Tory Housing Transformation Nothing more than another attack on the poorest

Sadiq Khan was in yesterday’s Mirror offering his opinion on the Tories “plan to transform sink estates“;  he speaks of how “having a secure and affordable home meant my parents could build a better life for me…”; this was also my experience.

My mum when widowed January 21 1965, was in the process of moving home, with my dad they’d bought a new bungalow  and sold the terraced house they’d lived in for a decade, completing on Saturday 16/01/65. Due to the insurance documents not being signed at the same time, when my dad died of an unknown chronic heart disease on the Thursday, she and I were made homeless.

After two years of ‘making do’ at my grandparents we moved into a maisonette, on a new and at the time, state of the art council estate. Over the past 49 years the same estate has gone from being the flagship for Leicester City Council to so-called sink estate, now surrounded by  iron bars. Yet it was that estate where I grew up, went to grammar school and ultimately university and on to post-grad education.

In 2012 “St Matthews Estate in Leicester is classed as the second most social deprived estate in the country” and yet despite this, my now 85 year old mum, still lives there out of choice. She has friends who have also lived there for decades and she receives support and help from the now majority Somali community; when she had a fall five month ago it was a young Somali man, who she didn’t know, that helped her home.

Given mums home is on ‘the second most deprived estate” it is likely that St Matthews will be one of those estates Cameron will want to transform. Some people will hearing/reading about this will think it a good idea, but my experience and that of  Sadiq Khan, and perhaps more surprisingly The Economist, this transformation will destroy far more than it builds.

Not only will the residents be moved away from where they are comfortable and have the support networks vital for safety; as the Economist points out “Unnervingly, poor children seem to fare better in poor neighbourhoods.” The article ‘paradox of the ghetto‘ shows that “poor boys living in largely well-to-do neighbourhoods were the most likely to engage in anti-social behaviour, from lying and swearing to such petty misdemeanours as fighting, shoplifting and vandalism”. As a long term youth worker I suggest this has to do with the need to be accepted, rather than these boys being inherently ‘bad’. The need to fit-in is well documented and experience has shown me that where acceptance is not an option, being feared is the next best thing, and thus young people from these so called ‘sink’ neighbourhoods become the self-fulling prophecy.  This theory is also supported by Professor Tim Newburn who says ” Living alongside the rich may also make the poor more keenly aware of their own deprivation”; therefore in order not to become the victim of the bullying being the outsider often results in, the poor child acts out. Further living in a community where families know each other and communicate, results in young people knowing any unsocial behaviour will be reported back; in my experience this makes you police yourself for fear of the wrath of mum.

Given the above I would suggest the Governments plan has far more to do with their aspiration to abolish social housing, rather any real  “ambition” to enable the families living there. Reading the ‘Notes to Editor’ on the official press release, it claims ‘successful regeneration’ has already occurred at Woodberry Down in Hackney and Packington Estate in Islington However it does not address why both estates have been rebuilt with only 50% social housing, nor what happened to the other half of tenants?   I can only imagine what will happen if Leicester City Council allows St Matthews to be ‘transformed’ (and the legacy of previous decisions made by our City Mayor strongly suggests it will); will my mum be forced into an unsuitable poky flat away from her network of friends and the close proximity of family, and it so how will she cope? This terrifies me as I’m only too aware of her attachment to her home.

The plan will also destroy the real community that exists on the estate, a community of former refugees who have already been forced from their homeland and yet have come together to create a neighbourhood of safety and opportunity. This is what precisely what the designers of St Matthews Estate desired 50 year ago and demonstrates exactly what Cameron’s Transformation plan ignores.

 

 

 

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#LetsTalkAbout Race; A white perspective on Challenging Rising Racism

Two articles in The Guardian caught my eye this week, the first considers a rush by Ofsted to tackle extremism in education as being “symptomatic of a political frenzy born of hatred“; the second is the editorial identifying “an overlooked report shows that employers trying to fill low-paid jobs draw migrants to the UK“.

Both of these posts allude to the current establishment revealing their true attitudes and apparently, despite the numerous changes to Law over of the past 50 or so years, the Elite along with I suggest many others, still hold Racist beliefs. Whilst this may not in itself seem shocking, I’d go so far to suggest it could with some work by us all, prove positive!

On the surface, this claim from a white woman may well seem plain wrong but please bear with me. I’ve argued for years that it’s so much easier to positively challenge sexist (and later ableist) attitudes and behaviour when they’re overt, rather than when ‘hidden’ under a façade of politically correct language and I suggest this might be the same for dealing with racism. Personally I much prefer to demonstrate how prejudicial attitudes are founded in mythology by use of facts and evidence, but this requires the challenger to hold the data and the holder of the prejudices to ‘own’ them, namely to say what they think and when such notions are however subtly obscured, this is much harder.

From my professional experience I understand that often people, of all self defined Races, find it hard to positively challenge Racism, for reasons  which are as variable as the people themselves. The classic argument for why people hold onto prejudice is usually summarised as being  ‘fear’ of the unknown, which has given rise to the raft of educational projects around difference, sharing experiences and stereotyping; but after half a Century of such, surely its time to acknowledge these soft approaches have only made the slightest impact.

The UK urgently needs a new way to talk about Race,  its now obvious the way of the recent past way, a refusal to acknowledge and discuss anything other than positive examples of so called cohesion has failed. The reality is Racism, along with all other prejudicial sentiments, not only exists but is thriving, and I believe this has gone some way to enable the rise in support for Right Wing Politics once again becoming mainstream, albeit wrapped up in UKIP.

The fundamental beliefs of segregation, obedience, and a natural order are not compatible with the world today, fortunately too many of us have been educated beyond the ideals of the local Lord and Squire; yet it is that world we are nonchalantly strolling backwards towards. We allow the Government to remove our freedom to education, movement, health and even a home, via electing those who would deny us such unless we have enough fiscal worth, and all the while blaming the worlds ills on immigration?

Perhaps I’m Naive, but I can’t accept this return to ignorance, feudalism and life by lottery of birth is what people really want; but if I’m correct then those of us opposing such must step up and accept, we have a large role to play.  Racism as we’re seeing above only occurs when the perpetrators feel safe, and they believe they have an audience to support them. It is our responsibility to let them know they are wrong.

For this reason, the fact that the aftermath of Operation Trojan Horse may as Zoe Williams suggests become this Governments Section 28 moment, offers opportunities for real challenges to Racism. Taking this a step further “the saga of the Hungarian sandwich-makers” and the totally hypocritical stance of Government, on of the scandal of business owners actively recruiting migrant low paid workers, is another argument that demonstrates how the establishment thinks about Race.

Both the articles indicate how Race and indeed all isms, are still thriving among those in Power.  Whilst this is illegal, immoral and downright unacceptable, the fact this perspective is once again becoming  open, offers us an excellent opportunity to unreservedly challenge these prejudices, preventing yet more Discrimination. Unless we really desire a return to the ‘good’ old days, we with any privilege left must use it and challenge this Racism as the vile bigotry it is.

Thanks to MHealth Extremist @wildwalkerwoman for editing xxx

 

 

 

 

Political Fury and Personal Responsibility

Once again I’m finding it difficult to sit down and write, I’m finding myself inundated with the appalling tales of life in the UK today; this week I’ve internally wept (there is a reason why only internally, but that is a tale for another day) as I read of IDS laughing  as a rape victim was forced to defend her right to feel safe in her own home as it was debated a PMQ. I Squealed when the DWP refuted hard evidence of people using foodbanks due to Benefit issues and this fury continued as the blogs I follow come in to my inbox daily with stories of people suffering or even dying.

Today we all got up to, unless of you stayed up to watch,  the news the UKIP have their second MP. I freely admit  I have a problem with this; I really do not understand why anyone would want a Government of a) the same as now but worse or b) a Right Wing Government many of our grandparents went to war to fight?

Why oh Why are people, often those detrimentally affected by the Policies and behaviour of the Coalition, not supporting the fight back?

As l regular readers will know I’ve spent my life, campaigning against injustice, prejudice and discrimination; I’ve also been responsible along with Debbie Sayers for the #TruthCampaign –  our efforts to have Iain Duncan Smith forced to answer for the discriminatory Policies of the Welfare Reform Act.

Last year over 500.000 people signed to have him held to account by the select committee, and he was; now we want more we are demanding Kathryn Hudson, the Parliamentary Commissioner For Standards,  investigate him for persistently misleading both Parliament and the Public, But…for some reason getting the signatures is proving problematic, I’m unsure if it is because people don’t get why it is important,  they think its not worth doing or they just aren’t bothered?

Whatever the reasons people are not signing IDS – TIME TO STOP THE LIES, I will keep pushing; I believe, an investigation of IDS would prove a catalyst for ensuring both the Tories and Labour to rethink their proposals for their Election Manifesto. If we can show Ministers will be held personally responsible for the fallout of  discriminatory, unfair and downright deadly Policies, I doubt they’d be as keen to continue to blame us.

If you agree with anything here, please continue to share our petition and let’s take some our of power  back.

Sign Up to the #TruthCampaign  Tweet #IDSTimeForTruth

Together We ‘Minorities’ CAN beat the Uphill Struggle for Equality

A new report from the uni of Sheffield has found Welfare reform reinforces growing class prejudice reminiscent of Victorian era –

” many people now attribute unemployment and poverty to the failings of individuals, rather than to structural weaknesses in the British economy and entrenched socio-economic inequalities. Worryingly, negative views around welfare were also extended to the physically disabled and mentally ill. The research therefore suggests that, in the aftermath of the recession, there has been a decline in empathy and understanding for some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups in our society

Today the Guardian have turned over comment is free to black contributors, this is fantastic and exactly what we need more of as according to FleetStreetFox  “it’s 2014 and we’re speaking about foreigners in much the same way we did 100 years ago, with just as much nastiness, stupidity and flawed logic“. Other reports have arrived at similar conclusions, both the British Social Attitude survey and the Archbishop of Canterbury have shared concerns about the rise in racism. As a white woman I can’t speak on what this means in everyday day, but I empathise from the perspective of being disabled; I also accept it is my responsibility to challenge any racist attitudes wherever I find them.

I can’t help thinking this decline in empathy and understanding has something to do with the lack of challenge from the Country’s’ leaders towards prejudice, instead the current Political discussion is full of ‘blame culture’. When comments such as “we’re like under siege’ from ‘huge numbers’ of migrants“,  “some” disabled people are “not worth the full wage”, “Women ‘to blame’ for being raped” or  ‘people getting really good benefits are going to charity food banks; not only go with out challenge but are also regularly justified by skewed statistics pulled from the ether, we as a nation, are  in trouble.

The ease with which we can find comments like the above, and blogs and posts from people experiencing not only an increase in prejudice, but also discrimination, is terrifying;  further it is hard evidence of the reality of life in Britain for many of us from the ‘minority’ sectors of society. Continuing to to accept our problems are the fault of other minority group members, and, or choosing to believe the bigoted hype of the elite ran main stream media, can only result in the continuing collapse of the society we’ve grown up with. Acknowledging our own prejudices and electing to view them from the other side  is the way we individually fight back.

The really crazy thing about this, is we the ‘minorities’ actually  form a ‘majority’, and the only thing holding us back, are our individual fears of difference and of change. As a long time community activist I believe in people, not in a notion that all people are good, but in the belief we are better when we come together. As a collective sharing our strengths, skills knowledge and experiences we individually grow more powerful; but together we become formidable and through utilising the diversity, we can create change.

It is only by using our collective strengths we can challenge the structural weaknesses and demand the changes to the existing socio-economic inequalities that encourages prejudice to grow, thus ensuring our children and grandchildren benefit from a fairer and more equal society.

