the bedroom tax and is trapping women and children in violent relationships. Sign Women Against Rape’s petition to Scrap the Cap NOW. 
More info: 020 7482 2496.
Thanks to KUWG's friend Kate Belgrave for flagging this one up.

Welfare state presides over 'culture of fear', charities say

New figures presented to benefits inquiry expected to show record numbers of claimants have had cash withheld

New figures presented to benefits inquiry expected to show record numbers of claimants have had cash withheld....

job centre
Evidence suggests single parents are being told they must apply for full time jobs to continue receiving jobseeker’s allowance. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Iain Duncan Smith's Department for Work and Pensions is presiding over "a culture of fear" in which jobseekers are set unrealistic targets to find work – or risk their benefits being taken away, leading charities have told an official inquiry.

Continue reading at

Policy-based evidence gathering, and evidence-based policy making and critique

Swheatie writes: IDS is interested in policy-based evidence-gathering. The sort that led an investment banker turned 'welfare reform adviser' named David Freud to pronounce in February 2008:
If you want a recipe for getting people on to IB, we've got it: you get more money and you don't get hassled. You can sit there for the rest of your life. And it's ludicrous that the disability tests are done by people's own GPs - they've got a classic conflict of interest and they're frightened of legal action."

    Under his system, the market will decide who should receive benefit and who should go out to work. "The private sector will have to start making assessments about who they can get back into work at what cost....
 In fact at the very time that David Freud was speaking in 2008, it was a private company that conducted the Incapacity Benefit Tests for government — and hundreds of thousands even then were wrongly denied the benefit, and won it on appeal.

Kate Belgrave, on the other hand, is very interested in evidence-based policy making and critique to the point of attending Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group meetings and much more. Kate writes:

The jobcentre reports* are proving popular and I think it's v important to keep letting people know what people are having to deal with. You probably saw this:
- exactly what you've been talking about.
* See


Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Rev'd Paul Nicolson writes:

I have this morning sent this letter to the Daily Telegraph; I was chair of Z2K from 1997 - 2013. in response to the following article

Below that is a letter of mine published by The Guardian this morning.

The Editor, 
The Daily Telegraph
For publication please.

The Prime Minister has been badly briefed. He cites the £6.25 a week increases in the single adult jobseekers allowance to £71.70 a week since the last election as facts to refute the Archbishop of Westminster’s claim that the basic safety net no longer exists. This Trust frequently drew the attention of the Labour Government to the facts that the single adult JSA was half the governmental poverty line measured by 60% of the median after housing costs have been paid, and 42% of the Joseph Rowntree robustly researched minimum income standard after housing costs. He clearly has not been told that that since April 2013 single adults, widows and widowers aged around 55 years old, who have been hardworking taxpayers for many years now fall ill and unemployed to find they are expected to pay £24 a week rent out of that £71.70 a week, because they have a spare bedroom, and £5.00 week council tax because local government funding has been severely cut. Both the rent and the tax have a knock on effect on the food and utility bills, which become unmanageable.

Rev Paul Nicolson
Trustee, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K)
34 Grosvenor Gardens
London SW1



Hidden away under all the news about floods were Ministry of Justice figures showing that a record number of 37,729 public and private sector tenants were forcibly evicted from their homes by bailiffs in 2013 in England and Wales. That cannot be explained as an unintended consequence of welfare reform. It is the intention of the coalition to force single tenants out of their public sector homes to free up spare bedrooms for tenants in temporary accommodation. It is also the intention of the coalition to force large families whose benefits come to more than £500 including housing benefit to move to cheaper accommodation. That is done by cutting the housing benefit so the rent cannot be paid, hence eviction. Private landlords have soaked up ever increasing billions of housing benefit from the taxpayer, £9.32 billion in 2013, but it is the tenants who are being punished.

Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty


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

Please sign our petition celbrating Martin Luther King
Parliament is asked to debate the speech made by Martin Luther King 50 Years ago in Washington USA on the 28 August 1963 and to note that it can be applied to circumstances in Britain in August 2013. He said “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

BBC Newsnight: "What happens when benefit claimants break the rules?"

The heading quotation is from the programme opening. The actual footage from the relief drop-in centre is from 14 minutes mark to . A centre worker says that sometimes the claimants are sanctioned for no reason at all. The studio bit between
  1. Tory Nadhim Zahawi MP [Business Select Committee member] whose horses are kept warm at taxpayers' expense and seems to think that being on the Work Programme could save people from being sanctioned and
  2. Labour's Debbie Abrahams MP who sits on the Social Security Select Committee
starts at about the 23 minutes mark after rubbishy and misleading statements from the DWP that anyone can appeal against being sanctioned. It is mentioned that 1.53m people were sanctioned between October 2012 and June 2013 under the new sanctions regime comes at about the 26-27 minutes mark.

