Category Archives: DWP

Luxury Hotel Booked For Annual One Day Workfare Conference, Tickets Just £450!

radisson-bluThe Employment Related Services Assosication (ERSA) have booked a luxury four star hotel as the venue for this year’s tax payer funded workfare conference.

ERSA are the trade body established to lie on behalf of graping welfare-to-work firms like A4e, G4S and Seetec.   These companies are paid billions of pounds to run the shoddy ‘back to work’ type training courses and workfare schemes now inflicted on unemployed and disabled benefit claimants.

Much of that money goes on glitzy back-slapping affairs like this year’s conference on December 1st which is due to be held at the luxury Radisson Blu Portman Hotel in Central London.  Here delegates will meet with politicians such as Esther McVe and discuss how to shovel even more money down the drain in the name of bullying people unable to find work.

Claimants themselves are not invited to the one day conference, with some tickets for the day long event costing as much as £450 – the equivalent of about seven and a half weeks unemployment benefit.  The official theme for this conference will be ‘All Change? Preparing for the General Election 2015′.  What they really man is let’s talk about how we can scam the next Government as much as we have this one.

Joining McVey as a speaker will be Mayor of Newham Robin Wales, preusmably  taking a break from his ceaseless work harassing, insulting and evicting homeless single parents like the Focus E15 mums.  Rarely will so many twats have been gathered in one place.

As such is seems only fair to warn the hotel’s customers who they will be forced to share a building with on that date.  You can tweet the Radison Blue Hotel chain @RadissonBlu or use their facebook page to tell prospective customers what to expect on December 1st.

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Grass Up Your Neighbours Say The DWP With Another Boring Benefit Fraud Campaign

dwp-benefit-fraudWith the amount of money lost to fraud and error in the benefit system reaching record highs under this Government, the DWP has issued a call for people to grass up their nieghbours if they suspect them of low level benefit fraud, or even going on holiday.

The latest boringly predictable campaign is not aimed at high level organised fraud, such as people setting up fake identities to claim benefits.  Neither is it aimed at landlords picking up Housing Benefit cheques long after tenants have departed, or exploitative employers paying cash to cut down on their National Insurance bill – or even dodge the minimum wage.  It is not just a fraction of a parcentage of claimants who benefit from working cash in hand, but often the latte slurping middle classes who are quite happy to look the other way if it gets them a cheap builder.

Instead this campaign is aimed at struggling single parents who might have a partner staying a few times or week, or sick or disabled people whose condition has improved slightly.  Or even people on benefits taking a short break away from home.  According to the department a range of “television and radio adverts, posters, letters and Facebook ads ” have been produced warning claimants they face jail for failing to report a change in cirumstances.   This new campaign is not about saving money, it is about ensuring claimants lead a life of misery and fear.

At the heart of the new campaign is the Benefit Fraud Hotline.  This is the telephone line that people can ring anonymously to stich up their neighbours, ex-partners or anyone else they may have taken a dislike to.  Barely any prosecutions result from these calls and the vast majority are simply malicious.  There are no consequences for those making false allegations.  And there  should be.  Anyone who rings this hotline for any reason other than to grass up a Tory councillor  is a filthy fucking scab who should be shunned by their communities.

The rules on benefit fraud are breath-takingly complex.  There is no clear information on when you should declare yourself fit for work and end a claim for sickness or disability benefits.  A single parent who has a partner staying a few nights a week may or may not be breaking the law, and might only find out themselves when they are threatened with prosecution for having a shag.  If someone on the dole is offered fifty quid to clear someone’s garden they are  expected to immediately report that to the Jobcentre – throwing their claim into chaos and ensuring they will barely see a penny for their work.  Yet these people, scraping by to survive, are now seen as the worst kind of criminals and splashed across the front pages.

Of course when the well off commit benefit fraud there is no such outrage.  HMRC recently sent out letters to 30,000 high earning parents warning them they need to contact them to ensure they aren’t receiving too much child benefit.  They were supposed to have done this nearly two years ago.  A couple with two children will have scammed around £3000 that they are not entitled so far.  But no-one seems to really care.

The difference in language is staggering.  Reported in thisismoney.co.uk a Treasury spokesperson said: ‘These letters are simply designed to help taxpayers get their returns right by raising awareness of the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC), and to remind customers who file under self assessment of the importance of including HICBC on their return.” 