Together We Are STARS shining in the  dark and fighting against the Capitalist Light Pollution

 

 

What are the Parties real plans for benefit claimants post 2015?

The people responsible for the excellent Benefits and Work site ask “What do the parties really have planned for claimants after the next election?” for their November newsletter; as inspiration they offer their findings – the Ministry of Justice  are refusing to release how much they have raised  charging benefits claimants to appeal to tribunal as apparently it would cost too much to collect and collate the data. They also ponder how long before ESA and JSA claimants are also forced to use prepayment cards, to prevent them spending their benefits on anything other than “essential” items?

This got me thinking and I can’t help feel that short of a miracle, all benefit claimants will lose the right to full Housing benefits for anything other than a room/s in shared accommodation; this will be an extension on the existing rule for single people under 35?

Disabled people will continue to lose benefits until we are all forced to become house/room bound and with free limited internet only to DWP/official websites?

Hospital beds will be rented out by the hour, with benefit claimants being treated separately?

Benefits claimants who work less than full time will lose the right to vote?

I know these ideas are extreme but – we’re witnessing our rights to freedom being removed when we protest, we already pay to put our cases when we’re wrongly treated by civil servants, and our hospital are being privatised day by day, what is to stop Politicians furthering the aim of social control?

As you’ve no doubt guessed my mood is currently dark, so over to you readers, let me have your ideas or even better post them to benefitsandwork.co.uk, tweet them to @benefitsandwork  or leave them at: https://www.facebook.com/BenefitsandWorkPublishing?fref=ts.

Please copy me in – I’m intrigued 🙂 either leave as comments below,

Tweet @JayneLinney  / on Facebook

 

 

 

Lets Talk about #Inequality – The Core Tool of Oppression

As a tutor of Inequality issues, if there one thing I’ve learnt over the years (In)Equalities is one of the topics that impacts on every Policy, everyone, everyday. If this sounds improbable it’s possibly because Equality is generally only attached to Human Resources in employment, Finance in Politics and rarely in schools and at home; however I would argue Equalities should be at the core of everything we learn, say and do.

I write this from the presumption that everyone suffers from Inequality in some way, whether that be via the labelling resulting from the ‘isms’, from one of the countless strands of financial inequality, or even from the (lack of) capacity for empathy.  This supposition is one that often causes conflict, with many people unable to recognise how, those in the 1% group controlling the worlds wealth, can experience inequality. My counter is, without experiencing or recognising the lifestyle of others, we lose compassion, and without this we cannot adapt our opinions, nor access the tools we need to positively challenge inequalities.

I fully understand the difficulties in this, as a blogger I usually write about current issues experienced by disabled people as a result of Welfare Reform and I use the blogging experience as a way of sounding off; thus I rarely write from the position I’m advocating today. However there is a vast difference between passing on tales of discriminatory polices and making a constructive argument for change, hence my option to use today, as my professional contribution to discuss what I consider to be, the greatest challenge the majority of us face today.

In order for regular people to be in a position to make a real difference, we need to collectively influence current Politics; and we can only do this if the majority of us make the same argument to our Politicians. Imagine if you will, every candidate for MP next year meeting/receiving communications on a daily basis, from numerous constituents; all offering similar constructive reasons why the Austerity measures don’t work and comparable equitable cases for the way forward.  Would they then be so keen to ignore their voters, particularly as then they would be subject to Recall?

This is the process required to champion for Equalities across the board, people naturally fear what we don’t understand, and fear is the greatest reason for attitudes of inequality. It is this lack of understanding and knowledge that allows the likes of UKIP spread untrue statistics around immigration, it underpins the rhetoric for scrounger agenda driven by the Tories for Welfare Reform and it is fear of big business owners, the 1% that results in yesterdays announcements that the UK is the only  country in the G7 where inequality has grown!

Trends in inequality

The majority of us irrespective of personal differences are scraping by, whilst the 1% are accumulating more wealth than the can ever use; this if nothing else ought to be enough for us for us to recognise where the real Inequality lies?

