Skip navigation

Indymedia UK is a network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues

Making Welfare Work - One Day Conference July 10th

Boycott Workfare West Midlands | 27.06.2012 18:35 | Workfare | Public sector cuts | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | Birmingham

As the Tories continue their attack on our welfare, Boycott Workfare and welfare activists in Birmingham have come together for a one day conference, called as a counter to the Welfare to Work conference happening just down the road at the ICC.
Tuesday 10th July, 9:30am – 5:30pm
Unite the Union Building, Transport House, Broad Street, Birmingham, B15 2AY

Whether you are unemployed, disabled, retired, low paid or in a caring role, the past 2 years of government have seen an unprecedented attack on our standards of living and rights. It is no surprise that this has come alongside a rise in hate crimes being reported by disabled people.

Those who have inherited millions from their parents talk of ending a culture of entitlement, and deride claimants as scroungers and cheats whilst letting their rich mates get away with paying no tax.

The £5bn work programme is reducing people’s chance of finding work, with just 22% getting jobs, compared to 28% of those who aren’t forced onto this scheme. Mandatory Work Activity does no better. The government’s response is to extend these failing schemes, at a huge cost to the taxpayer, benefit claimants and workers whose jobs are threatened by the free labour provided by workfare.

For disabled people, the Work Capability Assessment run by ATOS is failing to properly identify who is able to work, with 32 people dying every week whilst waiting for their appeal, after being assessed as fit to work. The £100m cost of employing ATOS is increased by around £50m when you take into account all the appeals to their decisions – of which 70% succeed when advocates are involved.

The low paid are facing cuts in tax credits which will leave millions of families who are in part time work thousands of pounds out of pocket each year. Cuts to housing benefit combined with the £500/week cap on total benefits will see many people losing their home, forced to the streets or moving hundreds of miles away to find affordable housing, whether there are jobs available or not.

Pensioners – who claim 2/3rds of the total welfare bill – have lost £50 to £100 in winter fuel allowance and a pension that has been reducing in real terms for many years.

The introduction of Universal Credit presents an attack on everyone who relies on the welfare system to keep their heads above water, whether you are unemployed, disabled or in work.

It is clear that this government, in line with previous ones, are attacking claimants and using the financial crisis as an excuse to strip away hard fought for welfare rights and send us back to victorian times and the workhouse for the poor.

This conference will look at how we bring welfare groups together and fight back in our communities against this government’s attack on the vulnerable and low paid, and to move towards a welfare system that works for all of us.

Timetable for the day:

9:30am: Conference opens / registration

10:00 – 10:30am: Update from Public Interest Lawyers about the judicial review & legal challenge to workfare schemes.

10:30am – 11:30: Organising amongst benefit claimants. A discussion session about how claimants can organise themselves, with people from London Campaign Against Poverty (LCAP), Boycott Workfare, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Unite the Union and more sharing experiences and best practice.

11:30 – 12noon Break

12 – 1: Universal Credit, Linda Burnip (DPAC). An introduction to and discussion about the changes in the benefit system to Universal Credit

1pm-2pm: Lunch – we hope to be able to provide a vegan lunch for free and will confirm this as soon as possible.

2:00pm – 3:30pm: Practical workshop to secure Workfare, Work Programmes & Welfare Rights run by Learn about your rights on workfare & welfare programmes and how to exercise them to avoid forced work and other issues.

3:30pm-4pm: Break

4pm – 5:30pm: How do we break the Work Programme? Discussion session led by Boycott Workfare examining the largest workfare scheme, which pays £5bn to private workfare profiteers.

Accessibility Information:

The Unite building is wheelchair accessible. Children are welcome but we are unable to provide a creche service. If you have any accessibility requirements please contact us for information.

The venue is approximately 1 mile from New Street and Moor Street train stations, and 0.9 mile from Snow Hill Train Station.

Five Ways train station is about 0.5 miles away, but is not wheelchair accessible.
Please see for details of bus routes that stop along Broad Street.

If you need accomodation to attend this conference, please email us and we will do our best to arrange for you to stay with people in Birmingham.

Boycott Workfare West Midlands
- e-mail:
- Homepage: