Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

The Broadest Shoulders.

with 22 comments

“From Camcorder Guerillas.

“It’s fair that those with broader shoulders should bear a greater load” 

(David Cameron, justifying the cuts, Conservative party conference 6 Oct 2010)
In October 2010 the coalition Government announced public sector cuts of £81 billion, including £18 billion cuts to benefits. Whilst the rich avoid £120 billion of taxes and bankers continue to award themselves huge bonuses, disabled people are facing the biggest attack on their rights since the 1930s”.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 27, 2011 at 8:23 am

22 Responses

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  1. I know that this is just a post highlighting a specific issue but the unemployed really don’t want to get too caught up in fighting for other factional interests. No-one, absolutely no-one is going to fight for the unemployed bar the unemployed – that is the hard truth of the matter. Years ago when we did occupations of job centres against the JSA being introduced we had staff support so when we came in they downed tools under health and safety and the centre got shut. The campaigns we have tried to kick start against welfare reform has always been about arguing that the attacks are on the working class as a whole and not solely on claimants (in fact loads of people who work are claimants). That’s why we find this whole no to welfare reform business so frustrating – everyone is championing their group be it one legged lesbian single parents, the myriad of disabilities (there was a row whether people had illnesses or conditions), or just those on JSA. If we argue and organise just as claimants we’re f!”£$% cos nobody gives a f!”£ beacuse there’s no empathy. Our position has always been that attacks on benefits are an attack on the working class as a whole because benefits are the floor of wages, the minimum that people won’t work for, the lower they are the lower those limits are. Or in another way Work for your Benefits/Mandatory Work Activity means working for £1.xx an hour as opposed to £5.90 minimum wage, breaking the minimum wage by the back door, affecting everyone. Also Housing Benefit is claimed by millions of people in work – you can still get it if you earn nearly £20,000! One thing that I found really grating about this video was the guy grating on about “how much he had paid into the system”, what has that got to do with anything. All it does it makes him sound like a right-winger. Almost as if all that HE is interested in protecting and defending is the £25 a week that HE is in danger of losing.

    Umemployed Action

    April 27, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    • Spot on – over the years the class system has been remodelled – upper class, middle class and working class is being replaced with upper class, middle class, working class, and lower class (that is economically inactive, unemployed (100%), disabled etc. what used to come under working class).

      You are absolutely correct in saying “benefits are the floor of wages”. Short-term we are talking about ESA claimants forced onto JSA and JSA claimants being forced to work or lose their benefits. Long-term what is happening is, many are being shifted from working class to lower class… that is increasing state dependency.

      The class system (as I call it) is an interesting one. Nobody likes to be poor… most people who were unemployed once upon a time who sorted their lives out will look down on the unemployed of today – although its history repeating itself.

      Many more working class people are calling themselves “middle class” (indeed they might be “upgrading” to it) and voting Tory. So they are no longer at the bottom… but now the working class are also looking to “upgrade” by using defamation against less fortunate people than themselves after biased BBC broadcasting and Daily Mail articles. This is where the bully comes into play, and of course the “happiness index”. While many may feel more free in their lives, others are being targetted. It is all too easy to blame people. I am sick of hearing about what appears to be thousands of people claiming disability benefits as they play football etc. but I know the extreme vast majority are genuine claimants so attacking all people isn’t the way to go. Then there is people assuming the unemployed are getting what disability benefits pay out, and being a lifestyle choice etc.

      What these working class people are doing is about to shoot themselves in the foot. The middle class (politicians) dropped corporation tax yet many businesses are forcing working class people to cover “vacant” positions which can be filled as they are now paying less tax – but obviously means increasing profits by not doing so. Businesses will continue to make “savings” (cutting staff to you and me) and public sector jobs will go. Now everyone will be paying more of their taxes on ever increasing welfare bills to support the lower class – in the meanwhile before they succeed in greater attacks of capping benefits and increasing sanctions – which are beginning to happen. Just to add taxation for the person has increased… VAT, duty, income tax etc. Any pay rise most people received were below the value of increase in living – making many people poorer.

      Where will these jobs end up? They will be given to the lower class, people who be on “placements” for increasingly small amounts of benefits. Again, JSA should be raised by £10 (in my view) a week, but sanctions should be abolished altogether. The working class who have lost their jobs eventually will be “demoted” to lower class. Considering the Human Rights movement especially after the World Wars; it is absolutely disgusting that it is coming to this – when in effect it should really be outlawed by international law.

