Tag Archives: Social Security

Take Part In Boycott Workfare Week Of Action This Week

Boycott Workfare 3rd March 03Next week sees a week of action against workfare, as the government introduces the harshest forced labour scheme yet seen – “community work placements”. These placements are full time, lasting for 6 months and build upon the failure of the “Community Action Programme” pilot scheme which had no effect on the chances of someone finding work.

Workfare is the system whereby unemployed and disabled people are forced to work for charities, community organisations and companies under threat of having their benefits stopped entirely for up to three years for unemployed people and losing 70% of their benefits indefinitely for disabled people.

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Bedroom Tax Demo – 5th April – One Year On

bbj bedroom tax logoHated, unjust and unworkable. One year on the Bedroom Tax is still there – but only just. Campaigning locally and nationally has had an effect.

* In Scotland the Tax has been defeated.

* Pressure has meant the Labour Party has promised they will abolish the tax.

* Birmingham City Council has admitted 3000 people in long term tenancies had benefits taken away in error and they will be given a rebate.

*Court cases have ruled in favour of disabled couples having separate rooms if they wish, and in favour of separated parents needing a room for visiting children, and that a room must be in use as a bedroom to count as a bedroom. These cases could see hundreds of thousands given rebates due to unlawfully having their benefit cut

Protest for benefit justice

Saturday 5th April

1:00pm, Waterstones, High St, City Centre

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Multiple Bedroom Tax Court Case Victories Could Mean Hundreds Of Thousands Exempted

bbj-bedroom-tax-logo[1]Over the past two weeks, the disastrous bedroom tax has faced multiple court cases, with each case finding that the claimant has had their benefits cut wrongly – and all for a different reason. This policy could now be in the running to beat the Dangerous Dogs act as the worst piece of legislation ever. Sadly it has had a calamitous effect on many peoples’ lives, even leading to the suicide of Stephanie Bottrill – who should never have been threatened by eviction as a result of the benefit cut because she had been claiming continuously since 1996. Hundreds of thousands of those affected by the bedroom tax may now be in line for rebates as a result of the multitude of court cases. Iain Duncan-Smith should be facing the sack for his incompetence.

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Birmingham Benefits Justice Campaign Join Lobby Of Parliament

bbj-bedroom-tax-logo[1]5 members of Birmingham Benefit Justice joined the lobby at parliament yesterday as MPs voted on the bedroom tax. Lobbyists in committee room 12 rose to give a standing ovation to protester Robert Punton as he condemned many politicians’ statements as “just wind in the air. He demanded: “Prove it on the streets. Prove it with action, not with words.” Sue Malins from Druids Heath gave a stirring speech to the protestors outside parliament and Robert Brenchley gave an interview to the press so we definitely felt it was worth going down.

Iain Duncan-Smith, architect of this policy failure – which is now seeing social housing head for demolition as no-one can afford to pay the bedroom tax – was too cowardly to even attend the debate, running off Paris instead. The vote was lost by 252 to 226 votes, meaning the bedroom tax will continue.

Now we are going to direct our fire at Lib Dems who voted for the tax – notably John Hemming.

Protest at John Hemming Surgery Liberal Democrat Office 1772 Coventry Road Birmingham B26 1PB
Sat 16th nov 10.45-12.00


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Ask Your MP To Support Early Day Motion 686 – Sanctions At Sparkhill Job Centre

Sparkhill JCP windowRoger Godsiff, MP for Hall Green constituency, which includes the Sparkhill area has tabled an Early Day Motion in the house of commons, calling for the government to investigate the sanctions being handed out at that job centre. 400,000 people around the UK have been hit by the new sanctions regime in the first 9 months after it was introduced in October, with complete loss of income lasting from four weeks to three years. Sparkhill Job Centre has been shown to be breaking DWP guidelines on the use of jobseekers’ directions, in relation to early morning group sessions which they created to further hassle claimants at the job centre. In September a claimant who had been sanctioned put in the windows of the job centre. Around the UK we have seen many ridiculous sanctions happen, at least in part because advisors have targets to sanction people and are put on performance reviews if they don’t make their quota. Please write to your MP and ask them to sign the early day motion and help to shine a light on the worst job centre in the West Midlands for stopping claimants money.

That this House notes with concern reports that Sparkhill Jobcentre in Birmingham hands out unusually high levels of sanctions; further notes reports that people have inappropriately been given jobseeker’s directions, which are supposed to be only for people with a history of non-compliance; further notes that the practice of making people attend 8.15am appointments and then sanctioning them for a few minutes’ lateness was stopped after it generated negative publicity; calls on the Government to fully investigate reports of unfair practices at this jobcentre; draws to the Government’s attention cases from around the country of people being sanctioned, even though they informed their jobcentre that they needed to rearrange an appointment to attend a job interview, training appointment or family funeral; urges the Government to consider how people who want to work are supposed to travel to job interviews, maintain a smart appearance or even feed themselves if the income they rely on to survive is removed for such reasons; and calls on the Government to use all effective means possible to dramatically reduce the inappropriate use of an increasingly oppressive sanctions regime that seeks to penalise rather than encourage an effective route back into work.


