Category Archives: JSA/Workfare/Work Programme

DWP Block Report To Cover Up Work Programme Shambles

IDS-slugThe DWP are refusing to release an evaluation of the floundering £6 billion pound Work Programme despite the report having recently featured on Channel 4 news.

The evaluation is believed to be critical of the Work Programme and in particular benefit sanctions, warning that they found: “no conclusive evidence that sanctions were changing job search behaviour or increasing job entry rates.”

A Freedom of Information request asking to see the report has today been refused by the DWP on the grounds that they plan to publish it at an unspecified later date (PDF).  The evaluation was scheduled to be released in the Summer of last year.

This is not the first time the DWP have treated Freedom of Information (FOI) rules with contempt in a shoddy effort to conceal what’s really going on, and wrong, with the department.  A ruling by the Information Commissioner;s Office (ICO) ordering the release of the names of charities benefiting from free labour under the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme has been completely ignored.  A second ICO ruling (PDF) ordering the DWP to confirm whether a charity was involved in workfare was issued last month, and has so far been snubbed.  The DWP were found in breach of the FOI again (PDF) at the end of last month when they were slammed in a ruling for not taking the reasonable steps required to clarify another request relating to Mandatory Work Activity.

The DWP have claimed that if the public were allowed to know who is using workfare then the scheme might collapse.  They pretend this would stop people benefiting from the ‘disciplines’ that workfare offers and may even harm the economy.  After all, if people knew that household names such as The Salvation Army, the YMCA, Groundwork and The Conservation Volunteers were all forcing people to work without pay then they might decide these charities were a bunch of wankers and never give them a penny again.

There is no such excuse for refusing to release an evaluation into the Work Programme however – a report produced with our money.  The only person likely to look like a wanker if people see this document is Iain Duncan Smith himself who is still pretending how wonderful the Work Programme is.  The Work Programme statistics already show the scheme is a disaster and steadily getting worse. No doubt the DWP hope they can hide just how much of a wanker Iain Duncan Smith actually is until after the next election.  But it’s too late.  Everybody knows.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Virgin Give The Game Away: Unpaid Worker Schemes Bring Corporate And Commercial Opportunities

traineeshipsVirgin Media are the latest company to sacrifice their public image to benefit from unpaid workers on Government schemes.  According to the company, employing young people on Traineeships and paying them nothing can bring “corporate and commercial opportunities”.

The shocking admission comes in a leaflet advertising the Traineeship programme (pdf), which can involve up to six months work without pay.  They have been designed to ‘prepare’ young people for an ‘apprenticeship’ at below the minimum wage and participants are often not even offered one of these at the end of the scheme.  Instead they are given an ‘exit interview’ to pat them on the heads for all their unpaid work.

As pointed out by @boycottworkfare, unpaid work on Traineeships is not yet mandatory, although no doubt many Jobcentre advisors will try and pretend they are.  They may soon be right.  George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement that in future people under the age of 21 who refuse some form of workfare in the corporate sector will be sent on an even longer workfare scheme with a charity instead.  With the latest workfare scheme appearing to be in chaos, it remains to be seen if this particular threat will ever be fully carried out.

In the meantime Virgin Media seem quite happy with the new arrangements and say they will be recruiting unpaid workers on an ongoing basis.  This is hardly surprising, according to the leaflet Traineeships were ‘developed  in response to business needs’ and can help ‘build the workforce required for business success’.  Virgin Media Loves not paying wages and that’s the name of their new twitter campaign.  Let them know what you think @VMLoves

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Who The Fuck Does Esther McVey Think She Is?

Esther-McVey-2942256Newly unemployed people are to be treated as benefit scroungers from the first day of their claim the Minister for Unemployment Esther Mcvey announced today.

In a breath-takingly patronising statement McVey rants that from the end of the month newly unemployed people will be forced to show “they are taking their search for work seriously” before becoming eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance.  This will mean producing a CV and signing up for the shambolic Universal Jobmatch – the Government job search site that is a laughing stock amongst claimants, employers and recruitment professionals alike.

This will be treating those recently made redundant  as ‘adults’ according to the minister, who clearly thinks that unemployed people are children.  Those facing these new measures will include people who have worked for years, unlike pampered posh girl McVey who bummed around in her Dad’s company for a while before launching a less than memorable television career.  Yet here she is lecturing people who’ve recently had real jobs about how to make themselves ‘prepared and enthusiastic’ to avoid the ‘one way street to benefits’.

The changes are being introduced despite the Government’s own statistics showing that 75% of people on Jobseeker’s Allowance are back in work within six months.  In contrast the number of people who have been unemployed over one year currently stands at 828,000, up from 757,000 in May 2010 when this Government weren’t elected – and this figure was the highest since May 1997.

