Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2353

‘Meet us 100 miles away or we’ll snatch your benefits’

I recently had notification of an appointment for the mandatory work programme posted to my address in Norfolk.

It was sent by Maximus a US based company which is sub-contracted here in the UK to the Careers Development Group. 

They are themselves contracted to the job centre as an employment service provider.

And it’s all funded by the public purse.

The letter advised me of the consequences of not attending the appointment—such as having my benefits suspended.

The venue for this appointment was in London, 100 miles away.

It proved very difficult to actually contact Maximus’ east London office to clarify that they would be paying my travelling expenses and providing overnight accommodation. Emails bounced back and no one answered repeated phone calls.

Eventually I managed to speak to their UK head office and to someone who had a reasonable idea of British geography.

Maximus chose to cancel the appointment.

Keith PrinceNorfolk

Benefit cap will hurt London's poor

Larger families will find it hard to live in inner London under plans for universal credit and the benefit cap of £500 a week.

The £500 cap is currently being piloted in four boroughs.

Homes big enough for families in the private rented sector are very often way out of this price range.

Benefits will be paid as a single payment into claimants’ bank accounts. If it isn’t enough to cover the costs then some families will have to choose between eating and paying the rent. 

This will be worse in areas where there is less social housing. 

Families will end up in overcrowded unsuitable accommodation run by slum landlords charging astronomical rents.

Housing activistSouth London

Save our skating

Skateboarders and their supporters descended on London’s South Bank over the bank holiday weekend—as part of a campaign to save it.

Skaters have used the South Bank undercroft for over 40 years. It is globally recognised as an iconic site.

But new development proposals are to be funded by demolishing the South Bank and renting out the undercroft to private companies.

Nearly 30,000 people have signed on an online petition. Hundreds of people came to hear live music and take part in lessons and competitions.

Sign the petition and get involved at

Samir Karnik HinksSouth east London

Clothes are not cheap

As the death toll rises in the Bangladesh factory that collapsed there have been calls to boycott Primark.

I am a single parent on benefits. I would love to boycott stores such as Primark. But like so many others in my situation, every day is a financial struggle to clothe and feed myself and my children.

Capitalism has denied me the right to shop and live ethically. And expensive brands like Mango and Benetton use sweatshops too.

The object of using sweatshops is to make as much profit as possible.

Katrina LawrieWigan

Panicked government is lashing out in Dhaka

The terrible slaughter of Islamists in Dhaka is evidence of panic by the Awami League government of Bangladesh.

The Sharia law parties will not be stopped by state violence. Secularism can only be defended by destroying the roots of the despair that throw up a desire for “a heart in a heartless world”.

A movement has to be built capable of giving hope to the millions of wretched who live without work, food, sanitation or shelter on the streets. These are the same people that the Islamists will try to recruit.

I still hope that Shahbag junction can be turned into Tahrir Square.

John LockwoodLeamington Spa

The cause of deaths in Bangladesh’s factories is the thought of profits for capitalists not workers.

Safe working regulations are not important to capitalists.

Huseyin Kutlayon Facebook

Ukip racists take advantage of misery

Nigel Farage’s recent trip to Bulgaria with a Channel 4 film crew was nothing less than an anti-Gypsy propaganda exercise.

It’s clear that his problem is with the Roma community. I for one welcome the Roma people into the wider European Union.

Farage will use any opportunity to play the race card to gain votes for Ukip. The racism and xenophobia that Ukip stands for is clear. 

The only highlight of Farage’s trip was an assertive young Bulgarian woman who told him, “If I wanted to come to Britain, not you or anyone else would stop me.”

I’d be delighted to pay her air fare.

Jonathan TaylorBulgaria

Why has Ukip done so well in the local elections? People know that something is wrong. Living standards have gone down for 30 years.

Many people work long hours for low pay, while others get rich beyond imagination. People believe that when Farage blames the EU he might just offer an answer.

Little do they know that if Ukip ran Britain, it would look more like the sweatshops of Asia than any pre-EU golden age.

Alan FrancisEast London

People of the world, unite!

I am a teacher in Kazakhstan. Although we live in quite different countries we have almost the same problems.

It seems high time to be united under ideas that could bring relief in our lives.

SwetlanaAlmaty, Kazakhstan

Dorset dumps the Nazi BNP

The biggest electoral humiliation for the British National Party must have been in Dorset. It stood candidates in Wareham and Lytchet Matravers.

They each scored zero votes. The clowns didn’t even vote for themselves!

Tim NichollsWeymouth, Dorset

Brighton staff show the way

Good luck to the Brighton workers in their campaign against the council’s pay cut.

Keep up your occupation and don’t let them get away with it. More workers should take action like this.

Michael McCarthyon Facebook

The Greens are pushing this through?

They’re turning out to be exactly as useless in Britain as in Europe.

Freek Blauwhofon Facebook

Queen speaks for the Tories

”We are working for the hard working people of Britain”.

I’m sick of hearing that. Even the queen said it today. No one’s safe under this government.

Billy Laurieon Facebook

Don’t pick on Owen Jones

Socialist Worker is right to say that anti-immigration arguments within the Labour Party are wrong and should be challenged (Socialist Worker, 11 May). But we shouldn’t dismiss a referendum on EU membership. 

And we shouldn’t imply that by calling for one Owen Jones is pandering to racists.

Mona Dohle and Ruairidh MacLeanLondon

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Article information

Tue 14 May 2013, 18:13 BST
Issue No. 2353
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