2 Apr 2014

Claimant Conditionality, Sanctions and Welfare Reform A Birkbeck University 'Pop up university' event

When: 8 April, 4pm to 6pm
Where: Queens Parade, 12 Willesden Lane, Willesden Green, NW2 5HT
Claimant Conditionality, Sanctions and Welfare Reform
A Birkbeck University 'Pop up university' event led by our friend Nic Lane. Admittance free.

Alan Wheatley

11:51 AM (20 minutes ago)


This is being led by self-trained expert Nic Lane of Boycott Workfare. I'm not sure if I can make it as yet because of a prior engagement near Turnpike Lane tube that evening but can commend this evening to others and attempt a rescheduling of my evening commitment that night.

Anyhow, please circulate and try to come. Incidentally, re my Cc'ing Dan Morton and Peter Beresford of Social Work Action Network with a view to forwarding through their networks, I wonder whether social work students might be able to get academic credits for attending such events, as the content is likely to relate to their service users? Even before the 'Claimant Commitment' a great many claimants on Employment & Support Allowance 'Work Related Activity Group' have been sanctioned, for example.
http://dpac.uk.net/tag/esa-appeals-rise/#sthash.YkdOlVIc.dpbs
and
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/sep/03/disabled-benefits-claimants-fines-work
Also, the Mirror reported this March:
New DWP figures have revealed the use of punitive sanctions has rocketed under the Coalition ­Government. In the year to September 2013, 897,690 people were sanctioned.
For missing an ­appointment, the ­punishment can be as harsh as one month without benefits, three months or even up to three years.


Swheatie

When: Tuesday 8 April, 4pm to 6pm
Where: Queens Parade, 12 Willesden Lane, Willesden Green, NW2 5HT
Claimant Conditionality, Sanctions and Welfare Reform
A Birkbeck University 'Pop up university' event led by our friend Nic Lane. Admittance free.
Event Details:
"The move towards Universal Credit has been marked by increased demands on those receiving welfare benefits and enforced by a new sanctions regime. April 2014 is due to see the new 'Claimant Conditionality' start across the UK, and the start of the Community Work Placements scheme. This session will discuss these new policies and look at strategeies to lessent their impact...."

30 Mar 2014

News from another borough: Tory and UKIP Harrow paranoia?

To: Harrow Observer
Re: Harrow Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance: hustings.

I recently (25/3/2014), attended a hustings called by Harrow Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance on behalf of the Green Party which will be standing candidates in the forthcoming local and euro elections. UKIP, Conservatives, Labour, and Independent Labour were also represented and all parties put forward their policies on various matters. I was not surprised, but perhaps a little disappointed, that I was the only one to mention climate change and its possible implications for all of us.

I was, however, surprised by the emphasis placed by the UKIP and Conservative representatives on the issue of ‘beds in sheds’ ’ i.e. people living in converted garages, garden sheds etc. which was claimed to be a major problem in Harrow. UKIP also claimed this problem was widespread elsewhere and therefore the country ,  overpopulation problems. Both UKIP and Conservative claimed to have evidence from heat seeking detectors in over flying aircraft.

There were questions from the audience about the current London housing price inflation and resulting crisis in accommodation which is probably causing some of the ‘beds in sheds’ phenomenon through such things as young people staying on in parental homes. There were also questions on such issues as the pressure on local health facilities and threats to Freedom Passes. Perhaps it is these basic matters that concern Harrow voters more than the slightly spooky concerns with surveillance of the population which seem to obsess some of the parties standing.

Yours sincerely

Peter Murry, Brent and Harrow Green Party representative.

29 Mar 2014

Brent Stop the War meeting: Environmental Crisis and the links to War

FUTURE MEETING at RUMI’S CAVE 26 Willesden Lane, NW6 7ST
April Meeting Monday 14th April doors open 7.00 pm, meeting starts 7.30 pmsharp
 
We are very fortunate to be sharing this meeting with Disseminus who have invited
Dr Nafeez Ahmad to speak on Environmental Crisis and the links to War
A decade and a half into the 21st century, humanity faces a wide range of interconnected and overlapping crises - environmental, economic, energy, as well as concerning food, water, poverty, ideology, psychology, and culture. These crises are escalating. What is their link to war, violence and terrorism? This meeting will explore the range of potential scenarios for what a business-as-usual future holds for the human species and Planet Earth, the deep structural causes of our current predicament, and the opportunities for radical social transformation.
 
