WEDNESDAY 15th APRIL
MARCH – 11.30am OLD STEINE GARDENS
SLEEP OUT – FROM 4pm OLD STEINE GARDENS
PLUS SPECIAL READING OF OUR FAMOUS PANTOMIME ‘DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS WORK CAPABILITY ASSESSMENT, OR THE COMPUTER SAYS NO’ !
A national day of action has been called on Monday 2nd March against Maximus, the private company which is taking over running of the despised Work Capability Assessment for sickness and disability benefits. These crude and callous assessments, introduced by Labour, have been used for years to strip benefits from hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people after a quick computer-based test rules them ‘fit for work’. The evidence of GPs and health care professionals is ignored. Even the terminally ill can be dragged from their deathbeds to be tested.
The last figures released by the DWP in 2012 showed a massive increase in deaths among those who had recently come off disability benefits. A growing number of suicides have been directly linked to the regime of tests and sanctions. Many people have been left destitute and hopeless, because being found ‘fit for work’ just drives people onto the dole queue, with no guarantee of them finding or keeping a job.
To justify their actions, the millionaires in government and the media have tried to denigrate those most in need, in language reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. As a result, disabled people and their families have become targets of abuse and some have even been physically attacked.
American firm Maximus has been involved in forcing people off benefits and into workfare in the UK since they were appointed by Labour to operate the infamous New Deal. Like many private firms paid billions to take over the work of public services, Maximus had a history of complaints including accusations of fraud and theft, bad working practices and failure to deliver to service users.
Now Maximus is taking over the WCA from poverty pimps Atos with a lucrative £500 million contract. They are inheriting the offices and systems and even the medical director of Atos. New clowns, same old circus…
Maximus were the very first private provider Brighton Benefits Campaign picketed in March 2010, and we were involved in the campaign against Atos, which led to that company asking to be released from its contract early. Maximus is boasting they won’t be driven out in the same way. We’ll see about that!
SATURDAY 10TH JANUARY 10AM – 4.30PM
BRIGHTHELM CENTRE NORTH ROAD BRIGHTON BN1 1YD
A citizens’ conversation about democracy, cuts and resistance.
* Why does a crisis of the banking system mean that we have to have our benefits and services cut?
* What gave the Ritzy cinema workers the courage to strike and win a living wage?
* What happened when a group of young single mums refused to accept eviction and rehousing far away from their community in East London?
* How can we stop our NHS being dismantled piece by piece?
Come to Power to the People? to learn about what we’re up against and discuss how to take back our power and make our voices heard, here in Brighton. Whether you’re a busy activist or someone who’s never been political, the day will be inspiring and informative. Drop in any time or stay all day.
* Campaign stalls
* Discussion and skill sharing workshops
* Free lunch
Registering in advance on this Eventbrite page will help the organisers to plan for lunch, arrange sign language and other access arrangements and speed up the registration process on the day: http://brightonpowertothepeople.eventbrite.co.uk/
Brighton Benefits Campaign will be taking part – look out for our stall!
Since the financial crisis of 2008, successive governments have pushed forward increasingly vicious cuts to welfare under the excuse of austerity. Meanwhile they have been busy diverting wealth into the pockets of millionaire corporations, cutting the taxes paid by the wealthy, and permitting outrageous tax avoidance and evasion.
Sick people are denied benefits by cruel tests devised to force even the dying to sign on. People desperate for a job are forced into zero-hour contracts with no rights, or even into unpaid work. A draconian system of sanctions for the jobless has been set up to make us compete for poorly paid jobs and the unemployed can now be asked to sign on every day.
Soon people will be obliged to leave the part-time employment they have had for years, in order to work full time in worse conditions or unsuitable jobs, under the threat of sanctions. Help for those in work has been slashed. Families on low wages go without food or heating to pay their rent due to housing benefit cuts. Many pensioners are faced with choosing between heating and eating, and thousands die each year as a direct result.
Now local councils are doing the government’s dirty work, with savage cuts and privatisation of services. Brighton and Hove City Council is no exception. Unsurprisingly, Labour and Tory alike are happy to impose swingeing cuts on the worst off, and the Greens seem incapable of taking a radical stand. Increasing numbers of households are sliding into poverty, while the services they rely on are slashed and sold off.
The rich have become massively richer, while the numbers of those affected by austerity are soaring. None of us is safe. Ordinary people see their jobs disappear, their pay frozen, their services smashed, and help for those most in need snatched away or made conditional on their working as virtual slaves.
Yet we are told to blame each other for increasing poverty and desperation! Or informed by the unimaginably better off that being poor is due to our personal failings.
The privileged rely on us being desperate and divided. Let us refuse to believe the propaganda which divides us. Let us not divide ourselves, again and again, into tiny single issue campaigns. We need to be united, to see our common interest, and to fight side by side for each other. Enough is Enough!
Enough is Enough! is a new initiative proposed by Brighton Benefits Campaign to bring together all those affected by the assault on the rights of ordinary people over recent years, to take action in solidarity with each other. We are starting with a party for anyone, on benefits or not, who wants to be involved. Join us!
MONDAY 6TH OCTOBER
MEET 11AM BRIGHTON STATION FORECOURT
As part of the week of action called by Boycott Workfare, we will be paying a return visit to a major private provider paid millions in public money to administer the disgraced Work Programme.
Join us in picketing Avanta, poverty pimp and bully of unemployed and disabled people; sending them out as unpaid labour, forcing them into unsuitable work, and referring them for sanctions.
On our previous visit, Avanta managers locked the doors, pretended they were closed, and even refused to let people in who had appointments! Film of that picket can be seen here thanks to Lee Salter.
Friday 12th September
Meet in the forecourt of Brighton Station 11am
Join us in saying NO SANCTIONS FOR CLAIMANTS, NO TARGETS FOR STAFF!
We will be paying a visit to a private provider making millions in public money,while referring unemployed and disabled people for sanctions.
Benefit cuts mean hunger, debt and fear, and have led to a string of deaths and suicides. People lose benefits for the most trivial reasons. Last year the numbers soared to over a million, with a 580% rise in sanctions imposed on disabled people. The result has been a massive increase in destitution and referrals to food banks.
Jobcentre staff are bullied to impose sanctions. Research by the PCS union in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt pressured into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ’inappropriate’ sanctions decisions.
Benefits are not a ’lifestyle choice’. Most of those making up the army of unemployed are between short-term jobs, or disabled, lone parents, and increasing numbers of older people forced onto the dole queue by cuts to social security rights. Yet they are being bullied and threatened with sanctions. Why?
Faced with a choice between work or starvation, people will grasp at any job, however bad the pay and conditions, however demeaning or dangerous. They can even be forced to work for nothing or lose their benefits. Bad news for the workers whose employment rights are undercut, but a massive state handout for the bosses.
At the same time the private providers of the disgraced Work Programme such as Avanta, and their hundreds of sub-contractors, are taking millions in public money. They are about to get another bite of the cherry as a new scheme is rolled out imposing 13 weeks of ‘9-5 jobsearch’ on the unemployed.
The truth is sanctions, workfare and privatisation don’t create jobs, they destroy them!