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By Thomas Barlow

In an age of increasing fuel bills,lack of transparency in government and business and climate change, we believe we need to reclaim the power. We need to take back local control of our energy, food production and decision making.

The government believes we should be making a dash for gas to provide for our energy needs – and fracking is a big part of this.

However, communities can provide their own energy – cutting fuel bills and taking power out of the hands of big energy companies – whilst at the same time putting the brakes on climate change.

How?  By building renewable energy locally (and creating energy efficiency), which will create jobs and bring communities together to take control of decisions that affect us.

What is the Dash For Gas?

The old power stations are dying out.  They are soon to be replaced. and they.  The government wants to replace them with gas based power stations which last for about 30 years, instead of renewables. This will leave us increasingly dependent on foreign gas supplies and the use of fracking.

What does this mean?

For the country:  not only will we ruin any chance of hitting our emissions targets, but we will be handing control of our fuel bills to the big 6 energy companies who have increased bills 20% year on year.

For communities:  more than 10,000 extra winter deaths have occurred the past three winters, due to rising fuel bills forcing pensioners choosing between eating and heating their homes.

What is fracking?

Fracking is an unconventional form of gas extraction that involves drilling into shale and pumping millions of gallons of chemical water into the ground to flush gas out.

It has been linked with severe health issues and a potentially disastrous impact on the environment.

Additionally, fracking is likely to cause house price drops of 25%, damage agriculture massively because of water loss, and affect tourism and small business negatively.

Reclaim The Power is a collective of people bound by the common belief that we should not make a panicked dash for gas.

Energy Democracy

Groups like the Carbon Co-op encourage groups of people to bulk buy their energy from renewable sources they create, and to insulate their homes and make energy savings.

When people come together to do this, they find not only do they save lots of cash, but they have control of their own energy and are not dictated to by government or big business.

That freedom, thanks to renewable energy, is forever.

Real Democracy

This is something we would like to see expand into all areas of life.  Together, we can find solutions to the common problems of life. Everything from community food projects to supporting local business help reclaim power for the community.

What is the camp?

It is a place where the alternatives are showcased, from large communal kitchens to renewable energy media centres, to democratic decision making.

It is also a place for learning, where speakers attend and debates are held, with people with a wide range of expertise attending.  It is a place that aims to allow everyone to have a voice.

This year Reclaim The Power will happen again – 14th August-19th August.  Check the facebook page, or nodashforgas.org.uk, or get in touch with RealFare, for more details.

rtp poster bleed FINAL A3 (1) 2

 

1. Iain Duncan Smith used false statistics to justify benefit cuts

Image: theweek.co.uk

Image: theweek.co.uk

Following a complaint from the charity Parkinson’s UK, the official statistics watchdog has revealed that the DWP repeatedly used false disability statistics to justify welfare changes and cuts.

The DWP and it’s spokespeople repeatedly claimed that the majority of those on DLA (Disability Living Allowance) were give benefits for life without supporting medical evidence. But the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) has revealed that only 10% of those passed for life support had no supporting medical evidence.

“The DWP also claimed that “under the current system of DLA, 71% of claimants get indefinite awards without systematic reassessments. However the UKSA found that in the last two years of the DLA, just 23% and 24% of claimants were given indefinite awards.

…..Last year Duncan Smith claimed that 8000 people who had been affected by the benefits cap had moved back into work. The UKSA found that this figure was “unsupported by the official statistics.”

Politics.co.uk

Parkinson’s UK policy advisor Donna O’Brien said:

“The Department of Work and Pensions has a long track record of misusing statistics when it comes to the benefits system, and it’s clear this was a tactic to vindicate further welfare cuts.”

 Read more about this story here.

2. Farage’s excruciating LBC interview forces him and the public to face his hypocrisy, finally

Farage faced a difficult interview when he agreed to appear on James O’Brien’s LBC radio show which resulted in UKIP’s communications director intervening to stop the interview.

O’Brien questioned Farage on racism and discrimination, highlighting that Farage’s attitude and comments were discriminatory against his own wife and children who are German.

Well done James O’Brien. Just a shame it took so long for this sort of questioning on UKIP policies and rhetoric to happen.

Watch the full interview here.

 

3. Universal Credit could lead to increase in error and fraud, warns Work and Pensions Committee

The government has stated that the IT system IRIS (Integrated Risk and Intelligence Service) will be used to perform safeguards against fraud throughout Universal Credit, as it does with housing benefit now. However, there are now problems with how the system will run, and access the necessary data – which could mean the overhaul of the system and a design of a new one which could put the system back, and increase fraud and error in the meantime.

Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Dame Anne Begg MP, said:

“Through the use of RTI—real-time information on PAYE earnings—Universal Credit has the potential over the longer term to substantially reduce fraud and error in the benefits system. However, this could be seriously undermined because of the uncertainty about how DWP will administer the housing element of Universal Credit without increased risks of fraud and error.”

Read more about this story here.

4. Government quietly announces proposals to privatise child protection services

The Department for Education, under Michael Gove, has a proposal to permit the outsourcing of child protection services to companies like G4S and Serco.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

This has alarmed experts, who say “profit-making companies should not be in charge of such sensitive family matters, and warn that the introduction of the profit motive into child protection may distort the decision-making process.”

Professor Ellen Munro, who was commissioned by Gove in 2011 to carry out a review into child protection services, said:

“……establishing a market in child protection would create perverse incentives for private companies to either take more children into care or leave too many languishing with dangerous families.

“It’s a bad idea,” she told the Guardian. “It’s the state’s responsibility to protect people from maltreatment. It should not be delegated to a profit-making organisation.”

Sign the petition to keep profit out of child protection here. 

Read more about this story here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Protest against the closure of the Independent Living Fund takes place tomorrow….

the void

DPAC-Logo via Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

Save the Independent Living Fund
“Nursing Homes Stink, They’re Worse than You Think.
We’d Rather Go to Jail Than Die in a Nursing Home”

Join us to protest against the closure of ILF on Monday, May 12th 3pm-5pm outside DWP head quarters, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9WA.

Nearest accessible tube –Westminster.

Click for Face Book Event

Bring things to make lots of noise. We have asked Mike Penning Minister for disabled people to join us but in case he doesn’t we need to make sure he knows we’re there.

More info at: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/05/join-the-save-ilf-protest-monday-may-12th-london-dwp/

Please help spread the word and tweet on the day in support using hashtag #SaveILF.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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You may or may not agree with the Religious aspects of this, but this is a great open letter and should be read by all.

squidgetsmum

The Daily Mail chose today to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, champion of the oppressed, by publishing this article today.  Here’s my response.

 

Dear Daily Mail,

I’ve got a little boy.  His name is Isaac, and he’s nearly three.  Like any little boy, he loves cars, balls, and running around.  He’s barely ever still.

A few days ago though, he was.  I took him to the supermarket to spend his pocket money, and we passed the donation basket for our local food bank.  It was about half full – nothing spectacular, in fact, mostly prunes and pasta – and he asked what it was.  As simply as possible, I tried to explain that it was for people to give food for other people who couldn’t afford it.

This affected his two year old brain fairly deeply.  After a lot of thought, he decided to spend a little bit of…

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The Daily Mail’s bad attempt at smearing food banks. Unbelieveable

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the Mail!)

The Mail on Sunday sent out one of its most experienced reporters to do a hatchet job on food banks and Citizens’ Advice Centres today.

Mail hack Ross Slater even lied to a Citizens’ Advice Centre for his article to see how easy it would be to get vouchers for a foodbank.

But Mr Slater didn’t do a very good job, did he:

mail fail1
ROSS! You had one job……….!

.

