Category Archives: Welfare Reform

Hundreds Of Disabled People Sent On Workfare Every Week, Is Unpaid Work The New Segregation?

workfare-tesco

Disabled activists protesting in 2007 against Tesco, an early pioneer of unpaid work. Pic from here

The new Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Nick Harper has teamed up with David Cameron this week to boast about huge numbers of disabled people being sent to work without pay, often for profit making companies.  The gushing press release forms part of the DWP’s cringe-making Disability Confident campaign, the latest gimmick to cover up the endless vicious attacks on disabled people by the department.

According to the figures around 45,000 people registered as disabled with Jobcentres have been referred to an unpaid work placement since 2011.  Of those 29,000 were sent on the Work Experience programme and 16,000 on Sector Based Work Academies, which the DWP now appear to be claiming leads to a guaranteed real job.  This is a lie, Sector Based Work Academies promise a job interview only as this guidance for employers wishing to scrounge free workers makes clear (PDF).

Both of these schemes are officially voluntary.  However with claimants facing benefits being stopped or sanctioned for trivial reasons and seemingly on the whims of Jobcentre staff then little could be said to be voluntary under the current regime.  Claimants who refuse could simply be sent on a mandatory workfare scheme instead, and many have been.  Almost 22,000 disabled people have been forced onto Mandatory Work Activity since 2011, bringing the total number of known unpaid disabled workers to 67,000 in the last three year.  This is more than the 61,000 disabled people who the DWP say have got jobs through the Work Programme – and as ilegal reports this largely represents young disabled people on Jobseeker’s Allowance, not those unable to work and claiming ESA, the benefit for people with more serious conditions or disabilities.

But even this does not tell the whole story of the number of disabled people who this Government has bullied into working without pay.  Supported Internships can involve up to a year’s unpaid work with private companies and are targeted at young people with a Learning Difficulty diagnosis or Special Educational Needs, Other young disabled people may have been sent on Traineeships – up to six months unpaid work leading to a vague possibility of eventual employment as an Apprentice at far below minimum wage.  Some disabled people will now be facing the prospect of being forced to attend a full time unpaid Community Work Placement for six months for so-called charities or community organisations.  And the number of disabled people forced into workfare on the Work Programme – which can even include people on out of work sickness or disability benefits – is simply unknown as no-one has any real idea what the companies running the scheme are up to.

If all these people are added to the figures then it seems likely that the number of disabled people sent on workfare is higher than the number who got actual real jobs through welfare-to-work schemes.  This is what the DWP means by being Disability Confident, an army of unpaid disabled workers, many only there under the threat of vicious benefit sanctions.

The abrupt closure of the Remploy factories was a nasty and vindictive act but few would argue that segregated employment for disabled people is something that should be encouraged into the future.  But at least the Remploy workers got paid.  A new segregation is now emerging.  Instead of real paid jobs, in an inclusive work force, thousands of disabled people now face endless and ever more draconian unpaid work schemes with many losing their benefits completely if they won’t, or can’t attend.

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Liars! The National Charity Who Are Deceiving The Public About Their Role In Workfare

WorkFare-not-workingSome of the UK’s largest charities have a dirty little workfare secret and one of the best known has even resorted to telling bare-faced lies about their involvement in forced work.

In a statement on their website, updated on 14th July 2014, Age UK say:  “Age UK, the national charity which includes our 453 shops, is not involved in the mandatory welfare to work scheme.”

This will come as a surprise to G4S who have recently announced that an Age UK training centre in Preston will be acting as Placement Brokers for the recently launched and very much mandatory Community Work Placements.  Age UK’ have claimed up until now that only local branches, who are managed independently of the national charity, are involved in workfare.  But according to the charity themselves these training centres are a division of the national organisation, they are not locally run.

Whilst one part of Age UK is flatly denying any involvement with workfare, another division is actively involved in forcing people to work for free.  This is either staggering incompetence or Age UK are telling bare-faced lies.

Community Work Placements involve six months full time forced labour under the threat of benefits being stopped.  It is by far the nastiest workfare scheme yet, placement providers warned they must not give workfare staff any benefits for their work, not even lunch.  Participants must be available to travel 90 minutes each way to attend placements and could be forced to work anti-social hours.  Those on the placements can not even take a couple of days off unless they are given permission from the Jobcentre and then they have to promise to spend the time  looking for jobs.  If someone is too ill to work they face an agonising call to the Jobcentre, who may decide they’ve been sick too many times and stop their benefits.  Not only do workfare workers not get paid, but they have none of the usual working rights that people in real jobs expect.

None of this seems to trouble Age UK (@age_uk), who presumably will be inflicting this scheme on older people who might have expected some support from the charity.  Some of them will end up sanctioned instead, left without a penny to pay for heating or food.

Not for the first time, charities funded by the public are turning on the very people they pretend to help.  And they are doing it for money, all of these organisations will be paid tax payer’s cash, via G4S, for forcing people to work for free.  They do not deserve a penny more of our money until they reject outright this grotesque exploitation and, in Age UK’s case, can prove they are telling the truth.

Almost 400 organisations have signed up to the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement condemning forced work.  To sign up visit: http://www.keepvolunteeringvoluntary.net/

Update: This post has been altered after mistakenly saying that Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) and DEAF have CWP sub-contracts. These two charites do have Work Programme contracts, which may or may not involve sending people on workfare but does involve sanctioning people. So they still bastards too.

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Fightback Against Byteback And Their Grubby Workfare Exploitation

UPDATE: Byteback are out of workfare, top work everybody and fair play to them for admitting to making a mistake

byteback

A computer repair shop in Bristol has become one of the first companies to be caught boasting about forcing people to work without pay on the latest workfare scheme.

Byteback IT Solutions were recently featured in the Bristol Post after being visited by George Osborne due to their involvement in Community Work Placements.  These placements involve six months full time workfare under the threat of benefits being stopped.

This is a wonderful arrangement according to the company’s director Andy Town who said: “We recycle old computers so if they turn it on and make it work, everyone’s a winner but if they don’t, there’s nothing to break and it hasn’t cost us anything,”

When challenged by one critic of the scheme, @andygale on twitter, the company claimed, in a string of now deleted tweets, that people on workfare are ‘employees of the state’, as if it’s perfectly acceptable for private  companies to have their wage bill met by the tax payer.  This is the real culture of entitlement, bosses and businessmen scrounging off the state.  In truth workfare workers are nothing of the sort, employees get paid minimum wage after all.

As pointed out by @refuted, Byteback are a profit making company who charge a minimum of £45 an hour to fix computers.  DWP regulations require that any mandatory unpaid work schemes are for organisations which can demonstrate a community benefit.  Whilst Byteback carry out computer recycling, what this means in practice is that you can drop off your old computer and they’ll strip it for parts they can flog on for a profit.  Depending on what you want to recycle, they might even charge you.  It is difficult to see how this company has any more of a community benefit than the local scrapyard or second-hand electrical shop.

With proper community organisations increasingly condemning Community Work Placements as exploitative,  it is likely to be smaller companies like Byteback who have a dirty little workfare secret.  It is vital that they are exposed as the workfare profiteers they are so that all their customers can make up their own minds about whether they want to use the services of a company involved in forced labour.  It’s time to send a message to every grubby two-bit business out there who thinks they can make us work for free – snip – see above tweet, Byteback say they are out of workfare.

To name and shame companies and charities using workfare visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=16

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Young? Unemployed? Don’t Expect A Job At The DWP

mcvey1“I have always said that I will do everything I can to help equip young people with the skills they need to get their foot on the ladder – everything I can to encourage employers to open their doors to young people – and everything I can to support the youth of today to get on in life.”  Esther McVey responding to employment statistics February 2014

Despite endless government initiatives aimed at bringing down youth unemployment, just 1% of staff at the DWP are under 25 in a workforce that numbers almost 100,000.

