Tag Archives: benefits

Bedroom tax opposition ramps up in Nottingham – group now forming in the Meadows [plus benefits advice links & drop-in advice session this afternoon]


Report from Notts Bedroom Tax Campaign: The public meeting yesterday evening (10th April) in the Meadows to organise against the Bedroom Tax was well attended. There were about 7 people from the Meadows there, the rest being from the general Notts campaign, from advice centres and just people who are interested in getting involved (23 in all).

Someone from St. Ann’s Advice Centre began by outlining the nature of the Bedroom Tax and how it affects people; a member of the Defend Council Tax Benefit Campaign then followed with more information about that. The floor was then opened up to everyone to speak. Local residents told the meeting about how they were affected and why they were there, and the visitors offered their support and knowledge. It was emphasised that the role of the citywide Nottingham campaign would not be to ‘save’ Meadows people but to support them in setting up their own local group which would then liaise with the general Nottingham one – the idea being to repeat this in the rest of the city.

Read on for full report: http://nottsbedroomtax.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/meadows-public-meeting-report/

See also: http://www.facebook.com/NottsAgainstTheBedroomTax

A drop-in advice session will also be held today, Thursday 11th April at Queens Walk Community Centre, Meadows, Nottingham from 2pm-6pm which is a general benefits advice session by Meadows Advice Group, part of Advice Nottingham http://www.advicenottingham.org.uk/. Advisors will be on hand to discuss how the Bedroom Tax and other Benefit Cut Issues are affecting you and what help you can get.
Advice Nottingham was recently set up to link advice across the city: http://www.adviceuk.org.uk/projects-and-resources/resources/collaborativeresources/casestudies/advicenotts

Photos of the anti-workfare demo in Nottingham City Centre on 23/3/2013


Here are photos of the anti-workfare demo in the snow, that took place in Nottingham City Centre yesterday to highlight the continuing scandal of forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Four shops were visited that are involved with workfare (Burton, British Heart Foundation, Debenhams, Poundland). Leaflets were handed out and shops were entered to speak with workers and customers. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage.

The Boycott Workfare campaign, which is acting as an umbrella for actions such as the Nottingham one organised by Notts Against Workfare, has compiled a list of workfare providers including the four visited on Saturday in Nottingham and is also asking for information about any other shops or companies who are using workfare (they may be local independent businesses as well as the more well known high street names). You can contact Nottingham Against Workfare by emailing nottsagainstworkfare [at] riseup.net and visit the Facebook page to find out more (details here: https://nottssos.org.uk/2013/03/01/burton-blockade-against-workfare-saturday-23rd-march-2013-2-00pm/ ).

Also read this shocking evidence of a ‘league table’ amongst Job Centres who are competing over targets for getting claimants ‘referred’ for supposedly not complying with precise rules for job searching etc., showing that the attack on welfare is concerted and ongoing with the complicity of Job Centre managers who are doing the government’s bidding and who are making hitting targets a performance measure for staff who work there:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/21/jobcentre-set-targets-benefit-sanctions
Jobcentre was set targets for benefit sanctions, The Guardian, 21/3/2013.

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Boycott Workfare week of action 3rd day report – Nottingham event forthcoming on Saturday 23rd March, Market Square


Boycott Workfare have reported on the first three days of action against workfare (compulsory work for benefits) which started on Monday 18th March:

  1. A4E Communications Blockade – Day 3 of the Workfare Week of Action
  2. Contact workfare exploiter Salvation Army – Day 2 Workfare Week of Action
  3. 24 hours to stop IDS rewriting history and robbing £130 million – Day 1 in the Workfare Week of Action

Nottingham event on Saturday 23rd March 2013

The Nottingham campaign encourages everyone to show their opposition to workfare by coming on the Burton blockade against workfare – Saturday, 23rd March 2013, 2.00pm.
Meet at the left lion in Nottingham City Centre, Old Market Square.