With long-term unemployment soaring, and the Work Programme seemingly making things worse, the DWP are turning their attention to those who have just lost their jobs in a shoddy attempt to grab the headlines.  Once there was a time when governments pretended to care about people who had been made redundant.  Now they are more interested in smearing them as potential scroungers and forcing them into demeaning interrogations with Jobcentre busy-bodies in case they are secretly feckless.

This is what this Government really thinks of so-called hard working people.  Get laid off, for any reason, and you are instantly transformed into benefit scum in the eyes of Esther McVey.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Join the physical or online blockade of the Salvation Army!

jesus-workfare-salvationFrom Boycott Workfare

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty will be holding another of their regular and extremely successful blockades of the Salvation Army on Saturday morning from 11am onwards.

Join in with an online blockade of the Salvation Army’s social media and let them know what you think of their prolific and unashamed use of forced unpaid labour.

Make your feelings known and you may even get to join the prestigious ‘Banned by the Salvation Army over workfare related comments’ facebook group.

Although the Salvation Army are steering clear of the government’s latest workfare programme, the 6 month long Community Work Placements, they are still major users of workfare, taking part in Mandatory Work Activity and the Work Programme. The Salvation Army have expressed their support for workfare for sick and disabled people using the disturbing phrase “emancipation through employment”. Their enthusiastic support of workfare has won them praise from the government last year that they were ‘holding the line’ as other organisations were dropping out of the schemes due to public outrage.

We will keep the pressure on until they fully withdraw from all workfare schemes which threaten people with benefit sanctions of up to 3 years, causing hunger and homelessness.

Contact the Salvation Army UK on Facebook and on Twitter: @salvationarmyuk

They can be telephoned on (020) 7367 4500 or emailed at: info@salvationarmy.org.uk

Please spread the word!

The Salvation Army’s youth section are on facebook here.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Meet The Green Workfare Charity Boss Who Also Runs A Biotech Firm And Builds On Greenbelt Land

bob-lawsonThere are few things more contemptible than those who claim in public to care about poverty or the environment, yet show no such scruples when it comes to making a buck.

Bob Lawson is the Chairman of the Groundwork Federation, an organisation currently the target of anti-workfare protests.  Groundwork are a ‘green’ charity, who boast on their website of ‘helping people create healthier, safer and greener places’.

Like so many of the idle rich, Lawson doesn’t just have one non-job, he has three.  When not prancing around pretending to be some kind of eco-warrior, Bob Lawson is also the Chairman of Barratt Developments PLC.  This organisation have a very different approach to creating healthier and greener places, which mostly involves the use of a bull-dozer.  There have been countless protests against the company who are currently littering the countryside with houses for posh people.  Barratt would rather build on greenbelt land than create green spaces.  They have also been the target of anger for attempting to water down social housing provision. 

Lawson’s third job is as the Chairman of Genus plc.  Mostly this company genetically modifies cows and pigs to sell to the factory farm industry.  Never trust a hippy.

Bob Lawson is not the only hypocrite at the Groundwork Federation.  Their CEO Graham Duxbury wrote in a piece for the Huffington Post last year that we should “hang our heads in shame” about people finding themselves forced to choose between heating or eating.  Yet some of those people will have been sanctioned for failing to attend workfare organised by Groundwork.  Benefit sanctions are one of the biggest causes of people forced to depend on foodbanks, and facing what Duxbury calls “real agonies”.  It is not us who should hang our heads in shame.  It is Graham Duxbury and his planet-fucking Chairman.

As part of the week of action against workfare tell Groundwork what you think of their use of forced labour on twitter @groundworkuk and facebook them here 

For the latest news on the week of action against workfare visit:  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3436

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Take Action Against The Green Charities Profiteering From Workfare

groundworkuk-ruining-livesFrom Boycott Workfare

Environmental charities The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and Groundwork UK are two of the biggest workfare exploiters in the UK.  Both accept forced labour placements, often to carry out hard, outdoor, physical work, and both have lucrative contracts to manage workfare schemes

Both charities have been invited by the DWP to help run Community Work Placements – the upcoming mass workfare scheme which involves a shocking 780 hours of unpaid work.  As some more enlightened charities have stated these placements are not volunteering.  Anyone who refuses one of these unpaid positions will face brutal benefit sanctions.

Groundwork receive huge amounts of tax payer’s money already from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the National Lottery.  Unlike other organisations they have remained silent about their use of forced labour despite repeated criticism on social media.  With the Government paying their bills, they are more like a workfare Quango than a real charity.

Both charities however do not just rely on the government funding to survive, but also the goodwill of genuine volunteers, community groups and partners.  As part of the week of action, let’s make sure everyone knows about their dirty little workfare secrets.

