KUWG on Twitter

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Revd Paul Nicolson proclaimed the housing crisis, London Live reported it

"No room at the inn" is a very topical theme for this time of year. 'Public houses' at the heart of communities have been sold to property developers while those who cannot afford to live in supposedly 'affordable homes' are evicted and left on the streets rather than council waiting lists.

And Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty (TAP), alongside Haringey Unite Community colleagues, proclaimed 'The Twelve Shames of Parliament' yesterday as 'key decision-makers' responsible prepared to spend a festive season with family.(1)

For more details, go to the TAP blog post Sound the alarm bell for the housing crisis,(2) and the London Live photo story Ringing the alarm bell for the housing crisis.(3)

(London Live is part of the broadcasting and news corporation that owns: the i newspaper that has developed out of The Independent:(4) London Evening Standard:(5) and London Live broadcasting channel.(6) Fortunately for us, it is not owned by Rupert Murdoch who wants full ownership of Sky Broadcasting.(7))

And Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group wish all a more enlightened festive season and New Year 2017.

Reference link Web addresses
  1. http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/files/Taxpayers_Against_Poverty_3.pdf
  2. http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/sound-the-alarm-bell-for-the-housing-crisis 
  3. http://www.londonlive.co.uk/news/2016-12-20/ringing-the-alarm-bell-for-housing 
  4. http://www.independent.co.uk/ 
  5. http://www.standard.co.uk/ 
  6. http://www.londonlive.co.uk/
  7. https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/1705

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Next KUWG meeting will be on Thursday 5 January 2017

Kwug will return to the Small Hall at Kingsgate Community Centre, 107 Kingsgate Road, NW6 2JH on Thursday, 5 January 2017.(1)

The Small Hall doors open to us from 3pm on that day, and the meeting should start at about 3:15pm. After a round of introductions, those present will attempt to help with casework presented to them. There will be a break of about 10 mins around 4pm, before the meeting reconvenes to discuss other agenda matters. Priority between 5pm and 5:20pm will be given to any other casework not dealt with before the break, and from 5:20pm till 5:30pm we will focus on tidying and clearing the room for a 5:30pm exit.

Meanwhile, you might catch a glimpse of Kwuggie singers bringing Xmas cheer to a jobcentre other than Kilburn.

  1. http://www.kingsgatecommunitycentre.org.uk/4-2/find-us/

Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Children's Society flags up 'The damage of debt in Camden' and calls for Government action

Guest blog post by The Children's Society


The damage of debt in Camden

Did you know there are an estimated 9,400 children living in families with problem debt in Camden? 

Our research has found that these children are five times more likely to be unhappy than children in families without debt troubles. That's why we're calling on the Government to introduce a 'breathing space' scheme for families in debt. Will you help us spread the word about the campaign by writing to your local paper?

We've already had our supporters' letters published right across England and Wales, from Sheffield to Swansea, but for the campaign to be successful we must continue building momentum at the local level. Please help us protect children from the damage of debt.

With thanks,

Anastasia French
Campaigns Team
The Children's Society

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Report backs on KUWG involvements in housing protests, meetings and events

Report by CJ

6.30PM-8.30PM Monday 21st Nov 2016 Unite Housing Workers and Social Housing Residents meeting. Only 6 people including CJ and Tim B. Discussed problems with social housing providers for workers and tenants, so in both our interests to get together. Another meeting pencilled in for 30th Jan 2017. Nice coffees and luxury biscuits.

Noon-1.15pm Weds 23rd Nov 2016 Outside parliament. Axe the Act protest. @75 people with banners and placards, and we heard speeches from different activists, including some Labour councillors. CJ with kuwg banner, and Helen2 taking photos and videos.

5pm-8.30pm Fri 25th Nov 2016 Save the Granville Centre night. Kuwgs-Pam, Mira (Glory hunters), Farhan, Willae, Diana, with late arrival by CJ & Surprise. Zadie Smith spoke on how public services helped her. Brent Council want to knock down building that has been part of the community for over 100 years! Free suppers made by the Community Kitchen (6pm Fridays) and some young poets and R&B singers showed their talents-amazin!

Finally new Genesis Housing Residents had its first meeting 
6.30-8.30pm Tues 29th Nov 2016, Kingsgate, and @60 in attendance including Tim B, Diana, Mark S, CJ and AJ from Kingsgate. Lots of rotten experiences in dealing with Genesis expressed by people, and understanding that the proposed Housing Act will make things even worser and worserer!

