Shocking Admission as DWP Claim They Don’t Know How Many on Workfare

Tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of people could be working as unpaid labour in supermarkets and charity shops  and the DWP claim they wouldn’t know anything about it.

In reply to a recent Freedom of Information request the DWP state they have no idea what participants on the Government’s Work Programme scheme are being mandated to do.  The response also proves beyond doubt that Chris Grayling was a lying bastard when he said: “We won’t and don’t force anyone to take a work experience placement. Where we use mandation in our welfare policies, it will be to do useful work on community projects. We will never mandate anyone to work for a big company. They wouldn’t take them if we did.”

The request asked how many people had been “mandated to Workfare under the department’s Work Programme scheme,” and how many of these people had been forced to work for private companies.  This was not a particularly difficult question as had Grayling’s claims been true then the answer would have been none.

The DWP’s response is that they do not have this information claiming: “Jobcentre Plus is not routinely informed of participant’s activities, which may include work experience placements, by the Work Programme provider.”

This is a truly staggering admission.  Almost 400,000 unemployed people have been placed onto the two year long Work Programme scheme and many have reported being forced to work for companies such as Pizza Hut and Holiday Inn for no pay.  Some placements have been for as long as six months. although it seems that even this may not be the maximum period under which people can be mandated to workfare.  The DWP were also asked what is the maximum workfare placement length, they don’t appear to know the answer to that either.

With at least one of the private sector providers administering workfare currently mired in fraud allegations, plus claims they were using workfare staff in their own company, the potential for abuse and exploitation is unprecedented.

These are not short term work experience placements aimed at young people, which the participant can duck out of in the first week.  These are long term positions, which are absolutely mandatory or the claimant will face being stripped of benefits.  Most people referred to Work Programme have  many years of experience in the workplace, this doesn’t mean they won’t be forced to spend six months working nights at ASDA for no pay.

Every indication so far suggests that the Work Programme is failing dismally to get people off benefits and into work.  The documents recently revealed by A4e seem to show that less than 10% of participants on their programme had found work.  A4e claim that these are not true indications of their performance presumably because they haven’t had chance to cook the books yet.  The Government meanwhile are refusing to reveal the performance figures of the flagship £5 billion pound scheme.

It is hardly suprisingly that unemployment is soaring when major high street names know they can get full time staff for six months at a time and not pay them a penny.

As ever the DWP are being less than economical with the truth.  Up until recently the Work Programme Provide guidance explicitly stated that all claimants participated to workfare must be mandated.  This paragraph disappeared from the online document after it was pointed out that this proved Chris Grayling was lying.  The guidance however is still very clear that all mandated activity must be recorded.  This information is available to the DWP and any Compliance Breaches, where a claimant loses benefit due to not attending mandated activity, are administered by the Department.

If the DWP don’t know how many people are being mandated they certainly know where they are ending up, as this now ‘disappeared’ Freedom of Information response proves by revealing the household names exploiting workfare staff.

Its increasingly clear that the DWP have no qualms about lying, altering documents and hiding information to stop the public knowing the truth about workfare.  This appears to be policy from the top down, with both Chris Grayling and the Department’s Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith both lying to fellow MPs and the public alike about welfare policy.

Workfare staff have no workplace rights as well as no salary.  They can be dismissed for any reason and could then be stripped of benefits as a consequence.  With the DWP claiming to have no idea what people are being forced to do, this also raises questions about whether claimants are being adequately insured, whether Health % Safety procedures are being followed, or whether they may be facing abuse and harassment in the workplace.

As well as the gross exploitation of Work Programme placements, an army of unpaid labour affects everybody in the workplace.  Workfare staff can be used to undermine working conditions, cut over-time and cross picket lines.  If organisations know they can get workers for free then minimum wage jobs are likely to disappear and be replaced with workfare staff.  This will impact on wages across the board.

On almost every conceivable marker Work Programme is a disaster.  As well as being hugely expensive, it is brutally exploitative, badly thought out, mired in fraud, unaccountable and quite possible likely to lead to more, not less, people dependent on benefits.