Typing this out has been a handy 'anger management' measure on my part, as it has given my hands something else to do other than smash the screen when Nadhim Zahawi has been arguing the case for 'getting people out of a cruel, cruel benefits system'. That bit ends at about the 30 minute mark.


Kate Belgrave fact-finding with Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group activists at Neasden Jobcentre

Kate Belgrave and the Kuwgas

Kate writes:
.... People who are on JSA have every right to share their views and I’ll keep posting their views because of that....
More at  http://www.katebelgrave.com/2014/02/more-jsa-stories-from-jobcentres-its-impossible-youre-trapped/#more-6537

Sunday, 16 February 2014


​From Rev'd Paul Nicolson, who chairs and founded the Taxpayers Against Poverty

T​hank you to 5285 supporters, so far, who have liked our Facebook page and what we stand for since the page was started on the 18th February 2012 and to the 370 members who have signed up on our website since the following letter was published by The Guardian


The Guardian, Thursday 16 February 2012 21.00 GMT

Ministers at the Department of Work and Pensions repeat ad nauseam their mantra: "It is not fair for taxpayers to be asked to pay for the cost of spare bedrooms, or housing benefit which is high in central London because rents are high etc, etc." Therefore the poorest citizens are thrust into unmanageable debt by caps and cuts in housing benefit, possible eviction, forced migration, undue stress and misery. 

As a citizen who pays income and council tax, VAT and the excise duty on my evening glass of wine, I steam with indignation each time I am used by ministers to justify such draconian measures making people poorer.

I am glad my taxation is used to enable my fellow citizens, both in and out of work, to buy enough food, clothes, fuel, transport and other necessities, to pay council tax and the rent of secure homes, when they have no other means to do so; and bewildered by the short-sightedness of a policy which deliberately reduces the totally inadequate adult JSA of £67.50 a week (now £71.70) by creating rent arrears, with debt-related mental health problems and high extra costs for a hard-pressed NHS.

The self-evident unfairness is the current policy of dumping national debt and deficit reduction on the incomes of the squeezed middle and poorest citizens, while the higher-paid taxpayers experience no financial inconvenience. 

Meanwhile the OECD reports that $11.5 trillion, including bonuses, is parked in overseas accounts and the Treasury is aware that £100bn of property in central London alone is registered overseas – both out of reach of the taxman. That really is unfair. I hope thousands will join Taxpayers Against Poverty, TAP, to say so loud and clear. All we need is an email.

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

Please sign our petition cel
​ Martin Luther King. ​
Parliament is asked to debate the speech made by Martin Luther King 50 Years ago in Washington USA on the 28 August 1963 and to note that it can be applied to circumstances in Britain in August 2013. He said “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
Oppose the use of water cannons

There is a public meeting being held at City Hall


Date: Monday 17th February, 7pm..
Venue: Room 5, City Hall, Queen's Walk, London SE1.
Speakers: MPs and Deputy Mayor of London.


There is now a six week consultation period for Londoners to give their views on the potential use of water cannons by the police. The consultation ends on February 28th.

Please email watercannonengagement@mopac.london.gov.uk with your thoughts.


Also sign this Change.org petition

Atos + Sanctions = Final Solution?

Placard: Atos + Sanctions: The New Death Penalty?

From Welfare News Service:

Shocking Extent Of Sick And Disabled Benefit Sanctions Revealed

Iain Duncan Smith

The shocking extent of the number of sick and disabled benefit claimants having their benefits cut, through the use of sanctioning, has been revealed in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
     According to the response from the DWP, 172,750 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants were referred for potential sanctioning between October 2008 and June 2013. Of those referrals, 76,300 received an adverse decision, meaning their sickness benefits were cut or stopped completely. 11,600 of those benefit sanctions were in Greater London alone.
     On 3 December 2012 the DWP introduced a new system for sanctioning claimants, which is described by the DWP in the FOI as a ‘sanctions regime’. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith (pictured), has repeatedly denied accusations that Jobcentre staff are being pressurised into sanctioning benefit claimants through the use of ‘targets’, and yet the FOI shows that the changes to the ‘sanctions regime’ has led to a startling 45,480 ESA claimants being threatened with the removal of their sickness benefit between December 2012 and June 2013. 11,400 of those people received an ‘adverse decision’, the DWP admitted.
     Perhaps the most startling statistic revealed in the FOI is the revelation that 85% of ESA claimants who had their benefits axed or slashed under the new ‘sanctions regime’ have NEVER been sanctioned before. The figure rises to 89% for Greater London. This calls into question the DWP claim that sanctions are only ever used as a ‘last resort’ and only when benefit claimants repeatedly fail to ‘participate in work related activity’, which includes ‘failure to participate in the Work Programme’....

