Other Events locally
19th March 2015.
Film – Life in Hebron. 7:30pm St Catharine’s Hall, Park Road, Frome BA11 1EU. Bradford on Avon friends of Palestine. £3 Proceeds go to bringing the Freedom Theatre of Jenin to Frome.
Demonstration – UN Anti-Racism Day. Assemble 12 noon at the Town Pump, march to the war memorial and brief rally. Dorchester, Weymouth and Portland TUC, Unite Against Fascism Dorset Socialists and Dorset IWW.
CAAT conference. 10am – 5pm, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, UK £7 waged / £3 unwaged (Includes tea, coffee and a light vegetarian lunch).
24th March. Talk – Democracy and War Today. 7:30pm, Minster Rooms, Ilminster. South Somerset Peace Group. All welcome – £3 appreciated, including tea/coffee.
25th March. Public First – Local democracy petition, signature gathering, South Street, Dorchester.
28th March. Disco – Frolic for the NHS at the Con Club, North Street, Bridport 9.30pm.
2nd April. Transition Town Bridport – Talk with Carloine Walker ‘The Circular Economy’. WI, North Street, Bridport. 7.30pm. £3 or £1+2Nets.
8th April. From Page to Screen – The Grapes of Wrath. 11am Bridport Arts Centre. £6/£4.
14th April. Hustings with all local electoral candidates, on human rights and general issues at Woodroffe School, Lyme Regis 7pm
15th April. Hustings with all local electoral candidates, on environmental issues at Thomas Hardy School, Dorchester 7.30pm
If you have been affected by cuts to care in any way, whether you have lost your day care, lost you benefits, mobility car, a carer who has had their wage slashed, a care provider who is having to slash their staff’s wages or simply someone who cares please join us in the “CARE CUTS HURT” demo outside Poole Council meeting. Let those that are making the decisions see the human cost, bring a placard, bring your personal story written down to be collected for presenting to the councilors at a future date. Enough is enough with 60% of cuts still to be rolled out we must make ourselves heard.
Reblogged from Diary of a Benefit Scrounger – Sue Marsh.
Welfare reform. Much needed shake up of a system out of control or cruel and ignorant attack of some of the most vulnerable people in society? Most have an opinion.
Many like me, were fighting the welfare reform bill way back in 2011. We know every last detail, every twist and turn, every sweeping change and every technical detail. Believe me, it’s cruel.
On the whole, I think the cruelty is in the details. Oh, not the headline grabbing Benefit Cap or Universal Credit. They’re largely PR stunts that won’t save any money at all. Universal Credit could have been rather clever if only ministers had understood the details. If only they’d really understood the people they were legislating for. Their lives, the difficulties they face, the traps in the system, the precarious fear of a life on the margins of society.
One of the most sickening details of all still grates with me almost daily. It was so cruel sounnecessary. It overturned decades of cross-party consensus and decency. It picked on a group so vulnerable it takes my breath away. And it stripped that group of basic rights despite ministers not actually understanding the policy at all. How cavalier can you be? How arrogant and out-of-touch?
It was called the “Youth Premium” It only related to children who were born so profoundly disabled that they would never work as adults. Forget your Work Capability Assessments and your Scroungers, these children would never take part in society like you or I. Many would never talk, self feed, walk, play, laugh, fall in love. But they could still lead independent lives. Because we were a society that believed they should have a right to if they chose to.
The Youth Premium treated these children as though they had paid National Insurance. For a cost of just 11 million pounds, on becoming adults, these children were treated as though they had “contributed” through work and because of that, they were entitled to contributory benefits, they did not have to be means tested.
Such a simple thing, but what did it mean in practise? What did it mean to the people behind the numbers? The lives being toyed with? It meant they were entitled to live independently if they chose to. They were entitled to benefits in their own name, not as a means tested part of their family. Often, such profoundly disabled children had considerable compensation to see them through lives damaged beyond recognition by accidents. This compensation was just that. Money for an expensive future of care, adaptations to homes, aids to independence. For a lifetime, this money would have to pay for support just to make their lives as manageable as society could achieve.
No more. Any money would be part of the means test. They would have to run down reserves of cash or savings before the state would step in. Compensation is not income. Nor should it be. From the passing of the welfare bill, any security or savings put aside by families terrified what life would hold once parents or siblings had passed, would have to slowly seep away, leaving insecurity and hunger a shadow away before these few profoundly disabled neighbours and daughters and brothers could rely on any help or support from the state.
Our elite cabinet talked of how “unfair” it would be if “these people” “inherited” money but were still entitled to support from our social security system. No, they would simply have a little security to underpin the often modest state income someone with profound disabilities might expect. And how many of us can rely on generous inheritances anyway? Is that real life? A likely scenario? Of course not.
