We want council housing and homes for life!

Focus E15 Campaign

Another family has been moved into the hostel Brimstone House in Victoria Street in Stratford during the last eight weeks. This means that Newham Labour council and Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz still think that rooms built for single young people are adequate to house families. This has to stop! People need to be housed in decent housing. Shame on the council and those in local government who sit by and let the housing crisis in Newham escalate whilst people suffer and homes remain empty.

This family is a father, a mother and a four month old baby. There is just about space for a double bed and a sofa. Currently the father sleeps on the sofa while the mother sleeps with the baby in the bed, which is against the advice from midwives, health visitors and GPs about safe sleeping for babies. It is just not appropriate for an adult to sleep all night on a sofa.

There is little or no ventilation, the room is quickly filled with cooking smells which can be overpowering, and the toilet flush does not work properly despite repeated requests for it to be fixed, it has not been repaired. The alarm continues to go off in the building and there is drilling early in the morning. It is no wonder that these parents are distressed, tearful and unwell. There is no space and nowhere to put their belongings. It is clear that Brimstone House is no place to raise a child and the housing is not suitable.

Meanwhile, the roomy council flats around the corner on Carpenters estate remain empty and there are trees growing out of them! What a waste. We want to save every single council flat on this estate because this housing offers the chance for long term stability, community and cheap rent. A chance for a decent life.

Please join us on Saturday 18 December 12-2pm on the Carpenters Estate where over 400 home have stood empty for over a decade, where currently a ballot is underway and where the council is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to secure a yes vote to its regeneration scheme which will mean demolishing 60% of the estate.

We need more council homes, not fewer!

We need families like the one above from Brimstone House, and the thousands of others on the housing waiting list and those in temporary and emergency accommodation, to be housed decently.

Join us on Saturday 18 December at 12 noon in the middle of Carpenters Estate in Stratford (near the shop) to fight for housing, to make a stand against capitalism, against racism in housing and to restore people’s dignity.

Please share and join the facebook event

New campaign around Autism & ADHD Services

From an initiative by Plymouth Claimants Union.

Plymouth in UNISON have been asked to support this campaign that should hopefully have a positive effect for staff as well

Dear Devon Clinical Commissioning Group,

We are writing to you because we are concerned – both by the lack of provision of diagnostic services for adult autism and ADHD in Plymouth, and by the absence of communication or consultation on this matter. We request that you meet with us at your earliest convenience to discuss the concerns raised in this letter. Specifically, we are asking for:

1. A waiting time for assessments of adults with autism or ADHD of 2-3 months. Until that target is reached, patients should be given the option of referral to another service outside the area or through the patient choice scheme

2. Any diagnostic service for autism or ADHD should be provided by the NHS, NOT contracted out to Livewell Southwest or any other private company

3. For the NHS in Devon to commit to a strategy for raising awareness among medical professionals regarding:

3.i. The under-diagnosis of autism and ADHD in many sections of the population based on gender, class, race and ethnicity

3.ii. The less well-known presentations of autism and ADHD (for example, inattentive symptoms of ADHD)

3.iii. Common co-morbidities and how they may mask symptoms of autism and ADHD in patients (for example, how autism is often missed in patients with  other disabilities, or how ADHD is extremely common in patients already diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome)

We believe that anything less will in fact cost the NHS more money, and lead to discrimination against patients based on a number of characteristics protected under the equality act.

The knock-on effects of leaving autism and ADHD undiagnosed are well-established. Within the NHS, it will lead to increased pressure on A&E, increased needs for mental health services, and increased needs for addiction services. For ADHD in particular, simply providing people with the correct medication reduces the need for all three of the above. We are sure you will agree that given the need to reduce spending in Devon, prompt diagnosis and support for adults with autism and ADHD is essential.