Swheatie of the KUWG comments on this: Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group members foresaw this when we demonstrated about the 'new system for sanctioning claimants' outside Kilburn Jobcentre on 3 December 2012 when it was introduced.

Kilburn Unemployed denouncing sanctioning of ESA claimants in December 2012

Though it is Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith that is pictured in the Welfare News Service news item, he is not the sole instigator and we do need to question the ideological basis of these 'welfare reforms'. The current Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud was originally headhunted by war criminal Tony Blair to 'sort out the mess that is welfare'. See Daily Telegraph article, 'Welfare is a mess', says adviser David Freud.

In that interview the subsequently 'ennobled' Lord Freud reveals something of the investment banker's mentality that got the UK into a debt crisis that is now being blamed on 'shirkers', etc to favour and deflect attention from the global wealthy who stand to gain economically from pillaging public services in the UK. Completely ignoring those disabled jobseekers who had been serially let down by subsequent governments for decades and failing to recognise that people on Incapacity Benefit were volunteering and making a contribution to the economy, he considered it a virtue that he knew nothing about the benefits system when appointed and was thus too easily influenced by American health insurance company Unum that had been 'advising' successive UK governments on 'welfare reform' since 1994. Freud said that the solution was simple — a privatised 'helping you back to work' industry, as if such an industry had not been failing vulnerable jobseekers as cash cows since the Thatcher era and into the Blair era's halving length of jobcentre funded courses to double the throughput for the dole queue in the interests of short-termist massaging of official statistics:
There is in his view "one simple reason why it's got to be the private sector. You cannot incentivise someone on payment-by-results if the person who is paying is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There has to be some risk."
     For the companies that do well, the rewards could be huge. "We can pay masses - I worked out that it is economically rational to spend up to £62,000 on getting the average person on Incapacity Benefit [sic] into work."
Note that that was said before the banking collapse. Now, claimants ruled by Atos to be 'fit for work' and thus to be 'sanctions fodder' are told that they must await a 'mandatory reconsideration' [that can take several months] before they can appeal. Yet when the banking collapse occurred, there was no 'mandatory reconsideration' of David Freud's nous as a welfare reform 'guru'. Neither was there a mandatory reconsideration of allowing an investment banker encouraging the use of public money to turn economically vulnerable adults and their children into banking chips when the vulture companies realised that they could not get anything like £1.9m people on benefits into waged work that would take them off benefits. Thus as I recall reading when that had clearly failed, the companies involved demanded more 'upfront' money.

And, of course, the vast majority of Employment & Support Allowance claimants have been ruled 'fit for work' even when they were not!  And now they are 'fit for sanctions' for 'failure to comply'. (Such deviants, eh, from the welfare reform guru's picture of 'the average person on Incapacity benefit'?)

I close now with a few more placard designs that outline what is now going on, whether it is inspired by a 'can't care, won't care' attitude or sheer malice among 'key decision makers' as they say that there is no more money for this or that, such as flood defences and then decide to compensate flood victims at whose expense, say. In times of manufactured scarcity, it is those that society has been led to despise the most that become the biggest losers, and yet the Nuremberg Defence is: "We didn't know what was really happening."

DWP targets disabled people

'Austerity' the Quest'n, Slavery the Answer?

'Austerity' Euphemism for Moral Bankruptcy

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Jobcentre staff union backs Anti-Atos Day

Public & Commercial Services Union website says:

Back the national day of action against ATOS

14 February 2014

We are supporting a national day of action against multinational ATOS and the work capability assessments.
The protests, supported by campaign groups Disabled people Against the Cuts (DPAC) and Black Triangle, on Wednesday (19th February), are aimed at the hugely unpopular work capability assessments, carried out by the French multinational.
We are backing these protests as part of our campaign against the coalition government’s welfare reforms.
ATOS has been rightly criticised for its poor performance, but is one of a number of private companies doing very well out of the outsourcing of government contracts.
Our members working for ATOS have no involvement in the Work Capability Assessment. In fact we are currently in dispute with ATOS over pay, which branches should be aware of already.


Branches are asked to advise members to show solidarity by visiting and giving support to the demonstrations. It gives PCS a chance to build alliances with community groups and activists. It also gives branches an opportunity to discuss the importance of building a broad alliance against government attacks on the most vulnerable people and make the point that if ATOS was not involved it would simply be replaced by another contractor.

A list of ATOS centres can be found here

The Haircut

A bit of light relief forwarded from Noel Lynch, and presented here especially for those of us recovering from 'flu' or whatever.

One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut.

After the cut he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, 'I cannot accept money from you , I'm doing community service this week.' The florist was pleased and left the shop.

When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut and when he tries to pay his bill the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you , I'm doing community service this week.' The cop was happy and left the shop.

The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Then a Member of Parliament came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill the barber again replied, 'I can not accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The MP was very happy and left the shop.

The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen MPs lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.