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed (www.nafeezahmed.com) is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. He writes for The Guardian go to http://www.theguardian.com/profile/nafeez-ahmed for a profile and a link to his Earth Insight blog on the geopolitics of environmental, energy and economic crises. He is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, and his latest book is A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, which inspired the documentary feature film, The Crisis of Civilization www.crisisofcivilization.com

24 Mar 2014

London Mayor Boris Johnson is trying to persuade the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to allow water cannon on London’s streets.


38 Degrees Logo

You might not have seen a water cannon before. They’re like fire engines, except that the high-pressure hose is used to control crowds. Water cannons are used in other countries, but they’ve never been used here.

London Mayor Boris Johnson is trying to persuade the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to allow them on London’s streets.

What do you think? 38 Degrees member Neal Parsons has set up a petition, calling on Theresa May to rule out the use of water cannon for good. Do you agree? If so, you can sign the petition here:

SIGN THE PETITION 

Neal argues that:

“The right to protest is one of the most important aspects of our free and open democracy and I believe that the threat of this weapon will be an inhibitor to people of all ages from exercising that right.”

But Boris thinks there is broad support for water cannon. He says:

“No-one wants to see water cannon routinely deployed on the streets of London but ... I have concluded there is broad support amongst Londoners for the use of this measure by the police in limited circumstances.” [1]

So who is right? If you'd like to support Neal’s campaign to stop the use of water cannon, sign the petition here:

SIGN THE PETITION 



Thanks for everything you do,

Andrew, Robin and the rest of the 38 Degrees team


P.S. Neal started his petition on Campaigns by You, a part of the 38 Degrees site where anyone can start and run campaigns on the issues that matter to them. Check out the site or start your own campaign here:https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/visit-cby

NOTES:
[1] Independent, London Mayor backs water cannon use in the capital:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-mayor-boris-johnson-backs-water-cannon-use-in-the-capital-9203592.html

20 Mar 2014

Alan Wheatley for Chancellor, NOW!

The photos I got a friend to take with my camera did not click properly tonight.

However, here is a clickable link to photo Peter a photographer from Demotix took of me tonight with newly decorated Kilburn Unemployed 'Budget Box'.

I believe though, that the most important work done by Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group activists has been the behind the scenes operations of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group activists supporting one another in attempting to get support of claimant's doctor toward successful Employment & Support Allowance claims.

Swheatie





16 Mar 2014

Demonstrate for a Peoples' Budget


The beginnings of a structure to build a movement and the sense of shared purpose that can make it happen.

Saturday, 15 March 2014 from Wembley Matters Martin Francis' blog

People's Assembly makes itself fit for purpose

Today's recalled People's Assembly Against Austerity began with a warm minute of standing applause for Tony Benn and Bob Crow which seemed to set the tone for a serious but friendly day in which the organisation sorted out its aims, structure and priorties in an atmosphere refreshingly untainted by sectarianism.

I could have been there wearing one of several different hats but settled for the Green Party Trade Union Group which had put forward a resolution committing the PAAA to campaign for effective action against climate change. Natalie Bennett's moving of the resolution linking austerity, neoliberalism and clinmate change was well received and the resolution was passed overwhemingly.

The Assembly adopted the People's Charter for Change which states: We need a government to reverse damagaing austerity and replace it with a new set of policies providing us with a fair, sustainable and secure future. We can no longer tolerate politicians looking out for themselves and for the rich and powerul. Our political representatives must start governing in the interests of the majority in the direction outlined by this statement of aims.

The aims were:
1. A fairer economy for a fairer Britain
2. More and better jobs
3. High standard homes for all
4. Protect and improve public servies
5. For justice and fairness
6. For a secure and sustainable future

Supplementary motions were passed adopting the People's Charter; supporting the nationalisation of those firms and banks that do not invest to build a high-skilled, high-wage, high employment economy; supporting house building, rent capping and opposing fixed term tenancies and 80% market rents in Council and Housing Association properties and supporting regulation of rents, conditions and tenancies in the private rented sector; stepping up campaigns to defend the NHS and abolish the NHS and Social Care Act, brnging privatised NHS services back under public ownership and control; and resolving to campaign for money to be spent on welfare rather than warfare,

The structure that was agreed created a body to be known as 'The Assembly' which would manage the PAAA between conferences and would be made up of one representative from each signatory group and one representative for each local, national or group assembly and this will nominate a management group to be endorsed by the Assembly. The Assembly will meet at least twice a year. 

A supplementary motion from the Coalition of Resistance was approved which set out the People's Assembly's commitemnt to be a broad united campaign against austerity, cuts and proiatisation in workplaces, commity and welfare services based on general agreement on the signatories' Founding Statement. It was made clear that the PA would be linked to no political party and would be committed to open non-sectarian working. An amendment to adopt a less formal, decentralised structure with participatory democracy and consensus decision making, on the lines of Occupy, across the PAAA was defeated.

