The DWP has finally released the provider guidance for the new Community Workfare Placements, the new forced work scheme which may or may not be finally starting this month. This is the set of rules that the private sector parasites running the placements have to follow and should be downloaded and studied by anyone facing forced work on the scheme.
Alongside the guidance comes a leaflet begging organisations to take part, promising that forcing claimants to work without pay for six months can help charities “fulfil a social responsibility” and provide them with “extra support” for their work within the community. They also hint that charities can expect to be paid by the tax payer for becoming involved in workfare, although they warn this will be the decision of the private companies being paid millions to administer the scheme.
They are quick to point out however that forced workers on the scheme are not to be paid themselves, pointing out to charities that “you are not employing them because mandatory work placements do not replace paid jobs.”
This is their woeful argument to counter accusations that workfare replaces real jobs and is therefore likely to make unemployment worse. The DWP appear to think that if someone isn’t getting paid then that means it’s impossible for them to be replacing the job of a paid worker, because, well just because. They obviously assume everyone in the voluntary sector is as fucking stupid as they are.
The provider guidance is even more explicit on the question of payments, insisting to the companies running the show that: “You must not give (and ensure host organisations do not give) any incentive payments or rewards to the claimant for participation in CWP”.
It sounds like even a free lunch would be enough to break the rules, although claimants should be paid travel expenses for the daily commute to unpaid work which could be up to a 90 minute journey each way.
The documents confirm that even people currently serving a benefit sanction, meaning they have no income at all, can still be sentenced to forced work on the scheme. Even without a sanctions, many people on Jobseeker’s Allowance only have a few pounds left after paying the Bedroom Tax, Council Tax and household bills. There will be lots of people on Community Work Placements who are going hungry throughout the day, and some of them will become ill because of it. This will include people who’s own doctors say they are unable to work, but who have been found fit for work by Atos and forced to sign on as unemployed. This scheme is breath-takingly cruel, even for the DWP under Iain Duncan Smith.
It is horrifying that charities like @GroundworkUK are salivating at prospect of all these free unpaid workers. It is shocking that the DWP is protecting these vermin by attempting to turn the names of workfare placement providers into a state secret. And it is vital that the public is allowed to find out who they are so they can be rightly named and shamed. Charities have a duty to be transparent in their dealings. Before you give them a penny of your money, or a second of your time, ensure that they have pledged not to be part of this disgusting attempt to punish people simply for the crime of being unable to find a job.
Hundreds of charities are now waking up to the reality of workfare in the UK and have signed the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement. Some local councils have also pledged to boycott the scheme with a list being maintained by Unite the Union. To join the fight back against all forms of workfare visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/
For links to the provider guidance for Community Work Placements and information on claimant’s rights: http://refuted.org.uk/2014/05/27/mandatorycommunitywork/
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