The Real Benefit Cheats Are The Employers Who Are Milking The System
Cameron wants to curb in-work benefits. No wonder: just £8bn on benefits goes to the unemployed, while an estimated £76bn, according to James Ferguson of Money Week, goes to people who are working. The government says this shouldn’t be happening. Cameron insists employers should be paying wages people can live on – which, funnily enough, is the sort of thing unions say, although they no longer have any power to make it happen.
It’s what Labour says, too, now the party is out of power. When it was in power, it avoided confrontation with employers offering poverty wages, and with the unions, by kindly offering to make up the difference between the minimum wage and a living wage via the benefits system.
It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. The Tories excoriate Labour because Labour accepted the Conservative idea that employers should be freed from the burden of social responsibility. Labour spent a lot of money on protecting employers from such irksome duties. The Conservatives still don’t want to impose such irksome duties, but don’t want to stump up for the hefty bill that ensues from failing to do so either.
Just one of the woeful consequences of Labour’s drive to support employers by supplementing employees is that it makes the figures look like the Department of Work and Pensions is showering taxpayers’ money on the feckless, when it is actually showering taxpayers’ money on businesses.
A mum whose disabled daughter was the victim of bullying has backed a new film launched to encourage people to report hate crimes.
Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger launched the 15-minute film as a training tool to show the true impact of crimes against disabled people, which aims to address the levels of under-reporting across Teesside.
Kay Demoily, of Acklam, Middlesbrough, helped her daughter Katy, who has Down’s syndrome, through her difficulties with bullying at school and college and welcomes the efforts of police.
“It is very important that people are made aware of the amount of bullying that goes on. Young people especially are vulnerable and might not be able to stand up for themselves, so it is vital that others look out for bullying, which is so much more common than people think.”
Last year there were only 23 reports of disability hate crime incidents – but police and support charities believe victims are not coming forward, due to fear or because they are unaware that bullying is classed as a hate crime.
Kay says that Katy, now 32, who enjoys photography as a hobby, has managed to move on since the bullying with support from family, friends and the local community.
She said: “Everyone who lives close by is very helpful, and would keep an eye out while Katy is around here but you can’t always know what goes on.
“Katy became very introverted and upset. I thought that I would have seen the signs but I didn’t. The film that the police have produced is hard hitting, and I think it should be shown in schools so that young people understand the issues.”
Mr Coppinger said: “Cleveland is not unique in the fact that disability hate crime is under-reported but as a force we are dealing with it head-on by raising awareness of ways in which to report the crime and enhance our training to officers and staff. Incidents can take the form of name calling in the street, serious assaults, and deliberate deception of vulnerable people with disabilities. These are completely unacceptable and it’s important that officers can identify where a crime has a disability hate element and how to raise awareness of reporting with victims, carers and families.”
The short film has taken months of planning and features real life stories brought to life by IMPACT Drama Group, part of Middlesbrough Community Inclusion Service, who directed the film and featured in the case studies.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 17 May 2014
Sad right-wing bastards on parade in Newcastle…
You may have read the account of our writer friend being targeted by supporters of the National Front. Here’s his account of the demonstration itself. Thanks for your contribution, comrade!
I arrived at the demonstration area about half an hour before the advertised start time and there was already about 20 people standing on Grey’s Monument with a large banner declaring ‘Nationalists against Groomers’ and smaller Union flags. The crowd had doubled in size after just 15 minutes and by midday there was around 100 people.
This wasn’t the drunken wannabes of the EDL (although there was a small group of EDL from Sunderland who were, somewhat predictably, already drunk) this group was predominantly middle-aged veterans of the far-right. The fascist insignia was proudly on display; Blood and Honour shirts, C-18 badges and swastika tattoos.
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Universal Jobmatch is the scandal-hit website which unemployed people are forced to use to look for work. Monster Jobs were paid almost £20 million to create the site which recently won a ‘worst website’ award at an industry event. According to The Guardian, Universal Jobmatch is set to be scrapped when Monster’s contract expires in 2016.
This is not the case pleads Monster boss Sal Iannuzzi, in the joint statement co-written with Head of Jobcentre Plus Neil Couling. The website is ‘here to stay’ he claims. What’s more it is a ‘powerful tool’ and a ‘secure, and effective recruitment site’, whilst criticisms are based on ‘misrepresentation’.
The letter highlights two main areas of concern, the huge number of bogus jobs…
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A trio of diverse new films from South Tyneside documentary-maker Gary Wilkinson will shed light on different aspects of the borough’s past.
Prolific Mr Wilkinson has built up an impressive portfolio of filmic works in recent years.
And he shows no sign of slowing down, with his latest projects to be screened at the Central Library in South Shields later this month.
The first film, The King, The Queen And The Punk will be shown at the library’s Wednesday Heritage Club on March 19, from 7pm.
It recalls three key events in South Shields during the 1970s – the visits of HRH Queen Elizabeth and boxing legend ‘The King’ Muhammad Ali and the formation of the punk band, the Angelic Upstarts. Narrated by South Shields poet Alistair Robinson, the film includes footage showing the opening of the Central Library in South Shields by local writer James Mitchell in 1976.
On the same evening, Designs For Life – about tattooing and tattooing practices in South Tyneside – will be shown.
“Now considered by many to be an art form, tattooing is much more visible than it once was. It isn’t possible to go into a shop, take a bus or Metro, and not see patterns inked on skin,” the documentary maker said.
Finally, on Wednesday March 26, at the usual 2pm time for Wednesday Heritage Club, Gary’s film Wildflower will be shown.
A labour of love for the filmmaker, it chronicles the life of Eileen O’Shaughnessy – the South Shields-born wife of writer George Orwell.
Creating the film has involved a great deal of research and has taken Mr Wilkinson around the world, including New York. He first came across Eileen when there was a display about her life in the reference and local history library, and he realised that he wanted to find out more about her and document her life in a film.
He said: “I wanted to show how much she influenced George Orwell, arguably the most controversial and important writer of the 20th century.”
The film is narrated by local poet and dramatist Tom Kelly, who will introduce the event. It is also hoped that members of the Orwell Society will also be attending.
Mr Wilkinson added: “Eileen O’Shaughnessy is one of history’s forgotten people, but is an unsung heroine of the 20th century and certainly, many local people will be surprised to discover that her origins lie here in South Shields.”
Tickets for all the events in the Library Theatre cost £1 each. For further information, or to reserve a ticket, contact the Reference Department on 424 7864.
Source – Shields Gazette, 12 March 2014
> A masterful summing up of the current situation, by John Wight.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are engaged in the widespread bullying and intimidation of benefit claimants in Jobcentres up and down the country.
The evidence can no longer be denied and the union’s leadership must now take steps to educate its members that solidarity is more than just a word on a leaflet during a PCS pay dispute, or else face the accusation of collaborating with the government’s vicious assault on the most economically vulnerable in society under the rubric of austerity.
The upsurge in the number of claimants having their benefits sanctioned for increasingly minor infractions correlates to the upsurge in the demand for the services of the nation’s food banks. This shocking revelation was contained in a report by MPs in January, the result of an investigation by the Work and Pensions Select Committee, which called for an independent review into the rules for sanctioning claimants to ensure that the rules are being applied “fairly and appropriately“.
Among its findings the report stated: “Evidence suggests that JCP staff have referred many claimants for a sanction inappropriately or in circumstances in which common sense would dictate that discretion should have been applied.
The report continued: “Some witnesses were concerned that financial hardship caused by sanctioning was a significant factor in a recent rise in referrals to food aid. The report recommends that DWP take urgent steps to monitor the extent of financial hardship caused by sanctions.”
The majority of Jobcentre staff are members of the 270,000 strong PCS, the sixth largest trade union in the country, which represents the majority of Britain’s civil servants and public sector workers.
The union’s general secretary, Mark Serwotka, has been a high profile and strong critic of the coalition’s austerity policies in recent years, appearing on numerous public platforms and a ubiquitous presence in the mainstream press making the case for an investment led recovery from recession and calling for mass opposition to the cuts that have ravaged the public sector and been accompanied by a concerted campaign of demonisation of the unemployed and economically vulnerable that is unparalleled in its viciousness.
It is a campaign that has largely succeeded in diverting the blame for the worst recession to visit these shores since the 1930s onto the poor. Meanwhile the rich, whose greed lies at the root of the nation’s economic woes, have seen their wealth and incomes increase over the course of the recession, evidence that austerity and economic and social injustice are one and the same.
It is unconscionable that any self respecting trade union would allow its members to engage in the wilful and systematic sanctioning of benefit claimants without meaningful resistance. It flies in the face of the very principle of social solidarity that is the cornerstone of a movement founded on the understanding that the interests of working people – employed and unemployed – are intrinsically the same.
The human despair not to mention humiliation being inflicted on people in the nation’s Jobcentres is evidence that the Tory campaign of dividing working people section by section has borne fruit. It has reached the point where the oppressive atmosphere found in your average Jobcentre is on a par with the oppressive atmosphere associated with a district or sheriff court.
Jobseekers are not criminals and those sanctioning them so readily are not parole officers, yet you could be easily mistaken in thinking they are after spending just a few minutes in a Jobcentre in any town or city up and down the country.
Enough is enough.
This shameful culture of bullying, harassment, and intimidation against the unemployed must be confronted by the leadership of the PCS as a matter of urgency. By no means are all PCS members working in Jobcentres guilty of this shameful behaviour and treatment of claimants – indeed many are low paid workers reliant on various benefits to survive themselves – but enough are involved in the practice to leave no doubt that we are talking about an institutional problem rather than the actions of a few rotten apples.
Making matters worse is the fact that many of those being sanctioned are being trapped due to mental health issues or language issues making them more vulnerable to violating the plethora of rules regarding the obligations they must fulfil when it comes to searching for work. Many are being sanctioned for turning up five minutes late to a scheduled appointment, regardless of the reason why.
The sheer barbarity of this is staggering, plunging people who are already living on the margins into extreme poverty and destitution. In some cases suicide has been the result.
Those PCS members involved would do well to imbibe the words of the American union leader Eugene Debs: “…years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind then that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
Any trade union member who allows him or herself to be used as an instrument to attack the poor and the unemployed is deserving of contempt. And any trade union leadership that fails to act to prevent it happening is reactionary.
Source – Huffington Post, 25 Feb 2014
Reblogged from Another Angry Voice
Nobody should be surprised that the Tory party serve the interests of the wealthy minority.
The fact that the Tory led government is packed full of millionaires who buy into the “greed is a virtue” philosophy ofneoliberalism is one strong indicator that the serving of wealthy establishment interests should be expected. Another, even stronger indicator is the fact that the Tory party is funded by a rogues gallery of tax-dodgers, banksters, private health interests and landed gentry.
The Tory party is absolutely crammed with people suffering a smug sense of superiority over the masses. These people believe that they are special and a cut above the rest, because they’re rich, because they’ve been Eton & Oxbridge educated, because they were born into establishment families, or perhaps (like Iain Duncan Smith) because they suffer a misanthropic hatred for most of…
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