As kuwg has experience of protesting against Genesis a protest agreed Weds 14th December 2016 1pm-2pm 64 Pratt Street, Camden. @20 agreed to attend, i have email addresses of 8...a bit rushed.

Monday, 5 December 2016

University and College Union opposes Higher Education & Research Bill: "Lobby a lord today"

From Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary

View online version

[image: UCU logo] <http://www.ucu.org.uk>
[image: Twitter logo] <http://twitter.com/ucu> [image: Facebook logo]

Dear colleague,

Tomorrow [6 December] the Higher Education and Research Bill goes back to the House of Lords for its second reading.

We have been working round the clock to brief peers about the bill.

  - How it will open the floodgates for "for profit" education
  - How it will weaken university autonomy
  - How it opens the way for fee increases linked to the TEF

Now will you help us by 'lobbying a Lord'?

To make things easy, we have created a list of peers who have a
relationship with a UK university.  It may be that they attended, taught or
held high office at an institution.

Please use our online tool to write to any peers who are associated with
your university - tell them where you work! If you can't find anyone
associated with your institution, write to another peer.

This bill claims to be about improving quality but contains nothing to
improve the status and conditions of the university staff and will damage
the UK's hard won academic reputation.

Please lobby a Lord now by clicking here.

Thank you again.

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Thurs 8 December public meeting to help resist Guinness Evictions

From Architects for Social Housing:
Please support Beti’s campaign by naming, shaming and challenging the Guinness Partnership on social and in print media as the social cleansers and home wreckers that they are; by attending the next public meeting of the Northwold Estate campaign, which is being held from 7-9pm on Thursday, 8 December, in the Community Hall (131 Upper Clapton Rd, Hackney, London E5 9SA), where you will be able to hear Beti speak; and by giving her your active, professional (if applicable) and even financial support as she takes on the Guinness Partnership for her right to a home.

For further information on the Guinness Partnership evictions, go to https://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/resist-guinness-evictions-campaign-for-beti/

British Sign Language Interpreters ripped off by NHS contractor

From NUBSLI via Linda Burnip of Disabled People Against Cuts

NUBSLI is the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters. 

LanguageLine has won NHS contracts in Sheffield, London and the Midlands by putting in bids at below market rates. They are now imposing cuts of a third to interpreters fees and reducing booking times by 1 hour. 

It is impossible to provide a high quality and safe service if you are constantly clock watching. Deaf people, often need information to be repeated after they leave an appointment to make sure everything has been understood or will need support in accessing the pharmacy. Appointments aren't always over when you leave the consulting room. That extra level of care and support from
Interpreters will go if they are being pushed to get to the next appointment. 

The way in which home carers are being pressured to take more bookings for less money is the way interpreting will be headed if we don't put a stop to these cuts. This isn't about money for interpreters. This is about deaf people's access to Heath care. 

Dude Swheatie adds: In seeking guidance for a friend who was thinking of training as a British Sign Language Interpreter, I was advised a few years ago that the training is highly specialised, as Sign Language Interpreters register not just hand actions but also the facial gestures involved in conveying the message. Thus it takes about 5 years intensive training to train a British Sign Language Interpreter.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

MoJ consultation on panel composition in tribunals deadline 24 Nov 2016

As noted previously in our KUWG Diary for last week, today is the deadline for a Ministry of Justice consultation on the future of tribunals.
CONSULTATION DEADLINE: Thu 24 Nov Transforming Our Justice System: Panel Composition in Tribunals by Ministry of (in)Justice, who plan to digitalise benefit appeals so claimants won’t be seen in person by the judge or expert panel members (i.e. doctors present at tribunals). This will lessen our chances to win appeals. Nip it in the bud! https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/12/online-benefits-appeals-tribunals-disabled?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other Consultation itself: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/panel-composition-in-tribunals/
Here follows how Dude Swheatie completed the online consultation.

7. Do you agree that the SPT [Senior President of Tribunals] should be able to determine panel composition based on the changing needs of people using the tribunal system?

