This Thursday, 11th September, is a national Day of Action against benefit sanctions, workfare and all benefit cuts (including the bedroom tax).
In Leeds, we will be meeting in Briggate (near the Body Shop) from 12 noon until 2pm, with stalls, display boards and banners, to raise our voices about the vicious cruelty of these attacks on the poor, and on those with disabilities or long-term health problems. We urge you please to come and join us, and to spread the word as much as possible.
We’ll have information on display to raise awareness of what’s happening to people, and facts and figures showing the real agenda behind these disgusting government policies. There’ll also be advice for people who are already affected. We’ll have a megaphone and there’ll be a chance for anyone who wishes to do so to speak about their experiences with the benefits system, or in support of those affected by it.
This is really important: in the year 2013/14 nearly a million people claiming JSA were sanctioned – that means, being left without any income, or with a much reduced amount of money. That is, nearly a million people whose income is already way below what’s needed for a reasonable quality of life, given that basic JSA is only £72 per week anyway – and only £57 if you are under 25 – and that the chances are you will be paying council tax and bedroom tax or part of your private sector rent out of this, not to mention basics like food and fuel, and the things needed to actually look for work, such as phone credit and bus fares.
As most of you will know, these sanctions are being applied for the most outrageous of reasons (like being a few minutes late for signing because you were at a job interview, or because the job-centre wouldn’t re-arrange your signing time so you could attend a funeral). People have been sanctioned on the day they had an operation, whilst they were pregnant and homeless, when they needed to attend to a sick child…..
And sanctions are being used to force people to work without wages (workfare) – which has been shown to bring no benefits to the jobseeker, but means less waged jobs, or less hours for those struggling on zero hours or part-time contracts.
We’ve been doing lots of stalls outside job-centres, and from what people are telling us, we can see that the situation is getting worse. And now we learn that 6000 people across the country (many of them locally) will be forced to spend 35 hours per week doing job-search (looking for non-existent jobs) in the job-centre. Basically, this is prison, except you go home at night – and all for the “crime” of being unemployed or unable to work.
This has to stop – please join us in Briggate at 12 noon on Thursday 11th with your friends, neighbours and family, and anything else you want to bring. This will only be the beginning of the campaign, and we look forward to your input on how we can make it bigger. We really want to hear from people who have stories to tell, or who can help with stalls, leafleting, lobbying, holding meetings and events, or connecting with other groups.
Flyers and posters are here and here, and there is also some information prepared by the PCS and Unite Community unions to help claimants face with sanctions – see here
And do check out information from other campaign groups, especially the brilliant Boycott Workfare – www.boycottworkfare.org, also on facebook.
There are quite a few good blogs out there too, eg johnnyvoid.wordpress.com is one to get you started.
See you on Thursday!