Category Archives: JSA/Workfare/Work Programme

Number of People Claiming Sickness Benefits Hits Two Year High

ESA-claims1The number of people claiming out of work sickness or disability benefits has hit a two year high provisional statistics from the DWP show.

2,510,000 people are estimated to have been claiming either Employment Support Allowance, or the benefit it is replacing Incapacity Benefit, in July 2014.  This is around 70,000 higher than a year earlier and the higest number since Summer 2012.

With Atos assessments finding people with cancer and other serious health conditions ‘fit for work’, there can be no doubt that these claims are genuine.  Yet despite hundreds of thousands of people having benefits slashed due to the bungled health tests, it seems that people are still getting sick.

This is hardly suprising.  Despite the endless propaganda from the DWP, the UK did not have significantly more people on out of work sickness or disability benefits than comparable economies even before the current callous regime was introduced.  In any society there will be some people who are not able to work due to a health condition, accident or serious disability.  No amount of assessments, workfare or benefit sanctions will change that.

It would come as a shock to the out of touch bureacrats at the DWP that there have always been many people on long term unemployment benefits who in reality shold have probably been on the sick.  Some people feel making a claim for sickness benefits is giving up, others, particularly those with mental health conditions, may not be diagnosed or have a full understanding of their condtion.  One reason for a rise in sickness benefit claimants – at a time when unemployment is allegedly falling – may be that workfare and the endless ‘work related activity’ imposed by Jobcentres is making these people too ill to stay on unemployment benefit.

There is some evidence for this.  A DWP evaluation in 2012 found that people referred to Mandaory Work Activity were more likely to make a claim for sickness benefits than those who didn’t face workfare.  Other evidence shows that the assessment process for sickness benefits may be having a devastating impact on people’s mentak health.  Other reports have shown how benefit sanctions have caused people to be unable to meet special dietry needs, or going hungry, or being forced to beg or go through bins to find food.

Whatever the reason, and the huge backlog in sickness benefit assessents will be another factor, the number of people unable to work due to sickness or disability now looks set to have risen steadily over the past seven months.  It increasingly looks the case that all Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms have done for people on sickness benefits is make them sicker.

You can read the latest figures at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/dwp-statistical-summaries-2014

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Don’t Stop The Free Workers Plead The Workfare Exploiters

Poundland have seen dozens of protests outside their stores over their use of unpaid workers.

Poundland have seen dozens of protests outside their stores over their use of unpaid workers.

In a bizarre move, several companies known to use unpaid staff on workfare schemes have teamed up to write a letter to The Guardian singing the praises of the disastrous Work Programe.

The list of employers – which includes Homebase who are known to have used workfare is the past, and Poundland, who were at the heart of the successful legal challenge against workfare – say that the government’s support for schemes like the Work Programme ‘must continue’.  Otherwise they might have to start actually paying their staff instead of exploiting unemployed people coerced into unpaid work by sanction-happy Jobcentre busy-bodies.

It is not known whether all the companies on the list, which include Ocado and Gap, are involved in unpaid work, although it is difficult to see why they have signed otherwise.  In fact it seems a strange thing for these businesses to be bothered to do at all.

The last signatory on the list may reveal one explanation for how this strange initiative came about.  Kirsty McHugh is the Chief Executive of the Employment Related Services Assocation, or ERSA for short.  This is the trade body established to lie on behalf of the welfare-to-work parasites like A4e and G4S who run the Work Programme.  Just last week they published a breath-takingly dishonest report making wild claims that no-one believed about how much money the Work Programme is saving the country.  It seems likely that this latest letter was co-ordinated by ERSA as part of a shabby PR campaign designed to convince the DWP to keep giving welfare-to-work firms billions of pounds of our money.

Labour have hinted that they might bring in local councils to run forced work schemes.  The Lib Dems are caling for a policy change and may yet hold the balance of power again come the next election.  More importantly, no-one knows better than the welfare-to-work sector that the latest ‘Help to Work’ scheme is set to be a disaster and that they will be the ones that get the blame when it all goes wrong.  The future does not look so assured for ERSA and their welfare-to-work cronies who  have made hundreds of millions out of bullying and exploiting unemployed people.  They will fight dirty to keep Brtain’s biggest benefit scam alive.  Expect more bollocks like this.

