Category Archives: JSA/Workfare/Work Programme

Sign The Petition For An Inquiry Into The Benefit Sanctions That Killed David Clapson

MAIN--David-ClapsonThe family of David Clapson – the former soldier who recently died after his benefits were stopped as punishment for missing a meeting at the Jobcentre – have launched a petition calling for an inquiry into benefit sanctions.

In his sister’s own words:

“My brother, David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier, died starving and destitute because he was penalised by the Job Centre for missing a meeting.

“David had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped meaning that he couldn’t afford food or electricity. He was penniless, starving and alone. His electricity card was out of credit meaning the fridge where he should have kept his diabetes insulin chilled was not working. Three weeks after his benefits were stopped he died from diabetic ­ketoacidosis – caused by not taking his insulin. 

“David wasn’t a “scrounger”. He had worked for 29 years; 5 years in the Army – including two years in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, during the height of the troubles – 16 years with British Telecom, eight years with various other companies, and in recent years was a carer for our sick mother. When mum went into a home, David turned to the state for help, receiving benefits while he looked for work and taking unpaid work placements.

“When he died he had just £3.44 to his name, six tea bags, a tin of soup and an out-of-date can of sardines. A coroner also found he had no food in his stomach.

“People turn to the state when they are in need – that is what the system is for – a safety net for hard working people like my brother when they need a bit of support. That £71.70 a week was his lifeline. To withhold it from him for missing one meeting is cruel. And the heartbreaking thing is that he was really trying. CVs for job applications were found near David’s body. He had been on work placements, passed his fork lift truck certificate and had been on a computer training course.”

To read more and sign visit: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-hold-an-inquiry-into-benefit-sanctions-that-killed-my-brother

Please sign, share, tweet and blog this. Let’s make sure this tragic story does not go away.

You can also sign the petition calling for benefits sanctions to be scrapped  without exceptions.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Criticising Government Policy Online Is “Unacceptable Intimidation” According To Treasury

byteback-fb1As pointed out by @refuted, the Treasury’s claim that a recent anti-workfare social media storm was “unacceptable intimidation” comes just days after an Upper Tribunal judge endorsed this kind of criticism as “legitimate political expression”.

The comments came after news broke that Bristol IT company Byteback had pulled out of workfare a week after being visited by George Osborne to sing the praises of the scheme.  Hundreds of people had contacted Byteback on social media expressing dismay at their involvement in forced work after some fierce questioning from @andygale on twitter caused them to refer to their unpaid workers as ‘employees of the state’.

Shortly after this bombardment, and in a huge embarrassment for Osborne, Byteback apologised for their involvement in his grubby scheme and promised “no more involvement ever with workfare”.

This prompted a tantrum from the Treasury who took to the national press to complain of the “unacceptable intimidation” Byteback had faced online, referring to it as “outrageous”.  Yet in Byteback’s comments above it seems that what finally prompted them to withdraw from workfare was a phone call from someone called Robin.  According to the company themselves “we had a good chat with Robin who explained in details the issues surrounding workfare”.  Byteback even thanked Robin for this conversation, saying that they had been “ill informed about workfare”.  Well done Robin!

BB-facebook2

It tells us everything we need to know about the Tory Party’s true attitude to civil liberties that a friendly phone call criticising Government policy is branded “unacceptable intimidation”.  Osborne seems to think the people running Byteback are fucking idiots, who are incapable of making decisions on their own based on new information.  He isn’t the only senior Tory who thinks this way either.

The DWP were back in court again this week as part of Iain Duncan Smith’s desperate attempt to keep the names of charities and companies using workfare a state secret.  The department were appealing an earlier decision by the First Tribunal (pdf) that these organisations should be named.  Part of their appeal was that the previous tribunal decision had not recognised that some comments made on the internet about workfare exploiters were really, really mean and had made the Salvation Army cry or something.

The judge was unimpressed, saying that: “the thrust of those blogs was well within the bounds of legitimate political expression within a democratic society”, despite acknowledging that “the occasional comment overstepped the bounds of decency”.  The miserable cunt.

The DWP also once again argued that if the public were told who is using workfare then the four week Mandatory Work Activity scheme would collapse.  Again they were rebuffed in a damning verdict in which the judge repeatedly pointed out that an appeal to the Upper Tribunal is supposed to be used to correct errors in law, not as an attempt to re-argue the facts.

As Boycott Workfare point out, the DWP seem to be “playing a delaying game - anything to slow down the release of the list of all the businesses and organisations  profiting from the use of workfare.”  They are right to be shitting themselves, anger against unpaid work schemes and the benefit sanctions they are backed with, is growing fast.

George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith seem genuinely astonished that so many people are appalled by forced and unpaid work.  But what is really making them furious is the devastating impact that mass collective action has had on their workfare policies. Those outside of the political classes, or the rich they serve, are not supposed to have any real political power.  That’s the kind of shit that gets toffs killed if you let it get out of hand.

To view the Upper Tribunal judgement visit: http://refuted.org.uk/2014/07/22/workfarenameandshame/

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Shameless – Workfare Exploiting Charities Slam The Benefit Sanctions They Are Responsible For

times-letter-sanctionsIn an act of breath-taking hypocrisy, the Salvation Army, along with the YMCA, have both signed a letter to The Times calling the current benefit sanctioning regime unfair and counter-productive.

This comes despite both organisations being involved in ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ and therefore responsible for reporting unemployed people to the Jobcentre to face sanctions if they don’t turn up for unpaid work placements.

The Salvation Army has even been praised by the DWP for ‘holding the line’ on workfare after scores of charities distanced themselves from the scheme. When peaceful anti-workfare campaigners visited the Salvation Army in protest at their use of workfare, the charity locked them inside and attempted to have them arrested with fabricated stories of staff being man-handled.

The Salvation Army have repeatedly defended their involvement in mandatory welfare-to-work provision and also their operation of a Work Programme sub-contract. Claimants on this scheme, including those on out of work sickness or disability benefits, can be ‘mandated’ to almost any job search related activity that the charity can dream up, including workfare. If their victims fail to do what they are told then it is the Salvation Army’s job to report them to the DWP to have their benefits sanctioned.

Not for the first time some charities are pretending to care about the poor in public whilst stopping their benefits behind the scenes.  If the Salvation Army and the YMCA think sanctions are unfair then perhaps they should stop sanctioning people.  Until then, these grubby attempts to white wash their own workfare crimes should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

To join the fight against workfare visit Boycott Workfare’s website.

Charities and voluntary organisations opposed to workfare can sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement.

The Salvation Army are on twitter @salvationarmyuk and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/salvationarmyuk

YMCA are on twitter @YMCA_England and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YMCA.England

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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

WorkFare-not-workingUPDATE – Wednesday 23rd July: After five days of silence Age UK have issued furious denials on twitter and their name has been removed from the list of G4S Placement Brokers. There has been no explanation why they were listed as Community Work Placement sub-contractors. Perhaps G4S just made it up. Perhaps they have pulled out. We will probably never know as the days when charities were open and transparent about their activities seems to be fast disappearing.

Some 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

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Workfare Till You Drop – Esther McVey To Target Older Claimants

WorkFare-not-workingWhat they say …

“It’s time to change the conversation about extending working life from one about working “until you drop”, to one about a fuller working life, that means working as long as is necessary to create the future you want.”

Esther McVey and Steve Webb, Fuller Working Lives Ministerial Statement

What they mean …

labour-market-exitFuller Working Lives, page 8

Unpaid work, cuts to disability benefits and mandated ‘work-related activity’ are set to be at the heart of the latest DWP strategy aimed at bullying older people off benefits

Last week the DWP published Fuller Working Lives, a ‘framework for action’ for older unemployed people and the rhetoric is depressingly familiar. Under the guise of help and support it will be business as usual as older claimants are left at the mercy of the grasping welfare-to-work industry.

The report notes that around a million people over 50 are out of work due to a health condition or disability and the new strategy sets out measures to force this group back to work.  Astonishingly the DWP claim that one of ways to achieve this is the introduction of Personal Independence Payments.  This is the replacement for Disability Living Allowance which has been designed to strip benefits from 20% of disabled people and currently has up to a six month waiting period for new claims.  Disabled people’s organisations have warned that many will actually have to give up work if they lose this benefit which pays for the cost of care and mobility needs.

Other measures to ‘help’ sick or disabled claimants include a trial to establish whether harassment from a Work Programme provider, a health care professional, or a Jobcentre Plus Work Coach is the most effective means of bullying someone off benefits.

It’s not all doom and gloom though.  The DWP is promising some exciting new initiatives, such as testing telephone based  ‘employment-focused talking therapies’ from a ‘specialist provider’ – which is likely to mean a phone call from some half-qualified quack who’s blagged a job on the basis that they saw a Derren Brown show once.  If this doesn’t work then claimants with a mental health condition will be able to access “online mental health assessments and computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy”.  If Poundland did healthcare, then this is what it would look like.

Poundland will be pleased with the new strategy, which sings the praises of Sector Based Work Academies – a long winded way of saying workfare – for older unemployed people.  This is the scheme which hit the headlines after young graduate Cait Reilly was forced to work in Poundland for no pay.  Older claimants are not be left out of this exciting opportunity to work without wages for high street retailers.

It’s not just workfare employers who are in for a windfall.  The DWP recognise that “Some unemployed older people will need the more intensive support available through the Work Programme”.  There’s plenty of cash available to prop up this disastrous scheme which has seen barely 5% of disabled people find work after two years of bullying by private sector Work Programme providers.  There’s even more money on the way for the welfare-to-work industry with Supervised JobSearch Pilots finally to be introduced.  Older unemployed people will soon have the lucky chance to be cooped up in offices for 35 hours a week whilst some twat with a clipboard harangues them about being unemployed.  If they don’t turn up their benefits will be stopped.

Older claimants who want real training will have to pay themselves however, by taking out a Professional and Career Development Loans.  I didn’t make that up.  The Government are encouraging people nearing retirement to take out a huge loan on the off chance it may get them a job for the for last couple of years of their working lives.  Loans that are repayable with interest, whether or not someone finds work, and those repayments will continue once they draw a pension.

This lays bare the truth about all this fake fucking help that the DWP plans to inflict on older people.  There has never been any decent training available for people on out of work benefits despite billions spent on welfare-to-work schemes. Try telling a Jobcentre Work Coach you fancy training as an electrician and they’ll send you on workfare in Comet to hump televisions about all day for no pay.  The DWP have no interest in providing real training so that older unemployed people can get jobs that might actually pay the bills.  They’d far rather condemn older claimants to the same low or no-waged precarious world that those starting their working lives now face.  That’s probably this Government’s warped idea of equality.

You can download Fuller Working Lives at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/319872/fuller-working-lives.pdf

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid