Greenwich Council’s Workfare Blag To Exploit Benefit Cap Loophole

benefit cap rollout.captureGreenwich Council is attempting to dodge the costs of the Benefit Cap by launching a ‘workfare lite’ scheme for struggling parents affected by its introduction.

The benefit cap means that no-one out of work can now receive more than £500 a week in social security benefits.  This has left tens of thousands of parents in London facing imminent homelessness as Housing Benefits, the payment which makes up the bulk of most benefit claims and lines the pockets of landlords, is included in the cap.

The Labour run Council have announced they will exploit a loophole in the bungled new measures which means that anyone working over a certain number of hours a week will not be subject to the cap.  Those affected by the cap are to be offered full time, or in many cases part time temporary jobs.

Parents who refuse to take up this job offer, which will include single mothers with babies and toddlers, will almost certainly lose their homes.  The jobs will be paid at at living wage say the council, which is at least a mild improvement on the workfare style scheme Labour have threatened should they be returned to power.

But just like Labour’s workfare, which will force anyone on benefits over a year into a minimum wage job, this employment will end after six months.  In other words Greenwich Council are simply delaying the inevitable.  And just like other workfare schemes, those working under threat of homelessness will be used to replace other roles at the council and undermine working conditions for everyone.

The Council have said this option is cheaper than having to accept those affected by the cap as homeless and therefore being legally responsible to house them.  And they are correct.  For every dismal penny the cap might save the government it will cost local authorities a fortune putting up homeless families in shoddy temporary accommodation for months, if not years on end.

Several local authorities have without doubt been shafted by the cap, which predominantly affects London Labour boroughs with large working class populations.  Greenwich will no doubt claim this is the best they can do.  But it is a sticking plaster for a truly desperate situation for many families, and a disaster for those with very young children.

Predictably to anyone following welfare reform, Greenwich Council’s move will end up costing the government more than if they had done what was intended of them and exported the families outside of the capital.  Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled legislation means that someone working enough hours to be eligible for tax credits can now be eligible for more in benefit payments then someone out of work due to sickness, disability or unemployment.

A single parent with two children working part time on London’s alleged  living wage could receive around £515 in benefits (or £550 on minimum wage) including Child Benefit, Tax Credits, and Housing Benefits – but crucially that parent must be earning 16 hours a week or the benefit is capped at £500.  If those hours drop to 14 for any reason, as is not uncommon in part time low paid work, parents on the minimum wage will lose not just two hours wages, but £50 a week in benefits.

Astonishingly, it would therefore be in a parent’s financial interests to pay an employer to allow them to work another couple of hours a week!

Of course the other side of this is that parents don’t have to actually do those hours, but just make sure they get them on the books.  And here lies the answer to Greenwich Council’s problem if only they look.

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34 responses to “Greenwich Council’s Workfare Blag To Exploit Benefit Cap Loophole

  1. So ten people could line up and each employ the next one down the line for 16 hours a week and be eligible for benefits! Sounds like a good scheme to me and it would reduce those pesky unemployment figures too.

  2. I think the whole thing is ridiculous. Reduce rents not cap benefits, this will then reduce the welfare bill and allow benefit recipients to stay put.
    “Councils can do what they were supposed to do export families out of the capital” ??? Is that what is supposed to happen is it, says who the gerry manderers. Where will all of these six monthly jobs be coming from, newly formed businesses, maternity leave placements?

  3. ps One leaving work to have a baby, another leaving her baby to go to work. madness.

  4. This scheme is nuts, what happens at the end of these 6-month placements if those on them can’t get another job? Do they still end up being evicted even if they have kids?
    Another daft idea made up on the back of a postage stamp, what makes it worse is that it’s from a Labour council. Wouldn’t be simpler just to lower rents, or is that to hard a concept for councils & goverment to understand?

  5. Pingback: Greenwich Council's Workfare Blag To Exploit Be...

  6. They will do anything rather than whats really needed and the obvious (a rent cap).

  7. Landless Peasant

    And Labour can fuck right off too, traitorous bastards. Miliband ought to realize that many of us will not vote for a Labour party that supports Workfare schemes and Benefit sanctions.

  8. Jv is just juxtapositioning one set of ridiculous rules and regulations made by dwp i.e. 6 monthly work placements or the new wp labour want to introduce for even dafter ideas such as this. Reduce rents is the way to go definitely.

  9. Miliband is letting the country down or at least the working class side, but then Labour have not been on the working mans side for 15 years now! Who brought in McKinleys to cost the NHS? Who brought in ATOS? Who let PFI’s grow out of all proportion? Who signed us up to Agenda 21?
    ‘ The only party that speaks against this is UKIP!

  10. I think you will find George Galloway of the Respect party has spoken about these subjects.

  11. this the best labour can do…create another post code lottery…the condems will close down this loop hole simply by saying they have…. come on ed…or who ever the labour leader is today…your going to have to do better than this!