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on October 4th.  Please spread the word.

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Take part in the Boycott Workfare week of action! 4-12 October 2014

bhf-workfareFrom Boycott Workfare

Forcing people to work for free through the threat of removing people’s benefits (sanctions) is unfair, unjust and wrong. In the week of action, tell the companies and charities who are profiting from this exploitative regime what you think of their involvement! Email, Tweet, use Facebook, phone them, protest, organise a flashmob: for a week of piling the pressure on workfare exploiters.

We know these tactics work! Just look at how quickly Byteback IT had to pull out when you told them what you thought after George Osborne made the mistake of visiting them. This is just one of the latest in a whole list of businesses and charities that have also pulled out of workfare following our pressure.

The latest workfare scheme, “Community Work Placements” (CWP), forces people to work for nothing for up to six months – twice the length of the maximum community service sentence for committing a crime. But there is growing resistance from the voluntary sector which the scheme needs to work: over 400 charities have signed up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary and 22 councils have pledged to boycott workfare. They know that workfare does not help people find jobs and being
unemployed is not a crime.

Resistance is paying off: the launch of the CWP scheme was massively delayed. Instead of using ‘big name’ national charities, the DWP has had to resort to small local charities and businesses to provide these Workfare placements. So local actions are all the more important! See Boycott Workfare’s list of Workfare users to find one near you.

All this means it is getting harder and harder for the government to find new employers willing to risk taking on Workfare placements. In fact the government is desperately doing all it can to avoid revealing the organisations using Workfare out of fear the schemes will collapse!

People pressure has ended Workfare in the place where it all started – New York – now let’s end it here!

Workfare undermines real paid jobs and wages; results in sanctions for thousands; does nothing to improve the chances of finding a job; and exploits those forced to take up these placements. Our actions can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting this forced unpaid work. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 4-12 October.

Whatever you’re planning – let us know and we’ll help spread the word!

Join our Facebook event here which we will update with links to all the local actions.

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Never Forget, It Is David Cameron Who Is Ultimately To Blame For Welfare Reform Deaths

cameron-black-tie-doneUnderstandably much of the rage aginst the vicious welfare reforms –  which are costing an increasing number of lives – has been aimed at blundering fucking idiot Iain Duncan Smith.

But it is David Cameron who has cheered along whilst the DWP has spent billions driving the poorest people in the country into destitution.  It is David Cameron who has been in charge whilst hundreds of hungry families have queued at foodbanks, or disabled people have been driven from their homes due to the Bedoom Tax.  And it is David Cameron who is ultimately responsible for the deaths of David Clapson, Stephanie Bottrill, Victor CuffJacqueling Harris and all of those driven to ill health and suicide by his Government’s callous devastation of the social security safety net.

David Cameron probably doesn’t even know that money runs out, and that when that happens, even in one of the richest countries in the world, the results can be fatal.  He is the living embodiment of the something for nothing culture, a man who has inherited a milion pound fortune, but never done a real day’s work in his pampered life.  It is unsuprising that someone so dripping in privilege has stayed in the background whilst Iain Duncan Smith has run rampant through the lives of the most marginalised in society.

David Clapson, who recently took his own life after his benefits were stopped, couldn’t be more different than the Prime Minister.  Whilst David Cameron spent his youth trashing restaurants and quaffing champagne with the elite Bullingdon Club, David Clapson was a serving soldier.  Whilst Cameron has spent much of his working life ‘chillaxing’ on holiday, David Clapson worked for sixteen years as a BT engineer, eight years for other companies, and cared for his sick mother.  If David Cameron were ever to have to stop work due to ill health he would still live a life of luxury that normal people could only dream of.  Yet when the same thing happened to David Clapson he was driven to despair, destitution and tragically his death because he missed a couple of meetings with the fucking Jobcentre.