      Mandatory Work Activity is indeed a big worry, but the Training Wage is to screw the working class as it proposes a bypass to the National Minimum Wage thus not paying the employees at all is no longer a criminal offence, and paying an employee less than stated in the contract (under the National Minimum Wage) is a civil matter requiring the employee (likely to be skint) to have to sue the employer just to receive his or hers earnings.

      Work Programme

      April 29, 2011 at 6:11 pm

  2. Benefit applicants – ‘75% fit to work or drop claims’

    Three-quarters of people who apply for sickness benefit are found fit to work or drop their claims before they are completed, official figures show.

    Department for Work and Pensions figures showed 887,300 of 1,175,700 employment and support allowance (ESA) applicants over a 22-month period failed to qualify for assistance.

    Of those 39% were judged fit to work, while 36% abandoned their claim.

    Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the welfare system needed changing.

    He said the figures underlined the need to reassess people still on the old incapacity benefit – a process which the government began rolling out last month.

    “Once again we have clear evidence of the need for change in our welfare system.

    “We now know very clearly that the vast majority of new claimants for sickness benefits are in fact able to return to work. That’s why we are turning our attention to existing claimants, who were simply abandoned on benefits.

    “That’s why we are reassessing all of those claimants, and launching the work programme to provide specialist back to work support,” he said.

    “We will, of course, carry on providing unconditional support to those who cannot work, but for those who can it’s right and proper that they start back on the road to employment,” Mr Grayling added.

    The DWP figures cover the period from 27 October 2008 – when ESA was introduced by the former Labour government – to 31 August 2010.



    April 28, 2011 at 2:48 am

    • Abandoned their claim? Does this include people who REFUSED to undertake Atos Origin’s medicals?

      Department for Work and Pensions figures showed 887,300 of 1,175,700 employment and support allowance (ESA) applicants over a 22-month period failed to qualify for assistance.

      So perhaps not all that of the 36% abandoned their claim.

      Work Programme

      April 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

  3. Can I just give a big thank you 🙂 to all the wonderful commenters who give such great advice on this brilliant site and especially the kind person(s) who set it up 🙂 Just to say that I followed the advice given on here and the job centre have told me that they have decided not to sanction me. It was such a relief to be told that I burst into tears. If it hadn’t been for this fantastic site I wouldn’t have known what to do. This site is such a valuable and precious resource for the unemployed that we should all give it a great big hug.


    A Very Happy “Customer” 🙂

    Katie x

    A Very Happy Customer

    April 28, 2011 at 10:43 am

    • Hi Katie, on behalf of everyone, thank you for your kind words! This blog was set up to help people just like you.

      Work Programme

      April 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm

  4. *big virtual hug to ipswitch unemployed action*


    April 28, 2011 at 11:24 am

  5. Unemployed Action – the disabled group in the video are shown joining in with the rest of the people fighting the cuts.

    They do have specific difficulties, and ATOS is one of them.

    I know people, for example, who have mental health issues, who can be perfectly stable for some time, and then have a deep deep crisis.

    These tests do not show this.

    It is good to see peopele standing up against this (befroe reading thsoe who don’t know, while South Islington has some famous well-off areas, North Islington is one of the poorest parts of London),

    “Published: 15th April, 2011

    ANGRY demonstrators waving banners yesterday (Thursday) targeted the offices of a company that decides whether or not disabled people are fit to work.

    Dozens of protesters, many of them disabled, made their feelings known outside Atos in Elthorne Road, Archway, describing the tests the firm carries out as “demeaning” and “de­moralising”.

    The multi-national has been given a £500million contract by the government to conduct medical assessments on 1.6 million people which have so far resulted in 69 per cent of claimants being denied Employment and Support Allow­ance (ESA), the allowance that replaced Incapacity Benefit in February this year.

    Many Islington residents who have been disabled all their lives, including the mentally ill, face losing benefits unless they can prove they are unable to work.

    David Milner, of the Islington Poverty Action Group who organised the protest, said: “Atos Healthcare couldn’t care less about people’s health. They’re only interested in the money they get from cutting people’s benefits.

    “The fact that 40 per cent of appeals are successful shows how unreliable the tests are and how badly they are carried out.”

    Disability activist and London Metropolitan University lecturer, Rob Murthwaite, who is blind, said: “Disabled people are already the most disadvantaged people in the country. It’s disgusting these millionaires in the ConDem cabinet are taking away their benefits.”