Compare this to the comments made by the DWP about people  who are poor falsely claiming benefits: “At the Department for Work and Pensions we’re determined not to let benefit cheats get away with it. The majority of claimants are honest, so why should everyone else pay the price? We’re using all the resources available to track down cheats and make them face the consequences. … People who are caught deliberately withholding information needed for their benefit claim are benefit cheats.  They could face a range of consequences for their actions. For example:  …   serving a prison sentence”

There really are one set of laws for the poor, and very different laws for the rich.

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Freud Must Go! Urgent Call Out, Monday Oct 20th Caxton House 12.30pm Or On Twitter #FreudMustGo

lord-fraud-freudAnyone who thinks Lord Fraud ‘mispoke’ or was just ‘thinking outside the box’ when he made the shameful comment that some disabled people are not worth the minimum wage has really not been paying attention.

This is the man that helped devise the despised Atos benefit assessments that have driven disabled people to suicide and ill health in the name of strippping their benefits or forcing them into endless ‘work related activity’.  The same Minister whose department introduced the Work Programme, on which sick and disabled people can be sent on workfare, potentially for months on end.  Lord Fraud was simply saying what he, and his colleagues in the DWP believe, that disabled people lead ‘wasted lives’ and as such do not deserve the same rights as other workers.  That is why this Government has introduced scheme after scheme aimed at coercing – and in some cases forcing – sick and disabled people to work without any pay at all.

There doesn’t need to be a conversation about what Lord Fraud said, as some commentators have suggested.  A conversation that is unlikely to include disabled people or claimants themselves if this week’s news coverage is anything to go by.  The man is a nasty and vindictive piece of shit.  And he needs to go, now.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) have called an emergency protest calling for his resignation tomorrow (Monday 20th Oct) at 12.30 pm outside the Department of Work and Pensions in central London.  In the words of DPAC:

“Freud is the architect of the government’s noxious welfare reform programme that is pushing disabled people off benefits and causing untold distress and misery, in too many cases leading to suicides and avoidable deaths.

The policies Freud designed show utter contempt for disabled people. His latest comments made to a Tory councillor at a party conference fringe meeting confirm this …  join us to demand Freud resigns or is sacked. Monday October 20th at DWP head office, Caxton House, Tothill Street, 12.30pm til 2.30″

If you can’t make it to the DWP you can still get involved in online action with the #FreudMustGo twitterstorm, details at: http://dftr.org.uk/Songbird.php?TweetFile=FreudMustGo

Time is short, please share, tweet etc and help get the word out.

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Snouts In The Trough: Legal Loan Shark Firm Cosies Up To Iain Duncan Smith At Tory Dinner

snouts-in-the-troughA company which harasses people in their homes to take out small loans with huge interest rates enjoyed a slap up meal with Iain Duncan Smith at the Tory Party’s Winter fundraising dinner.

The Bureax of Investigative Journalism revealed over the weekend that three executives of a doorstep lenders CLC Finance shared a table with the Secretary of State at the glitzy event where attendees were reported to have a combined wealth of £22 billion.  According to the website, they enjoyed a ‘wide-ranging discussion’with IDS on matters including Universal Credit.  Perhaps they discussed the propsed five week waiting period for the new benefit or the current benefit sanctioning regime which is forcing hundreds of thousands of people into debt and destitution.

CLC Finance are the kind of bastards who persuade you to take out a hundred quid loan and then want a hundred and fifty back from you over the next five months.  Their vile business model is based on the real poverty trap – the stark fact that if you are hungry, or your kid needs shoes, then you will be forced to make short term decisions that have negative consequences in the future.  This doesn’t just lead to poor people staying poor, it makes people in poverty poorer.

There has been no better friend to loan sharks, whether legal or otherwise, than Iain Duncan Smith.  One of his most vindictive welfare reforms was scrapping Crisis Loans, small advance payments which were repayable out of benefits and barely cost the tax payer a penny.  What they meant was that if someone’s oven broke down, they were a vicitm of crime, or faced a similar emergency, then they would not be dependent on scum like Wonga or CLC Finance.

The DWP’s first move was to divert the funding for Crisis Loans to Local Authorities and tell them they could do as they please with it.  Many set up foodstamp style voucher schemes, whilst some abandoned their poorest residents completely and simply sat on most of the money.  Then, at the beginning of this year and around the time of the Tory Fundraising Dinner, the Government announced they would be ending even this scant funding.  This decision prompted many councils to say they would no longer provide any emergency help at all.

A Judicial Review brought by Child Poverty Action Group has prompted the DWP to ‘rethink’ this decision, pending a recently launched pulic consultation.  Of course the real consultations take place around expensive dining tables where private sector poverty pimps cosy up to ministers and discuss ways to make themselves richer at the expense of the rest of us.

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Hundreds of Illegal Sexist Job Advertisements On Government Job Seeking Website

handyman2

Hundreds of jobs advertisements on the government’s Universal Jobmatch website are in breach of equality laws and the problem extends far beyond the shameful age discrimination featured on the BBC yesterday.

Radio 4 reported on adverts on the website asking for ‘young’ or ‘recent’ graduates, warning this may be illegal under the Equality Act.  It is not just older people however who face discrimination on the website that unemployed people are forced to use by Jobcentres to look for work.  The shocking truth is that there seems to be no control over whether jobs advertised on the site meet equalities legislation.

Over 600 current job vacancies ask for a “handyman”, whilst one employer is looking for a “girl friday”.  Another discriminates against same sex couples by asking for a “guy and girl Friday”.  All of these advertisements are likely to be illegal.  As Citizen’s Advice explain:

“With a few limited exceptions, it’s illegal to publish or broadcast an advert which discriminates because of sex, or which advertises discriminatory services. For example, it is illegal for an employer to advertise for a job using words like ‘craftsman’ or ‘handyman’, as this might give the impression that the job is only open to men.”

Significantly, it may not just be the employers posting these vacancies who are breaking the law.  As providers of an “employment service”, the DWP themselves could be acting illegally for publishing these advertisements.

This doesn’t seem to bother anyone at the department, who have already brushed off the BBCs claims saying they don’t think phrases such as ‘recent graduate’ are discriminatory.  This is despite the government’s own recruitment guidance to employers clearly stating: “Only use phrases like ‘recent graduate’ or ‘highly experienced’ when these are actual requirements of the job. This could discriminate against younger or older people who might not have had the opportunity to get certain qualifications.”

Not for the first time the DWP are treating laws that don’t suit them with contempt.  Perhaps of equal concern is that so many employers don’t yet seem to have caught up with rules that were first introduced as part of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975.  But of course employers can do no wrong in the eyes of Iain Duncan Smith.  That’s why he largely left them to their own devices as they cluttered up Universal Jobmatch with scam, spam and spoof vacancies.

Universal Jobmatch has been a fucking shambles ever since it was launched at huge cost back in 2011.  Even the job adverts that actually manage to stay within the law are often duplicates, flaky self-employment ‘opportunities’ or employment agencies touting for CVs so they can spam people for the rest of their lives.  With no safety information and clearly no checks on whether employers posting jobs to the site are genuine, then unemployed people are at real risk if they use Universal Jobmatch.  But use it they must, on Jobcentre computers at least.  Otherwise they face their benefits being sanctioned

If you are required to sign up to Universal Jobmatch you still do not have to tick the box giving the DWP access to your account and can untick the box giving them permission to send you emails.  You should only be forced to use the website in Jobcentres.  For tips on how to avoind being pressurised by Jobcentre busy-bodies visit the Refuted website.  To save time when using the site you can also download Universal Automation.

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Here Comes Pauline … Supervised Jobsearch Revives The Worst Of The Past

pauline-pensIt is hard to imagine that anyone could have watched the League of Gentlemen’s brutal satire on the job clubs of the 1980s and 90s and thought that it seemed like a good way to help people  find work.

But Iain Duncan Smith did.  He probably thought it was a fucking documentary.  And so his latest Supervised Jobsearch pilots have wrapped up all the cringe-making aspects of past back to work schemes and rolled them up into one Pauline inspired fuck up – although USB sticks, not pens will be the latest obsession for job club staff.usb-sticks-are-the-new-pensSupervised Jobsearch was Iain Duncan Smith’s big idea at last year’s Tory Party conference.  It then seemed to have been largely forgotten about until someone at the DWP panicked and realised they’d have to cobble some shit together in time for this year’s conference.  As usual this involved throwing money at the grasping welfare-to-work sector who have been brought in to manage the scheme which will see unemployed people warehoused for 35 hours a week pointlessly pretending to apply for the same handful of jobs over and over again.

There is little doubt that this scheme is intended as punishment for unemployment, rather than any kind of genuine help for unemployed people.  According to recently published guidlines for the companies running the scheme (h/t @refuted) they will receive no additional payments for actually finding people work.  In fact getting people jobs is barely mentioned once. Instead they will be paid 10% of the contract value when the participant starts, a further 5% per month for the next six months and the final 60% when the period of incarceration ends.  5% of the value of the contact will only be paid if the providers can show they have administerd what are known as DMA’s correctly, meaning referrals to the Jobcentre for benefit sanctions.  There seems to be no mention anywhere of job outcome payments.  Benefit sanctions are the true purpose of Iain Duncan Smith’s latest crazy scheme.