Related articles by Tom Pride:

Daily Mail fail – newspaper uses false photo in Kenya shopping centre article

Photo of Mark Duggan at daughter’s funeral cropped to paint him as a gangster

I’ve applied for a job at the Daily Mail. Here’s my application letter

Daily Mail admits it was wrong about immigration (and hopes nobody will notice)

How Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre’s father avoided the front-line in WW2

Daily Mail story about sunrises being shown on big screens…

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Where the WCA is at the moment. Sadly, not gone, like ATOS. From Johnny Void…

the void

atoskillsgraf The report in The Daily Record which claims that Atos style assessments for sickness and disability benefits are to be scrapped should sadly be treated with caution.

There is no doubt that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is in chaos, after the announcement from Atos that they are pulling out of the contract to run the tests.  This has led to a predictable tantrum from Iain Duncan Smith, who is now running round telling everyone he was going to dump Atos anyway and is threatening them with huge fines.  This is the same Atos that he is dependent on to sort out the shabby assessments for Personal Independence Payments, which are currently also mired in chaos.  But there has been no announcement as yet that the WCA is to be scrapped, and the report the Daily Record’s story seems to be based on does not call for this.

The…

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You have the right. Use it if you need.

Benefit tales

Here’s a calm, assertive lady who knows her rights trying to assert them and record a job centre interview.

The video speaks for itself. But if anyone is in this position and wants to know what their rights are , I’ve copied the Freedom of Information Request reply from the Department of  Work and Pensions, stating exactly what a claimant’s rights are in videoing their jobcenter interview. You’ll find it below the video.

FOI3032 Response 04.07.13.pdf

Recordings by claimants during
interviews, telephone calls etc 

General
Claimant publishes recording on the internet
 
General 
Claimants may seek to record a telephone conversation or an interview with 
DWP either openly or covertly using digital recording devices such as 
cameras, microphones and mobile phones.  There are a number of reasons 
why the Department should stop this happening in open plan public 
spaces. Jobcentre Plus has particular guidance on this here. 
A key concern is that…

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In Defence of Nationalisation, a post reminding us of the importance of nationalising services, particularly the NHS, which hangs in the balance as the coalition sell off yet more contracts, leaving only the least profitable and most difficult skeleton to the taxpayer. Accountability and a focus on customer/people needs rather than profit, as well as cheaper services can be achieved through nationalisation of services, rather than putting people at the mercy of companies hellbent on profit, as we have seen in the energy industry.

Beastrabban\'s Weblog

National Coal Pic

Since the 1970s, nationalisation has had a bad reputation, caused by the inefficiency, poor performance and appalling quality of some of its products. The classic example of this was British Leyland, hit by a long series of strikes, producing cars of a poorer workmanship and much less attractive than its foreign, increasingly Japanese, rivals. Yet the authors of Socialist Enterprise: Reclaiming the Economy, Diana Gilhespy, Ken Jones, Tony Manwaring, Henry Neuberger and Adam Sharples show that in many cases this images is grossly unfair. They argue

The case for public ownership is as powerful now as it has ever been – just as it has never been more urgent to rethink the priorities for public ownership, the methods of achieving it, the accountability and internal structure of publicly owned companies, and above all, their responsiveness to consumer and community needs. Publicly owned companies should be a model for socialism…

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We are updating…..

kamsandhu —  March 4, 2014 — Leave a comment

We’re just updating the website and servicing some technical problems, and will be back shortly.

Some explanation from the very wise Johnny Void on the DWP’s spin on employment figures. In truth, there has been no real employment recovery and there are no jobs.

the void

Graffiti Gov lies bank steal rich laugh A The number of unemployed people has risen by 20,000 people compared with the same period last month despite DWP spin that the numbers out of work are falling.

2.34 million people were unemployed in October – December 2013 compared to the figure of 2.32 million a month earlier.  The rate of unemployment grew to 7.2% of the working age population, whilst the number of people ‘economically inactive’ also rose.

Today’s figures have led to some confusion with the DWP spinning wildly that everything is fine and unemployment is still falling.  The problem lies in the way the figures are presented.  It is true that unemployment has fallen from the previous quarter – meaning there were less unemployed people between October – December 2013 than July – September 2013.  However there were more unemployed people between October and December 2013 than there were between September and November 2013  – suggesting unemployment…

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