The shocking admission comes in the department’s annual equality report which also shows that only 4.3% of DWP workers are between the ages of 25 and 29.   These figures come despite the Employment Minister Esther McVey repeatedly trying to tell us that young unemployed people are on of her ‘key concerns’.  Turns out she’s far more concerned about forcing young people to work in Poundland for no pay then she is about using her department to actually give people a real job.

Whilst anyone under 25 who wants to work at the Jobcentre should probably spend some time experimenting with drugs for a while first, these are damning statistics for a government that pretends to care about youth unemployment.  The truth is that just like every other grasping employer, the DWP has no interest in providing any genuine help for young people to get started in a career.  Why would they, when they can staff their offices with young people on unpaid ‘work experience’ instead of actually paying them wages.

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Beggars To Be Grassed Up To DWP On New Scheme, Can The Salvation Army Sink Any Lower?

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The entire homelessness industry has questions to answer about how they are treating those they claim to support, but none has sunk so low as Jesus’ little fucking helpers in the Salvation Army.

A local paper in York reports that the Salvation Army are now teaming up with the police in a scheme which will could see homeless people grassed up  to the DWP if they are caught begging.

According to the paper, Salvation Army members, along with the police and local council busy-bodies will be patrolling the streets of York hunting for beggars.  The charity claim they will provide housing advice whilst the police will be ‘reminding people’ that begging is against the law, no doubt by arresting them.  Not to be outdone, representatives from York Council say they will inform the DWP if people found begging are receiving any benefits.  Which means their benefits will be stopped.  And they’ll have to beg more.

None of this will trouble the Salvation Army, who are quite happy to have people’s benefits sanctioned themselves should someone refuse to work without pay in one of their shit charity shops.  Some charities have warned that benefit sanctions are causing people to beg just to be able to buy food.  This latest initiative will ensure that in York at least, anyone sanctioned by the Salvation Army and forced to beg will now face harassment and possible arrest under a scheme part run by the same Salvation Army.  A vicious noose is being tied around the neck of some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the UK.  And everyday some of the UK’s best known charities help pull it a little bit tighter.

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Snouts In The Trough, Let’s Make Sure Everyone Knows What Welfare-to-work Industry Parasites Are Up To #intowork2014

Delegates at tomorrow's workfare conference will enjoy a slap up meal whilst their victims queue outside foodbanks

Delegates at tomorrow’s workfare conference will enjoy a slap up meal whilst their victims queue outside foodbanks

Child poverty, eviction, special dietary needs going unmet, ill health, street homelessness, depression, suicide attempts, self-harming, relationships fracturing, utilities being disconnected, people with mental health conditions being sectioned, claimants forced to beg, go through bins or steal to survive – all of these things have been well documented as the consequences of benefit sanctions.  And all of them are acceptable as punishment for missing a meeting with your fucking Work Programme provider the vile participants in tomorrow’s workfare conference believe.

Almost one million benefit sanctions are now handed out every year by Jobcentres and the welfare-to-work sector. Benefit sanctions are one of the main reasons so many families are queuing at foodbanks.  Children are not just going hungry, but without toys, clothes, days out, Christmas or birthday presents, all because their parent’s have committed the crime of being unemployed.  No-one is left out.  Sick or disabled claimants, found unable to work at present, can still be sent on workfare or face being plunged into destitution by sanctions.

From the gushing tweets on the hashtag for tomorrow’s conference   it is clear those involved in this vindictive regime are proud of what they do.  They expect us to believe they are helping people, when all they are really doing is helping themselves to billions of pounds of tax payer’s money.  Britain’s biggest benefit scam is based on the lie that unemployment is caused by unemployed people and that no-one ever manages to find a job without the shoddy help of thieves like A4e and G4S.  The truth is that they just pick up huge job outcome payments on the back of normal churn in an employment market where real full employment is neither feasible nor desirable according to the think-tank who helped design these schemes.  A think-tank funded, incidentally, by the welfare-to-work sector.

