Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘Ipswich’ Category

Day of Action Against Benefit Sanctions. Protests.

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Thursday: Outside Ipswich Jobcentre. 

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Interviewed on Radio Suffolk.

Benefit sanctions must be fought against

These sanctions are cruel and handed out for ridiculous reasons such as:

  • Arriving minutes late to a meeting
  • Not applying for jobs when waiting to start a new job!
  • Missing an appointment on the day of the funeral of a close family member.

This has to stop.

Unite demonstration outside the Department of Work and Pensions in London watch the video here  – See more at: http://stagingui.unite.awsripple.com/growing-our-union/communitymembership/day-of-action-against-sanctions/default.aspx#sthash.QsxxyCRf.dpufTake other action
  • Share your story – we are looking for people who have been sanctioned to tell their story.
  • We want to show the reality and impact on people’s lives – show your support – share on Twitter and Facebook #No2Sanctions
JOIN US – Thursday 30 March

See More Here.

Welfare WeeklyThousands to protest against ‘cruel and ineffective’ benefit sanctions regime

Campaigners will target more than 80 jobcentres across the UK, as part of a ‘national day of action’ to stop benefit sanctions.

Activists from Britain’s biggest trade union Unite will tomorrow (Thursday) be protesting outside the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in London, calling on the UK Government to stop it’s “cruel and ineffective” benefit sanctions regime.

Campaigners will target more than 80 jobcentres across the UK, as part of a ‘national day of action‘ to stop benefit sanctions.

Since May 2010, over 3 million people have been referred for a sanction 8 million times. Over 318,000 people have had their benefits cut or stopped completely in the last year alone, often for punitive and unfair reasons – such as being late for appointments with the jobcentre, or being too sick to ‘actively seek work’.

According to the food bank charity Trussell Trust, more than 500,000 three day emergency food parcels were given to people in crisis in the first half of 2016/17, including over 188,500 to children, with the most common reason for referral being problems and delays with benefit payments.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 30, 2017 at 11:28 am

Posted in Damian Green, DWP, Ipswich, Sanctions, Suffolk

Tagged with , ,

Iain Duncan Smith’s Ipswich Visit Ruined.

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Ipswich Protest Last Year.

Somebody (okay, Martin from Disabled People Against Cuts, DPAC)  spoilt Iain Duncan Smith’s Big Day Out (Friday) at Kesgrave, by Ipswich – a venue you can only get easily with your own transport.

Former minister launches Vote Leave campaign in East Anglia

Former minister and Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith was the keynote speaker at the event at Kesgrave Hall – and was joined by business leaders and politicians from other parties.

Among those at the rally was UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn, a key backer of the Vote Leave campaign.

East Anglian Daily Times.

A protester in a wheelchair was removed from the meeting after heckling Mr Duncan Smith over his policies when he was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

On BBC Look East that evening their were pictures of the stewards roughly bundling Martin out of the Great Man’s meeting, shouting his opposition to the hate-ridden polices which Iain Duncan Smith has inflicted on millions.

Duncan Smith was not the only horror there.

UKIP is keeping quiet about it at the moment but in 2013 these were their policies about the unemployed:

UKIP don’t just loathe migrant workers.

They hate the unemployed here as well.

We are, UKIP says, “a parasitic underclass of scroungers”. (The Void)

They want this policy,

Require those on benefits – starting with Housing and Council Tax Benefit recipients in private rented homes – to take part in council-run local community projects called ‘Workfare’ schemes. The schemes will be in addition to council jobs.

The Void comments that it is now hard to find the policy document that says this.

But more evidence keeps coming in of their views,

We have this,

“Some long-term benefit claimants would be banned from using their benefit cash to buy cigarettes, alcohol or satellite TV subscriptions under proposals due to be presented at the UK Independence party’s spring conference on Saturday.

The proposed ban on paying for satellite TV comes only a fortnight after it was disclosed that Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and biggest shareholder of News Corp, had met the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, for the first time, prompting speculation that the Sun may support the party.”

Which reminds us of this on Welfare Weekly’s site:


Would leaving the EU worsen or improve the lives of poor and disabled people?

Results so far: Worsen 59% Improve 21% Don’t know 20%


Written by Andrew Coates

April 18, 2016 at 10:08 am

Unemployment Business Prospering as Seetec Boss Rakes it in and Expands Empire

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SEETEC has offices in Ipswich, running the Work programme, and (until George Osborne pulled the plug on that nice little earner) and the Help to Work Workfare programme.  Many of our readers are all too familiar with this company which lives off public money.