    Unison representative Paul Murphy, who is based at Islington Town Hall, said: “The old system where a doctor was trusted to give an opinion on whether or not a person is able to work was far more reliable.

    “Under this new system mechanical decisions are made that throw people off benefits which are later rescinded on appeal.”

    Ken Muller, representing Islington National Union of Teachers said the protest action “just shows how important people take this issue”.

    ‘It’s heartless’ – Assessments backlash

    DISABLED people in Islington, including a former Lib Dem mayor, hit out this week at the government’s “insensitive” tests for those claiming incapacity benefit.

    They spoke out following a demonstration yesterday (Thursday) outside a private firm in Archway which has been tasked by the government to carry out annual assessments.

    Ian Jentle, 64, a trustee with Islington Disability Action, said he was very alarmed by the assessments.

    Speaking in a personal capacity, he added: “A colleague who is totally blind with steel implants was sent a 40-page form to fill out to qualify for new disability benefits.

    “She was told she has to present herself every year for medical re-examination, presumably in order to see if her eyes had grown back.

    “There are people who are amputees who will have to go back every year for medical examination.”

    Mr Jentle said that even at this late stage he hoped the Coalition would drop the scheme.

    Former Islington mayor Doreen Scott, who uses a wheelchair, said that while she agreed there may be people who take advantage of the system, the majority will have genuine disabilities.

    Ms Scott, who as mayor in 2003 promoted access for the disabled, added: “These new assessments are an insult. Most people with disabilities would love to work. But the majority can’t and should not be penalised for it.”

    Former Barnsbury housing worker Rob Ross has cerebral palsy with arthritis in most joints and is partially sighted.

    He said: “I worked for 45 years, mostly as a housing advice worker, until I was forced by ill health to retire. I get incapacity benefit but I’m waiting for the letter for reassessment.

    “These are very worrying times for me. If they decide I can work they could reduce my benefits if I refuse or can’t find a job. It’s all pretty heartless.”

    Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn said the tests will cause distress for many people with disabilities.

    He added: “This is demeaning, unpleasant and a great waste of public money. We should treat people with respect and give them opportunities, not give them punishments.”

    The one-and-a-half million people in Britain who claim incapacity benefit have started receiving letters asking them to be tested on their ability to work.

    The new assessments are part of government plans to reduce the number of long-term claimants in a rolling programme through to 2014.

    Almost 30 per cent of those who took the test during pilot schemes in Burnley and Aberdeen were declared fit to work.

    Work and Pensions minister Chris Grayling said: “My message to people who are worried about this process is that this is all about helping those who can return to work. It’s not about forcing people to return to work, but unless we do the assessments, unless we identify who has that potential, we’ll never be able to offer that help.”


    Andrew Coates

    April 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm

  6. Work Capability Assessment Handbook:


    Disabilty Alliance

    April 28, 2011 at 5:42 pm

  7. I’m scared because I saw a programme and this woman was a part-timer though when it came to her claiming JSA she was refused as she was only doing part-time so hadn’t been paying enough NI. I don’t remember anything about hours but is that only for people doing under 16 hours?

    Mark Thompson

    May 2, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    • You can recieve JSA if working under 16 hours per week. There are two types of JSA.
      1. Contribution based JSA – can recieved for 6 months if you have paid enough NI and is not means tested.
      2. Income based JSA and means tested – you can get this regardless of NI contributions but only if your income(including any partners income) is low enough.

      If you are refused (contribution based)JSA ask about income based JSA. Unfortunately there appears to be the disgraseful and sick attitude amoung some of the managers, staff and ministers in the DWP that they would rather not tell people what benefits they are entitled to and allow them to live in poverty so the department can save some money rather than advise them of the benefits they can claim so they can eat.

      A good place to go for some basic benefits advice is the Citizens Advice Beaurau.


      May 3, 2011 at 10:21 am

      • The Citizens advice bureau is a joke and not worth the paper it’s charter is written on.

