Over 100 disabled protesters and claimants gathered at Triton Square, London where a noisy mob made their way to the front doors of Atos’ shiny corporate headquarters despite the best efforts of police to stop them. Police formed a line protecting Atos whilst chants rang out of ‘Atos Kills’. Many people spoke out of their often heart-rending experiences at the hands of Atos’ medical testing which has repeatedly stripped sickness and disability benefits from the most vulnerable.
Anti-poverty and disability protest groups were well represented including Disabled People Against Cuts, Welfare Action Hackney, London Coalition Against Poverty, Mad Pride and many more. Also present were members of PCS Union’s Euston branch who work in Euston Tower which overlooked the protest and who expressed solidarity with claimants.
Over the top as ever, the police briefly kettled the protesters. After some time however people were able to leave if they agreed to be escorted from Triton Square, which lies on a privately owned business estate where protest is presumably not part of the corporate strategy.
One disabled protester valiantly attempted to breach the police line, but was bundled to the ground and dragged away to chants of ‘Let Him Go’. With cameras everywhere and no doubt fearing another Jody Mcintyre youtube sensation they complied and as far as we know there were no arrests on the day.
Speeches and chanting continued as well as one impassioned song whilst many people, who had brought food to share, laid out a picnic alongside the impromptu free shop that had also been established.
It is unclear whether Atos closed their offices, but certainly the only people going in or out for the afternoon appeared to be cops and private security guards. Also doing slow business were Virgin Health Clubs who found their main entrance inside the police lines and were therefore effectively closed for the afternoon. They might like to think about that at their next meeting cosying up to the Condems in the hope of stealing a slice of the NHS.
As the day wore on police melted away and around 20 protesters headed to the Atos Testing Centre and Jobcentre Plus administrative offices just up the road at Marylebone. Entering the, admittedly almost closed building, they briefly occupied the Atos waiting room leaving messages of their experiences of Atos stuck to the walls.
Protests also happened around the country. Atos testing centres were leafleted in Nottingham, Archway and Glasgow. The protest outside Atos’ Scotland offices, reportedly in the middle of nowhere, still drew around 40 people and an equal number of police who surrounded the building and once again protected the poverty pimps. Latest reports indicate heavy-handed policing but the good news is it appears Atos Scotland’s offices were closed for the day. It’s nice to see Atos Origin being the vulnerable ones for a change.
A protest held in Leeds outside Atos called by West Yorkshire Solidarity Federation and autonomous claimants was successful in closing the Leeds branch of Atos’ corporate empire whilst a smaller, but successful protest in Burnley gathered significant local support. Protests were also held in Newcastle, Lydney, Birmingham, Crawley, Chesterfield, Hastings and possibly elsewhere, please send details to notowelfarecuts (at) yahoo.co.uk.
Earlier in the week the Cardiff Unemployed Disco drew a fine crowd and they’re holding another one on February 18th. It’s not over for Atos yet either as Brighton Benefits Campaign are holding an event this Saturday highlighting the pantomime which is the Work Capability Assessment.
Finally tories the length and breadth of the internet were well and truly trolled as part of the second National Troll A Tory Day. Comments were left, letters to MPs written, petitions signed and Atos were not left out as many took advantage of their recently published health advice phone-lines.
Benefit claimants have vowed to be back with a third National Day of Action to be announced soon. Atos Origin, the rest of the poverty pimps and the farcical Condem coalition should know that we are not going anywhere.
Pics of the London demo can be found at:http://www.flickr.com/photos/peteriches/with/5385496598/
Councils are planning to defy ministers by pushing ahead with plans to cut funding for services supporting vulnerable people by far more than the government has recommended, according to a survey of over 130 providers in England.
Housing associations, charities and community groups fear town halls will raid funds intended to support vital services for groups like the elderly, homeless and disabled, in order to protect other spending priorities, according to the National Housing Federation.
The survey reveals 73% of providers have been warned by their local authority to expect disproportionate funding cuts to services which provide support, housing and advice to some of the most vulnerable people in their community, such as women fleeing domestic violence and people with mental health problems.
In some circumstances whole services face closure as cash strapped town halls look to make massive savings over the next four years by disproportionately cutting from one budget to fund another.
In the Spending Review, the Chancellor announced that money allocated nationally to Supporting People – which funds services for over a million vulnerable people– would be broadly maintained, with a 12% real terms cut over four years.
No legal duty
However the money is no longer ring fenced and councils can spend it on whatever they want to as it rolled into their general grant from central government. There is no legal duty to support many of the groups traditionally funded by Supporting People – despite their vulnerability. These include some single homeless people, many older people and those with drug and alcohol addictions.
Nottinghamshire council is warning of a 67% cut over the next four years, Somerset council has already confirmed an 18% cut next year. Nottingham City Council has proposed a 43% cut from April this year. Hartlepool Council have been consulting on a cut in funding of 30% from April this year. Cornwall Council has meanwhile confirmed it will reduce its funding by 40% over the next three years.