Whilst Cameron has been enjoying yet another expensive holiday, over 180,000 people have signed a petition demanding an enquiry into the benefit sanctions which killed David Clapson.  The petition is rightly addressed to the Prime Minister – because the blood is on his hands.  It remains to be seen if he is brave enough to try and justify the death of a former serviceman in the name of trying to harass sick, disabled and unemployed people off benefits.  He will do everything he can to ignore it (don’t let him – @David_Cameron)

Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey, Lord Fraud and all the other murderous clowns at the DWP must also be held to account.  As should the craven Labour Party who began this attack on those with nothing and who have no plans to significantly change anything should they claw their way to back to power.  But it is David Cameron’s Government that killed David Clapson.  A man from the gilded toff elite where money rains from the sky is over-seeing a system that is demolishing the lives of the poor.  It is beyond sickening.  It must never be forgotten, or forgiven.

Please sign and share the petition calling for an enquiry into the benefit sanctions that killed David Clapson: http://www.change.org/p/david-cameron-hold-an-inquiry-into-benefit-sanctions-that-killed-my-brother

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Number of Sick And Disabled Claimants Facing Sanctions Triples In Just Six Months

sanction-sabsThe number of sick or disabled people who have had there benefit sanctioned for not taking part in ‘work related activity’ has almost tripled compared to just six months ago the latest figures show.

7.507 claimants on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), had their benefits sanctioned in March 2014, up from 4,698 the previous month and 2,369 In Sepetember 2013.  This has taken the total number of ESA claims sanctioned to over 100,000 since the regime was disgracefully introduced by Labour.

These clamaints are in the Work Related Acivity Group (WRAG) of ESA, meaning they have been judged unable to work at present but may possibly be well enough for employment in the future.  They include people with serious and life-threatening conditions including cancer.  Astonishingly this group are still sent on the Work Programme, where they may face compulsory ‘back to work’ training or even workfare.  Should they fail to attend any activity the private sector providers running the scheme dream up then they will have their benefits sanctioned.

These are not the only sick and disabled claimants who face sanctions.  Inhumane Atos assessments have led to many people with serious health conditions or disabilties being forced to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.  According to the DWP, since the tougher new sanctions regime was introduced in December 2012, over 150,000 disabled people have had their benefits stopped.  Whilst people on sickness benefits only generally lose a portion of their benefits, those on JSA can lose every penny.  For people with special dietery needs or other conditions, this can prove fatal as the tragic death of David Clapson recently showed.

Appalling many of those sanctioned will have been driven into poverty due to failure to attend workfare with so-called charities and community organisations.  The first names of these organisations accepting workfare placements on the latest scheme, which involves 780 hours of unpaid work, are now starting to leak out.  Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health (@_LAMH_ also on facebook) have been reported to be accepting this form of workfare and have remained silent about their grotesque exploitation since being exposed.  @SumoWaste have protected their tweets on twitter and also have nothig to say about their grubby exploitation after they were named and shamed on the facebook page of Edinburgh Coaltion Against Poverty.  Also recently named as taking part are @DISC_Services, a so-called charity who will be receiving tax payer’s money to arrange workfare placements and who are also on facebook.

The DWP refuse to name the charities taking workfare placements, if you know of one contact Boycott Workfare to have them named and shamed.

Please sign, share and tweet the petition for an inquiry into the benefit sanctions that killed David Clapson: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-hold-an-inquiry-into-benefit-sanctions-that-killed-my-brother

The latest benefit sanctions figures can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/jobseekers-allowance-and-employment-and-support-allowance-sanctions-decisions-made-to-march-2014

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One Last Push! Sign and Share The Petition Calling For An Inquiry Into The Sanctions That Killed David Clapson

MAIN--David-ClapsonThis petition calling for an inquiry into the benefit sanctions which killed David Clapson has hit almost 75,000 signatures in just over a week.

Mr Clapson had his benefits stopped after missing a meeting with the Jobcentre.  This left him unable to chill the insulin he needed to manage his diabetes and without any money for food or electricity.  Shortly after his benefits were sanctioned he was found dead without any food in his stomach.

