Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Blogs on Unemployment.

with 12 comments

Ipswich Unemployed Action  tries to keep up-to-date on Blogs that deal with unemployment, and campaiging groups.

Here are some recent ones we’ve added to our links.

Benefit Sanctions,

“Come to the Unlawful Sanctions website! This website is dedicated to exposing the unlawful, unfair, cruel and criminally unjust financial punishments on our societys poorest people. Whats more, criminals convicted of benefit fraud are sometimes “punished” by applying the same length sanctions to their current benefit claim (instead of jail) that Joe Bloggs, the typical genuine jobseeker is receiving for arriving late to sign on because the bus was late!” More  (Part of the Work Programme Network (that is, linked to us) Here)

A4E Hell

“The hell and hummilliation I have suffered at the hands of A4E and DWP.”

Highly recommended: Here.

Campaigning: Benefit Claimants Fight Back.  Here.

This is also interesting, from Mick’s Organised Rage    Here.

On Wednesday the 16th February I wrote a piece which condemned as unbalanced the previous nights BBC’s, TV current affairs flagship programme News-night. After it showed a film of a visit made by US Pro Lawrence Mead to Liverpool and studio discussion between him and Chris Grayling, the Tory led coalition minister responsible for unemployment benefits. Mead, a favourite of U.S. mainstream media outlets like Fox News, and a right wing academic who has outdated 19th century views on welfare benefits and the unemployed. He played a major role in implementing ‘Workfare’ in the state of Wisconsin, which resulted in many claimants plunging into dire poverty and hopelessness.

I subsequently sent a complaint to the BBC about this programe, if anything the reply I have now received is as biased and unbalanced as the program itself, and I will be pursuing this matter further. Although, as with most multi national corporations the BBC’s complaints procedures is stacked against complainants. For example a complaint, once it is received by the BBC becomes what they call ‘feedback,’ which gives a hint about just how seriously they take such matters.

Below is the BBC justification for propagandizing on Mr Mead’s and the Coalition governments behalf, for that is how I see both the programe and the BBC’s reply to my complaint. Nevertheless it is for readers to make up their own minds, above is the link to my article on which my original complaint was based, and below is the BBC response to my complaint and my reply.

Dear Mr Hall

Thank you for your feedback regarding ‘Newsnight’ broadcast on 15 February 2011. 

We understand some viewers felt the programme’s report from Lawrence Mead and discussion on the UK’s welfare system showed biased against benefit claimants.

Lawrence Mead has been a key architect of many ‘welfare-to-work’ schemes in the U.S.A, including a very influential scheme in the state of Wisconsin (where they cut the number of people on welfare by ninety per cent). His work has also had a big influence on British Government policy, for example the Welfare Reform Bill. We therefore thought it would be interesting to commission an authored film by Mr Mead to see how his views might be received in a British City with British welfare recipients.

During the piece we heard from unemployed people and benefit claimants who agreed with Mr Mead’s assertion – that the existing welfare system and economic structures unwittingly discouraged work and the seeking of employment, whilst passively making claimants benefit-dependent. The report made it clear that a number of factors have contributed to the current situation, the overarching element being the welfare system itself.

We made it very clear that the views expressed in the piece were Mr Mead’s views and not those of ‘Newsnight’. We did, of course, robustly challenge Mr Mead in a discussion after his film. It is part of ‘Newsnight’s remit to air and challenge controversial views, especially when those views have such a key influence on British policymakers.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us. 

Kind Regards

Mark Roberts

BBC Complaints


Dear Mr Roberts,

I am bemused and totally unsatisfied with your reply as you have not dealt with the main issues I raised, which were centered on a lack of balance in the Newsnight segment. You have endorsed without question Mr Mead contentious claims about the success he had in reducing the numbers claiming unemployment benefits in Wisconsin. Your claim he reduced claimants by 90% is breathtaking in its disingenuousness. For any fool can reduce the take up of benefits, if claimants are unable to meet the new criteria set to claim them. If you cut welfare benefits for the long term unemployed as happened in Wisconsin, it is hardly rocket science there will be less claimants. 

What happened to those who were claiming these benefits after they had them taken away is the core question, and Newsnight, taking Mead at his word, failed to ask him this question in its after film chit chat. I will tell you what occurred, far from finding work as Mead implies, it drove many of the most marginalized and economically disadvantaged people in the USA further into poverty. After loosing their benefits they disappeared off the official radar into a life of hopelessness, petty crime, addiction and poverty. As an aside, if the prisons and mental health facilities, etc, fill up after benefits are cut, pray tell me how can that reduce the deficit. It cost £45,000 to keep one person in a UK prison for one year. (Yet no one at Newsnight felt the need ask Mead such questions.)

As to the group of claimants who were videoed talking to Mead in Liverpool, they were never going to argue vigorously against his nasty vindictive theories, because if they disagreed with him on camera and said they would refuse to accept ‘any job,’ and this got back to Job Centre staff, they could loose their benefit under the current UK system. That Newsnight failed to inform its viewers of this again show a lack of balance if not down right bias.

To claim after his film was broadcast, Mr Mead was ‘robustly challenge’ during a Newsnight discussion is simply untrue. (Have you watched the debate?) As I wrote in my original complaint, those in the studio consisted of Mr Paxman, who showed little interest in the subject, Mr Mead, on video link from New York,  and Chris Grayling, the Coalition Government minister responsible for benefits at the Department of Work and Pensions, who at this very time is himself engaged in cutting welfare benefits in a not dissimilar way to Mead’s reactionary 19th century theories about the unemployed. 

Despite there being countless individuals who could have offered an authoritative alternative viewpoint on this matter, none appeared in the studio debate, if one can call it that. Hence my complaint is based on the total lack of balance in this BBC Newsnight segment.

You also failed to deal with my question when I asked ask who financed Lawrence Mead’s trip from the USA to the UK and his visit to Liverpool, did the BBC cover any of his costs? This is not a minor side issue as how the BBC spends license payers hard earned cash is of vital importance today.

To date, having refused to deal with the main components of my complaint, I e lack of balance and cost, I do not believe you have dealt with it adequately. Thus I have no choice but to pursue the matter further. I would appreciate if you could tell me where I go from here.


Mr Mick Hall

It can be safely said that Lawrence Mead has joined the list of Ipswich Unemployed Action’s sworn foes.

We invite and welcome any new links.


Written by Andrew Coates

March 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Campaigns for Unemployed

Tagged with

12 Responses

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  1. Lawrence Mead is a complete and utter arsewipe. Even the DWP themselves in their own publications recognise that sanctioning (cutting benefits) leads to crime, a chaotic lifestyle and homelessness. Cutting benefits does NOT work!

    Ghost of Thornbridge Hall

    March 4, 2011 at 6:44 pm

  2. Unlawful Sanctions is expanding soon – a couple of guides to help jobseekers which could be charged for but is provided for free.

    In the next few months there should be more details on Work Programme sanctions and whether the anticipated verbal sanctions of the proposed workfare scheme under labour will also be for Work Programme.

    Work Programme

    March 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    • Verbals, eh guv :-). It’ll be easy to fit “suspects” lol up then, if you know wot I mean Gov 🙂

      DSI gene Hunt

      March 4, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      • Its Gov, DirectGov lol

        (However, there is an all important dot separating the words but more importantly its dot UK at the end i,.e. its not direct.gov)

        Work Programme

        March 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm

  3. Okehampton redundancies spark rise in food bank demand

    A food bank in a Devon town hit by redundancies in recent weeks said it has seen a “huge” rise in demand.

    More than 300 people have lost their jobs in Okehampton – 232 at desserts firm Polestar, 67 at the Robert Wiseman dairy and 20 at Browne’s Chocolates.

    The Okehampton Baptist Church food bank has gone from providing one or two parcels to between 40 and 50 a week.

    “Every aspect of the food bank has changed in the past four weeks,” the Reverend Barry Walton told BBC News.

    The retired minister said as the need to provide food parcels increases, the need for donations and money to buy fresh produce also goes up.