Facebook event page for the Burton blockade:

http://www.facebook.com/events/341132549339550/

Back to work schemes quashed in court & Mandatory Work Activity under pressure from anti-workfare campaigning


Good news from Boycott Workfare and all over the news.

Today, the Court of Appeal quashed the government’s workfare schemes, which have seen tens of thousands of people put to work without pay and many more put at risk of destitution through sanctions.

Of the numerous workfare schemes introduced by this government, only Mandatory Work Activity remains lawful. With immediate effect, those on the controversial Work Programme, Sector Based Work Academies, Community Action Programme or other workfare schemes may leave without risk of sanction. Sanctions currently in place must immediately be brought to an end.

The government has however threatened to swiftly lay new regulations which may make the schemes mandatory and subject to sanctions. The impact of the ruling remains substantial, since unless the DWP wins the right to appeal in the Supreme Court and succeeds in that appeal, everyone who has been sanctioned on the schemes to date should be entitled to be paid back and all referrals to date will have been unlawful.

The viability of the remaining ‘lawful’ workfare scheme, MWA, is under question due to campaigners’ success in persuading charities and companies to withdraw. A DWP evaluation of Mandatory Work Activity in December 2012 noted that “The high profile withdrawal of placements from a number of larger charities meant a sharp reduction in placements.”

[…]

Boycott Workfare’s UK-wide week of action on 18th-24th March will go ahead with the aim of bringing Mandatory Work Activity to an end and ensuring the government don’t bring workfare back. The campaign will do all it can to ensure all those who have been sanctioned on the schemes are repaid, so watch this space.

Full article: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=2020

Benefits campaigners to leaflet Nottingham Job Centre about Universal Job Match – Wednesday 23rd January at 9.30am


Benefits campaigners will be outside the Jobcentre this
Wednesday meeting at Station Street Jobcentre at 9.30am.

We will be handing out leaflets informing people on JSA about their rights
and data protection, especially around the new UJM (Universal Job Match)
scheme. UJM is not mandatory yet but is being treated as if it is. The
scheme has received widespread criticism (see link below) for its security
weaknesses with personal data being easily accessible by anyone posing as
an employer. It is also the latest step towards the draconian (Jobcentre
can track everything you do on the UJM, meaning when it is in full flow
they will be able to keep complete tabs on the job searching of people
claiming JSA.)

We are also inviting people to the “Nottingham Unemployed Workers Club”
which meets every Thursday afternoon between 11am and 2pm for cups of tea
and coffee, some lunch and sharing of ideas. We meet at Sumac Centre, 245
Gladstone Street, Forest Fields.

Be great to see you there!

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/unemployed-to-be-forced-to-sign-up-to-universal-jobmatch-website-at-the-centre-of-security-concerns-8427546.html

See also: Info on UJM in English and Polish. http://universaljobmatch.eu/.
http://universaljobmatch.eu/pl.

Co-operative stops using ATOS


ATOS kills logo
In the face of protests both on and offline, The Co-operative Group have ditched poverty pimps ATOS as their occupational health provider.

The Co-op posted the following on their facebook page this afternoon:

“Hello everyone, here is an update as promised on our occupational healthcare provider, many thanks for your patience on this matter.

The Co-operative Group can confirm that a robust procurement process considering, amongst other factors, cost, operational efficiency and geographical capability is currently underway for our occupational health services provider. Having been scored against an agreed set of parameters and against other bidders, Atos Healthcare have not progressed to the later rounds of that process and our intention is to have a new provider in place when the current contract terminates.”

Source 14/1/2013: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/co-op-ditch-atos-keep-up-the-pressure-it-works/

Action against ATOS in Nottingham:

Nottingham Defense Campaign: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/groups/nottingham-defence-campagin

‘Too much of this sort of thing’ Atos Two pamphlet: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/zines/2548

The subject of ATOS is currently receiving House of Commons debate:

Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130117/debtext/130117-0002.htm#13011761000001

Guardian 17/1/2013 Atos comes under attack in emotional Commons debate: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/17/atos-attack-emotional-commons-debate

Boycott Workfare – new day of action on 8th September 2012 – role of charities in forced work-for-benefits highlighted


Take part in the day of action against workfare on 8th September –
charities should know better!