Answer: No

Reasons stated
I won my ESA (Support) status through tribunal as part of a very long process that included decades of attempted career building after five years' seamless but unfulfilling salaried employment in which I received disablist bullying on a regular basis. Therefore my standpoint regarding what is appropriate and who should decide what is appropriate differs considerably from think tank Reform UK and its associates who are pushing for 'transformations' to both the welfare state and justice system in the UK that render economically vulnerable people all the more vulnerable.

Tribunal panels for disability benefit entitlements generally favour the claimant/apellant over the Department for Work & Pensions, and this factor embarasses both Government and privatisation-of-welfare-state corporations that are playing with others' lives. Tribunal results so far have countered the policy-based evidence-gathering of the privatisers of the welfare state. (Since this consultation was launched and very shortly before it's deadline, a further DWP 'welfare reform' consultation has been launched.)

My tribunal panel consisted of a judge and doctor and an advocate spoke for me while I was shaking with nerves. My disability charity-based advocate had been far more perceptive than the mental health charity-based Vocational Support Advisor (VSA) who had led me through the intial ESA50 form filling that had concluded with 0 eligibility points. At our first meeting identified my much slower than average speech delivery and though patterns and got me to rewrite my ESA50 with a focus on those than the secondary physical symptoms experienced when under stress.

Tribunal advocate's analysis was later expounded and substantiated by Camden Learning Disability Services (CLDS)-based tests, and insights of more than one mind had helped bring me to apply for ESA and get CLDS analysis. Those meetings had included
  • late 2008 jobcentre 'progress review' meeting with jobcentre worker and VSA. Jobcentre worker had intervened in crisis brought on by missing first 2005 signing-on appointment while I was awaiting result of pre-Christmas job interview
  • consultation with GP, her receptionist and my VSA. GP's receptionist vouched for council learning disability services' support that had helped her severely learning disabled son overcome 0 eligibility points rating from unproperly qualified disability assessors.

8. In order to assist the SPT to make sure that appropriate expertise is provided following the proposed reform, which factors do you think should be considered to determine whether multiple specialists are needed to hear individual cases?

Please state your reasons and specify the jurisdictions and/or types of case to which these factors refer.

I concur with the charity Zacchaeus 2000 (Z2K) when they write in response to this question
"... the appropriate expertise in all disability cases is the current tribunal composition. We recommend that the Ministry of Justice mandate the SPT to continue to include a healthcare professional and disability expert on panels for disability benefit appeals."
Crucially,  organisations such as Z2K and Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group are left to help economically people 'pick up the pieces' after injustices have been done to them. Such organisations have theoretical sensitivity and human understanding that is severely lacking in those that regard the current inputs to tribunal panel composition as unnecessary costs to the public purse and counter to the privatisation of the welfare state that favours the American model of private health insurance. Perhaps drugs with the scale of failures exposed by current workings of disability benefit test regimes would have been barred from sale by now? "Those who give the order [do the initial dodgy assessments] seldom see the mess it makes."
I also note that all 'key decision makers' should realise that 'welfare reform' agendas have so far been conducted to the exclusion of reference to disabled people who were actively jobseeking long before the drive to eliminate the Incapacity Benefit safety net.

(My answers to the section about Impact and Equalities Impact Assessments are not included here.)

Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Fuel Poverty Action actions for Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th Nov 2016

Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) brings the risk of greenhouse gas emiting Canadian tar sands furthering global warming.

The below is a response from Fuel Poverty Action to being forwarded their receiving a reminder that CETA brings the risk of highly pollutant Candadian tar sands coming to the European Union, when I copied them into the link forward of http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/twitter-action-called-for-in-blocking-dodgy-international-trade-deal.html

Thanks Alan, I've forwarded this to our people who do twitter. 

For tomorrow and Thursday, please see below -- KUWG may want to take part in these? 

Cold Homes Kill – pensioner and Housing Act protestors and climate activists converge on Westminster 23 and 24 November

Weds 23 November As well as the Autumn Statement, this day will see the announcement of how many people died last winter because they could not afford to heat their homes – a scandal that is repeated year after year.  

FPA will be joining the National Pensioners Convention to mark last year’s winter deaths with black balloons at 12.0 in College Green, and will then join and speak at the launch of Axe the Housing Act’s own Autumn Statement in Old Palace Yard from noon. 

The government yesterday dropped one important clause from the Housing Act: “Pay to Stay”.  It must now drop the forced sale of Housing Association stock, which will push even more people into cold damp homes where they have no recourse against exploitative private landlords, and must bring back security of tenure in both private and social housing.  No fault and retaliatory evictions mean many tenants are afraid to raise issues of heating, hot water, draughts, bad insulation, and energy-guzzling equipment.

Thursday 24 November these points will be pressed home with an early morning “Duvet Die–In” 8.30 at the offices of EDF, 80 Victoria St, where campaigners against fuel poverty will join people whose primary focus has been the climate.  For 8.15 meeting place, things to bring etc see facebook event.

The government has hinted at moves to regulate rampant exploitation by suppliers of gas and electricity providers.  We shall see.  With thousands dying early every year, we are also waiting to see what the Chancellor does
·        to meet the legally binding fuel poverty target on insulating homes,
·        to end the illegal discrimination against users of prepayment meters – often the customers on the lowest incomes - and against all customers who cannot pay by direct debit,
·        to restore cuts to disability and other benefits and to wages.

Twitter action called for in blocking a dodgy internation trade deal

Guest blog post from Phil Fletcher of Barnet Green Party

Hi Folks,
Received this rather worrying email. The European parliament have voted not to have a debate on CETA [Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement — Canada and the EU] and are voting on Wednesday.If you’ve got the time, please take part in this twitter action. If you haven't the time, could you please forward this on to someone who has?
Phil Fletcher
(Barnet Green Party)
Please help stop CETA [Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement] by tweeting your MEPs and asking them to vote  FOR the Greens' proposal that the question of the legality of ICS in CETA to be referred to the European Court of Justice. 

Thank you


MEPs voted on Monday 21.11.2016 afternoon on whether there should be a debate on the issue of the European Parliament asking for a European Court of Justice decision on the legality of ICS (ISDS [Investor-State Dispute Settlement] in CETA)
before the European Parliament actually votes on this,  in Strasbourg , on Wed.

The proposal for a debate was rejected by 184 votes to  170 votes.

Consequently, there will NO debate before the vote on Wednesday.
(How bad can the institution of the EU get...?)

So it would be useful to contact your MEPs quickly and ask them to vote  FOR the Greens' proposal that the question of the legality of ICS in CETA to be referred to the European Court of Justice. 

Let's see what we can achieve.
Below is some stuff to help,  including tweets 
and  a list of key MEPs to contact


Tweet particularly these UK MEPs. See below for suggested tweets


Friday, 18 November 2016

Z2K blog posts 2 Nov-to-15 Nov 2016

Z2K is short for Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, an Information, Advice, Guidance & Advocacy charity helping economically vulnerable people, mostly in the City of Westminster where it is located. It was co-founded by Revd Paul Nicolson who has since founded Taxpayers Against Poverty.

  1. Featured: http://z2k.org/2016/11/winter-fuel-appeal-2016/
  2. http://z2k.org/2016/11/the-future-of-disability-benefit-appeals/
  3. http://z2k.org/2016/11/london-councils-consult-on-further-council-tax-support-cuts/
  4. http://z2k.org/2016/11/case-study-an-esa-application-and-a-catalogue-of-errors/

Disability News Service headlines 17 Nov 2016

DNS is published every Thursday, and well worth referring to from the end of that day.

  1. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/11577-2/ John McDonnell pledges Labour will force Government to debate UN 'rights violations' report
  2. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/debbie-jolly-a-force-for-good-and-a-passionate-social-model-advocate/
  3. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/disability-confident-will-be-trivially-easy-for-employers-to-abuse-research-suggests/
  4. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/damian-green-faces-fresh-accusations-of-misleading-mps-over-disability-benefits/
  5. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/abrahams-uninvites-dpo-because-it-wanted-to-talk-about-independent-living/
  6. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/welsh-government-has-sold-disabled-people-down-the-river-on-post-ilf-plans/
  7. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/call-for-drama-schools-to-act-after-diversity-research-leaves-campaigners-speechless/
  8. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/sanction-death-mans-sister-turns-to-courts-after-coroner-turns-down-inquest-call/

Disability News Service headlines 10 Nov 2016

  1. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/uns-conclusion-that-uk-violated-disability-rights-is-vindication-for-activists/
  2. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/what-do-remploy-capita-and-maximus-have-in-common-theyre-all-disability-confident/
  3. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/devastating-unethical-cruel-disabled-people-react-to-green-paper/
  4. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/supreme-courts-rulings-mean-bedroom-tax-will-still-unfairly-hit-thousands/
  5. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/disabled-people-face-extreme-risk-of-harm-without-sharp-rise-in-care-funding/
  6. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/mental-health-laws-are-intrinsically-discriminatory-says-perkins/