    ‘Body blow’

    “I think we talk quite glibly about ‘the knock-on effect’, but we don’t actually realise to what extent that takes place,” the Rev Walton said.

    “It’s not just affecting employees – it’s affecting all the people they used to spend their money with.”

    Ruth Kelsey has been donating fresh vegetables to the food bank from her farm shop in Okehampton.

    One of the only good things to come out of the three factory closures, she said, was local people pulling together.

    “I feel like part of the community and I just want to help out,” she said.

    “It’s an important part of people’s diets to have fresh vegetables and I thought I could help with that.

    “Okehampton is a relatively small town and people feel genuinely concerned for each other.”

    Husband and wife Mary and Nick Wonnacott, who both worked for Polestar for more than 15 years before losing their jobs, said the food bank had been a “godsend” without which they could not have managed.

    “We’ve had four weeks where we’ve had to manage with no income at all, so this has been a wonderful boon for us,” Mrs Wonnacott said.

    Tim Jones, chair of Devon and Cornwall Business Council, has described the factory closures as a “body blow” which would have a profound effect in Okehampton.

    Polestar has been bought by Devonshire Desserts, but it is not known how many people will get their jobs back if and when the factory goes back into production.


    March 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    • No idea why this post got held up.

      But have now approved it.

      Andrew Coates

      March 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm

  4. Hi Andrew thanks for the plug but my blog is nothing special it is my somewhat arcane ramblings


    March 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    • Then you obviously haven’t seen my blogs?! haha

      Work Programme

      March 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm

      • Oh I have but Im saving a special one for you.

        WHAT THE HELL runs over gives work programme a sloppy wet kiss. Sorry thats my sillyness quota for the day


        March 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

  5. 7. Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty than any other group in the UK and more likely to be unemployed or in low paid jobs. 60% of those with a work-limiting disability are unemployed, with 25% wanting to work.


    March 7, 2011 at 11:13 am

  6. HI Guys and gals I thought I would let you in to a bit of info.

    I had a telephone call whilst I was at the NHS in Westbromwich. Yes a voluntary placement done off my own bat nothing from the idiots a4e. I am busy tearing down the very foundations that pin the nhs up. IT MAkes me sick

    Onto the news the local manager of jobcentre halesowen contacted me today. He wanted to discuss the paperwork problem only after being contacted by ICE how interesting. The wolverhampton office wanted to ask me if this option was acceptable.

    Paperwork instead of being sent to me would be sent to my local jobcentre who would then put it into the correct format and then post it out to me. I told them that I didn’t feel this was acceptable. Changes need to be made at the point ? I did state that I would accept this as an interim measure and I stressed interim. How long would you call interim no more than three months I said.

    I proceeded to moan at the manager and tell him what A4E has done for me. Because of these idiots a voluntaryplacement in a birmingham college fell through. This college was going to let me continue my studies on cisco to keep my sklls uptodate and gofor the exam. This fell through and I lost my cisco certification. I SAID HOW INGODS NAMEDID A4E HELP ME. This has hindered my long term job prospects.

    He did comment that my ICE complaint seems to be progressing ok as many get turned down at the first stage and mine hasn’t


    March 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm

  7. RE Micks post on dealing with the BBC over its coverage of welfare issues.

    Imo, this is par for the course for the BBC, over a five year period I had numerous correspondence with them over programmes like the Panorama programme which focussed on levels of IB in S.Wales, (based on the research of Professor Steve Fothegill of Sheffield Hallam Uni) and which I fear was very influential (along with the Tabloids) in creating the discourse of the benefit culture’ and of course, the dreadful ‘On The Fiddle’. The replies i received even from producers were generally very defensive and often actively hostile. One can contrast this to how complaints are dealt with from political parties and other elites..

    I do believe the BBC has an agenda or a least a collective worldview: that being in work is ‘good for disabled people’, and any moves to this end must be positive and therefore reported in a good light, the level of reporting on welfare is generally poor and misinformed as well. I also think there is a element of class prejudice involved as well.


    April 6, 2011 at 12:56 am

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