Published and promoted by Martin Francis on behalf of Brent Green Party c/o 23 Saltcroft Close, Wembley, HA9 9JJ



28 Oct 2017

Hands off our Jobcentres! Demonstration Monday November 6th 3-4pm

From Brent Fightback Facebook

Hands off our Jobcentres! Demonstration
Monday November 6th 3-4pm
Department of Work and Pensions, Caxton House, 12 Tothill St, Westminster, SW1H
The government has already closed 24 jobcentres since August this year. They plan to close a further 78 Jobcentres by April of 2018.
16 of these Jobcentres are in London.

The poor and vulnerable need local jobcentres, not some superhub that they have to walk miles to reach.

Benefit money is too little to cover regular trips on public transport. People will have to walk. And don't be late or too ill to walk over a mile each way as often as the jobcentre demands– you'll be up for a sanction!

The Tories say that much of the jobcentres' work is now done online, but 5.3 million people in Britain have never used the internet, and 10 million lack the basic digital skills. And millions of these people will be in receipt of benefits.

You can't use the internet if you are learning disabled.

You can't use the internet if you can't afford a computer or a mobile phone contract or or the fee for using library or internet cafe

You can't use the internet if you are illiterate (and six to eight million Britons are borderline or fully illiterate)

Our local Jobcentres, Kilburn and Neasden, serve one of the most deprived areas in the country. If they are closed then over half of the borough of Camden and around two thirds of Brent will be more than half a mile from the nearest jobcentre, i.e. more than a mile round trip. These areas contain heavily populated areas: a lot of people are going to be affected.

In amongst the people who can't use the internet are hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their disability benefit because they aren't disabled enough for the Tories. They may be able to walk just 200 meters, or sometimes panic when out and get lost, or nor be able to plan a journey to places they don’t know, or have epilepsy. They may be seriously depressed or suffering from brain fog brought on by medication or illnesses like Fibromyalgia. They may be recovering from cancer or waiting for a heart operation. They may have variable conditions that mean that they can't guarantee being able to go out at all on any particular day.

But if you miss an appointment, or are simply late, you'll be considered for a sanction!

Let's meet outside the DWP's headquarters at Caxton House and let them know what we think about this.

Save our Jobcentres!
The 16 London jobcentres that are closing are:
Highgate, 24 November 2017
Edgware, 8 December 2017
Finchley, 12 January 2018
Dagenham, 19 January 2018
Southall, January 2018
Kingston, February 2018
Brixton,- 9 February 2018
Neasden 16 February 2018
Clapham 23 February 2018
Kilburn, March 2018
Hammersmit,h 9 March 2018
Croydon, 16 March 2018
Wandsworth, 23 March 2018
Leytonstone,- 30 March 2018
Hounslow, 10 Montague Road,

26 Oct 2017

Kilburn Unemployed Workers’ Group meeting on 24/10/2015 on Job Centre closures

photo by Kim Aukle


Peter Murry (Trade Union Liaison Officer for Brent and London Green Parties), spoke at a panel at a Kilburn Unemployed Workers’ Group meeting on 24/10/2015 on job centre closures, as part of a panel with Giselle Winstone (Kilburn Unemployed Workers’ Group and Chair of Unite Community Brent), John Kilvington (Advice Worker with the Somali Cultural Centre),Ariane and Donna from WinVisible , and Pete Firmin (Brent Trades Council). Chair: Robin Sivapalan

Some points covered included:

There was a nationwide programme of proposed job centre closures which threatens about 78 j.c.’s, the DWP (Department for Work & Pensions), has just released details of its proposals at   https://www.gov.uk/government/news/update-on-the-future-of-dwp-jobcentres.

Many at the meeting seemed sure that Kilburn and Neasden j.c.’s were planned to be closed, also the PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents many j.c.workers), has reported that “compulsory redundancies are highly likely, at (…) Wembley,…”.

PCS is opposing the job centre closures. and actions include an indefinite strike at Sheffield Eastern Avenue j.c.

Speakers made the point that closing j.c.’s will make it hardest for the very people who need their services most to access support, because of longer journeys, which could entail greater chances of missing appointments and being penalised for doing so. Groups most affected will include disabled people, and many speakers of languages other than English, especially if problems of literacy were also involved.

Many believe that the closures are part of a deliberate strategy as part of civil service reform to get more people using services online .Most of vulnerable don’t have access to IT services and even where they do it’s recognised that a large number of people lack basic digital skills: “According to the Office for National Statistics around 5.3 million Britons have never used the internet with the Government stating that more than 10 million adults in England lack the basic digital skills they need.” (See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-digital-skills-deficit-company-productivity-bcc-workforce-training-staff-workers-employees-a7670371.html)

This is part of a wider government austerity strategy which is also impacting on other areas such Health, Community Care and Education, and in the case of j.c.’s, “decisions driven by DWP departmental savings targets rather than rational review of need of users”, according to a PCS briefing. PCS also argues that the closures are being pushed through on the basis of flawed public consultations and without a detailed equality impact assessment.

In the case of Kilburn and Neasden, the land and buildings were already owned by private companies and that this may be being used as a pretext for closure, although it was not thought that the owners were demanding the land or buildings. Rumours of plans to build luxury flats and a free school were mentioned.

It was noted that while public assets and services were being closed and sold off, often to private profit making concerns, there was ample scope for cutting back government expenditure in areas such Trident, subsidising air travel, nuclear power etc.

J.c.’s were quite likely to be more necessary than before as Brexit led to economic disruption and economic changes such as increasing automation and moves towards a lower carbon economy began to happen. Not only were the centres being made less accessible but the skills and knowledge of their staff in areas such as job retraining could be lost through redundancies.

Possible grounds for legal challenges to the closures were discussed including on the grounds of the equality impact assessment, but this was not seen as the sole means of opposition. Leafleting campaigns outside j.c.’s and to the general public were suggested and possibly a small photo op style protest by KUWG outside DWP, Caxton House Nov 6 3-4 pm.

A model motion to Councillors mainly about Universal Credit but including opposition to j.c. closures was discussed and amended, (to be circulated).More info re Universal Credit see https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/24/jobless-poleaxed-universal-credit-workers-low-income-financial-penalties.


Apologies
Tulip Siddiq MP sent message of support, Dawn Butler MP, Siân Berry & Caroline Russell Green Party Members of the London Assembly, Councillor Sharma (Brent Council)
PCS speakers invited, but no response.

Peter Murry wishes to thank PCS for the info they made available, nb: link to main demands: https://www.pcs.org.uk/department-for-work-and-pensions/news/dwp-reps-agree-to-campaign-to-defend-offices-jobs-and-services