History has taught us that knowledge and learning is the key to challenging Inequality, and when we do we are in a position of power;  I consider  it is a fear of this power of majority, that drives the 1% to insist upon the continuation of Unequal Policies and Laws, Inequality is the core tool of oppression. Perhaps when we agree precisely who, benefits from Inequality, we will be ready to demonstrate our desire for Equity in all areas? And remember what the people demand is often what the people get

 

For Blog Action Day 

 

Blog action day 2014

 

An Exercise in Social Control – The REAL Agenda behind Benefit Fraud Campaigns 3 –

This year to date, I’ve  written two articles questioning the REAL agenda behind the Benefit Fraud Campaigns, the first in January considered how Politicians use psychological coercion to control us, whilst the second in April, introduced the newly formed single fraud investigation service, (SFIS), “a cross Government strategy to reduce fraud and error” apparently costing £140 millionIn April I questioned whether the SFIS would prove to be value for money, particularly as according to DWP figures Fraud and Error has cost the Nation approximately £1 Billion for the past Eight Years?

Well it seems my concerns were justifiable, the latest figures in the DWP official Report shows a significant rise in Fraud, although a minor decrease in Error:

,Image

This situation is despite the DWP already having spent at least  £296,726, just on campaigns to reduce Fraud & Error; when the REAL costs to the DWP, the SFIS, Justice Department & the CPS are added, the amount of spending on reducing this £1Billion bill must be phenomenal.

Johnny Void in his excellent post on this latest shambles by IDS said “This is a huge embarrassment to Iain Duncan Smith who is currently squandering almost a billion pounds in an attempt to halve benefit over-payments by next year.  It is unsurprising that the DWP’s fraud and error strategy was this week given a red/amber rating (meaning it’s a fuck up) in the same Government report into major projects that revealed that Universal Credit has been ‘reset’.” 

So that’s One Billion Pounds spending to reduce a One Billion Pound loss – Where is there any logic in this???

However you wouldn’t have thought any of the above existed if you relied solely upon the official press release from the DWP with Lord Fraud, Freud, claiming “Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support fraud and error overpayments are at their lowest recorded levels.” Yes once again we have Politicians making statements that are untrue and based upon erroneously used statistics and ignore reality; the fact is Council Tax is no longer included in DWP figures with the responsibility going to Local Authorities, and this Tax is equivalent to claimed drop in Fraud and Error  “2% of overall welfare expenditure“! 

This persistent misrepresentation of information is how Politicians, and the media when it reports verbatim rather than investigates the Truth, is precisely how they use psychological coercion to manage our thinking; IDS, Freud and the rest have consistently –

  • Rejected alternate information and separate opinions
  • Devised Rules exist about permissible topics to discuss and
  • Ensured Communication is highly controlled.

it is for these reasons  Debbie Sayers and I decided it was time to follow up on our successful petition of last year, this resulted in the Work & Pensions Committee calling IDS & Freud to answer for their Lies, and a report stating this social control through the misuse of statistics should cease. This time We are Demanding the Coalition ensures IDS, Freud and Co STOPS this blatant manipulation; we aim to show Parliament, the people will no longer tolerate this abuse, but you need to play your role – Sign the Petition, tell your friends and families, share it on social media, blog it, do whatever, because unless we all tell Politicians & the Media, WE Will NO longer be Controlled it Will Continue.

This slow erosion of independent thought eats away out our psyche, leaving us unable to see the Truth and falling into the very trap set for us by those in Power, this is Not a World I want to live in? 

Time For The Truth

To:
House Of Commons – Stop Ministers Spinning Statistics 
Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair W&P Select
Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of Public Admin
Enforce the Recommendations of W&P Select of Use of DWP Statistics and Ensures Minsters and others present statistics in a way that is fair, accurate and “unspun”.

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/house-of-commons-stop-ministers-spinning-statistics-accept-the-recommendations-of-select-committees-stop-ministers-spinning-dwp-statistics