        14 Th april 2010 Sent to a specialist advisor told I have a case.

        six month dealine for DL56 Expired, but the dwp still kept of sending small print so it is on a soix month rolling time. My advisor disapears from then until november no contact only get through to the reception staff,

        Novembber make formal complain, the manager takes a sickie and gets back to me in january stating that he cant mke head nor tail of what he has done and that he will get discplinary action for it. Do you still want us to continue with the form yes I replied, spoke to the manager agai things should be sorted, spoke to keremy vane of wolverhampton one of the heads for the westmidlands, still no form ?>


        May 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

      • Too right Kyron, the CAB is crap. There is a rumour going round that the CAB is in league with the DWP. I said rumour. Best place to go for spot-on advice is Ipswich Unemployment Action. No 6 months waiting time for a poxy appointment to be talked down to by a patronising douchebag there 🙂


        May 3, 2011 at 10:43 am

      • My experience of CAB is:-

        * They can be great helping where their experience is in and good at being a middleman (so to speak)

        * Difficult to get an appointment etc. but you can understand why – and donations are more like mandatory tips

        * Will make assumptions via an one-size-fits-all method. i.e. If you go in disputing a debt claim the likely chances are they are going to assume you are “in denial” about the debt and help you manage it – which if its a mistake or a dodgy company where you don’t owe debt in the first place isn’t going to help you.

        Work Programme

        May 3, 2011 at 2:49 pm

  8. HI everyone long time no post.

    I thought I would fill you guys in as to what is happening.

    I am in the process of going through ice.

    DWP interim measure to make sure things are sent out to me in the correct format. They will write the letter for me and then send it to the local jobcentre who will then vet it and make sure it is in the approriate format for me. They will then send it out to me ?

    On another note last sign on 27th April I was told I have got a review/interview on the 11th May. You know the one your suppsoed to have after finisihing with those poverty pimps a4e and beacon.

    Well here goes you have an interview/review kyron to which i say when. It is all written down on this piece of paper a little green appointment card 2 inches by two inches and I can’t read it. I explained tto which I had the reply well im telling it to you.

    So 18 months on still getting htings in small print even from my local office.


    May 3, 2011 at 9:33 am

  9. Thanks for Ipswich Unemployed Action with advice from the last poster before me I got a job not from the Jobcentre, but it’s only 16 hours though it gives me a platform and I proved it was because the employer was prepared to give me a chance because I asked him not as the Jobcentre was making out I was doing anything wrong just to justify their jobs. Unfortunately, I’ve found this is very rare proven by the amount of jobs I’ve been after and I kept to the same method applying, but the Jobcentre told me to go to a 16-hour job in a suit which I declined after following advice from this site.

    The problem I have now is nothing’s being taken out of my pay like for NI and tax even though it’s only 16-hours isn’t there supposed to be something taken out of it at least for NI? I sent in my P45 from the Jobcentre which I received late because I didn’t tell the Jobcentre I got a job why should I tell the Jobcentre I only give credit where credit’s due the same goes for any another organisation? About 4 months down the line it’s still the same, but I don’t want the Jobcentre to find out I’ve got a job and I don’t want to bother my boss so who do I get in touch with

    Mark Thompson

    May 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    • If you haven’t got a P45, try a P46, available from:



      May 3, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      • I got my P45 and sent it in, but it’s still the same they’re not taking anything out and it’s been the same now for about 4 months. It’s just that I don’t want to have to tell the Jobcentre anything to get this sorted out so who do I get in touch with instead apart from my boss because I don’t want to bother?

        Mark Thompson

        May 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      • If you have handed in your P45 to your employer it is out of your hands (and the Jobcentre’s), it is now the responsibility of your employer’s payroll department to deduct the correct tax and national insurance. You really shouldn’t have to do anything further than hand in your P45.

        If you have started working from a time later than the beginning of Tax Year (6th April 2011) you should have been issued with an Emergency Tax Code (i.e. with no allowance). This should be refunded at the end of the tax year – but you have to ask, it is not automatic. But in your case it is the opposite since no deductions are being made.

        HMRC evens things up at the end of the year so if you aren’t paying any deductions at the moment you may be presented with a bill at the end of the tax year (April 5 2012). If you are worried you should ask your employer’s payroll department to sort it out.


        May 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    • You have to earn approx £140 a week before you start paying NI of 12p.

      NMW @ 16 hours = £94.88

      So you should be fine.

      Unlawful Sanctions

      May 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm

  10. Thanks for your help I started 30/12/10 the code was the same as the last job I had which was full-time but it’s recently changed though nothing’s taken out. I was thinking in getting in contact with the IR but I’ll try to contact payroll. I understand NI is pension and how long can one go without payin

    Mark Thompson

    May 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm

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