Posted on | December 5, 2010 | 1 Comment
Led by the brilliant example of the student protests and occupations against the tripling of tuition fees and the cancelling of the EMA (which provides vital support to help low-income teenagers through their A-levels), a real movement against the many tentacles of the Coalition’s Shock Doctrine is growing by the day.
Just a handful of our new favourites include:
Mobilising agianst the tax-dodgers whose cancelled and avoided bills could more than plug the gap in public spending, UK Uncut have closed shops belonging to Vodaphone (est £6 bn written off) and Arcadia tycoon Philip Green (£300 million avoided last year alone) who owns Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, BHS and many more shops.
The great thing about a campaign focused on chain stores, is there’s one in every town. Even if you missed Saturday’s day of action, their Big Society Revenue and Customs needs you – and you can find (or start) an upcoming protest near you via their site: http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/
Video of Top-Shop action on Saturday:
And a blog by our own (and everyone else’s) wonderful Adam Ramsay:
The False Economy team are crowd-sourcing anti-cuts campaign details, and have made a really excellent short video about the alternatives to cuts and redundancies, narrated by actor Samuel West, no less.
You don’t have to be under 25 or a student to join these actions. Starting at UCL, the occupations are practising what they preach by providing daily programmes of free education. If you can’t get to your nearest occupation and take them your backing in person (and any supplies they need), support their legal fighting funds as many of the occupations face eviction in the coming days.
List of occupations here – and find them on Twitter too for the most up-to-date news and alerts. Here’s a useful list of occupation accounts: http://twitter.com/#!/niknoks1980/solidarity/members
Posted on | October 20, 2010 | 1 Comment
You may have read George Monbiot’s great article on Monday describing how the Shock Doctrine runs right through the Coalition’s spending review.
Monbiot wrote: “the economic crisis is the disaster the Conservatives have been praying for. The government’s programme of cuts looks like a classic example of disaster capitalism: using a crisis to re-shape the economy in the interests of business.”
Today, we learned more about how the Coalition government are using the financial crisis to disfigure our communities.
With cleverly engineered cuts to housing benefit and increases to rent, they’ll force lower-income people out of our cities.
In plans announced in the June Budget and today’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the Coalition are:
Cutting Housing Benefit
The Coalition have cut local limits to Housing Benefit so that 70 per cent of homes of the required size will be too expensive. In addition, they’ve imposed a one-size-fits-all national cap, which means that in parts of London only 7 per cent of appropriate homes will be affordable to people on Housing Benefit. The aim of this is to drive Housing Benefit recipients out of all but the cheapest areas.
George Osbourne is increasing rents on social housing to about 80 or 90 per cent of the full market rate. Most people who can’t afford full market rates – and so need social housing – also can’t afford 90 per cent of market rates. The aim of this is to make social housing mostly pointless
Axing Secure Tenancy
Social housing tenants have a right to stay in their homes as long as they pay their rent and otherwise uphold their contract. This means they can make a home and build a community. The Coalition will now offer new tenants only short-term contracts and, if their need isn’t still serious at the end of the contract (if they’ve gone from being unemployed to employed, for example), they’ll be thrown out. The aim of this is to break up communities so they won’t defend the social housing from sell-off, and to make social housing a service only for the very poorest so that fewer voters value it.
This programme of attacks on social housing is a clear example of the Shock Doctrine at work. Using cuts as an excuse to break up and segregate people, increase inequality and attack community spirit and social cohesion.
The Coalition are counting on us being so shaken by recession that we will accept these changes, believing then to be ‘unavoidable’. But we think they’ve misjudged us; we think the people of the UK are prepared to resist this abuse of power.
We need to show the government and each other that we are not scared. We need to tell the government and each other that we will not accept the destruction of our communities.
Please sign the petition, and pass it on. Together we’ll prove that the Shock Doctrine will not work on us.
What others are saying about these attacks on social housing:
“If the Government cuts housing benefit without making changes to the rental market, we run the risk of ghettoizing our cities, driving out poorer renters from wealthy areas, especially in London and the South East.”
Charles Seaford, Head of the Centre for Well-being at the New Economics Foundation
“Much of London is likely to become a no go area for claimants, particularly larger families, with significant implications for mixed communities and community cohesion.”
Crisis - national charity for single homeless people
“The decision to cap housing benefit is a spectacular example of economic injustice. It continues decades of the disintegration of economically mixed communities, and hits the poorest households below the belt – while protecting the speculators and landlords who profit from high rents and therefore high housing benefit.”
Rev Paul Nicolson, chair of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust
Posted on | October 20, 2010 | 2 Comments
If watching the full horror of the CSR this afternoon has made you want to kick your TV, here’s some more constructive things you can do to protest, register your feelings or just force your MP to think about their plans for a minute or two.