Two slightly contradictory motions were passed on Finance with some confusion about what constituted membership and membership fees, and whether these should be paid centrally or locally. This will need sorting out in the near future.

The Assembly adopted a future programme based on mobilising hundreds of thousands of people in activity and coordinating national events, days of action and support groups, It was agreed to work to set up new People's Assembly groups, strengthen local groups and central organisation (finance will be essential for this) to hold 'meetings, rallies, protests and actions in every locality possible' and to mobilise for the following national events:

• March 19th Budget Day Demonstration
• March 22nd Stand up to racism demo
• March 26th Support for NUT strikes
• April 5th Day of Action Against the Bedroom Tax
• May Day Events
• June 21st People's Assembly National Demonstration (support by the NUT)
• August 31st NATO Protest Cardiff
• September 28th Tory Party Conference protest
• October 18th TUC National Demonstration

 The day ended with a rousing speech from Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT, making a strong case for community based campaigning in the form of the Stand Up For Education camaign that has seen NUT members out engaging with the public at high street and market places stalls throughout the country.

There is clearly a massive amount to do but the day left me feeling that we now had the beginnings of a structure to build a movement and the sense of shared purpose that can make it happen.

3 Mar 2014

Green Party challenges 3 main parties with radical education agenda




The Green Party has sharply differentiated its education policy from that of the three main political parties in revisions adopted at its Spring Conference this weekend.

Moving the revisions, Martin Francis, Brent Green Party spokesperson on children and families a former primary headteacher and now chair of governors of two primary schools, said:

The neoliberal project is based on the premise of unlimited growth and unrestrained exploitation of the earth’s resources and sees society purely in terms of the market, competition, private acquisition and consumerism. This leads to the marketisation of education through the privatisation of schools, erosion of democratic accountability and the narrowing of the curriculum policed by testing and Ofsted.

Our rejection of this model enables us to put forward an education policy that is child-centred and provides everyone with the knowledge and skills to live a fulfilled life, restores local democratic accountability, teachers’ professional autonomy and children’s right to a childhood.

The revised policy that was approved with only two or three votes against commits the Green Party to:


·        Abolish the current SATs and the Year 1 Literacy Screening Test and rigid age-related benchmarking

·        Recognise the great variance in children’s development in the early years and the need to offer developmentally appropriate provision including the important role of play in early learning

·        Strengthen the role of local authorities in terms of funding and the enhancement of their democratic accountability

·        Oppose free schools and academies and integrate them into the local authority school system

·        Restore the right of local authorities to build new schools where they are needed

·        Adopt an admissions policy that recognises every child and young person’s entitlement to access a fair, comprehensive and equal education system, regardless of their background

·        Embrace a diverse range of educational approaches within that system

·        Replace Ofsted with an independent National Council of Educational Excellence which would have regional officers tasked to work closely with LAs. The National Council would be closely affiliated with the National Federation for Educational Research (NFER)

·        Ensure every child in the state funded educational system is taught by a qualified teacher

·        Reject performance related pay for teachers



Existing policy on the Curriculum which replaces the National Curriculum with a series of ‘Learning Entitlements remains unaltered.

Martin Francis said:

We know that many despair of the current policies of Michael Gove and Tristram Hunt’s pale imitation and the great and reckless damage they are doing to the education system, teachers’ morale and children’s well being. We have clearly set out an alternative vision that replaces competition with cooperation, coercion with partnership, and fragmentation with cohesion.










14 Feb 2014

EMERGENCY PUBLIC MEETING: MORE FLOODS-MORE FUEL POVERTY? video clips

ENERGY CRISIS, CLIMATE CRISIS – WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

Emergency public meeting organised by Brent Campaign Against Climate Change and Brent Friends of the Earth. Supported by Brent Housing Action, Brent Trades Union Council and Brent Fightback. Speakers: Sophie Neuburg (Friends of the Earth), Ewa Jasiewicz (Fuel Poverty Action), Pilgrim Tucker (Unite Community), Suzanne Jeffery (One Million Climate Jobs Campaign)

Thursday 20 February, 7.30 pm, Chalkhill Primary School Sports Hall, Anton Place,  Bowater Road (off Chalkhill Road), Wembley Park. Free admission 


 



Introduction (Martin Francis Brent Green Party) and Suzanne Jefferies (1 Million Climate Jobs Campaign )

Ruth London (Fuel Poverty Action)
Sophie Neuberg (Friends of the Earth)
 Murad Qureshi AM
 
Questions and discussion part 1



 Questions and discussion part 2

9 Feb 2014

Women's Assembly conference

Saturday, 22 February 2014 from 10:00 to 17:00 (GMT)
Conway Hall
Red Lion Square
WC1 London
United Kingdom

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The People's Assembly is pleased to announce the Women's Assembly conference date as announced in the Guardian, to take place on Saturday 22nd February 2014 at Conway Hall, London. 