Whilst those whose lives they have demolished queue outside foodbanks, delegates at tomorrow’s conference will enjoy a slap up dinner at the plush Crown Plaza Hotel.  Some tickets for tomorrow’s event cost an astonishing £450.  There is no shortage of our money being squandered on this back-slapping celebration of bullying unemployed, sick or disabled people.  If you only do one thing tomorrow, then make sure to let these parasites know what you think of the fucking disgrace that is the welfare-to-work industry.

Visit Boycott Workfare’s website for info on how to contact those involved in the conference and please spread the word.  We may not be able to stop these scum – yet – but we can make sure that everybody knows exactly what these poverty profiteers are up to.

Tweet using hashtag

Sign and share the petition calling for benefit sanctions to be stopped without exceptions.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Take Action: CESI Festival of Workfare Exploiters and Apologists #intowork2014

brumconferencebwFrom Boycott Workfare

This annual gathering of organisations profiting from workfare – or hoping to – is being held at the Arena Convention Centre in Liverpool on Tuesday 8th & Wednesday 9th July.

If you’re near Liverpool, take part in the protest as the conference opens on Tue 8 July at 9am-12noon.

Wherever you are, why not let the private companies, charities and think tanks involved know what you think online #intowork2014. If you only have a minute – use our handy tweet buttons!

The conference is being organised by CESI (Centre for Economic & Social Inclusion) – self appointed ‘thought leaders’ in the welfare to work industry. People who make their money supporting policies that mean forced unpaid labour and poverty for many, but escalating profits for the few.   Tweet them @InclusionCESI

More info and details of the bastards involved at Boycott Workfare

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Reducing Unemployment To Zero Neither Feasible Nor Desirable Says Iain Duncan Smith’s Think Tank

CSJThe think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith has let the cat out of the bag and admitted that reducing unemployment to zero is neither feasible or desirable.

The comments come in the latest report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the madcap Christian dominated think tank that came up with Universal Credit. The CSJ praises George Osborne’s drive for full employment (stop laughing) but points out that this does not mean everyone should have a job, but that employment levels remain at a level which does not cause inflation.

The problem for the CSJ, and George Osborne, is that if work was in plentiful supply then the bastards would have to pay us properly.  That is why real full employment is neither feasible nor desirable to the people who profit from our work.  Capitalism cannot function without unemployment but still unemployed people are not just blamed for this situation, but endlessly punished with workfare and benefit sanctions.

The CSJ’s  astonishing admission comes alongside proposals to send young people on workfare from the moment they leave education as well as recommendations to provide lucrative new payment regimes for welfare-to-work companies to run unpaid work schemes.  The Centre for Social Justice is known to have received funding from these companies.  And that just about sums these scum up.  They can’t fix unemployment and they don’t want to, they just want to make a profit from it.

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Iain Duncan Smith In The Dock Again Over Unlawful Atos Assessments

MHRNThe DWP are back in court next week for the closing part of a successful challenge to the despised Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

This is the test run by Atos which is used to find people ‘fit for work’ and stop their sickness or disability benefits.  It is mired in chaos with a huge backlog of appeals and an ever growing number of tragic deaths linked to the process.  Even Atos themselves are pulling out of the assessments after fierce campaigning saw their carefully managed corporate identity demolished due to their involvement in the cruel and bungled system.

The WCA has also had its share of legal problems after a Judicial Review last year ruled the assessments are unlawful under the Equalities Act for those with a mental health condition.   Rather than accept this defeat and improve or scrap the tests for this group of claimants – or better still everybody -  Iain Duncan Smith appealed this decision and lost.  During the time this took many people will have seen their mental health worsen, been admitted to hospital or even taken their own life due to being forced to undergo assessments which are not suitable for their condition.

Next week’s court case will largely be about what amendments can be made to make the WCA legal.  As Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) explain:

“Under the Equalities Act of 2010, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is required to make “reasonable adjustments” to mitigate any disadvantages experienced by disabled people. The forthcoming hearing will be concerned with establishing what adjustments the DWP should make to the WCA process. We already know from the original hearing that they plan to run a pilot study to assess the “reasonableness” of obtaining further medical evidence. We want to ensure that any study will be fair, honest and approached with an open mind. Unfortunately we find it hard to trust that this will happen.”