The welfare-to-work sector – who have run a long campaign complaining that they are expected to get people jobs for the money we give them – will be pissing themselves.  All they now have to do is shut people in a room with a computer for 35 hours a week, make sure all the paperwork is correctly filled out and Iain Duncan Smith will shower them with tax payer’s money.  This is possibly their  biggest benefit scam so far.  But you won’t see that on the front page of the Daily Mail.

The provider guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supervised-jobsearch-pilot-dwp-provider-guidance

Of note is Annex L which states that “claimants cannot be mandated to apply for vacancies which include a zero-hours contract”.

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2000 Workfare Staff Planned For Tax Office Next Year, And The PCS Union Is Doing … Nothing At All

TUC-A5-ProtestThe TUC’s recent grovelling endorsement of unpaid – and soon to be mandatory – Traineeships has caused dismay amongst many in the trade union movement with protests even planned outside their London offices.

This is not the first time to TUC have enthusiastically backed unpaid work.  Last year they were involved in the ‘week of workfare’, a shabby inititiative organised by the DWP funded Fair Train to rehabilitate workfare by introducing a quality standard for so called work experience schemes.  The whole thing turned out to be an embarrassing flop for everybody involved, but showed just how far the TUC are prepared to go to support the very same kind of unpaid work experience that they rightly oppose when it comes to graduates working as interns for no pay

Anger at the TUC’s latest announcement even emerged at last month’s conference when the PCS Union accused them of breaking their own policies that all work experience schemes should be both paid and voluntary.  No-one knows better than the PCS, who represent thousands of DWP staff, that no current Jobcentre schemes are genuinely voluntary.  Whilst claimants live in fear of being plunged into destitution by benefit sanctions for something as simple as being late to a meeting, it is hardly surprising some may agree to so-called non-mandatory workfare.  If they refuse they could simply be sent on mandatory workfare somewhere else, or face being cooped up in a Jobcentre for 30 hours a week for the next six months.

Sadly however, information has come to light that once again the PCS Union are all mouth and no trouers when it comes to opposing workfare and sanctions.  HMRC are currently planning to recruit over 1000 young unemployed people this year – and double that in 2015 – to work in the tax office for up to six weeks without pay.  This comes despite job losses at HMRC and there is already evidence that these new workfare staff will be replacing the roles of formerly paid employees.  According to rank and file PCS activists, during a pilot of this new scheme: “those brought in on workfare … were given jobs involving ‘filing, linking, correspondence and data entry.’  In other words, the jobs currently done by the AA grade who are being culled wholesale through post room digitalisation and privatisation as well as office closures.”

The DWP have also had their fair share of workfare staff which so far the PCS have failed to do anything about, although they are pretending they have.  In a briefing for members sent out in 2012, the union boasted that they had negotiated that “that DWP hosted work experience placements do not exploit those who take them up.”

It is hard to understand exactly how the PCS think that  young people bullied into working without pay are not being exploited.  That’s young people like Nisha, who was forced to spend the day on Twitter promoting unpaid work on behalf of Iain Duncan Smith.  Despite doing a far better job of dodging objections to workfare than the chinless pricks currently occuying the DWP Press Office, Nisha was not paid a penny for her work.

The PCS claim to oppose benefit sanctions, but have done nothing practical to end this practice that their members administer in Jobcentres.  They also claim to oppose unpaid work, yet the workplaces they are strongest in are riddled with workfare.  And opposing workfare means more than just making speeches or getting leaflets printed.  In the words of some grassroots PCS members this means:

“HMRC offices which utilise workfare placements need to be targeted for staff walkouts and external protests. Directors who sanction workfare should be faced with communication blockades. Those brought in on workfare need to be informed of their rights and supported by the union in every way possible. Strikes and industrial action on the job need to disrupt the day to day running of things in the fight over jobs and staffing.”

Or as some unions point out, the answer to unpaid work is simple:

As part of the Week of Action Against Workfare,  Kilburn Unemployed Workers have called a protest this Monday (tomorrow 6th October) outside the TUC’s main offices in London in response to this craven betrayal of young people’s right to be paid for the work they do.  Meet at 1pm outside Congress House, 23-28 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3LS.

Events are planned to oppose workfare throughout next week and throughout the UK, visit Boycott Workfare’s website for full details and spread the word!

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