Organised by women for women, all self defining women welcome. If you do not self define as a woman you can support the assembly by helping out publicise and inviting your women friends :-)Here's some of the speakers confirmed so far...

Dianne Abbot MP, Sarah Veale TUC, Lindsey German Stop The War, KAte Hudson CND, Diana Holland Unite, Gloria Mills UNISON, Francesca Martinez, Natalie Bennet Green Party, Cllr Rania Khan, Kate Smurthwaite comedian, Barbara Ntumy, Mya Pope-Weidemann, Kerry Abel Abortion Rights, Sabby Dhalu UAF, Doreen Massey, Christine Blower NUT and many more tbc... 

Workshops include: Comunity organising, Health, Women & Work: All Work and no equal pay, Anti-racism, Women & War, Transport, Education and more...

After the assembly we will be going to a pub round the corner :-)

Please let us know if you can help with stewarding on the day by emailing us atwomen@thepeoplesassembly.org.uk
Perhaps you could ask your local union or campaigning group to help with transport costs or to sponsor women from your area. 

You can help by sharing this event on Facebook and Twitter

We hope you can make it!

In comradely sisterhood, 
Women's Assembly

4 Feb 2014

Monday, 3 February 2014


Passengers face massive disruption if Boris’s cuts to ticket offices happen


The Mayor of London’s proposal to close all London Underground ticket offices and cut
up to 1,000 tube staff is apparently supported by 82 per cent of Londoners, according
to a poll commissioned by TfL.

However the question they ask in their poll doesn’t mention either the ticket office
closures, or cutting a thousand staff, but TfL are now claiming public endorsement for
the cuts. Polls commissioned by the unions also show overwhelming opposition from
passengers to these cuts.

Closing ticket offices which are only used by 3 per cent of people making journeys
does not sound much of a problem, except when you translate that into over a 100,000
people a day who are queuing up to sort out the issues which the machines can’t help
them with.

I can see some merit to the argument that we utilize new technology to make staff
more accessible, but these plans combine the closures with a huge reduction in staffing.
Fewer staff will be around and when they are wandering about, we may, or may not, be
lucky enough to bump into them. Ticket offices in most stations provide a reassuring
focus point where you know you can find someone.

The presence of a staffed office provides an invaluable source of advice and
assistance to passengers, way beyond the function of merely selling tickets. Get rid of
a 1000 staff and you lose that reassuring presence which helps passengers feel safer,
especially if travelling after dark.

Crime and abuse sadly occur in society and tube stations are no exception. In a recent
 survey of disabled travellers “enhancing personal security and safety” was ranked
consistently as the most important benefit that staff provide to disabled passengers.
CCTV cameras can never replace staff in making passengers feel safe waiting on a
dark platform at night.

As we have tragically seen in recent years, emergencies do happen on our transport
network and deleting staff posts as the number of passengers flowing through stations
increases is irresponsible and could lead to injury or loss of life on the expanding tube
network.

This Mayor – Boris Johnson – presided over annual fare hikes above the rate of
inflation every year between 2008 and 2013. During this time, the real average increase
in TfL fares was 11 per cent, hitting Londoners’ pockets over and over again.

Meanwhile, he throws away vast sums of public money on a succession of vanity projects
 including his New Bus and his cable car. While the Mayor wants to shed staff from tube
stations to save money, the additional cost for the extra staff on the back of the 600 Boris
Buses is an estimated £30m a year.

With record numbers using the tube and a massive predicted increase in passenger
numbers these cuts to staffing are unnecessary, unsafe and unworkable.

He has slashed away at our public services. Earlier this month, 10 of London’s oldest fire
stations closed their doors for the last time, 14 fire engines were withdrawn and 552
firefighter jobs were axed – all victims of this Mayor’s decision to cut council tax for the
 average family by 7p per week to make a political point, rather than safeguard our
communities.

He has also presided over police front counter closures and is pushing for City Hall
security services to be outsourced too.

Tube workers have been rightly praised, as heroes during the terrorist attacks, for
making the Olympics a success and for keeping London moving. They now deserve
 our full support in their fight for a safe, properly staff tube.

Industrial action is a last resort and no one wants strikes, least of all tube workers who
 lose pay. But passengers face disruption and a worse service for years to come if
these cuts take place.

This Mayor opposed the closure of 40 ticket offices by his predecessor and entered
office in 2008 with a firm pledge to keep ticket offices open. He repeated his promise
again in 2010. Now we see the Mayor quietly ditching his commitments and hoping
nobody will notice.

I hope Londoners will see what he’s really doing and object to these dangerous cuts.

Written by Darren Johnson, Green Party London AM 

2 Feb 2014

Hands Off London Transport public meeting 31/01/2014

Hands Off London Transport public meeting 31/01/2014, featuring Natalie Bennett and speakers from RMT, GPEW, HOLT& Youth Fight for Jobs

1 Feb 2014

Kensal Rise Library closed and demolished by All Souls College's estate managers



 Published on 31 Jan 2014 by Martin Francis

At 5am on January 31st 2014 security employed by All Souls College's estate managers demolished the community pop up library outside the closed down Kensal Rise Library. Residents had erected the pop up library to preserve a book and learning space after Brent Council had itself carried out a dawn raid and seized the library in pursuit of its 'library transformation project' which closed half the borough's libraries. Developer Andrew Gillick wants to knock down the library and build flats and negotiations have been going on about allocating space for a community library. No detailed plans have been forthcoming and yesterday Friends of Kensal Rise Library announced they would not support Gillick's revised application. Meanwhile the result of a police investigation into the existence of hundreds of false emails submitted in favour of the previous application has yet to be concluded.

Kilburn Unemployed Workers' Group update

KILBURN JOBCENTRE FIT-FOR-WORK?

DWP jobcentres, in conjunction with G4S security staff, seem to be treating claimants with such contempt, making claiming such a horrible experience in order to put people off. By rudeness, crassness, and pure obstructiveness, in league with faceless Hoxton Decision-making adjudicators, people are having their entitlements cut, without proper safeguards or warnings, so when people get annoyed, they are further banned, or the DWP cowards phone the cops. Having been ourselves at the brunt of this skulduggery, the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group want attitudes and actions changed, of course realising that the Government, of all the 3 mainstream parties, want to make our lives a misery, in order to cut the dreaded ‘Welfare Bill’. The same rotten policies were applied with the Workhouses, where the jobless were actively treated like scum, but eventually history showed how wrong, absurd, and barbaric this ‘legal’ attitude was.

We realise that most workers initially join public services to help service users, but governments with cost-cutting programmes, put so much pressure on workers under the name of ‘productivity’ that they can regretfully acquiesce to these despicable practices. Note the negligence of citizens at the BBC, care homes, Stafford Hospital, etc where complaining to the top brass or whistle-blowing, could mean getting bullied or sacked. We at the KUWG want to work with the PCS & GMB unions, and management, in establishing proper actual practices, not paper policies, in non-discrimination of claimants. IDS, in his wife’s mansion, doesn’t suffer confrontational laws. We also note that in the Ukraine the people have had enough and have managed to force their government’s cabinet to resign, and drop unfair laws...if they can do it, we should too!

We have planned protests on Wednesday 19th February 2014 on National Anti-Atos day. Atos are the so-called ‘Medical Assessors’ who infamously in league with the DWP, wrongly determine sick people either “Fit-for-Work” or “Fit-to-prepare-for-work”, and we have helped overturn some of these ludicrous and spiteful ‘decisions’.. The protests will be 8am-10am Neasden Atos, and 3pm-4pm Lisson Grove Atos if you want your voice heard.

We are leafleting outside Kilburn Jobcentre Monday 3rd February 2014 11-noon to publicise the government’s draconian legislation that produces thuggish & brutish tactics. With the UK rich having an “economic recovery”, at our expense, maybe in “Austerity Britain” being BRITISH = being BRUTISH? We appreciate that most DWP and G4S employees DO want to help claimants, but are under pressure due to lack of staff, with stupid regulations, and are left struggling to cope by Whitehall mandarins. Use your collective strength to organise against parliamentary vindictiveness, as we do, & join us in solidarity against vicious laws that we believe break human rights.

The Kiburn Unemployed Workers Group (linked to Brent and Camden Trades Councils and Unite Community Union) meets every Thursday 3pm-5.30pm in the Small Hall, Kingsgate Community Centre, 107 Kingsgate Road, (Off Quex Road) , NW6 2JH. (Disabled Access available). We discuss cases, help with paperwork and attend meetings (Our motto is “Never attend anywhere official alone”), and help with campaigning and protesting for ANYONE unemployed. Our contact details are: mobile: 07579 965 704,


DWP, G4S, ATOS-TAKE YOUR DIRTINESS ELSEWHERE!