Thursday, 17 November 2016

KUWG Diary 17 Nov to 12 Dec 2016

Thu 17 Nov, 6-8pm KUWG Bi-Annual General Meeting at Kingsgate Community Centre, right after our weekly meeting.
Thu 17 Nov, 5pm London NUT March & Rally by NUT – National Union of Teachers & People’s Assembly Against Cuts. From Whitehall, (Opposite Downing Street) Rally: 18:30, Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, SW1P 3DW https://www.teachers.org.uk/
Fri 18 Nov, 10.30-11.30am Axe The Housing Act Leafleting - Westminster Council's Housing Option Service. Let passers by know of the big protest on Wed 23 Nov. At 101 Orchardson Street, London, NW8 8EA (behind social services building in Frampton Street, buses 189/139 Edgware Rd / Marylebone Stations are 10 mins away).
Fri 18 Nov, 12.30-2pm Camden & Islington Unite Community Branch Meeting at Ron Todd House, 33-37 Moreland Street, EC1V 8BB - all welcome.
Sat 19 Nov, 12noon-8pm Rent Strike! Bloc(k Party) in Central London. Join rent strikers for a carnival esque block party as part of the national demo for free education https://www.facebook.com/events/363481067333075/  
Wed 23 Nov, 12noon Axe The Housing Act – Protest & Lobby of MPs Make sure MPs don’t ‘forget’ to abolish the Housing Act. At Old Palace Yard.
CONSULTATION DEADLINE: Thu 24 Nov Transforming Our Justice System: Panel Composition in Tribunals by Ministry of (in)Justice, who plan to digitalise benefit appeals so claimants won’t be seen in person by the judge or expert panel members (i.e. doctors present at tribunals). This will lessen our chances to win appeals. Nip it in the bud! https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/12/online-benefits-appeals-tribunals-disabled?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other Consultation itself: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/panel-composition-in-tribunals/
Thu 24 Nov, 6.30-9pm No War, No Austerity by Youth & Student CND. Amidst devastating cuts to public services, Theresa May believes it would be ‘sheer madness’ to give up our £205billion nuclear weapons... At The Venue, Student Central, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY http://dpac.uk.net/2016/11/oppose-dsa-cuts-with-youth-and-student-cnd/
Thu 8 Dec, 6-8pm Branch Social – Camden & Islington Unite Community at Unite Holborn, 128 Theobald's Road, Holborn, London, WC1X 8TN - food provided, all welcome!
Fri 9 Dec, 7pm A Benefit for Tahiti – How the Mangrove 9 Won Hear from participants of this historic trial of the Mangrove 9 which was landmark in anti-racist movement in Britain. Money raised will go to Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (HERF) http://www.haitiemergencyrelief.org/Haiti_Emergency_Relief_Fund/home.html to benefit grassroots people in Haiti directly. At Trinity United Reform Church, Buck St, London NW1 8NJ
Sat 10 Dec, 10am-6pm Media Democracy Festival by Media Reform UK. Few giant corporations control UK’s TV channels, news outlets, radio stations, search engines & social media platforms. Join us to discuss how we can work for a media that informs, represents & empowers citizens. At Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck University of London. http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/events/other-anti-war-events/2238-10-december-london-media-democracy-festival-2016
Mon 12 Dec, 7.30pm Season’s Readings by friends of West Hampstead’s Library. Prose, poetry, songs & snippets. The evening will start with an Annual General Meeting. Your chance to find out what’s happening to your local library regarding upcoming cuts in 2017. At West Hampstead Library, Dennington Park Road, London NW6 1AU http://www.fowhl.org/whats-on.html

Update on David Clapson, sanctioned to death

Guest blog post by Gill Thompson, sister of the late David Clapson. (David Clapson died after being found 'fit for work' and then sanctioned for inability to stick to a 'Claimant Commitment' that was not fit for humanity.)

David Clapson when he was a serving soldier

Update on David Clapson: sanctioned to death?
As many of you know, I have been campaigning for a long time to try and achieve an investigation into the link between the benefit sanction imposed on my brother and his death. I believe that having had his benefits stopped due to a sanction, he was unable to afford to buy food and electricity to refrigerate his insulin, which in turn left him unable to manage his diabetes.
Unfortunately despite the best efforts of my lawyers, the Coroner has refused to open an investigation as he considers there is no evidence that the benefit sanction played any role in my brother’s death. I am now preparing to ask the High Court to consider my brother’s case and am raising money to cover legal fees, including court fees and experts fees.
In order to do this, I need to raise a minimum of £10,000 and I would appreciate any help you can give. You can pledge your support here – https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/david-clapson/
Please share the link on social media and email it to 3 people who you think would be interested to help me spread the word. Please also make a pledge of £35 or whatever you can afford to the new case. Either of these things will really help me to take this case to the High Court.
I am very grateful for your support of my campaign so far. This is not just about my brother. I want a Coroner to look at the DWP guidance on people living with Diabetes and how the sanction regime is applied to people with long term health conditions.
The UN has raised concerns about the extent to which the UK government has made use of sanctions in relation to benefits and the absence of due process and access to justice for those affected by the use of sanctions. I hope you can continue to support me in my fight to ensure David’s death is properly investigated and action taken to prevent future deaths of vulnerable people
Thanks so much for your ongoing support,
Gill Thompson

Help defeat Government over their proposed tax credit cuts! Write your MP!

Guest blog post by 38 Degrees — by way of copy and paste of e-mail content

38 Degrees Logo

Next Wednesday the government could go ahead with plans to cut support for hard-working families. The support - called Universal Credit - is supposed to help people earning low wages get by. [1] But the cuts could mean families having to choose between eating or heating their homes.

Right now, the new Chancellor Philip Hammond is finalising his plan for the economy - he’ll announce it next week. [2] He could decide to reverse the cuts - and MPs are already demanding he does. [3]. If thousands of us sign a huge petition, the added public pressure could convince Philip Hammond to scrap the cuts.

There’s only a week until he announces his plan so we haven’t got long. Please can you sign the petition now? It takes less than a minute:

These cuts will see some families lose £200 a month. [4] That’s an entire month’s food shop. [5] And if they go ahead, it will mean if you get a promotion or do more shifts, your family could end up worse off. It just doesn’t make sense.

Together we’ve stood up to cuts like these before - and won. [6] When the government tried to cut tax credits for hard-working families last year, we forced them to back down. It started with a huge petition, signed by people like you. It ended with relief for thousands of people across the UK.

Philip Hammond is already feeling the pressure over these cuts. If one of us asks him to reverse them, it might not be enough to convince him. But if thousands of us add our names to one huge petition, it’ll be hard for Philip Hammond to ignore.

Can you add your name to the petition now?

Thanks for being involved,

Trish, Lorna, Charlotte and the 38 Degrees team

PS: PS: If you’re not sure if you’ll be affected by cuts to Universal Credit, you can find out more at Citizens Advice:

[1, 4] Universal credit cuts to lose low-income families £1000 a year:
The Independent: No U-turn on benefit cuts that will take £1,000 a year off three million families, says Government:
[2] The Telegraph: What to expect from Philip Hammond's first Autumn Statement:
[3] The Guardian: Theresa May faces Tory backlash over planned cuts to in-work benefits:
[5] Daily Mail: Thrifty mum reveals how she slashed her food bill to just £40 a week for her family of four:
[6] 38 Degrees: Tax credits win:

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

No more deaths from benefit cuts – Gill Thompson launches legal case for brother David Clapson

Guest blog post from WinVisible (Women with visible and invisible disabilities)

No more deaths from benefit cuts – Gill Thompson launches legal case
for brother David Clapson 

No more deaths from benefit cuts — Gill thompson launches legal case for brother David Clapson

