Saturday, May 9, 2015
Boycott Workfare conference: 30th May
Message from Haringey Solidarity Group:
<< OK, the elections are over...but the fight continues. So, come along to the Boycott Workfare conference on 30th May at the London Welsh Centre (details here) and let's start preparing to fight the onslaught that could be coming our way. The Tories might have a majority but so did Thatcher when she introduced the Poll Tax and look what happened there. It can happen again. If we stay strong.
Boycott Workfare are asking people to sign up in advance so they know how many to cater for and allocate space.>>
List of workshops happening at the conference
Organising against workfare in your town or city:
How groups have had a huge impact and ways to get started in your town.
It can seem a daunting prospect to start a campaign against a workfare provider or business when sometimes there is only you and a couple of mates. What can a couple of people do? How can you sustain a campaign? Who's going to take notice of you? But, this is exactly how groups like those in Edinburgh & Haringey started many years ago, and these groups now having a huge impact against Workfare and sanctions. And it’s how most groups start. Just look at the rise of Housing Action type groups around the country. Most were started by a few people who knew each other. Come and listen to groups who have just started out and others who have been going for years. The workshop is for us all to share experiences, learn from each other, help those out who are thinking of setting a group up and mutual support.
Challenging sanctions and mandation
Over half a million people were sanctioned last year, and unless we fight every sanction we now risk three years without even a subsistence income. This session explores the key facts that people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance need to challenge sanctions. We’ll look at both the formal processes and ways we can collectively put pressure to overturn sanctions as well. We hope people will go away equipped to support each other to fight every sanction!
Knowing your right to Access to Work support, before going on Work Placements
We can use Access to Work as a stalling tactic for avoiding work placements. If disabled people need support to work, such as equipment or a support worker, or can’t use public transport, they can apply to Access to Work. Big employers have to pay themselves so may think twice about taking a workfare placement on if it’s going to start costing them.
Take part in this workshop with Andy Greene of Disabled People Against Cuts to explore ways disabled people can resist forced unpaid work placements.
Taking on Workfare
Together we have brought a flagship government policy to near “collapse”, but with all three main political parties and UKIP firmly committed to workfare and sanctions, we need to keep pushing. Take part in this workshop to share information on the shape of workfare at the moment: where it is taking place and the latest tricks of the providers. We’ll map out workfare’s weaknesses and find the places we can push together to bring it down once and for all.
Universal Credit: The time for welfare and housing campaigners to come together
Universal Credit is slowly being rolled out nationwide, Job Centre by Job Centre. People on “in work” benefits will soon face the same evil job seeking and sanctions regimes that those of us on JSA and ESA have had to endure for years. For people in low paid work, it could mean facing workfare or losing housing benefit. Could this be the present government’s “Poll Tax” moment when different groups come together to destroy a hated piece of legislation? Come and share knowledge about Universal Credit, explore ways to make sure people know what it could mean for them, and discuss how we can bring people together to put a stop to it.
Tactics to resist and navigate the Work Programme
A few different companies have contracts to deliver the Work Programme, the flagship two year workfare scheme. They’re all supposed to follow the same regulations. These can be used against them. There are lots of ways not to cooperate with the Work Programme.
Come to get information from groups and individuals about what Work Programme providers don’t have the power to demand, and the personal data they can’t force you to give them – and more on how to avoid and overturn benefit sanctions they inflict. We’ll hear from welfare action groups in Edinburgh and elsewhere about what can be achieved by insisting on your right to be accompanied to appointments.
This workshop is for everyone to share strategies for stalling and changing the activities that providers try to impose, and for resisting their demands about attendance, unhelpful training, and unpaid work placements.
Keeping Volunteering Voluntary: Workfare stops when there’s nowhere to send people
For workfare to happen, the government needs charities and voluntary groups to take placements. But more and more voluntary organisations are standing up and saying no. Over 550 have signed Keep Volunteering Voluntary’s pledge not to take part and the word is spreading. With most national charities now out of the schemes, we need to get the word out at a local level where charity workfare placements are still rife.
Come along to this workshop with Kevin and Penny from Keep Volunteering Voluntary to explore the key arguments to challenge the voluntary sector’s involvement, to share which tactics and approaches have been successful so far, and to plan how to take the campaign further and win!
Staying strong: Supporting each other through the emotional impact of punitive welfare reforms
When we work in mutual support groups, before we ever overturn a sanction or force a workfare user to pull out, we are already doing something important: sharing our experiences and offering emotional support. The reality is hard: the punitive culture at job centres, ever-present threat of sanctions, and the psycho-coercion of workfare providers take a heavy toll on people’s wellbeing. This session is an opportunity to share our experiences of working in groups dealing with these issues and discuss good ways to share support and look after ourselves and each other.