Ministers have however warned councils about excessive cuts to Supporting People. Questioned at a DCLG select committee, Housing Minister Grant Shapps said ‘the idea that local authorities should use Supporting People as their front line for reductions is completely against everything that we would expect to see.
And in a letter to local authorities on 22 December from the Department of Communities and Local Government stated: ‘Ministers do not, however, expect authorities to respond to reductions in their budgets by passing on disproportionate cuts to other service providers.
A survey of 136 housing organisations and charities which provide services for some of the most vulnerable people in their community however revealed a vast majority of councils had already indicated cuts greater than 12%. It found:
The Federation has called on local authorities to be transparent and account for exactly what they will be spending their Supporting People funding on. It warned the long-term financial costs would also outweigh the short-term savings from cutting back on services – as demands on the NHS, police forces and the courts surge as a result.
Federation chief executive David Orr said: ‘Local authorities are facing significant cuts to their budgets and face the inevitable task of deciding where savings can be made.
But what we are beginning to see is that services which provide a lifeline to thousands of vulnerable people are being hit disproportionately by councils – with the first to declare their hands indicating they intend to cut back their funding by up to 67%.
Raiding these budgets to pay for other spending priorities runs contrary to what ministers want, what the public wants and most importantly what the vulnerable who rely upon them want to see happen.
Councils must now be completely transparent with their local communities and account for where they plan to spend their Supporting People cash.
TOP TEN TAX SHIRKER TOUR
Our next Tax Dodgers are-Barclays PLC, London Street, Norwich. 12 midday.
All the UK’s major banks make extensive use of tax havens in the course of their business. As a survey for the TUC showed, in 2008 Barclays were the biggest user but all four of our leading High Street banks had large numbers of subsidiaries in locations such as Cayman, Jersey, The Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Luxembourg.
One bank stands out from the crowd though. As MP Chuka Umunna showed in questioning of Barclay’s boss Bob Diamond before the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons in January 2011, his bank had 181 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands alone in 2010, an extraordinary increase from 143 in 2008.
Bob Diamond admitted he had no idea how many companies the bank of which he is chief executive had in the island, but said they were there for ‘tax efficiency’.
In plain, straightforward terms that means they shift the tax burden from the bank onto other people.
As this is Barclays who also are proud of proping up the arms trade this call out also goes out to all the anti-militarists and ant-Trident groups et al.
Norwich Uncut and Norfolk Community Action Group.
On 26th January, college students around the country will walk out. The student movement which made such an impact in November and December will begin again. A number of students and supporters around the country have worked together to produce a bulletin, which can be printed out and distributed in order to build the walk-outs.
Introductory text follows
Students around the country are worrying about their future. For some, it’s if they can go to university, for others it’s whether they can stay at college next year – and for others still if they can turn the heating on this winter. Our families are affected by other cuts.
Why is this happening? Because the government cares more about the wealth of the rich than the lives of the majority.
That’s why students around the country will be walking out of college and protesting on Wednesday January 26th. Join in! Lots of laws like the poll tax get defeated after they are passed.
We’ve already made a massive impact. We need the protests to get bigger, and inspire others to get involved!
Organise your walk out!
It’s clear that students can’t rely on the NUS or the political parties. That means, we need to organise ourselves.
- On Wednesday 26th Jan, walk out of college and protest. Don’t let anyone keep you in one place or stop you protesting!
- Text everyone to join in
- You can go to other schools and colleges and chant for students to walk out too
- You can organise anti-cuts groups to prepare for the next one…
- Let us know how it goes! firstname.lastname@example.org
- Protest in London or Manchester on Saturday 29th if you can…
Keep up the fight!
Thanks to the Sons Of Malcolm Blog.
It is imperative that ALL activists, no matter their struggle, watch and pay attention to all said by these people on the video below.
An Irish former-revolutionary now sell-out / former police chiefs who dealt with Miners Strike, Poll Tax and Brixton etc all discuss how to beat us, politically and literally. So so much interesting stuff in here, needs close study and lessons learnt on the basis of.
For those radical and revolutionary activists, this is THE MOST important video I have ever put up. Study closely what they are saying and analyse from a revolutionary perspective the lessons to be learnt for us. Just too much incredible info in this.
Born from the beautiful chaos of 2009’s Pride Punk Picnic, Underground: Norwich Against Homophobia will be partying, playing, fire-eating and much more all in the name of fighting homophobia, transphobia and prejudice of all kind.
UNDERGROUND at King Edward Vll, Aylsham rd. Feb 26th 2011
The Restarts, Comply or Die, +more rockin bands,acoustic in afternoon, facepainting,fire-breathing, fancypants and much more..2pm-2am/£5/£3 donations on door, kid friendly till 8.