His sister launched the petition last week calling an inquiry into benefit  sanctions and the terrible damage they inflict.  Tens of thousands of people have signed already.  The Government will do everything they can to ignore it, but behinds the scenes this will not go unnoticed.

Benefit sanctions are the teeth of welfare reform, and are designed as a form of punishment for being on benefits.  If you don’t jump through every hoop set up by the deranged Iain Duncan Smith – in the exact way he has decided you should – then you will have all forms of meeting your basic needs stopped.  Depending on your circumstances you might become homeless, ill, or even die.  It doesn’t even have to be your fault.  The system is as haphazard as it is vicious, and thousands have been wrongly sanctioned for the most trivial and vindictive of reasons.

There are signs that, as the public discover what the DWP are doing to people, the mood is starting to change.  A recent poll  by Ipsos Mori found that more people are concerned about poverty and inequality in the UK since they began collecting figures in 1998 (h/t @patrickjbutler).  If this petition can hit 100,000 signatures then it will be further proof that people are finally saying enough is enough to the war on the poor that has been waged so brutally by both this, and the last government.

One last push can make that happen, so please share, tweet, blog and post the petition everywhere: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-hold-an-inquiry-into-benefit-sanctions-that-killed-my-brother

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The TUC And Workfare: Sadly It’s Worse Than You Think

workfare_0Just days after the TUC teamed up with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Tory Ministe Nick Boles, to sing the praises of unpaid work, a shocking document has emerged which goes even further in endorsing workfare.

As unearthed by @refuted, the TUC have issued guidleines to union reps on what they should do if their employer plans to take workfare placements.  Astonishingly the TUC even appear to want to help reps to:  approach their employer to provide young unemployed people in their area with a good quality work experience placement“.  They are not just refusing to oppose workfare, but are actively encouraging it in unionised workplaces.

There then follows a description of what the TUC have decided is good workfare but which barely even resembles the current schemes.  Their claim that “Work experience placements should not continue for more than a few weeks comes despite their previous endorsement of Traineeships which can involve up to five months unpaid work.   Workfare should also always lead to a job or an Apprenticeship say the TUC, yet not one of the current work experience programmes offers this.

The TUC claim workfare employers should provide fares, lunch and any other out of pocket expenses, yet it is the providers managing the schemes that are responsible for paying fares.  The companies running the latest workfare placements are even warned:  “You must not give (and ensure host organisations do not give) any incentive payments or rewards to the claimant for participation in CWP”.  So there goes lunch.

Laughably they even say people on workfare should be informed about “workplace employment rights” when those on unpaid government schemes do not have any fucking employment rights. Get sacked, and you will probably get sanctioned.

On the question of compulsory workfare – and all unpaid work comes with a heavy dose of Jobcentre coercion whether backed by sanctions or not – the TUC are vague.  All they are prepared to say is that the best workfare placements are ‘voluntary’ and that they don’t like the curent benefit sancioning regime.  And that’s it.  This is their craven response to forced unpaid labour under the threat of poverty, destitution or homelessness.  The same poverty that recently killed David Clapson.  They don’t like it.  It makes them feel bad.  But they are going to do fuck all about it and seem to think sanctions are worth it for all the wonderful training workfare offers.

It is unclear whether the TUC expect their conditions to be met before an employer begins using workfare.  What is certain is that they never will be, the rules of workfare are written into legislation.  There is no guidance on what a rep should do if their employer ignores these demand.  The answer seems to be nothing.

No-one expected the TUC to be much help in the struggle against welfare reforms, but for them to openly side with Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP is obscene.  Their intervention could not have come at a worse time as the government attempts a massive roll out of the biggest workfare programme yet.  It will be claimants resisting this attack on working rights, not tired old union bureacrats.  But if the TUC are not prepared to back those who actually face unpaid work then the best they could do is get out of the fucking way.

You can let the TUC know what you think @TUCnews.  Don’t expect them to listen though.

The guidance is available at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/learning-and-training/work-experience-placements-guidance-union-reps

This blog will be sporadic until September.

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