In order to access reasonable adjustment at work and university, it is necessary to have a diagnosis. People are leaving employment, failing courses, and loosing relationships while waiting for an assessment. Without access to a timely assessment, adults with autism and ADHD are exposed to significant discrimination in work and education. We understand that in other parts of the UK, people are being assessed significantly faster – within just one month, in one area that we know of. We urge the CCG to consider the impact that long waiting times are having on us when planning any services in Plymouth.

Children belonging to groups protected under the equality act (particularly girls and BAME children), are less likely to have their symptoms of autism and ADHD noticed at an early age. As such, these groups are more likely to receive a late diagnosis in adulthood. Any barriers to accessing a diagnosis in adulthood are therefore having a disproportionate impact on these groups. Furthermore, we are aware that there is often a lack of awareness regarding how other disabilities may “mask” autism and ADHD, and a lack of awareness regarding common co-morbidities. This is likely leading to discrimination on the basis of disability. We believe it is vital that the CCG consider all of this in any equality impact assessment for a new service in Plymouth. We further believe that it is important to ensure all medical professionals in the area are fully aware of these issues when dealing with patients. We request that the CCG commit to a strategy for this.

We are extremely disappointed by the lack of communication regarding the suspension of diagnostic services in Plymouth. We understand that assessments for autism and ADHD have not taken place for quite some time. However, there have been no announcements regarding this. Nor has there been any public consultation regarding the establishment of a new service. Patients have been given contradictory and unclear information, left unsure as to whether they are on a waiting list or not. Several patients have been informed that their only option is to pay a private psychiatrist for an assessment. The CCG has consistently failed to respond to requests for more information. This is not solely the responsibility of the CCG but also a failure of the company Livewell Southwest, who we understand is contracted to provide services in Plymouth.

In order to rebuild trust it is vital that any service is as accountable to the public as possible, particularly because they will be treating vulnerable people who find access to complaint procedures more challenging. The Freedom of Information Act is one such avenue for accountability. However, as a private community interest company Livewell Southwest is not subject to the provisions of that Act. In order to protect vulnerable patients, and due to their recent failure to provide the services they are contracted to provide, we believe it would be wholly inappropriate for Livewell Southwest to provide diagnostic services in future. We request that instead, these services are provided directly by the NHS – either through the DAANA clinic, or a new service tailored to Plymouth.

Finally, we understand that it will take some time for a satisfactory service to be established in Plymouth. In the meantime, we request that the CCG make it easier to access other services – either by referral to NHS autism and ADHD services in other areas, or by private assessments via the patient choice scheme.

Yours sincerely,

The Devon Assessment Campaign ( devonassessmentcampaign@riseup.net )

Red and Black Telly roundup.










Red and Black Telly roundup.




We are not all in this together!

Anarchist Communist Group.

In crisis situations, the Queen, government, big business and the media push the idea that the nation is united to fight a common enemy, in this case a killer virus. Sir Keir Starmer, the new Labour Party leader, is “refusing to rule out” a government of national unity. However, as in times of war, divisions and inequalities in society become if anything more apparent. The same is true now with Covid-19. Though in theory anyone can succumb to the virus, as we have seen with Prince Charles and Boris Johnson, the chances of actually being infected and surviving it are not equal.

View post.

Careworkers: Cannon fodder to the coronavirus?

From Manchester SolFed

It is well known by anyone who has ever worked in, or been around the social care system, how much employers in that sector try to exploit their staff and just how badly they treat them. Care workers have long felt they are viewed in low regard by both local authorities and the government, until recently being described by both local and national politicians as being ‘low skilled’. This has started to make headlines in the national press and get into the public consciousness and never has it been more apparent than during the current Coronavirus crisis, where employers have shown a complete disregard for the safety of not only their workers, but also for the people who use their services.

Careworkers have shown an unwavering commitment and compassion to the people they support by continuing to travel to work to support them every day despite the risks, with some workers going so far as to move into their places of work, leaving their families behind at home, in order to help shield the people they care for from the virus.

Meanwhile care employers have shown their usual commitment and compassion to their employees by treating them as badly as they possibly can in order to protect profit margins. Most care workers have never been eligible for sick pay and receive only Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and this has continued during the current crisis.

Workers have said they have been pressured to go into work and do shifts even though they are isolating at home either because they themselves have become sick or due to a sick or shielding family member and some of those that live in a household with a high risk family member and who want to self isolate to protect them have been told that they will not even be eligible for SSP and will go unpaid, as it is not they themselves who are sick.

Care staff have also been pressured to provide sick notes for all time spent off self isolating due to having Cornavirus symptoms, despite the government advice being that you only need to provide an isolation note, which can be applied for online to help ease pressure on GP surgeries, and of course the fact that all absences 7 days or less can be self-certified.

The government’s mixed messaging on pay for workers who are shielding due to health issues has led to complete confusion as to whether care staff who are shielding at home for 12 weeks are entitled to be furloughed as per the government’s program and receive at least 80% of their regular wage.

Some workers are saying that their employer has agreed to place them on furlough while others have said that they have been told they will only receive SSP for 12 weeks. Some staff have even been told they will be placed on furlough only to be told later that their employer will not be doing so.

For low paid staff who are on Minimum Wage and often have no savings, the prospect of being on SSP, which is currently only £94.25 a week, for at least 12 weeks with no idea of when this will be over,  is a pretty daunting one and one that may not be affordable for many.

The lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks and aprons as well as hand sanitizer and cleaning equipment for care workers is a national scandal and is leaving both care workers and the people they care for at massive risk of contracting, or spreading through no fault of their own, the Coronavirus.

So desperate has the situation become that companies have tried to source PPE from local nail bars and vet’s practices with up to 80% of providers saying they do not have adequate PPE. One worrying report emerged from the GMB union in Scotland of a care home locking PPE in a cupboard away from staff.

Care staff have been receiving varying, if any,  advice on how and when to use PPE with some being told by their employers that some PPE will only be provided if a service user is showing symptoms of Coronavirus and they have to perform personal care, despite the fact that the virus seems to be extremely contagious, easily transmissable and spreading at a rapid rate and by the time the company has got around to deciding to provide PPE, it may be too late.

The lack of Coronavirus testing also means that care staff are having to isolate for up to 14 days without knowing if they, or someone they live with. has the virus and also leaves them open to being pressured by management to return to work, not knowing if they still have, or have had, the illness.

The very human cost of the lack of resources from government and the negligent practices of care companies is being tragically demonstrated across the country as the death toll grows higher and the virus spreads. One care home in Glasgow has lost 16 residents after Coronavirus spread through the service and another in Liverpool has also been hit badly where 9 residents have died with the home manager saying two thirds of her staff were off ill. Several care workers across the country have now sadly died from the virus.

Care workers have described the current situation as feeling like they are ‘cannon fodder’, the phrase coming from armed conflict where soldiers, historically from poor and working class backgrounds, would be sent to the front lines and were seen as disposable. The similarity here is that once again the working class is seen as expendable and little thought is given to their welfare by the bosses and politicians as long as work is being done and services being provided or profit being made.

For too long care workers have been described as low skilled and they remain some of the lowest paid workers in the country, yet recently we have seen their dedication and bravery in working through the Coronavirus. A workforce that is overwhelmingly made up of female and migrant workers, which has a lot do with the exploitation they have been subjected to,  has shown just how essential they are whilst the bosses and those in positions of authority have demonstrated once again just how incompetent and cowardly they are with care company CEOs, directors and senior managers safely working from home but expecting frontline staff to take huge risks.

When we hopefully, eventually get through this crisis it is obvious the care sector needs to be completely transformed to work for the people who need its care and the people who provide it, rather than in the interests of profit. The way the system is now just cannot continue. If you want to organise your workplace and improve your conditions please get in touch with Solidarity Federation and we can help.

Red And Black Telly: CORONAVIRUS – ISOLATION ( THEM + US )

Red And Black Telly: R+B CHRISTMAS DAY BROADCAST

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT UNIVERSAL CREDIT: 9th October, Bridport

Hi Autonomy film watchers,

We haven’t shown a film for a while because we’ve been doing other things, but we thought you might like to know about a meeting we’re organising this week.

So many people have been having trouble getting the benefits they are entitled to – or even getting any kind of response – from the new Universal Credit scheme. For some it is causing real hardship. So two members of the Citizens Advice Bureau are coming to explain it and try to help. Please let anybody know who might be interested! Hope to see you there.

Universal Credit: DWP publicity stunt backfires

Anarchist Communist Group

DWP Secretary Amber Rudd is determined to be Boris Johnson’s running mate in the imminent Tory leadership campaign. Her fragile 346 vote majority in Hastings is one problem. Her other problem is her responsibility for Universal Credit and its disastrous impact on working-class households. This in turn is attracting a stream of bad press stories, even in the Mail and the Sun. Not a good look for an ambitious One Nation Tory.

Solution? Suddenly, after years of denial, refusal to release information or allowing journalists to speak to JobCentre staff, the DWP is launching a public relations campaign to persuade the public that Universal Credit is a wondrous and beautiful thing.

A leaked internal memo picked up by DPAC, the Disability News Service and subsequently the Guardian reveals a concerted publicity campaign involving newsprint and TV to “myth-bust the common inaccuracies reported on UC”.

At the end of May, giant ads wrapped around the cover of the Metro freesheet at a cost of £250,000 will be accompanied by a further four-page advertorial feature. According to the leaked memo “the features won’t look or feel like DWP or UC – you won’t see our branding … We want to grab the readers’ attention and make them wonder who has done this ‘UC uncovered’ investigation.” This will go on for nine weeks. The Metro has an estimated readership of 2½ million.

Amber Rudd meanwhile will invite selected journalists to JobCentres to see “the great work we do”. This has already started. Under the headline “I think Universal Credit is great – here’s why’, the Leicester Mercury last week splashed an interview with a job coach team leader at the local Job Centre Plus. The article declares that ‘Living on benefits is not a lifestyle choice’ and repeats the long- discredited myth about intergenerational benefit dependency. When challenged as to why there was no mention of the DWP campaign or the common ownership shared by the Leicester Mercury and the Metro, the reporter in question insisted that it was an interview and not an advertisement.

To cap this publicity campaign BBC2 will be screening a three-part “documentary” which is “looking to intelligently explore UC” by filming inside three jobcentres. It will not be reporter-based – no risk of awkward questions. The leaked DWP memo drools about how this will be a fantastic opportunity and how the DWP has been involved from the start. What’s more, the DWP will see the final product before it’s broadcast. The BBC of course denies this has anything to do with editorial control.

Unfortunately for Amber Rudd the whole publicly funded stunt is starting to unravel.

First the leaked memo blew away any secrecy. Secondly, if readers’ comments are anything to go by, the press visits to JobCentres are being seen straight away for what they are, undeclared government propaganda. Thirdly, a House of Commons Select Committee has picked up on the leak and has started to ask awkward questions. Due to the “lack of branding” even the Advertising Standards Authority could become involved.

Above all, what do claimants themselves think? DPAC is quite clear. As reported by the Disability News Service, DPAC has now called on its supporters to visit locations where the free paper is given away – such as train and tube stations – and “remove or otherwise prevent as many as possible” from being read from 31 May.

DPAC is also preparing a dossier of evidence about the DWP-Metro deal to pass to the advertising watchdog, and pledges to “make sure the Metro never want another DWP advert again”. A spokesperson said: “We refuse to be force-fed government propaganda, so we will put a stop to it ourselves. If they want us to be militant, we will be militant. We are not taking it anymore.