A vigil called by MHRN and supported by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) will be held outside the court next week on Tuesday, 8th July 2014 at 12 noon to 2 pm.  Head to the Royal Court of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL.  Full details at: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/07/vigil-for-the-wca-judicial-review-tues-8th-july/

MHRN say they have been too cautious about publicising this important victory.  Sometime people have been working so hard for so long that they don’t even see when or what they’ve won.  But the Work Capability Assessment – introduced by Labour and which looked unbreakable at the time the current government weren’t elected – is beginning to look broken.  That didn’t happen by accident.  It happened because disabled people and benefit claimants have fought these vicious assessments in the courts, on the internet and in the streets.

The real opposition to this Government has not been the Labour Party, the unions , charities or even the growing range of celebrity left-wimgers.  It has been people who are disabled, sick, carers or people on their own with kids to look after.  People dealing with shit housing, homelessness, low or no wages, the bedroom tax, workfare, benefit sanctions and most of all poverty.  The people that liberal do-gooders call vulnerable and the Tory press calls benefit scum.  Yet we keep winning and those victories should be shouted from the rooftops.  As MHRN say:

“We believe that it is vital that people do know about this victory. After all, outrageous lies about disabled benefit claimants have been shouted from the rooftops in much of the national press. Yet where have the front page headlines about this victory been? Nowhere! We now want to rectify this by making as much noise as possible about the truth: that the WCA does not fairly assess people with mental health problems and there has been terrible suffering as a result.”

Please blogs, tweet,share and spread the word about the MHRN/DPAC vigil, and about the court case.

Don’t forget this Friday’s Independence Day Party outside the DWP and around the UK called by DPAC.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

DWP And Homelessness Charities Link Up To Bully Homeless Benefit Claimants

HomelessThe homelessness industry is today welcoming an upcoming change in the law which could see homeless people forced to live in unsuitable or unsafe accommodation or face losing eligibility for benefits.

Homeless Link and St Mungo’s Broadway have published a gushing press release cheering amendments to the rules for Jobseeker’s Allowance set to come into force next month.  The changes mean that newly homeless people may only be considered meeting the criteria for benefits if they take “such steps as are reasonable for him (sic) to take to find living accommodation.”

Homeless people will have an easement of jobseeking requirements if they follow these conditions, but this will usually only last four weeks, despite the average length of hostel stays being significantly longer than that.  The minimum length of stay in one of St Mungo’s Central London hostels is eight weeks, with most residents staying an average of six to nine months.  The so-called easement period will be granted only at the discretion of Jobcentre busy-bodies and will not apply to people who have been homeless for a long time.

This trivial concession has been won by the homelessness industry in exchange for a yet further extensions of Jobcentre powers over the lives of some of the most marginalised claimants.  Overpaid charity bosses have been working for a long time with various government bodies and local authorities to establish the homelessness industry as a sort of soft police force aiming to clear the streets of those destitute.  Instead of analysing why mass homelessness exists, which is first and foremost an economic problem, it has been assumed that there must be something wrong with homeless people, something that can be cured.  This is no different to the current thinking at the DWP which blames unemployed people for unemployment and it is vile.

The main way to cure people of homelessness, charity bosses believe, is to move everyone off the streets into one of their hostels. Of course they will still be technically homeless but at least the charity gets a huge Housing Benefit cheque every week. These hostels have slightly improved over recent years but they can still be dangerous and hostile places.  The rules and regulations are endless, bullying can be rife, they are often riddled with heavy drug use and evictions can happen at the drop of a hat and for the most trivial reasons.  Yet under the new regulations a newly homeless claimant who turns down a hostel place will now not be considered for the easement period.  If they are then judged unable to meet benefit conditions, which could include workfare, they will face sanctions or possibly even be disallowed benefits completely.  Homelessness charity bosses are either extremely fucking naive or have quite another agenda if they honestly believe this will be better for homeless people, who do not appear to have been consulted about the changes.  They never are.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid