Thursday, 23 March 2017

Universal Credit: Claimants ‘stealing food’ to eat due to benefit delays

Universal Credit: Claimants ‘stealing food’ to eat due to benefit delays

Alan Wheatley


At Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group's weekly business meeting on Thursday 23 March, though we warmed to the page 2 prominence given to your news story 'Universal Credit: Claimants "stealing food" to eat due to benefit delays: Finance chief warns people are being forced into new debt',(1) we were very concerned at what to us seems a fundamental error in one sentence of your report.

That error concerns the length of wait for Universal Credit payments to be processed. You report, 'In some cases, people are waiting up to six weeks before claims are processed.' Waits as long as six weeks for benefit claims to be processed and "unacceptable" telephone helpline service standards are nothing new and pre-date Universal Credit and even the 2010 General Election. In November 2006 Community Care magazine reported: "MPs slammed Jobcentre Plus for leaving 21 million calls unanswered. Despite government claims of improvements, stories of poor service continue to mount."(2)

Where our 'experts by experience' would disagree with your report is that we believe your report should state, 'People wait a minimum of six weeks for claims to be processed.' Those delays are exacerbated by the income fluctuations caused by processing of Universal Credit claims in zero hours economies; and the DWP's deepening reliance on 'pay-as-you-go' call-centre service delivery that  penalises economically vulnerable people for their vulnerability.

Now, as you report, 'Telephone calls [to the Universal Credit helpline] can cost up to 55p a minute from pay-as-you-go mobile phones, which are commonly used by people with lower incomes. Wait times to speak with an adviser can be very long – one claimant in Camden has reported that their phone bill for a month was over £140, used almost entirely on calls to the DWP.”' That is an all-too-common experience, leading in many cases to rent arrears and subsequent evictions.

This sickening system leads more and more people to sickness and suicide, while the DWP refuses to take lessons from coroners courts and insists instead that disability benefit claimants be reassessed every six months as standard.(3) Against that backdrop, Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group will be highlighting local benefits-related suicides on Monday 3 April as follows:

12 Noon: Assemble outside Kilburn Jobcentre, Cambridge Avenue, NW6 5AH for rally with local Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, PCS (jobcentre workers union) National Executive Officer Zita Holbourne and Brent Trades Council Executive Committee.
12:45: Black Flag march to Paddington Cemetry via Kilburn High Road.
13:30: Address at Leon Burmont graveside by Dawn Butler MP and RMT Political Officer Cat Cray.

14:00: Prince of Wales PH, Willesden Lane NW6 for Tea & Sandwiches

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

National Day of action against benefit sanctions.

Philip Fletcher

Hi Folks,

In case you didn't know, Thursday 30th of march is the National Day of action against benefit sanctions.

This is what Barnet Unite are planning.  It would be good if the Green Party could show a strong presence.
this is what is happening in Barnet:

Barnet Unite - No Sanctions, No Targets, No Closures !! 
10.00 am to 11.00 am - Finchley Job Centre, 40 Ballads Lane, N3 2BL. 
12 noon to 1.00 pm - Edgware Job Centre, 29 High Street, Edgware, HA8 7DX. 
Contact Branch Secretary Janette Evans - - See more at:

If you can't make it, to any of the Barnet events, then in Central London there is:
1.00 pm - Outside Westminster Tube: Banner Drop, Balloon Release 
1.45 pm - March to DWP at Caxton House 
2.00 to 3.00 pm - Demo at DWP Caxton House - See more at:

Afterwards there will be a lobbying session of MPs in the Commons.

Please pass around.

Phil Fletcher

(Barnet Green Party)

Monday, 20 March 2017

Liberating Arts conference and arts festival


The inaugural Liberating Arts conference and arts festival will take place on the 3rd -5th November 2017, at the University of Exeter.

The 3-day event aims to connect the trade union movement with public educators, cultural workers and creative activists and explore the role of the arts and culture in the ongoing struggle for equality and social justice.

We invite interested trade unionists, cultural workers, activists and educators, to propose workshops, performances, media screenings, exhibitions, discussions, lectures and networking events that they would like to host at the event.

If you are a trade unionist, cultural worker or creative activist and would like to propose a session for Liberating Arts 2017 then please email the event Producer, Chris Jury, on

If you wish to present an academic paper or other research-based event please email Dr Rebecca Hillman
Please share far and wide across your networks!
Chris Jury
Producer, Liberating Arts 2017

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Inspiration and solidarity: Durham Lions pay tribute to the Grunwick Lions

Pictures courtesy of Grunwick 40
Amazing how the Grunwick dispute that took place 40 years ago is inspiring struggles today. All credit to the local activists here in Brent who got together to organise an exhibition, a mural and other events to commemorate the Grunwick workers' strike with the intention of making it relevant to current struggles around working conditions, women workers, migration and race - not just dry history.
Their success in doing so was summed up when the exhibition was visited by the Durham Teaching Assistants who are mounting a terrific campaign of their own LINK. They have spoken of how their struggle has been inspired by Jayaben Desai and her fellow workers and they deserve Aditya Chakrobortty's LINK description of them as the 'Durham Lions'. The photographs speaks for themselves - pride and solidarity.

The exhibition finishes on Sunday March 26th (closes at 5pm) so if you haven't seen it get down to Willesden Library as soon as possible.

Link to other Wembley Matters coverage of Grunwick HERE

Thursday, 16 March 2017

March Against Racism March 18 2017, UN Anti-Racism Day:climate block

National demonstration: March Against Racism March 18 2017, UN Anti-Racism Day
London: 12pm, (BBC) Portland Place - 
Meet for the climate block, All souls church portland place 12 pm

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Trump and May's Climate Disaster: Rise Up! - 22, 29 April and more

There are some exciting events coming up in April -  opportunities to show solidarity with our friends in the US fighting their government's climate denial; to tell our own government that their dismal record of cuts to climate action is a poor response to the escalating climate crisis; and to take practical action.
Scientists in the US have responded strongly to the Trump administration's plans to slash climate science budgets, as well as rejection of facts and evidence in a range of other areas (including the choice of a climate denier to head the key agency in charge of tackling climate change).

On 22 April, Earth Day, they will march in Washington, and in other cities in the US and around the world. We'll be joining the March for Science in London with a climate change bloc. (Facebook event). There are also science marches planned in EdinburghBristol, and Manchester.

On 29 April, as the People's Climate March takes place in the US, we're taking a message of solidarity to Westminster Bridge and rallying for UK campaigners to rise up for climate action! Find out more on our website and on Facebook.

So far we're aware of other UK solidarity events in ReadingCanterbury and Huddersfield. If you're organising something locally, do get in touch!

Londoners can join our planning meetings, the next one is this Thursday - details on Facebook and our website.
We want 29th April not just to be a symbolic action but an opportunity to facilitate people's involvement in further practical campaigning  - and in that spirit wanted to flag up a couple more events...
With AGM season coming up soon, join ShareAction on 5 April to find out how you can help hold companies to account, taking your climate change questions to CEOs. 

And further ahead, there's a global week of divestment action 5-13 May. In the run up to this, and People and Planet are running training events round the country for this from now until 9 April.
Hope to see you soon, and let us know about events coming up we may have missed!
Claire and all at CCC