Groundwork are on twitter @groundworkuk and facebook them here You can email them at: info@groundwork.org.uk
Tel: 0121 236 8565

Groundwork have local branches throughout the UK.  To find contact details for the nearest visit: http://www.groundwork.org.uk/Page/map

The Conservation Volunteers are on twitter @TCVtweets and facebook them here

Email them at: information@tcv.org.uk
Tel: 01302 388 883

To find your local TCV office visit this website

But please note: Whilst it’s well worth trying to speak to a manager or senior individual if possible please bear in mind most people taking calls/emails will be low paid retail/admin staff and could even be on workfare themselves. Be aware that is an offence to make telephone calls or send communications which are threatening, indecent or offensive

For the latest news on the week of action against workfare visit:  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3436

Sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exception

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

There’s Still No Pay At The Y.M.C.A – Boycott Workfare Target Forced Labour Charity

ymca-protestA lively protest was held both inside and outside the head offices of so-called charity the YMCA today as part of the week of action against workfare.

Several demonstrators from Boycott Workfare carried out a short occupation of the charity’s offices before holding a protest outside where a sound system played and protesters sang the familiar ‘There’s no pay at the Y.M.C.A.”.

Lots of leaflets were handed out and many people expressed shock that a charity claiming to help the homeless would be involved in not just workfare, but also administering benefit sanctions.  The YMCA themselves have said that sanctions, which can leave people with nothing to live on at all, can have a ‘devastating impact’ on the lives of young people.

This hasn’t stopped them being part of the Mandatory Work Activity scheme and the Work Programme – both of which are backed by the same sanctions that the YMCA claim are of such concern to them.

In a major victory for all those who have campaigned against the charity it is believed that they have now decided not to be involved in Community Work Placements – the latest six month long workfare scheme being launched at the end of this month.  They are however involved in Traineeships which can involve up to six months unpaid work for private companies.  In his Autumn Statement George Osborne announced that people under the age of 21 who refuse an unpaid Traineeship will face being sent on a Community Work Placement instead.

An online action has also been called against the charity so you can tell them what you think of their use of workfare on twitter @YMCA_England or facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YMCA.England

For more details and the latest news on the week of action visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3436

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Week Of Action Against Workfare Begins: Please Spread The Word!

boycott-workfare-week-of-actionJoin the online action today against workfare exploiters @SUBWAYUKIreland in solidarity with #fastfoodrights. Tell them what you think on facebook, or for more info go to: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3436

The Week of Action Against Workfare begins today with actions across the UK and online scheduled over the next seven days.

The week has been called in response to mass unpaid work schemes such as Traineeships and comes in the month that Community Work Placements are set to be launched.  These mandatory placements will mean unemployed people forced to work in at charities and in so-called community organisations for a period of six months.

In a huge embarrassment for Iain Duncan Smith, workfare’s biggest supporters The Salvation Army have already announced that this scheme is too exploitative even for them to stomach.  The charity had been invited by the DWP to bid for a lucrative sub-contract to administer the placements.  Other charities are also rumoured to be pulling out of the scheme – watch this space or keep an eye on Boycott Workfare’s website and twitter feed @boycottworkfare.

Protests and actions are already planned this week in Cardiff (tomorrow and on Friday April 4th) , Edinburgh, Liverpool, Brighton, Swansea and Glasgow.  Feel free to post details of additional events in the comments.

Online events will also be taking place throughout the week, I’ll try post them here but visit Boycott Workfare’s website for the latest news and join the facebook page for the week of events.

Please share, blog and tweet details of all events.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Scam-Ridden Universal Jobmatch Just Fine Says Monster Boss As He Laughs All The Way To The Bank

untick-ujThe breath-taking arrogance of private sector contractors has been laid bare today with the publication of a letter from the CEO of Monster Jobs defending the shambolic Universal Jobmatch website.

Universal Jobmatch is the scandal-hit website which unemployed people are forced to use to look for work.  Monster Jobs were paid almost £20 million to create the site which recently won a ‘worst website’ award at an industry event.  According to The Guardian, Universal Jobmatch is set to be scrapped when Monster’s contract expires in 2016.

This is not the case pleads Monster boss Sal Iannuzzi, in the joint statement co-written with Head of Jobcentre Plus Neil Couling.  The website is ‘here to stay’ he claims.  What’s more it is a ‘powerful tool’  and a ‘secure, and effective recruitment site’, whilst criticisms are based on ‘misrepresentation’.

The letter highlights two main areas of concern, the huge number of bogus jobs posted to the site and the number of duplicate or inappropriate vacancies.  According to Monster, the previous government jobs website also suffered from these problems, with 145 scams acted on in 2012.  11,000 fake jobs were recently removed from Universal Jobmatch due to just one scammer uncovered by a Channel 4 News investigation.  Around 200,000 job vacancies have disappeared from the site over the last couple of months when opportunistic politicians woke up to the reality of this scandalous abuse of public money.

Duplicate jobs remain an ongoing problem.  Recently over 100 adverts appeared for the same ‘four or five’ vacancies.  Many of these duplicate adverts were posted by Monster themselves.  These bastards must think we’re fucking idiots if they expect us to believe this is anything other than the greatest online rip off yet.

Perhaps the most laughable part of the statement is the bizarre claim that “Universal Jobmatch puts all of our customers on an equal footing with everyone else seeking a new job in the UK”.  Sal Iannuzzi seems to think that unemployed people were incapable of using the huge array of other recruitment websites- like the one Monster already run -  until Iain Duncan Smith came out with the whacky idea that perhaps you can find jobs on the internet nowadays.

The truth is that Universal Jobmatch was not developed to help people find work, but as a means of enforcing ‘conditionality’ for unemployment benefits on the cheap.  Iain Duncan Smith had hoped that claimants could be remotely monitored for 35 hours a week as they pointlessly clicked through the range of spam, scam and spoof vacancies that the website is so famous for.

Unfortunately for the Secretary of State he didn’t bother to check the law first.  Under data protection rules you cannot be forced to tick the box giving the Jobcentre access to your account and due to laws on cookies, you can only be forced to use the website on Jobcentre computers (PDF)*.  You can also untick the box in the picture above which gives consent for the DWP to send you emails.  There is no requirement to tell the Jobcentre if you have a home computer, tablet or smart phone.

For once in their miserable lives, the DWP are correct when they say it would be ‘irresponsible’ not to respond to cultural shifts in the way that people look for work in the ‘digital age’.  So no doubt the Jobcentre will welcome the launch of Universal Automation, the app which carries out jobsearch on Universal Jobmatch automatically.  This type of service is without doubt the future of online recruitment and it allows claimants the chance to take a break from their ‘work related activity’ and do something useful instead.  Like try and find work using one of the many other, better online job sites.

These bastards are openly laughing at us now.  You can tell Monster Jobs what you think of their joke website @Monster_UK.

For the latest updated leaflet on Universal Jobmatch rights visit: http://refuted.org.uk/2014/03/26/jobmatchrights/

*There are regular reports of people being threatened with sanctions if they refuse to tick the box allowing the Jobcentre to snoop on their accounts.  The best advice comes as ever from @refuted, which is to ask for this request to be made in writing, so you don’t forget.  If this type of harassment persists ask to speak to the Jobcentre manager.  For advice on making a complaint about the behaviour of Jobcentre staff visit: https://www.gov.uk/complain-jobcentre-plus

For advice on appealing or disputing a sanction decision go to: http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/27/appeals/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

Over 100 Advertisements For The Same “Four Or Five” Jobs On Universal Jobmatch

UJ-IT-jobsIn a shocking breach of the rules, over 100 job vacancies posted on the Government’s Universal Jobmatch website are for the same “four or five” jobs.

121 vacancies for computer programmers in Reading are currently posted on the website and all trace back to the same recruitment company, computerfutures.com.  On contacting this company it was established that in reality they currently have “four or five”  jobs available in the Reading area.

The reason for this duplication is that the same jobs are being posted by different recruitment agencies, all of who appear to be in breach of the rules which state vacancies must not be duplicated.  Appalling some of these fake job ads appear to have come from Monster, the company paid millions to run Universal Jobmatch who apparently can’t even keep to their own rules.

This fresh embarrassment comes just two weeks after thousands of job advertisements were taken down from the website after a Channel 4 news investigation found many of the positions were not genuine.  Last week The Guardian reported that Universal Jobmatch is scheduled to be scrapped when Monster’s contract expires in 2016.

This will be of little comfort to hundreds of thousands of unemployed people bullied into signing up for a Universal Jobmatch account – sometimes under the threat of benefits being stopped if they refuse.  Claimants can then face being forced to apply for vacancies, despite no-one, including the Jobcentre, having any idea whether the jobs actually exist.

The good news is that you still do not have to tick the box giving Jobcentre busybodies access to your Universal Jobmatch account and you cannot be forced to use the website on your home computer anywhere but Jobcentres.

A recent leaflet produced by the DWP (PDF) makes the position  clear:

“What if I don’t want cookies to be installed on my device?

“You will not have been required to register with Universal Jobmatch or to use it unless there is a DWP  Internet Access Device (IAD) reasonably available for you to use (please speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser). You can use the DWP IAD if you do not want to accept cookies or have chosen to delete cookies and do not want to accept them again. Cookies have already been accepted on all DWP IADs.

“If you are in receipt of a working age benefit, are using Universal Jobmatch voluntarily and do not want to accept cookies, please speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser to find out whether an IAD is available for you to use.”

For the most up to date info on your rights visit: http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/13/jobmatch/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid