Sunday, 17 February 2008

Alan Wheatley's speech and the Emergency Motion on public service ethos, benefits and advice passed at GP conference 17/2/2008

To long-term jobseekers, single parents, low income folk and those currently suffering from Jobcentre Plus call-centre melt-down, this motion reads like Spike Milligan's 'A Poem for the Lonely': "Hello."

The £5 'earnings disregard' that I'm allowed to earn in a week without it affecting my £59.15/wk Jobseekers Allowance has not gone up since 1988.

Five pounds in 1988 would now be equivalent to about £9.80, and my £4K student debt from 1997 now stands at around £5K.

I thank GPTU for covering my conference attendance expenses as an expert witness and am not a 'dodgy donor' to New Labour or Peter Hain.

Though JSA earnings disregard has not gone up since 1988, a lot has happened since resolution deadline. Workfare is a growing global industry. Peter Hain's successor promises private providers "an effective and growing market," and not a Remploy factory in London for specialist skilled disabled workers.

Now, workfare provider 4e is bidding to take over delivery of public service information, advice and guidance services. Would the same company that denies a claimant their eligibility to basic income, support them in getting that income reinstated? Meanwhile, Channel 4 website cites 4e owner Emma Harrison as a model single 'mum in business'. While Citizens Income policy relates largely to people's basic income needs, this motion takes a stand against the privatisation of welfare and legal rights. We oppose workfare as the jobsearch slave trade and negation of public service ethos that it is.

Let social housing tenants evict privateer politicians from office and help save the planet from those who pillage the earth and do not believe in society.


Conference deplores the government's recent attacks on benefits and services for unwaged people. In particular, the privatisation of back-to-work programmes, threats to evict council tenants who don't seek work, and the cuts in legal aid.

We deplore attempts by large non-specialist companies to make money out of others' misery in these areas of delivery, which should be the preserve of a public sector ethos.

We note that Capita and 4E will compete for legal aid, and that Unum-Provident is increasingly involved in welfare-to-work programmes and work capability assessments.

Conference requests the Executive and Press Office to campaign publicly against cuts in benefits, and privatisation of welfare programmes or legal aid services to the for-profit sector.

[AG notes; the phrase 'for-profit sector' is chosen to indicate that it's ok for the voluntary sector to run legal advice centres and some back-to-work training/advice projects, as it does at present]

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