This weeks’ news you don’t see in the tabloids, courtesy of SchNEWS

Apparently David Blunkett was decidedly mellow when it came to Incapacity Benefits cuts, at least he was compared to new Work & Pensions secretary John Hutton (weekly salary: £2,600). This week Hutton outlined his plans to introduce a range of penalties for claimants (weekly income: £58 a week) who show unwillingness to take part in ‘work focussed’ activities. It’s a “something for something” approach he told a Work Foundation conference, “help
will be matched by increased responsibility on the part of claimants.” It’s a pity John doesn’t believe the rich as well as the poor should have share that responsibility. If he did he
wouldn’t have to be so worried about nicking money from poor people; he’d just make sure that UK plc paid its taxes.
The cost of the Incapacity Benefit is £12bn a year. That’s quite a bit less than the £20bn of tax which should have been paid by the UK’s top 50 companies. ‘Mind the Tax Gap’, a study backed by the Tax Justice Network, found that companies were doing their very best to avoid nuisances like Corporation Tax and VAT, preferring to line shareholders pockets instead. A range of legal blags are
available to companies with good lawyers to avoid paying tax, all of which are far too boring to print here.
Nevertheless, the missing tax would be enough to bung every household in the UK £1,000. John Hutton, meanwhile, is far too stingy to actually pay proper money to run his harebrained scheme.
Instead the voluntary and charity sector will pick up the work because, in work minister Margaret Hodge’s words, “Going to talk to a voluntary organisation is not the same as walking into a
Jobcentre Plus office!” Of course not its cheaper and Neo Labour and its corporate sponsors must make sure that the money keeps flowing it the right direction – i.e. into their coffers
At 4:30am on Monday 16th January, eviction of protest sites in Dalkeith Country Park began. Police bailiffs have raided one of the sites, establishing a security cordon around the area but
protesters are determined to resist the eviction. The first site was set up in October last year following the announcement that trees would be felled in the area to make way for the A68 bypass – and there were four camps, two have been evicted. The eviction is anticipated to last about two weeks and cost £1.4m. (For more about Dalkeith Park, and other current road protests see SchNEWS 522).
As SchNEWS goes to print, a 40-strong specialized eviction team have cleared out about half of the tree defences in a slow but so far peaceful process. Roads have been blocked to prevent
supporters reaching the beleagured site, but as anyone who’s been to Glastonbury should know, nothings impregnable.
People are urged to come down and help out. Phone 077532 80009 or go to