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400,000 Made Destitute By New JSA Sanctions Regime

jcp-signThe new sanctions regime for jobseekers, which can see benefits stopped for up to three years, has hit over 400,000 people in the 9 months from October 2012 to June 2013. 48,000 people have had benefits stopped for 3 years, a number which will increase hugely as people sanctioned for the first or second time get caught out again by an increasingly kafkaesque benefit system and the new claimant commitment.

Esther McVey, the minister for employment reckons that sanctions were only used against those who were “wilfully rejecting support for no good reason”, but we know that this isn’t true and have compiled a list of truly ridiculous sanctions which has also been turned into a tumblr page, to keep track and raise awareness of the sometimes bizarre circumstances under which sanctions are applied.

JCP advisors have targets to meet and face performance reviews if they aren’t sanctioning enough people. A local job centre even offered an easter egg as a prize to the advisor who referred the most people for sanctions, and management are doing as much as they can do get claimants sanctioned, even breaking regulations to do this.

Somehow it is thought that sanctions help people to find work. Quite how someone left with no money is meant to clean, maintain or buy clothes for interviews, or pay for travel for interviews or pay for internet access to look for jobs (Wolverhampton libraries are set to introduce a charge for internet usage) or any of the other multitude of things that cost money and are needed to be done to have any chance of finding a job seems to be an unanswered question.

Once again we face the problem that the idiots in charge of employment policy seem to think that the problem is that people aren’t doing enough to look for work, when really the problem is that there isn’t enough work around to look for. Without enough jobs for everyone all you are doing with sanctions is making people destitute or pushing them into crime, stealing food because they’ve no money to buy it. Gas or Electric for heating can’t really be stolen and if you’re on a card meter you can’t even go into debt to keep warm in the coming cold months. Some will find themselves homeless as housing benefit is wrongly stopped (if you get sanctioned and your HB is stopped, you need to file a Nil Income claim). In a report to Birmignham City Council last year, Sifa Fireside said that they are increasingly seeing HB stopped when sanctions are applied.

This is a truly horrendous situation unfolding in front of us with hundreds of thousands of families affected. We must fight back against sanctions and the neo-liberal view of unemployment, and work towards getting back a comprehensive social security system that ensures support for everyone and an attitude that jobs must be created to reduce unemployment. If you want to help with this, get in touch with the Birmingham Claimants’ Union, or join Unite Community Union or SolFed.


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Bedroom Tax – Unfair, Unworkable and Counterproductive


Photo (c) Geoff Dexter-Sherbourne - flickr

Photo (c) Geoff Dexter-Sherbourne – flickr

Yesterday, anti-bedroom tax campaigners lobbied Birmingham City Council to enact a no eviction policy, so that those who are caught by this unfair charge do not risk losing their homes. Veronica Kenning, a Shard End resident who has terminal cancer and is refusing to leave her home is facing eviction as a result of bedroom tax debts. Well-wishers of Veronica will be gathering at her home tomorrow from 4pm-6pm to show support. At the council meeting yesterday, the council passed a motion calling for the policy to be scrapped, another sign of growing resistance from the local Labour party.

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Sparkhill JCP – Early Morning Sessions Break Guidance – Sanctions Applied Incorrectly

Sparkhill JCP windowAs we have reported Sparkhill Job Centre was recently closed after a customer who had been sanctioned smashed several windows. Sparkhill Job Centre has drawn attention from campaigners as it is known as a high sanctioning office.
It is now coming to light that there are other developments in the office.

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Lobby The Council – 8th October

bbj-bedroom-tax-logo[1]Lobby the Council – 8th October.
Victoria Square 1 pm onwards.
No evictions

Stop all court summonses for arrears due to the bedroom tax.
Cancel all arrears caused by the tax.

We can’t wait for a Labour government to get rid of the bedroom tax – Labour councils must lead a campaign to get rid of the tax NOW.

Please bring any petitions against the bedroom tax to hand in to the council.
The meeting starts at 2pm – we need to be there before that to lobby the councillors as they go in.

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10 Things You Should Know About Universal Credit – PCS Factsheet

10 things you should know about universal creditThe rollout of Universal Credit has been delayed again, so come October only 10 jobcentres will be processing Universal Credit claims and then only for single person claimants, the simplest category to face the biggest welfare reforms in decades at a time when advice centres are losing funding and closing. However, the plan is still to have this thing rolled out nationally by 2017, so here are 10 things you should know about Universal Credit, courtesy of the PCS Union.

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