Still Chris Grayling and the Government plough on regardless whilst the gormless gimp Miliband yaps at their heels in the hope of showing that he could fuck up the benefit system and undercut wages just as much as they can.  It is a pitiful situation that reveals this current batch of Oxbridge clowns couldn’t run a bus stop, let alone a country.

Forced labour on an industrial scale must not be swept under the carpet.  Groups such as Boycott Workfare are organising resistance around the country.  The recent day of action which saw protests in almost 40 locations around the UK was just the beginning.  We can, and we will, stop workfare.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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36 responses to “Shocking Admission as DWP Claim They Don’t Know How Many on Workfare

  1. Good post,

    its utterly disgraceful how normal human citizens are being treated in this so called fair democratic country.

    Every day exposes more and more fraud, lies and theft by this government so is there any wonder companies and other people are getting away with it as they follow the governments vile dishonest practice and behaviour.

    If anything people abusing their positions in this manner whether public or private sector need to stop and think they could be next then see how you like being treated as scum and being talked to like shit!

  2. Redditch held a mandatory jobfair on Monday for 18-21 year olds.Where providers were trying to get young people on unpaid work placements during this Trailblazer period.Extra money is availiable during these times for providers to get an extra 3,000 placements in a Trailblazer area.
    So i sent a young person to have a look and see what was on offer.Because he wasn’t claiming any benefits he was told “we have nothing for you at this jobs fair. What i thought would happen. all they were doing was getting young people on work pacements so they get the extra funding.
    the whole jobs fair thing is a sham for the providers to make huge sums of cash at the expense of the unemployed.

    • Simon.

      that’s truly an eye opener and proves what you say about sham providers making the money off the backs of the unemployed.

      whoever would have thought that a young person could ever be disqualified for not claiming benefits!!!!

  3. The DWP don’t know because once someone is sent to Work Program they don’t want to have anything more to do with them, the providers are allowed a ‘black box’ approach and can mandate the individuals to work placement as they see fit and don’t have to report anything that the individual does back to DWP or JCP at all!! It’s a disgrace. You are slightly wrong with regard to someone doing 6 months on nights at Asda though as on Work Program I know the latest provider guidance states that work experience can only be a maximum of 8 weeks and no more than 30 hours per week

    • Hi Simon,

      I have read a lot of what is contained in the links you sent me before including the funnies on youtube.

      Can they actually round people up and put them on buses in that manner sanctioning their benefits if they do not attend? I had never heard of that one before. It reminds me of forced bus rides from past history where they never came back……….

      Have you ever wondered why a jobs fair is taking place? At certain times of the year Job Centre Plus will have what they call a trailblazer, this is where they pay extra money to providers of meaningless training Courses to get the numbers up taking part.

      No these I had not heard of trailblazers because I am not in a young age group and the more I read I still cannot understand how this government is not breaking the EHR on a massive scale.

      They really are treating the young like slaves and killing us older ill people off by a variety of inhumane methods.

      I really hope this government gets kicked out ASAP

      Fred,

      you said:

      The DWP don’t know because once someone is sent to Work Program they don’t want to have anything more to do with them, the providers are allowed a ‘black box’ approach and can mandate the individuals to work placement as they see fit and don’t have to report anything that the individual does back to DWP or JCP at all.

      It is a disgrace because how else are they going to be able to judge what is working, how much taxpayer money is being spent ETC, no regulation and follow up of a scheme to me proves that it was not designed for the alleged purpose.

    • Do you have a link to that Fred, because if so it means it’s changed and there are certainly recent reports of people being mandated for several months at a time

  4. Pingback: Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » Shocking Admission as DWP Claim They Don’t Know How Many on Workfare

  5. Arbeitsscheu_UK

    The people making requests over on the http://www.whatdotheyknow.com website are do an outstanding job of keeping the DWP busy with Freedom of Information Act requests and of course it is a never ending process as when a response is received to a complex request concerning one detail of DWP policy it inevitability leads to further requests, which in turn potentially lead to a raft of other requests. God know hoe much it is all costing but the DWP are eager to have the government change the situation of requests being free, so get requesting before you have to pay, its a great hobby.

    With the Work Programme and forced #workfare labour being so new there remain a lot of so far unanswered, and untested, questions about the technical details. For instance what is the situation when someone sustains serious injury during a forced #workfare placement? Especially if that person had a disability which made them vulnerable in the workplace. This has yet to be tested in court and the DWP appear to be keen to distance themselves from any responsibility, or indeed potential compensation, but of course people are being forced to work for their benefits and this is being implemented on behalf of the DWP.

    Here is an interesting annotation left on a particularly long and drawn out request.

    “Interestingly they are trying to blur the responsibility for the legalities involved in working, and whom is the actual employer.

    From my understanding and research of the situation the DWP are legally the employers as they are effectively and legally “the agents” They supply the labour through a provider who is effectively and legally paid by the DWP, so are acting on behalf of the DWP.

    A quick chat with a friend who is a Barrister highlighted these issues and the legal profession are waiting to jump on such cases. Remember no win, no fee; the floodgates will open with claims against the DWP when someone is injured and claims compensation”.

    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/working_as_a_condition_for_recei#comment-26124

    • Hi ARBEITSSCHEU_UK

      It sounds terrible but I too have been waiting to see what happens when GP/Medical team advice is ignored and the DWP force someone out to work who could be a danger to themselves and others.

      I was given to understand the the final decision rests with the DWP because if they are unsure they can re check ATOS information, call GP’s and medical teams to prove why they are making that final decision.

      I wondered how can forced workers be covered under the health and safety Act in the workplace anyway when they are clearly not safe?

      I am pleased your barrister friend states the following

      A quick chat with a friend who is a Barrister highlighted these issues and the legal profession are waiting to jump on such cases. Remember no win, no fee; the floodgates will open with claims against the DWP when someone is injured and claims compensation.

      the only related case I know off at the moment is the workfare one and even now they are closing down legal aid so how is anyone going to be able to start that claim. Someone on another blogsite said she had rang loads of solicitors asking them to do a no win no fee regards a DWP/ATOS case and they all refused to even look at it.???

      It might be a good idea for willing solicitors to start advertising their readiness lol

  6. Johhny,

    I am not sure if I heard this right. (But I did)

    Chris Grayling on BBC Radio Today programme going on about prisoners going immediately onto the Work Programme on release, was asked if Jobseekers who have to wait a year might find this unfair.

    His reply was that only 10% of those who go on Jobseekers Allowance have NOT found a job “through Jobcentreplus or their own efforts” within a year.

    If that is the case why is he spending billions on Workfare Companies and sacking Jobcentre staff, if 90% find jobs through them for themselves?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9702000/9702876.stm

    (About 1;56 minutes in.)

    So is Workfare now only about forcing the sick,disabled (who will now be treated the same as criminals ) and ex-prisoners to work for free, indefinately??

    By the way he also lied unashamedly about the kind of training available through the Work schemes.

    • Hi Jan

      Thanks for that link interesting but very annoying to listen to all the BS and lies.

      you said:

      His reply was that only 10% of those who go on Jobseekers Allowance have NOT found a job “through Jobcentreplus or their own efforts” within a year.

      If that is the case why is he spending billions on Workfare Companies and sacking Jobcentre staff, if 90% find jobs through them for themselves?

      exactly and to be honest I am finding that quite a few TV presenters and radio hosts are actually asking the hard question and demanding better answers often disagreeing with them when they tell blatant lies so If you can no longer convince your Muppet run media then hopefully they are running out of time.

      So is Workfare now only about forcing the sick,disabled (who will now be treated the same as criminals ) and ex-prisoners to work for free, indefinately??

      I am in the support group but am terrified of being made to go into WRAG at some point in the future, there is no way I could do it and my GP and medical team agree but I still feel fear over it every day of my life.

  7. Arbeitsscheu_UK

    Things are going to get a whole lot worse when a good proportion of those charming members of society, who have been more than happy to join the propaganda press putting the boot-in on the disabled and unemployed scroungers, are also likely to find themselves in the firing line when the CONDEMNation coalition next cast their fascist net of shame.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/10/welfare-plan

    • Arbeitsscheu_UK.

      thanks for that link and wile I am sorry for the hard-working living on the breadline families in Britain being hit I hope now it might make them sit up and take notice of all the unfair Tory welfare cuts and measures including the young, the out of work, the sick and disabled etc.

      By hitting people that work and gain nothing out of it or even lose because of it just might be the stick that broke the Camel’s (Cameron’s) back and we might get something done, like ‘the British (Arab) Spring………

  8. We be livin’ in a fascist gangster economy,overseen by a ‘Social Darwinist’ govt., in a wholly corrupt Parliament.
    Welcome to U.K. p.l.c.

  9. One more thing apropos of this embryonic Nazi nation.
    The ‘London Olympics 2012′
    Remember a prime Nazi slogan?
    “Strength Through Joy”

    This is where we are today.
    Remember

  10. Course they don’t know. Previous workfare programmes required signed time sheets to qualify the provider/negociater (as in A4e etc) for payment. No such paperwork is given to employers who supply placements. The jobseekers turn up once and they’re on the books of the placement provider/negociator again A4E / sub contractor whatever. The whole paperchase is wide open to fraud.
    What is again interesting is that only highly organised employers with sophisticated staff admin structures can really exploit the workfare slaves. Only sophisticated workplace monitoring systems can fully maximise the level of exploitation. Bob the builder with a couple of extra workfare hands available is hardly going to kick up fuck, make a phone call etc if one of them is late or doesn’t turn up for a few days.
    Different if you scheduled them for stacking shelves or replacing absent unskilled workers.

  11. Its not just the young, trailblazers are held for the older ones. the DWP give a figure of extra numbers they want on these schemes and pay extra on top for providers to sign them up.then it gets worse
    DWP and Councils use Voice risk analysis (VRA) to detect if your claim for benefit is fraudulent http://simonpreston31.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/voice-risk-analysis-software-used-by-the-dwp-and-councils-for-benefit-claims/

    • Hi Simon,

      they tried this in the insurance industry for bogus claims and it failed miserably, but I can just imagine a chair in every room in a government building where the claimant is forced to sit on one and then be told he is lying for benefit denial.

      Arbeitsscheu_UK

      just found this re legal aid

      The House of Lords delivered an eighth defeat to the government’s legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill (LASPO), with Tories Lord Newton, Lord Cormack and Baroness Eaton leading the rebellion.

      http://www.leftfootforward.org/

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  14. Once a Private Provider takes someone – referred from the Jobcentre, the Provider can mandate you to an unpaid placement for up to 8 weeks for only 22 hours a week, the other 8 hours have to be devoted to jobsearch to satisfy your entitlement to J.S.A.

    • Obi Wan Kenobi

      I thought people had been made to work much longer than that. also worked nights, weekends, and even over Xmas and new years day for nothing its disgusting.

      Do you know if they are allowed to make people work nights, weekends, holiday days for no pay because I would have thought that would never have been allowed?

  15. Obi Wan Kenobi

    The Providers lie to you to satisfy the company you’ll be working at.

    I suggest you go to your local Jobcentre and ask them about this, they will tell you that legally it’s 22hours placement and 8 hours jobsearch making up the 30 hours.

  16. Obi Wan Kenobi

    It’s an easy trap to fall in to, when we were at BEST in 2009 they were telling people to do 40 hours a week on placement and some were, because they didn’t go to the Jokecentre to actually find out, they relied on the provider being truthful (ok, have you stopped laughing now).

    When the person had finished their 13 weeks at BEST under new deal, they went back to sign on, and quite rightly the jobcentre asked them to provide proof of their jobsearch, the person said I’ve been doing 40 hours placement per week and had no time in centre to do jobsearch, the jobcentre said you only do 22 hours placement and 8 hours jobsearch.

    Sorry your benefits are sanctioned, you should have asked us or used your common sense.

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