Gill Thompson’s legal case for her brother David, who was diabetic and died in 2013 after his Jobseekers Allowance was sanctioned, has just been launched. Gill's legal team wrote to the Hertfordshire Coroner setting out why there should be an investigation, including of breach of the right to life and of DWP procedure sanctioning claimants (see Leigh Day press release).  David’s death was put down to “natural causes” and there was no inquest.  Public support through CrowdJustice fundraising has enabled this challenge.
In October, at the people’s premiere of Ken Loach’s film “I, Daniel Blake” in Leicester Square, Gill joined other campaigners at an invited vigil against deaths from benefit cuts, on the red carpet.  Nichole Drury, another bereaved relative, spoke about her mother Moira Drury, who had a head injury from domestic violence, and developed cancer.  Moira was too ill to attend the benefit exam but her reasons were not accepted and she was cut off.  The stress of being without benefit for months, then a Council Tax demand for nearly £2,000 resulting from loss of benefit, hastened her death.  The banner of names of people who died from benefit cuts and sanctions was read out by Maggie Zolobajluk.  Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, longtime opponents of the Work Capability Assessment, gave their support at the vigil and spoke to people individually.   
Corbyn highlighted David’s plight in Parliament at Prime Minister’s Questions, telling Theresa May and ministers to go and see “I, Daniel Blake”.
Black Triangle welcomes Gill’s challenge, relevant to the refusal to hold an inquest into the death of Alan McArdle, who died of a heart attack in 2015 within an hour of being read a letter threatening to stop his Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).  Maximus had reported him to the DWP for missing back-to-work appointments, insisting on sanction when someone called to let them know he was in hospital.
Many claimants say WinVisible’s Benefit self-help rights sheet has helped them, including against sanctions. We won exemption from the face-to-face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) exam for many vulnerable women, and helped restore benefit to disabled women cut off for “failure to attend”. 
Despite words that people on ESA Support Group rate with chronic conditions will no longer be retested, on 1 November the government launched a “Work, health and disability: improving lives” green paper at disability charity Scope, which includes the proposal to make everyone subject to sanctions, including sick and disabled people in the Support Group who are currently protected. Disabled campaigners are determined to fight this new attack on claimants, and recently protested against national Mind, confronting CEO Paul Farmer against Mind sending their policy officer Tom Pollard to work for the DWP – tied to lucrative DWP contracts for the “work cure” for people with mental distress. 
Opposition inside Parliament is also growing.  MPs opposed to the ESA cut due in April 2017, are calling for a debate, including Green, Labour, SNP and Tory MPs, such as Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage where David Clapson lived.  McPartland’s correspondence with the DWP at Gill’s request, where the DWP replied they knew David was insulin-dependent, forms part of the legal challenge.
More info: Gill Thompson gill.a4u@outlook.com   WinVisible win@winvisible.org  020 7482 2496

Bedroom tax Supreme Court judgement Weds 9 November 2016

Guest blog post from WinVisible (Women with visible and invisible disabilities)
Come and support disabled people & carers, single mums & kids fleeing domestic violence, and all hit by the bedroom tax:
Bedroom tax Supreme Court judgement
Wed 9 Nov 2016
·          9.15 am - 9.30 am photocall – Charlotte & Jason Carmichael (Southport, Merseyside), and
Sue and Paul Rutherford
(Pembrokeshire Wales) are coming to London for the ruling
·          9.30 go in to Court 1 to hear the announcement
·          9.45 Judgement announced -- livestreamed here

at the Supreme Court
Parliament Square, London SW1P 3BD
opp. Westminster Abbey, corner of Victoria St
(Tube Station: Westminster)
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Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group Statement against reduced overall benefit cap, 7 November 2016

The following statement was delivered by leaflet and read out over 'bullhorn' outside Kilburn Jobcentre on Monday 7 November, the day the reduced overall benefit cap came in.

Reject the weak and rotten ideas of Tory hypocrites!

We say: No to caps on welfare — yes to rent controls

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group are protesting 11am till Noon Monday 7 November 2016 outside Kilburn Jobcentre, as it's the first day of the welfare cap limiting families to a maximum of £20k a year in benefits (£23K if in London), which includes Housing costs.

Originally under David Cameron and George Osborne, a cap of £26k pa was introduced as it was the "average wage" .. the latest are "the average wage AFTER TAX" ... what will be the next excuse to bring it down? Please note that MPs when asked to just take the average wage themselves, have stuck to their £74,962 per year of TAXPAYERS money (PLUS generous expenses) ... so one rule for the sufferers of laws, another for the lawmakers! Sheer hypocrisy! Happily Cameron out of Parliament and Osborne shunted out of cabinet. Ha ha!

Most of the benefits money goes to private landlords, so the claimants never see most of that money. If council houses were available with low-cost rents then the Housing Benefit bill would be cut at a stroke and there wouldn't be such a hoo-ha about it. Houses ARE being built... but so call 'luxury flats,' by big private developers; and that is causing 'legal' 'Social Cleansing'. We should be taking these properties over for our own class, not for the rich. Public buildings and land should not be sold off on the cheap... National and Local Government deliberately allow the shutdown of public Fire Stations, Libraries, Hospitals, Community Centres, etc,, so we have no places to meet, to not be safe and educated, while the Rich can build their gated communities. Even they are being ripped off... boo hoo.

At last, Sir Phillip Green is being chased legally for taking workers' pensions... the Olympic Stadium was for instance sold to West Ham Football Club for practically nothing and now the TAXPAYER has to pay an additional £50 MILLION to compensate for ill-designed so-called 'retractable seats'. What an oversight by so-called Overseers of the public purse! A resignation has at last occurred. These Private 'Wealth Creators' must be laughing their heads off at your average person. Don't let them divide us ... let's imprison the REAL thieves and take their properties and land back. They are ok with chucking us into underfunded and dangerous jails!

The destructive lingering ideas of Iain Duncan Smith should be dumped. He had to resign in humiliation as Secretary of State for Work & Pensions as he had planned to take money off sick people who need higher toilet seats ... yes this is how they look for savings... instead of stopping the White Elephants of HS2 for example £60 BILLION), Trident (£100 BILLION) etc.

Jeremy Corbyn has promised to allow council housing programme, and to scrap the Work Capability Assessment. The SNP and Green Party voted against Welfare Reform & Work Bill 2015. Before Corbyn's leadership, Labour abstentions allowed that Bill to be passed. Waiting for a 2020 election isn't plausible... we must find parties and organisations NOW that oppose rubbish views and thieving laws. Theresa May is a very weak Prime Minister who doesn't show she knows what she is saying and doing... probably why she won't give a "running commentary on Brexit" for instance... a Government that won't explain itself isn't government. The legal challenge in the High Court may have scuppered her plans. Hee hee!

Let's have an opposition with clear thoughts and reasonable goals FOR US! Workers whether employed or not, must stick together and fix OUR housing problem, not accept Private NON-affordable housing. Let's dump the unravelling right-wing views of the real skiver — the Lazy Rich! An early General Election may rid us of MPs like already dumped Esther McVey!


Friday, 4 November 2016

One line in 92 page DWP 'consultation paper' proposes imposing 'mandatory' activity on all ESA claimants

(How about that for a lack of transparency?) 

by Dude Swheatie of Kwug — aka Alan Wheatley of the Green Party of England & Wales and London Green Left

(The below is based on a submission just now by the author to the Green Left Discuss e-list)

Disability News Service reports:
The Department for Work and Pensions is considering forcing all sick and disabled people on out-of-work disability benefits to take part in “mandatory” activity, its new green paper has revealed.
The suggestion of compulsory activity is revealed in a single line of the 92-page work, health and disability green paper, published this week....

This Green Paper 'consultation' closes at 11:45pm on 17 February 2017. The next Green Party of England & Wales Conference is not scheduled till March-April 2017.

Meanwhile, what is mental health charity Mind doing in bed with DWP?

And what have coroners said about claimant deaths?

In 2008 it was largely Green Left members (Anne Gray and me) that brought about a GPEW alternative to Labour's 'No-one written off' Green Paper. https://cse.google.com/cse?q=writing+off+workfare&ajaxSearch_submit.x=0&ajaxSearch_submit.y=0&cx=014602880548773237108%3Abfmqbz3c1w4&ie=UTF-8#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=writing%20off%20workfare&gsc.page=1

I propose that we at least republish those materials that were sat upon by national news media at the time. (Though I doubt that I would be able to contribute fresh this time around for health reasons, our 2008 publication is rich in background and can serve as 'we told you so' background to what has passed since.) Perhaps there could even be scope for 'Progressive Allaince' responses?

Alan Wheatley


"The [2008] consultation asks 29 questions, none of which are addressed to the impact of growing global recession and diminishing global resources upon employment. [Neither did they address anything about rewarding claimants.]" — https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/workfare-is-not-the-answer.html

"In September [2016], a book by disabled researcher Mo Stewart detailed the influence of the US insurance giant Unum over successive UK governments, and how it had undermined the social security system in order to boost the market for its own income protection policies." — http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/ministers-set-to-force-work-related-activity-on-everyone-in-esa-support-group/

See also