You might be wondering why I bring all this up again today. The law passed (you can see me pointing out to Chris Grayling why he didn’t understand his own policy on Newsnight, here :
Well, it’s that 11 million pounds. £11 million. In Westminster terms it would barely pay for the DWP’s paperclips. It is a drop in the ocean of a welfare budget spanning 10s of billions. It only applied to a few thousand of the most disabled children in society (children just like Ivan Cameron, had he lived into adulthood.) But Lord Freud, failed investment banker and Minister for Welfare Reform, insisted that we could “no longer afford it” We could no longer afford to allow such profoundly disabled children lives of dignity and independence. No more security. No relief for worried families that they would be safe once they were gone. A cross-party consensus of decades, stripped away by ministers who didn’t even know what they were doing.
This week, William Hague assures us we can afford £10 million for a ceremonial funeral for Margaret Thatcher. Opinion polls show the public don’t want it, commentators from left and right are mystified, yet 2,200 people have been invited to a decadent funeral for a divisive PM who lies at the heart of many of the problems facing our society today. When I scanned the invitees yesterday, it felt surreal. A mish-mash of variety club has-beens, world leaders she shunned and elite aristocrats who shunned her when alive.
10 million for a dead PM, nothing for those living with some of the greatest barriers to society any of us will ever face. I actually feel a bit sick writing it down.
But perhaps, this is the most fitting legacy of all for a PM who assured us “there is no such thing as society”
Perhaps as she burns or rots (we will all do one or the other) every profoundly disabled life lived in chains of dependence because today’s government didn’t understand the details will haunt her. Perhaps she will see images of each and every one playing like a movie to her soul, wherever it ends up.
I hope so. Those children needed that £11 million. She doesn’t.
We don’t think it is a co-incidence that the Co-Op have made their statement 3 days before a communications blockade and pickets. Thanks to the individuals and organisations that invited 3200 to the communications blocakde, the 400 who signed up to take part and the dozens who were planning to take part in the pickets. Thanks also to the individuals and organisations who contacted the Co-Op over the months. We will be discussing what to do next over the next couple of days, but unless there is clear evidence that Atos is still part of the bidding process under a different name, we will be calling off the communication blockade and pickets. We will be figuring out other ways to target Atos economically using similar tactics in the future.
Picket times – From 5p.m. on Thursday 17th January to catch people going home from work and late night shoppers. And anytime on Saturday 19th January.
The Co-Op have said that their new occupational health contract starts in March and that the bidding process for the new contract has already begun. The Co-Op have refused to publicly rule out a bid from Atos. Tendering processes are generally geared towards awarding the contract to the lowest bidder. If the Co-Op were going to make their decision based on ethical concerns, which they have said will be a factor, they would have already publicly rejected a bid from Atos. Atos’s unethical behaviour has already been well documented in the mainstream media and Disabled People Against Cuts have compiled a list of Atos’s unethical behaviour for the Co-Op. Pickets with calls for boycotts and communication blockades and the resulting damage to a company’s reputation does have a significant economic impact and has been shown to work with other campaigns. The Co-Op is particularly vulnerable to such tactics as their ethical image is their unique selling point in their part of the market.
Details of the Communications blockade on Thursday 17th January from 9 a.m. to 5p.m. can be found here:
Some background information:
It has recently been discovered that the Co-Op Bank and group of companies have had a 4 year occupational health contract with Atos and that the contract is due for renewal. Atos make huge profits carrying out work capability assessments on sick and disabled people on behalf of the Government. As was exposed by a Channel 4 documentary they automatically pass 7 out of 8 people as fit for work – to comply with Government targets for benefit cuts. Their decisions are not based on objective medical opinion. Citizens Advice Bureau Scotland have received 24,000 complaints about Atos. CAB win 80% of appeals against Atos finding people fit for work. The Daily Record reported on a Government survey that showed half of those found fit for work by Atos end up destitute.
The Government are cutting benefits as part of their austerity measures aimed mainly at the poor, while those responsible for the public debt continue to get richer. Despite the media headlines about one or two bankers losing their bonuses, generally bankers’ bonuses and those of company directors continue to grow. Sales in luxury goods are also rising. Nearly 50,000 new property millionaires were created in the UK in 2012. £2 billion of cuts in housing benefit and child tax credit where announced in the chancellor’s autumn statement, while £3 billion of cuts in corporation tax was announced in the same statement.
The Co-Op sells itself as an ethical company, but what ethical standards are they maintaining by not publicly ruling out awarding a new contract that gives millions to a company that cuts the benefits of sick and disabled people?
Claimants Resisting Unfair Treatment, Cuts and Harassment
Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World
Glasgow Solidarity Federation:
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/488541864531259/
The Glasgow picket will be at the Co-Op’s new flagship food store at 143 Sauchiehall Street. At least 3 other pickets are being planned in Dundee, London and Southampton. More details to follow.
After spending 18 months in some of London and Birmingham’s most deprived communities, our research – based on peer-led interviews and workshops – goes beyond figures to highlight the real human, social and economic costs of austerity:
“Even a delay in benefits for a week will send people over the edge”
“Debt advice demand has hugely increased. You wouldn’t believe the type of people the banks lent money to”
“People are on disability benefits for a reason…. it has a huge effect on their ability to stay well, to stay independent, to engage in their community”
“Our wages go on running the household – petrol, insurance, gas, tax, mortgage, all our money goes on that. At the end of all that there is nothing”
Please spread widely amongst your networks.