It now runs one of the newly privatised probation services in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Private Eye this week (No 1411)  reports that this arm of Seetec  is already in  “trouble”. An audit completed before Christmas found “problems” with Seetc and South Yorkshire CRC, run – no you could not make this up – by French catering and cleaning firm, Sodexo.

Private Eye notes that this bunch of chancers had a turnover of £1.4 million; today this stands at more than £80 million, largely by profiteering from state money.

The report states that Seetec was part the national Help to Work – that is Workfare schemes, work for no pay –  only got 4.7% of participants into work.

Seetec, the articles notes, had a “mixed” performance. People round here know just how “mixed up” this scheme was.

Private Eye says that Seetec’s owner-boss Peter Cooper got £1.6 million in dividends alone last year.

Here is their latest scheme to expand their empire and rake in more income from the public purse:

Seetec launches new Skills Academies

Over 40 guests attended the launch of the Seetec Skills Academies at Essex County Cricket Club on Wednesday 25th November with guest of honour Graham Gooch OBE.

Seetec, an Essex based skills and employment specialist which has been supporting people back to work and improving their skills for over 30 years, was delighted Graham Gooch could attend the launch of its exciting new skills provision and celebrate the new partnership with Essex County Cricket Club.

This is their own puff:

Seetec has over 29 years experience as one of the UK’s leading employment and skills training providers, supporting over 100,000 customers per annum to move into sustained employment.   Seetec delivers large scale national contracts such as the Department for Work and Pensions’ Work Programme across 3 regions as well as various ESF programmes through the Skills Funding Agency and Apprenticeships.

Seetec also delivers a range of contracts designed for specific customer groups such as our Work Choice contract for disabled customers and local programmes for lone parents, young people and NEETs, ex-offenders and graduates.


Last we forget another gang running the Unemployment Business here is a report from earlier this month.

Scandal-hit welfare-to-work agency A4E sees its profits quadruple

A4E, the welfare-to-work agency rocked by fraud allegations which led to the resignation of its founder and chairwoman Emma Harrison in 2012, saw turnover fall but profits quadruple last year.

The firm, which is a key partner to government schemes, said the number of UK jobseekers referred to it was falling due to the economic recovery, but that it was seeing an increase in its Australian operation.

In the last set of accounts before it was bought by rival Staffline Group, A4E recorded turnover of £166million in the year to March 2015, down from £189million, and profits of £9.2million, up from £2.3million, due mainly to a fall in operating expenses.

Harrison, who has appeared in TV’s Secret Millionaire, set up A4E in 1991 but resigned after six staff were jailed and four received suspended sentences for falsifying the number of people helped back into work.

Harrison, who stepped down as David Cameron’s families tsar, was also criticised for taking an £8.6million dividend from A4E on top of her £365,000-a-year salary.

Staffline has said that after a full audit by the Department for Work and Pensions, systems were now in place to prevent any recurrence at the Sheffield-based company.


Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2016 at 11:51 am

Low Wage, High Welfare, Ipswich, Low Wage, ‘Low’ Welfare.

with 40 comments

Almost half of the UK’s biggest cities have low-wage, high-welfare economies, according to a healthcheck on urban Britain that underscores the challenges for the government’s benefit-cutting agenda.

George Osborne used his first budget of the Conservative government last summer to advocate a “higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country”. But a report published on Monday warns that his vision will take several parliaments to create, given current shortfalls in education, a housing crisis and inefficient jobs programmes.

The Centre for Cities study also highlights a stark north-south divide between conurbations and urges the chancellor to deliver on promises to rebalance Britain’s economy with projects like the “northern powerhouse”.

The independent thinktank’s annual Cities Outlook, covering the UK’s 63 largest cities, classifies 29 as having low-wage, high-welfare economies. Nine of the worst performing city economies on the wages and welfare measure are in the north of England and Midlands, including Hull, Blackburn and Telford.

Guardian. 25th of January.

You will

Weekly pay in Norwich and Ipswich was among the lowest of 62 cities and large towns studied by the think-tank Centre for Cities.

Its 2016 outlook came in the wake of a vow by chancellor George Osborne to build a higher wage, low-welfare economy last year.

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre of Cities said that while both Norwich and Ipswich had seen strong jobs growth in recent years, and had also had lower than average welfare spending, average wages had decreased significantly since 2010, so the challenge for both cities is to strengthen their local economies.

Weekly pay in Norwich and Ipswich was among the lowest of 62 cities and large towns studied by the think-tank Centre for Cities.

Its 2016 outlook came in the wake of a vow by chancellor George Osborne to build a higher wage, low-welfare economy last year.

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre of Cities said that while both Norwich and Ipswich had seen strong jobs growth in recent years, and had also had lower than average welfare spending, average wages had decreased significantly since 2010, so the challenge for both cities is to strengthen their local economies.

Eastern Daily Press. 26th of January.

notice that Ipswich is a Low Wage, Low Welfare area.

This means that poverty is rife, and despite the “low welfare” label one can guarantee that many of the people on low wages round here are receive benefits of one kind of another.

In June 2015 this appeared,

Public health report shows there are worrying levels of poverty and deprivation in Ipswich

That is the verdict of a new report which has revealed Ipswich is lagging behind the national average when it comes to child poverty, GCSE achievement, deprivation and violent crimes.

Public Health England yesterday released a health profile of all local authority areas in the country, providing a snapshot of the health of those areas.

Ipswich’s performance was labelled as “varied” when compared to the national average, with Suffolk as a whole being described as “generally better” than the average.

According to the data, 5,500 children are living in poverty in Ipswich and 250 Year 6 pupils have been classified as obese. Life expectancy at birth for both men and women is similar to the average, at 79.2 years and 83.3 years respectively.

In fact anybody walking round the streets here can see this every day.

For this reason this is important to us (Daily Mirror 25th January):

Tory plot to scrap child poverty targets dealt whopping defeat in the House of Lords

Iain Duncan Smith has been dealt a whopping defeat in the House of Lords over his plot to scrap child poverty targets.

Campaigners were celebrating tonight as peers voted 290 to 198 to force the Work and Pensions Secretary to keep the measures.

Mr Duncan Smith announced plans last summer to drop the official figures , which count the proportion of children in homes with less than 60% of median average income.

Instead the Tories wanted to define poverty by measuring the number of workless households and children’s performance at school.

But after Labour and a bishop teamed up for tonight’s vote, he will now be forced to file annual reports using the traditional measure to the Houses of Parliament.

It is another crushing defeat for the government in the Lords just weeks after peers’ opposition forced George Osborne to drop his plan to cut tax credits.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

Welfare Reforms, Council Tax set Precedent for More Postcode Lottery Benefits to come.

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‘Postcode lottery’ in emergency welfare claims (BBC)

I have just paid the last installment of my year’s Council Tax.

Now in Ipswich this is relatively low – though an unwelcome extra deduction from our JSA.

When they introduced this new system, which means even the poorest in the land have to pay Council Tax, the ‘benefit’ reduction was ‘localised’ so it depends on where you live as to how much you pay.

So somebody with the same amount of JSA in say, Tendering Essex, will pay about double, if not more than somebody in Ipswich.

The Void reported the results back in 2014.

Court Cases, Chaos and Soaring Debt As Council Tax Reform Unravels

The shambolic postcode lottery which has emerged after reforms to Council Tax Benefit is creating chaos for Local Authorities and driving some people into desperate poverty.

In August last year we saw this (Guardian),

Council use of bailiffs to chase debts jumps 16% in two years, charity reports

The most common reason to use bailiffs was council tax arrears, followed by parking fines. They were also used to get benefit overpayments reimbursed and to collect business rates and commercial rates.

And this (Independent, also August 2015)

Bailiffs visit 12,000 of London’s poorest households over council tax arrears

Over 122,000 people in the city have fallen into arrears on their council tax

Now we face the propsect of this kind of break up of help being extended a lot more.

Handing responsibility for emergency welfare support to local authorities risks turning the welfare system into a “postcode lottery”, an influential group of MPs have warned.

Reports the ever excellent Welfare News: full story here.

A new report published by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee raises concerns about the pressures on families caused by welfare reforms, and the “coverage and adequacy” of localised welfare safety nets to fill the gaps – particularly in England.

The Committee examined three locally-run discretionary schemes: Council Tax support, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) and local welfare assistance schemes.

The cross-party group of MPs say the Government “must act” to protect vulnerable groups from national welfare reforms such as the Benefit Cap and Bedroom Tax, otherwise known as ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’.

The Committee has also urged central Government and local councils to do more to prevent vulnerable people from being plunged into severe hardship and destitution.

Key findings from the report include:

– Localisation risks blurring the lines of national and local responsibility, leading to confusion among vulnerable people about where to turn in a financial crisis:  closer joint-working and sharing of national and local data must be prioritised.

– Time-limited Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are clearly inadequate protection for some groups of people the Government did not intend its welfare reforms to affect, but who cannot reasonably be expected to take steps to mitigate the effects. Such groups should be exempted.

– The DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) should strengthen and put onto a statutory footing its guidance in relation to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) for disabled people.

– Central and local government should agree and implement an effective local government funding system which can cope with future economic downturns and protect services, including crisis welfare, in more deprived areas.

– The recently announced DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) review of local Council Tax support schemes should investigate, and if necessary recommend eradicating local authorities issuing court summonses, and instructing bailiffs, as a method of raising revenue.

Rest of story continues here.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 12, 2016 at 3:51 pm

More Christmas Cheer for the Sanctioned.

with 105 comments

Jobcentre Work Coach. 

Jobless and disabled people could have benefits stopped on Christmas Eve under ‘tough new sanctions regime’.

The Independent reports.

Jobless and disabled people could be stripped of their benefits this Christmas under a strict new sanctions regime for the festive period, it has been claimed.

In an apparent hardening of the Government’s attitude to welfare, those who miss a job centre appointment, interview or work capability assessment in the immediate run-up to the holidays could now be told the news on Christmas Eve itself.

The Independent had previously reported the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) would be running a “business as usual” approach to Christmas this year, and was accused of taking a “Scrooge-like approach” to the season.

In new claims denied by the DWP, the SNP say this will be only the second year the approach has been taken, after a series of unwritten “special operations” were scrapped that previously protected claimants from having their Christmases ruined.

The party said concerns were raised by DWP staff themselves, who told the SNP they were made to call people up with bad news on Christmas Eve for the first time last year, and were unhappy they had to implement the alleged change in policy.



And there’s this from Wolverhampton Express and Star.

Homeless at Christmas: We’re a community on the streets – but it’s hard

‘Sometimes the police move me on saying I can’t beg but I’m not on benefits so how am I supposed to get money?

“They won’t give me benefits because I don’t have a home address so it’s a catch 22. If I had a roof over my head I would be alright.”

Scotty Parkin is one of the rising number of people who will find themselves living rough this Christmas.

An Express & Star investigation has discovered that there are almost 2,500 people recorded as being homeless in the Black Country and South Staffordshire – a rise of 13 per cent over the last five years.

Many are forced to sleep rough, including Scott who has been on the streets for a year.

The BBC is going to show a new programme on Boxing Day, mashing together around 3o of Dickens’ characters called Dickensian.

As somebody who’s read his London printer granddad’s complete set of Dickens I am not looking forward to what I will doubtless call a “period soap”.

In case to watch the world of Dickens I only have to walk around the streets of Ipswich and I bet I’ll see some of these sanctioned people.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Call for Safeguards for People with Mental Illness on Benefits.

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Do not attack the Vulnerable.

This letter, reproduced by Welfare Weekly, should be followed widely.

What is happening in Rochdale is happening all over the country.

Every day I see people with serious mental health issues in the public library – many doing ‘Jobsearch. I would guess that amongst those begging in the streets of Ipswich a high proportion have these problems as well.

On courses for the Work Programme I have been with people who have extreme psychological problems.

In one case, an individual, well known in Ipswich, with numerous restraining orders on him, was on one of these so-called courses designed to make people ’employable’.

With tightening rules for Job Seekers, and  the pressure on everybody, the most vulnerable are bound to be hit.

Even the cheeriest of us have days when we don’t want to follow the so-called 35 hours rule: we knuckle down….

Anybody with depression will be simply incapable of doing this, let alone those suffering from other types of disorder.

 This is a monstrous injustice.

They have ‘freed’ people from confinement, and serious treatment, and now expect them to conform to their ‘Panoptican’ (all-seeing) surveillance.

Dear Elected Representative [s],

Could we the undersigned please take this opportunity to thank you for the excellent ongoing support you have given to people with mental health issues in the past.