    • does it get any more insane…the only thing ukip is good for is scaring the tories…but i have just occurred…their whole policy platform, ukip/tories is based on the alleged utterance of a statement made by st paul circa ad 67…

  12. oddly enough i am reading about historic child abuse that took place in care homes in greenwich. also is the status of homeless ppl being changed in the localism act..’reframing homelessness’ ..whereby priority is given to ‘those who contribute to economy and armed forces’ and homeless ignored..? tory councillor for H&F wrote to shapps complaining that councils were not complying with the act and not prioritising those who contribute to economy.

  13. Its all down to these Ridiculous so called affordable rents which councils are charging for which are far from in keeping with peoples earnings & are the main cause for such a high housing benefit bill £23Bn so if rents where to be capped within line with both earnings & benefits? The other problem is councils have forgotten that it is our taxes that keep them in jobs and therefore we are their employers? So if everybody were to with hold from voting in the local elections on 2nd /05/2013 this should send a clear message to both councils & main Government that peoples power will sack them before 2015?.

    • benefit scroungers bashing is all about bashing the workshy, or is it?

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jan/05/benefits-cap-shirkers-scroungers

      or is it one giant fuck up? its going to hit working ppl like nurses and soldiers and teachers..

      so localism bill re housing priorities includes ‘ppl in armed forces’ yet benefits cuts affect ppl in armed forces..has this coalition really thought this crap out..

    • “Any kind of textured conversation has yet to start. No one, on the left or right, has much to say about how distant the benefits system is from our ongoing skills crisis, and the idea that people who cannot find work may well be in need of training and education, rather than incessant nudges towards the bottom of the labour market. The undeveloped idea of a more contributory system is probably the only way out of the mess, and a useful means of highlighting the grimness of what is happening. I have met many victims of the government’s cruelties who have dutifully paid national insurance for most of their adult lives, only to be kicked around beyond endurance – and these voices need to get much louder.”

      copied from:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/31/we-have-to-talk-why-some-want-benefit-cuts

    • from the IFS…

      http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/6012

      “So what will this policy achieve, apart from reducing state benefit payments to about 67,000 households with lots of children and/or high housing costs? The Government has said that it hopes there will be two forms of behavioural response: families may move to cheaper accommodation to reduce their housing costs, and/or take up paid work because their out-of-work benefit entitlement will have been reduced. A third possible form of behavioural response is in fertility rates, since the cap will effectively reduce state financial support for some large families (see here for previous IFS research on fertility and financial incentives). If this were the main intended impact, though, one would expect to see the policy affecting only new claimants of child-contingent benefits. A fourth possible behavioural impact is for fewer people to cohabit, since the benefits cap is to apply at the household level, and hence living apart could split benefits across households and mean that neither is subject to a cap. This ‘couple penalty’ is presumably something the Government would not be keen on, as it has said that it wishes to reduce couple penalties in the tax and benefit system.”

      The Government’s Impact Assessment estimates that 69% of households that will be affected have at least three children, and 54% live in Greater London (where rents are high).”

      “The approach of tweaking particular benefit rates, rather than imposing a post hoc cap on total benefit receipt, would also force the Government to think carefully about (and be explicit about) the features of the current benefits system that it considers inappropriate. Apart from improving the quality of its solution to the perceived problem, this may also improve the quality of wider debate about the issue. After all, it would make it crystal clear what precisely the debate is about.”

    • ‘m sure you mentioned this but you can be sanctioned just for appealing a decision by dwp/jcp..?

      http://www.dorseteye.com/north/articles/benefits-and-work

  14. http://www.twinemployment.com/news/twin-outperform-national-average-on-work-programme

    ” Twin Employment & Training are one of the top-performing organisations delivering the Government’s Work Programme, according to the first Work Programme performance statistics released by the Department of Work and Pensions.

    The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has published a set of data showing how prime and sub-contractors on the Work Programme performed in the first 12 months of WP operation, from June 2011 – July 2012.

    The success of organisations delivering the Work Programme to long-term jobseekers is judged on the percentage of clients referred to them that stayed in continuous employment for a minimum of six months.

    According to the figures released by the DWP, the national average percentage of jobseekers referred to the Work Programme who sustained continuous employment for six months was 3.5.

    Twin significantly outperformed this figure for the areas it operated sub-contractor services in; achieving a success percentage of 4.04, 4.47 and 5.60 in Work Programme schemes led by A4E, Reed and CDG respectively.

    Beth O’Shea, Managing Director of Twin Employment & Training, welcomed the figures, saying: “I am absolutely delighted that Twin have achieved these success rates for our Work Programme delivery contracts.

    “All of our Work Programme services significantly outperformed the national average of 3.5%.

    “This success rate is down to our innovative end-to-end delivery model making use of specialist supply chain organisations. Our background in English language tuition also helped our placement success rate by allowing us to help customers who needed to improve their grasp of English in order to secure employment.”

    Ms O’Shea added: “The fact that we saw success rates above the national average in different contract areas also shows that our flexible model can be transferred to any part of the country.”

    THAT WOULD BE THE FAILED WORK PROGRAM WOULD IT?, THEN ONE WHERE IT WAS STATED IT WOULD BE THE SAME AS IF IT HAD DONE NOTHING…

    “Twin significantly outperformed this figure for the areas it operated sub-contractor services in; achieving a success percentage of 4.04, 4.47 and 5.60 in Work Programme schemes led by A4E, Reed and CDG respectively.” Ah, A4E those reputable (not) companies..

  15. http://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/info/200008/benefits/1376/emergency_support_scheme

    GREENWICH EMERGENCY SUPPORT SCHEME..

    If you cannot apply for a Community Support Payment because you do not get a qualifying benefit, you may still be able to apply for an Emergency Payment if:
    You are without sufficient resources to meet essential short-terms needs in an emergency or after a disaster (such as a fire or flood)
    and the help requested is the only means by which serious risk to the health and safety of the applicant or a member of their family may be prevented.
    Emergency Support Payments
    Emergency living expenses will generally be provided as cash issued through a payment service using local Post Offices.
    Help with emergency living expenses will be assessed at a rate equivalent to:
    60 per cent of the appropriate basic benefit rates for householders and people without accommodation
    or 30 per cent for non-householders
    There may also be additional allowances if there are children in the household.
    It will be worked out on a pro-rata basis for the number of days covered by the Emergency Payment. There will be a maximum of 7 days provision, except in exceptional circumstances.
    In some cases there may be Emergency Payments to assist with rent in advance.

    FIRE AND FLOOD ? will we be expecting flood living in greenwich, struggling to feed ourselves is hard enough..7 DAYS PROVISION..gee thanks for that…..

  16. I don’t care what statistics are thrown up and how many surveys they do with the public, I do not believe the majority of the people in this country want to live under a dictatorial and greedy healthy service (privatisation),
    a cruel sanctioning benefit system or an unaccountable press or state apparatus which we have now.

    The mentality or quality of the people gravitating towards the above professions on the whole ,I believe, are decent human beings, whose only failings are that they take and follow orders from corrupt overseers.

    Banks, Business and charities are beneath contempt for the way they have robbed and exploited the people of this country, especially the sick and unemployed who are paying most in the austerity game via welfare reform.

    • Robin Hood! Where are you now?

      • The answer is simple, give the majority of unemployed people a decent living wage! That’s the real cure, not all this politics nonsense!

        • Tinkering with welfare does nothing but make the situation worse, if as the government keeps ramming down our throats that it is a lifestyle choice to be on benefits for unemployed people then wouldn’t that suggest that all of these lazy bastards will do is rob more houses, deal more drugs and blight the whole economic system with less and less chance of ever getting a job because of criminal records?

        • @phoenix decent living wage? what are you? a communist?

  17. Phoenix

    No they will spend more on the state to police us and build more jails rather than see us being able to survive on benefits, until there is work for us to go to which looks bleak for us competing in a global economy, unless we have inward investment.

    Jealousy is a terrible thing and politicians of all persuasions are either instilling jealousy into those in work against those that are out of work, as if the unemployed would choose to live on benefit levels as implied,but when the workforce has reduced numbers and they are made to work even harder for their wages which barely keep in line with inflation the bosses use the situation that they have created to kick the unemployed, all with the help of their Tory party, now new labour.

    You can understand how these workers have been manipulated to think this of those on benefit as opposed to those at the top of the tree, sitting in offices cutting the workforce, instilling fear into workers that they may be the next on benefits, cutting wages etc while they who already have handsome salaries are awarding themselves ever increasing pay rises for more and more failure or bigger profit margins for themselves laugh all the way to their tax havens

    Just who are the real wealth creators – the workforce that’s who. I wish the working class would wake up to who is the real enemy within. It is the 5% rich of the world who have access to more and more luxury goods and world resources than the rest of us put together. By wanting a fair incomes policy across the board, we are accused of exercising the ‘politics of envy’, against the ruling classes. Twisters the lot of them.

    If political parties refuse to pander to these greedy bullying businessmen, then they refuse to invest and bring parties down, leaving us with the only option i.e. to use tax payers money to build businesses that should not be run or owned by corporates or the state, but by the people that are working in these industries, profits shared and money paid into a welfare system for those out of work or sick and disabled.

  18. Red, blue, or yellow, tory sugar-coatings to the bitter pill of capitalism. All the parties act in the interests of business and business alone, in other words, their own class…

  19. incubusblog

    What about those that work for the state, they have a class all of their own too, just as powerful and corrupt and growing by the minute.

    • You mean ,the civil service? Yes, they are the true ‘permanent government’- old school tie, Oxbridge elitism and lodge membership applies there too, the Home Office, MOD and the FCO…

  20. I am also talking about those that have jobs for life based on nepotism also especially in civic centres where husbands/wives are councillors or local businessmen/women.

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