Make sure your MP knows how disgusted you are with the CSR
The TUC’s pre-CSR action, aimed at letting MPs know their constituents’ views on the planned cuts, is still eminently suitable for telling them how you felt watching the heart being torn out of our public services and benefits system.
Use their talking points and writing tips, or just say how you feel. Start here:
A million voices for public services
The Unison anti-cuts campaign also has a useful letter-writing tool to help you write to your MP about protecting public services. You’ll need to add your own ‘action point’ to their suggested letter. How about asking them to write back and say what they will be doing personally to prevent the cuts?
Start here: http://action.unison.org.uk/page/speakout/cuts
Fund our future: Stop education cuts
A joint demo on 10 November by the NUS and UCU. In central London, the demonstration will fight cuts in education, as well as higher fees.
Save consumer protection
Write to your MP asking them to oppose the abolition of vital watchdogs Consumer Focus (formerly the National Consumer Council) and the Office of Fair Trading. In cost-cutting times, protecting consumer rights against corporations is even more important.
Write to your MP here in two minutes: http://www.noshockdoctrine.org.uk/?p=360
Stop train fares rising by 8% a year
Campaign for Better Transport’s petition to stop regulated train fares being allowed to rise at 5% above inflation. Combined with forcing families out of inner London, these plans are yet another blow to household income that will increase poverty.
Letter to Danny Alexander here: http://bettertransport.org.uk/take_action/train-fares-inflation
Find a local campaign to support
Oxford Save Our Services is compiling and mapping info about local anti-cuts campagns around the UK.
See the map here: http://oxfordsos.org.uk/?page_id=70
Add your own local campaign via google docs here:
If you know of more or better actions, please add links via the comments.
Posted on | October 12, 2010 | 2 Comments
Staff at Consumer Focus have told the BBC that they are expecting an announcement this Thursday, that the government is closing them down.
Consumer Focus is the organisation that has for decades – under their former name of National Consumer Council – campaigned to save consumers from unfair treament by companies and legislation.
Most recently, their work on nPower gas bills saved consumers – many of whom were among the poorest in society – £70 million on their over-charged fuel bills.
The Office of Fair Trading also faces abolition. They protect us all by investigating market abuse and taking companies to court if they break consumer protection laws.
The government thinks we can do without these vital watchdogs. They call them “quangos” and say that, if there is a problem, then the voluntary sector can step in.
They are wrong. These are ideologically driven cuts to reduce the protection provided to all of us by these vital bodies. They will cost everyone dear: we will end up with worse laws and undefended consumers.
Please act now to tell your MP to oppose these cuts in the Public Bodies (Reform) Bill.
Start now: it takes two minutes
Posted on | July 26, 2010 | 2 Comments
MPs can still make a difference by proposing and voting for amendments to remove the worst aspects of the plans as it passes through Parliament.
LibDem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes has already signalled that his MPs might take a lead in making some of these changes, and Labour MPs may be willing to take a stronger stance than before on the danger posed to the economy by cuts to benefits and services.
Even Conservatives need to hear how their constituents feel about the economic mistakes the Chancellor is making!
So, we need to contact our MPs now to get them to take action in Parliament in the coming weeks.
Our simple tool will create a letter suitable for any MP asking for their views and a promise of action. You can also add your own message before sending (so if your MP is a LibDem you can tell them you didn’t vote for these cuts!)
It takes just one minute and could make all the difference.
To get started, enter your postcode here:
Posted on | July 26, 2010 | 1 Comment
Access to legal representation in the UK is a right, one that won’t be completely abolished without a serious outcry (I would hope at least), but the quality of that representation is something that is seriously under threat. Solicitors working in legal aid have had to swallow a bitter pill for the second time this year after being told the Legal Services Commission, the body that governs legal aid in England and Wales, doesn’t have enough money to pay its bills. Cue the crying of “why should I care that some toff lawyer cannot afford another jacuzzi in his second home in Toulouse” or “I don’t want taxpayer’s money going to defend some knife-wielding immigrant gang-member hoodie scumbag”. These are misconceptions about the legal aid system.
First of all, can we all just forget the myth that all lawyers are paid vast sums of money and are simply intent on squeezing every last penny they can from people in return for doing little work. Next we need to recognise the two different types of lawyers we have in the UK that work on legal aid; solicitors and barristers (aka counsel) – barristers are the ones with the wigs and robes – and most work extremely long hours, do very different jobs and are paid differently. And lastly legal aid exists to allow access to legal representation to those that cannot afford it, and is frequently used to represent people in cases of childcare, sexual harassment, employment tribunals, domestic abuse as well as crime. It is not about tax money defending criminals.
The problems with legal aid are three-fold; legal aid fees are unbalanced, cuts and mismanagement by the Labour government has left the Legal Services Commission in a situation where it cannot work efficiently and both the previous and current governments are very hostile towards complaints made by solicitors. The net result of this at worst could be the collapse of the legal aid system, but more likely will simply mean that only inexperienced and junior solicitors will work in legal aid as there will be very little money to be made from it. This will mean that the most vulnerable will be denied access to decent legal representation.
Law is often seen as a high-paying profession with many solicitors and barristers earning huge sums of money. In some cases this is true, private tax and corporate law for example, though not often in legal aid. Legal aid is charged on a system of hourly fixed rates which have not risen in more than 10 years and when compared to the rate of inflation actually amount to a year-on-year cut of 2.5%. This means that over the last decade there has been a 25% cut in the value of remuneration for legal aid while costs have soared. Many solicitors no longer offer a legal aid service and those that do are struggling on a month by month basis to survive. And there are more changes being made to legal aid fees, particularly with regard to childcare.
The previous Labour government, under Lord Chancellor Jack Straw, took the running of the Legal Services Commission in-house, integrating it into the Ministry of Justice and made a large number of crucial staff who process bills and payments to solicitors redundant. This resulted in massive delays in payments, further compounding solicitors’ cash-flow crisis. This in turn has meant that many firms that rely on bringing in money from legal aid work have not been paid money owed since February this year and are teetering on the brink of collapse.
In addition, the new Tory government is looking to further cut funding on services which are currently available by 50%, the implications of which will be devastating. In the field of childcare there has been a massive increase in demand following the Baby P case, yet there is less money and fewer solicitors able to meet the demand and so more children not getting the help they need. The overall result of the delays in payment, the low-fees and fewer and fewer solicitors offering legal aid means that cases such as that of Baby P will be more common.
When complaints about the legal aid fees system have been brought forward before, they are shouted down by further touting of the myth of the overpaid lawyer. To prove the point, the government has in the past released figures to demonstrate that legal aid lawyers are in fact very well paid – they provide the annual earnings of the top five Queen’s Counsels (a high ranking barrister) who earn c. £500,000 annually from legal aid, therefore all lawyers must be earning the same. This is simply not true and the fact of the matter is that the situation will only get worse if the Tory government goes ahead with it’s planned 50% cuts in legal aid spending, a LOT worse. Legal aid will end up being the domain of junior solicitors and the poor will lose out on representation by senior and experienced solicitors. The impact will mean that the most vulnerable in our society – children and victims of abuse – are left without help.
Posted on | June 23, 2010 | 3 Comments
Posted originally on Twitter, then on Bright Green Scotland by Adam Ramsay
I just tweeted an A-Z of why I oppose public spending cuts. Here it is.
a) the biggest waste in our economy is unemployment not spending
b) we’ve lower debt:GDP than most EU/G8 nations
c) the money is owed to us
d) the payoff on public services’s > our loan interest
e) Italy’s credit rating is far below ours but they only pay slightly more interest
f) where else will bond markets lend?
g) how can we have export led growth as the EU collapses
h) why is growth meant to be led by the banks?
i) raising the personal allowance gives more to the rich than the poor
j) VAT is the most regressive tax
k) what happened to green investment?
l) WTF is this I hear about first children only?
m) scrapping child trust funds while promising cuts to inheritance tax is fair?
n) cutting jobs hits the poor first (are you listening @guardian?)
o) we still remember you cut uni places – crushing a generation’s hopes
p) universities have the biggest jobs multiplier of anything, so cutting their funding is the thing most likely to cause a double dip
q) Tories have always opposed proper funding for public services
r) the long term economic costs of the human strife of austerity are huge
r) the deficit has already naturally dropped by more than Osborne said he wanted it to this year, & will half by 2015
s) taxes on the top take fewer jobs away
t) it took decades to build the public services he wants to ruin
u) the economists against this tend to be those who predicted this mess
v) what’s the point of a triple A rating if you can’t borrow in a 100 year recession?
w) our loans are very long term
x) we have big assets
y) the richest 1000 people have seen their wealth increase by 30% in a year – half the value of the deficit
z) Osborne is trying to save the economy by destroying the economy. That’s as crazy as it sounds. That is all
Posted on | June 21, 2010 | 5 Comments
Feel free to share with your friends and let us know what you think!
Posted on | June 16, 2010 | 3 Comments
Try our new random cuts generator, very generously put together by charlieharvey.org.uk – then tweet the results.
Posted on | June 11, 2010 | No Comments
Making the case that the Coalition’s cuts aren’t based on sound economics isn’t always easy.
Our experts have got together and put together a very useful set of FAQs, tackling all the most common LibCon objections to the idea that cutting public spending now would be dangerous.
Read the FAQs here
On this page, you can also download a handy pdf, which you can print out and take to your local pub, Conservative Club, SU debate, garden centre, bus – in fact they’re invaluable wherever you might come across bad arguments for cuts!keep looking »