Last time groups across the UK got together to tackle workfare, Holland &
Barrett – one of the biggest workfare offenders – announced that they
would be pulling out. A big shout out goes to SolFed who organised pickets of Holland and Barrett all over the country.

With workfare amongst corporate companies in retreat, we are turning our
attention in September to charities who are set to receive a huge influx
of workfare as the government roll out their Community Action Programme
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/29/long-term-unemployed-unpaid-work.

We will be taking to the streets to remind charities that workfare is
never for ‘community benefit’ – as the government are trying to claim by
involving charities – and that they have a duty to stand up against such
punitive and exploitative schemes. Join an action on Saturday 8th
September on your local high street. Check the facebook group to find your
local action or arrange one on your high street. Also, keep your eyes
peeled for ’10 top reasons charities to oppose the involvement of
charities in workfare’ blog coming soon on the Boycott Workfare website.

UK wide day of action against charities’ involvement with workfare
http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1544 and
http://www.facebook.com/events/488398427837296/

Actions against public organisations that are taking workfare will be
coming soon too and pressure on corporate companies will continue!


Visit website for Boycott Workfare

Nottingham group opposing threat to Council Tax benefit


29/8/2012 update – Nottingham City Council plans to make the maximum council tax benefit payable 80% of the total for working age claimants (to be based on Band B). It will be going up next year, but using this years amount, if you are in Band A it you have to pay £215 and Band B around £250, more in higher bands, instead of a 100% rebate. Details here – http://ncclols.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/council-tax-benefit-replacement.html. They also suggest to reduce the savings cap to £6000 so if you get laid off after April 2013 and end up with more than this in redundancy, too bad. There are other unpleasant changes including stopping back-dating claims.

The Con/Dem Government are cutting funds allocated for Council Tax rebates by 10%. Each local Council is being told to decide themselves where the cuts will fall. In Nottingham, a group of concerned local people are trying to organise a defence against these cuts for vulnerable people and the residents of Nottingham.
Join facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/450355785005204/

The following document estimates the effect on Nottingham City (listed as Nottingham UA – unitary authorities) which has about 2 in 3 (64%) working age claimants currently receiving Council Tax Benefit, saying,

When the new system of local support for Council Tax is introduced in April 2013 the amount provided to local authorities will be reduced by 10% relative to current expenditure on CTB, saving around £480 million a year. However, characterising this as a 10% cut is disingenuous, as pensioners are in effect excluded from the new system. In terms of the population of working age claimants, who are the only ones that can be affected by new rules, the cut is much larger than 10%.

See: http://www.solutions.entitledto.co.uk/docs/Localising%20support%20for%20Council%20Tax.pdf
In Nottingham the effect appears to mean a 16% cut in spending on working age claimants which means that councils will be put under pressure to pass the cut on to these claimants, meaning less benefits and very likely an end to 100% benefit.

A Nottingham City Council website ‘consultation‘ reflects this. This link is still active (but campaigners don’t think it is now being publicised) – http://gossweb.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/survey/ctb/counciltaxbenefits.htm
(just press ‘Next’ to look at the questions without answering).

Some news is coming in that some councils may refuse to implement the cut, so pressure should be put on Nottingham City Council not to kick low paid working age residents in the teeth. Non-payment is an option – it is likely many people will say ‘can’t pay, won’t pay’ as they did in the anti-poll tax campaign. Will the council then try and blame non-payers for cuts in services instead of the corrupt economic system?

NCC Lols has some earlier thoughts: http://ncclols.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/replacing-council-tax-benefit.html

Disabled People Against Cuts week of Paralympic fun and games against Atos – 27th to 31st August 2012


Join The Atos Games!

On your marks, get set… for a week of Paralympic fun and games against Atos!

From Monday 27th to Friday 31st of August, join Disabled People Against Cuts for The Atos Games – five days of action against a company that’s sponsoring the Paralympics but wrecking disabled people’s lives.

We are calling on disabled people, disabled activists, families, colleagues, friends and supporters to come together and fight back against Atos’s attacks. Atos represents as dangerous an opponent as any government, law or barrier the disability movement has faced in its long history. It’s not just welfare, but our very identity and our place within society that is under attack.

And we are asking the whole of the anti-cuts movement to join us in our opposition to the company most responsible for driving through the government’s brutal cuts agenda. Let’s make it Games over for Atos!

We’re not against the Paralympics or the people taking part in it. We’re highlighting the hypocrisy of Atos, a company that soon may be taking disability benefits from the people winning medals for Team GB.

Ever since George Osborne announced he was slashing £18 billion from the welfare budget, the government has paid Atos £100 million a year to test 11,000sick and disabled people every week, then decide whether they’re ‘fit for work’.

Atos uses an inhumane computer programme to do the testing, and trains its staff to push people off benefits. The government has admitted the tests are flawed, and the British Medical Association wants them to end immediately.

But Atos continues to devastate people’s lives. Many have committed suicide because of its testing programme, and over 1,000 people have died of their illnesses soon after being found ‘fit for work’.

We won’t let them get away with murder, so join in The Atos Games however you can – online, on the phone, or on the streets!

· Monday 27th: A coffin full of your messages about Atos will be delivered to its doorstep.

· Tuesday 28th: Pay a visit to your local Atos office – and maybe even take your protest inside!

· Wednesday 29th: We’ll hold a spoof Paralympic awards ceremony, hopefully with some very special guests…

· Thursday 30th: Phone jam! Let’s flood Atos with calls, and generate a Twitter-storm they can’t ignore!

· Then on Friday 31st, join us in London where we’re teaming up with UK Uncut for the Grand Finale – an audacious, daring and disruptive action. Last time we shut down Oxford Circus, this time we will be performing miracles…!

Over the next few weeks we’ll give more details about each day of action. We’ll make sure that DPAC members and disabled people who can’t travel will be able to take part in different and accessible ways.

We’d really like YOU to make this week of action a great success! Let’s come together and show this monstrous company that we’re stronger than them. They’re the vulnerable ones and they know it.

Atos has offices in most towns across the country, so start organising an action for August 28th at your local Atos now!

Let the Atos Games begin!

Secret filming by GP about ATOS disability benefits ‘health-checks’


Demonstration near ATOS examination centre on Stoney St. in 2011

Demonstration near ATOS Healthcare examination centre on Stoney St. in 2011

We have previously covered the antics of private company ATOS Healthcare who carry out ‘health-checks’ on behalf of the Dept. of Work & Pensions. Job Centres are making daily decisions on huge numbers of people currently on disability benefits (Employment Support Allowance) with the aim of tranferring them on to Job Seekers Allowance if they are deemed fit enough, using a very contraversial computerised testing procedure owned by ATOS. Secret filming of ATOS ‘training’ by a GP has revealed that there is an implicit quota to pass recipients of benefits as fit for work. ATOS is paid a vast sum to carry out the tests.
Dr Steve Bick, a GP with 20 years’ experience, applied for a job as an assessor with Atos to carry out the work capability assessment (WCA) and secretly filmed his training for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme. […] The trainer tells trainee assessors: “If it’s more than I think 12% or 13%, you will be fed back ‘your rate is too high.'” When Bick questioned how the company could know in advance the precise proportion of people who needed to be put in this category, the trainer replied: “How do we know? I don’t know who set the criteria but that’s what we are being told.”

Notts activists have taken action against ATOS locally. The story of one part of this can be found in the excellent pamphlet: ‘Too much of this sort of thing’.

More about opposition to attacks on benefits and some history of ATOS’s testing software: End of the Social Wage? Radical responses to the Welfare Reform Bill

More about benefits on Notts SOS: https://nottssos.org.uk/tag/benefits/