Today we would like to draw your attention, if we may, to two pressing issues relating to people with mental health issues in Rochdale, Middleton & Heywood in the hope that you can both pledge your continued support to members of our mental health Service Users community, many of whom face great distress and anxiety over some elements of the governments Welfare Reform process.


Foremost in our minds is our growing concern that the proposed £31 MILLION pounds in cuts to Public Services at Rochdale Council which will without doubt impact disproportionately on vulnerable people with mental health issues, as well as many others within the wider community, that such cuts will have a massive direct impact upon.

Secondly we are deeply concerned that 100 people a day with mental health problems are having their Welfare benefits sanctioned – stopped for periods of time – by the Department of Work & Pensions [DWP]. These sanctions have a massive impact on people already struggling with periods of unemployment. But as I am sure you will all be very aware the impact on people already struggling with mental health issues can be catastrophic.

We’d like to draw your attention to latest report from New Economy that records the latest DWP sanctions figures made available for the period 22 October until the 31 December 2013. These statistics lists Rochdale Job Centre, Fleece Street as having the third highest rate for sanctioning benefit claimants in the whole of Greater Manchester. Of the 4,078 people being sanctioned at Rochdale Job Centre 40% were sanctioned without being told why these sanctioned were imposed by Claimant Advisers.

Locally the figures break down at:

  • Rochdale Job Centre Plus, Fleece Street – 4,078
  • Middleton Jobcentre Plus – 1,484
  • Heywood Job Centre Plus, Taylor Street – 972

A total of 6534 in all. Across the Greater Manchester, the Manchester East & West area had 24,072 “adverse” sanctions. Of these the majority by far were in the 18-24 year age group totalling 246, 592 individuals. With 91,603 in the 25-29 year old age group.

Most worryingly across the whole of the United Kingdom there were 49,827 disabled people who were sanctioned by the DWP.

We are also firmly of the belief that:

Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping“, as well as being deeply worried at the latest DWP proposals to class Sanctioned Jobseekers with mental health issues as NOT “vulnerable” unless they have an accompanying physical health problem, as [reported] by Welfare Weekly,

RelatedSanctioned Job Seekers with Mental Health Problems are not vulnerable says DWP

Currently people suffering the most severe mental illnesses are likely to receive Employment and Support Allowance [ESA] and it is estimated that 23% of JSA claimants have a mental health condition.

Related: Mind ‘Extremely Concerned’ Over Benefits Sanctions Revelation

Could we urge you to make public representations on our behalf to Rochdale Council, to express our profound concerns at the proposed levels of cuts to services as well as to please ask the Department of Works & Pensions directly what guidelines they have in place to safeguard claimants with mental health issues, and the exact definition they use to identify those local claimants with mental health issues.

Your help with this would be very much appreciated by all of us. We would also very much welcome the opportunity to send a delegation of our newly relaunched Mental Health Campaign Group members to meet with you personally at your earliest convenience that suits you to discuss these serious issues of concern to us. Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

  • RACHEL GINNELLY – CEO, Rochdale Borough Users Forum Chief Executive Office
  • MICK AYTON – Voice Programme Coordinator
  • RYAN COWAN – Chair, RBUF Board of Trustees
  • MIKE JONES – Vice Chair RBUF Board of Trustees
  • DANIEL – RBUF Technical Assistant
  • NISBA – Project Assistant for RBUF
  • ALAN TICE – RBUF Member
  • STEVE TOMLINSON – RBUF Office Volunteer
  • PETER WILDMAN – RBUF Mental Health Trainer / RBUF Rep
  • SARAH HARPER – RBUF Office Volunteer
  • Larissa Marshall – RBUF Service User
  • ANDREW WASTLING – Chair, Mental Health Campaigns Group
  • YASMIN KENYON – RBUF Housing & Homeless Rep
  • PETER WILDMAN – RBUF Mental Health Trainer / RBUF Rep
  • RASHIDA JORDAN – RBUF Service User / Volunteer
  • DONNA HOMES – RBUF Service User / Blue Pits Band
  • RICHARD OUTRAM – Policy & Research Adviser Liberal Democrat Group
  • NATASHA KIRBY – Rochdale Solutions – OL16
  • KATHTYN RENNIE -Rochdale Possibilities
  • TONY GILL – OL16 5QJ
  • SUSAN TURNER – REAG/ Cornerstone – OL2 7PY
  • JOHN CALLAGHAN – RBUF Service User

Written by Andrew Coates

August 14, 2015 at 3:34 pm