Tag Archives: Mark Hoban

The Work Programme Is Getting Worse Latest Figures Reveal!

pauline-jobcentreStatistics released by the DWP today show that the performance of the Work Programme – which was already achieving less than doing nothing at all – is steadily getting worse.

By June 2013 a lower percentage of people who had been on the scheme for one full year had found a job which lasted at least 6 months  – known as a sustained job outcome – than in the previous two months.  In April 2013 14% of claimants who had been on the scheme for one year had found sustained jobs, by June this had dropped to 13%.

Following intervention by the UK Statistics Agency, the latest Work Programme figures now focus on the numbers of people finding work after spending one year on the scheme.  This change has been introduced to reflect that the longer someone has been on the two year Work Programme, the more likely they are to find a job.  This means that the number of job outcome payments, paid to welfare-to-work companies when someone has been in work for six months (or 3 months for the ‘hardest to help’), will rise over time.  This has nothing to do with the Work Programme becoming more successful – it simply means that as more people are referred onto the programme, and more people have been on the scheme longer, then there will be more job outcomes.

Despite this change in how the statistics are presented, the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban is attempting to bamboozle the press and public alike by claiming that:  “More than 168,000 jobseekers have escaped long-term unemployment and found lasting work – normally at least 6 months – through the Work Programme, an increase of 37,000 in 3 months”

To place this figure in context, the DWP also admit: “1.14 million people had been referred to the Work Programme and been on it for long enough to count in today’s employment performance figures.”  Which means that for just under a million people, the Work Programme has been a complete waste of time.

No matter how hard DWP Ministers try to spin the facts, the truth is that the Work Programme is currently performing even worse last quarter’s dismal figures.  The number of people on the sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance (ESA) finding work after one year on the Work Programme has remained more or less stable, at the shameful rate of just 4%.  But for those on mainstream unemployment benefits things are getting worse.  According to the DWP: “Until the most recent quarter, the proportion of JSA intake groups achieving a Job Outcome payment within a year has increased month to month. Whilst the general trend is still increasing the most recent quarter shows a decrease in these levels.”

The latest statistics also contain the details of what has happened to the first group to complete the two year Work Programme.  This is the intake who began on the scheme in June 2011.  Just 22.5% of this group achieved a sustained job outcome at some point during this two years, a truly shocking figure woefully below the number who would have been expected to find work without any help at all.

Of the 74, 630 people who began on the Work Programme in June 2011, 54,000 of them were referred back to Jobcentre Plus two years later.  And this does not mean 20,000 people got jobs.  Some will have claimed a pension, moved in with a partner and become ineligible for benefits, or in some cases died.

It has been clear for a long time that the Work Programme isn’t working.  Long term unemployment is at record levels and still rising.  No matter how much unemployed people are bullied and humiliated by welfare-to-work companies, it will not make one bit of difference to the number of people out of work.  Unemployment isn’t caused by unemployed people.  But don’t expect any change to come from the DWP.  Iain Duncan Smith will carry on regardless, spending billions of pounds of tax payer’s money in an ever more desperate attempt to try and prove that the poor are responsible for their own misfortune.

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There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch – Unless You’re Iain Duncan Smith Dining Out On The Daily Mail

IDS-slugDWP Ministers have been enjoying a string of slap up lunches, paid for by the right wing press, recently released hospitality records reveal.

Iain Duncan Smith had a free lunch from the Daily Mail, News Corporation, The Daily Telegraph (they bought him dinner as well) and The Spectator between October 2012 and March this year.  Even The Guardian have splashed out to feed the sponging Secretary of State, along with the BBC, who were recently slammed over their bias against benefits claimants in a flagship documentary screened in 2011.  IDS also had a free dinner with the McWhirter Foundation, an organisation established as a tribute to apartheid supporting racist Ross McWhirter.

Predictably it is the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban who has been the biggest beneficiary of the right wing press’s generosity.  He may not do much work, but he’s not one to miss a hand out from Rupert Murdoch.  Hoban scrounged three free lunches out of the The Sun newspaper in his first six months in the job, along with the Daily Mail, The Times, The Telegraph and The Financial Times.  He also managed to drag himself away from his tax payer funded silk cushions to enjoy a freebie from the BBC , along with one from The Guardian/Observer and a dinner from right-wing think tank The Policy Exchange.

In fact Mark Hoban had more free meals than all of the ministers involved in welfare reform put together between September 2012 and March 2013, although this does take into account Billy No Mates Lord Fraud who has only been bought lunch once in the last two years.  Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Esther Mcvey is equally unpopular with just one licence  payer funded lunch from the BBC since she started in the job.

For a long time the cosy relationship between the DWP and the some sections of the press has been all too obvious.  As Iain Duncan Smith has embarked on a string of brutal and reckless reforms to social security, the right wing media has unleashed a tsunmai of nasty and vindictive benefit claimant bashing stories as political cover.

You might have thought that Ministers trying to influence the press into supporting their policies would at least have had the decency to pay for their own lunches.  The culture of entitlement is alive and well amongst the senior ministers at the DWP.

The records (apart from the months January-June 2012 which appear to be missing) can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/series/dwp-ministers-hospitality-and-gifts

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Claimants Not Welcome At This Week’s Workfare Love In

CPAGSkiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban will be dragging his lazy arse off his taxpayer funded silk cushions this week to attend the annual conference for the welfare-to-work sector. Hoban will be giving the opening speech at the conference, despite his recent admission that he doesn’t understand the benefits system.

A whole host of workfare parasites will be joining him where they will munch down on vol-au-vents whilst discussing how to further harass and bully benefit claimants.  With prices set at a whopping £414 even for the cheapest ticket,  it is clear that claimants themselves are not welcome at the event.

These prices are unlikely to bother the bloated welfare-to-work companies.   Iain Duncan Smith’s endless crazy schemes are shoveling tax payers cash into their pockets faster than they can spend it.  Some of our money is being used for the three course ‘Networking dinner’ which will be held at ‘prestigious venue within Manchester’ as part of the event.

The conference is being held at the Manchester Central Convention Complex and along with Hoban will feature representatives from G4S, The Shaw Trust, A4e and Working Links.  The knees up is being organised by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI), a think tank whose main role seems to be providing pseudo-intellectual cover for the vicious workfare and benefit sanctioning regime at the DWP.

Sadly, and unsurprisingly, it will not just be the money grabbing welfare-to-work companies in attendance.  Several charities are also lined up to attend such as Scope, Disability Rights UK (DRUK) and the Child Poverty Action Group (@CPAGUK) who astonishingly are even official supporters of the event*.

CPAG claim to be a “leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty”.  Yet they are not just attending a conference where private sector poverty pimps will be discussing new ways to bully and impoverish lone parents on benefits, they are even helping to pay for it!

Throughout the conference delegates will be using the hashtag #w2w2013,  where they will no doubt be tweeting the usual  self-congratulatory bullshit as they desperately try and justify their own empty lives.  Why not join the conversation on Tuesday 9th July and let them know what decent people think of Britain’s biggest benefit scroungers in the fraud ridden welfare-to-work industry.

UPDATE: Latest information suggests that CPAG claim not to have paid to sponsor the event, but seem happy to be listed as official supporters anyway.  It’s murky, ask them what’s going on.

It’s not too late to join in with the Week of Action Against Workfare.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Work Programme Still Worse Than Doing Nothing At All

WorkFare-not-workingToday’s Work Programme performance figures reveal that the bungled scheme is still performing far worse than if the Government hadn’t handed approaching a billion pounds to welfare-to-work companies.

For those claimants on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) – the benefit for people who are sick or disabled – just 5.3% of people found jobs which lasted over 3 months.  This is against the DWP’s own minimum performance figure of 16.5%.

As the name suggests, the minimum performance figure is not a target.  It is a contractual requirement set 10% higher than the rate of people who would have been expected to find jobs under their own steam with no intervention whatsoever.  This means that had the Work Programme not existed then the number of people who would have come off sickness benefits and found work would have been expected to be three times higher.

Failure to meet the minimum performance figures should mean contracts being pulled and the DWP has already warned this might be the case saying today that:  “Performance Improvement Notices have also been issued for 12 contracts where providers must show significant improvement over the next four months or face the contract being terminated.”

Yesterday George Osborne warned of a “a hard-headed assessment of under-performing (DWP) programmes”.  If contracts are pulled later this year, and not replaced, then this will be the surest indicator yet that the Work Programme is being quietly abandoned.

The figures for those claiming Job Seekers Allowance also failed to meet the minimum contractual standards.  The performance level for claimants under 25 was 31.9% against the minimum of 33%, whilst for those over 25 it stood at 27.3% against 27.5%.

Whilst this is marginally over the number who would have found work without the Work Programme, it is still below the very minimum expected of the welfare-to-work companies.  These money grabbing poverty pimps have been paid hundreds of millions of pounds for virtually nothing at all – a handful of extra jobs for those who are easiest to help into work.  It would have been cheaper to bury money in the ground and pay unemployed people to dig it up.

In total, after two years of the scheme, just 13.4% of all claimants have found jobs which lasted over six months, or three months in the cases of those on sickness or disability benefits.  Overall this is still less than the number who would have been expected to find work without the Work Programme, yet the DWP are today trying to tell us what a wonderful success the whole sorry farce has been.

In a gushing press release the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban even makes a rare appearance with the astonishing claim that the Work Programme is giving “taxpayers a far better deal than previous schemes.”  Almost a billion pounds has been squandered and nothing has been achieved – and Hoban thinks this is a good deal.  No wonder he was so happy to spend £35 quid of our money on a fucking bog brush he could have picked up on the market for less than a fiver.

In truth all the DWP can really say is that these figures are better than the last ones – something which would be entirely expected for two reasons.  The first is that they could hardly have been worse, but also, as people have been on the Work Programme longer, the number of people finding work has risen.  Someone is more likely to find a job in a two year period than they are in just a year.  That is why the minimum performance levels have also risen.

One indicator of the Work Programme’s failure which isn’t included in today’s statistics is soaring long term unemployment.  The number of people out of work for over one year has risen almost every single month since this Government weren’t elected.  The vast majority of claimants are referred to the Work Programme after a year on benefits.  With the number of people unemployed for over one year soaring, this suggests that the tiny number of people who have got jobs on the Work Programme have got those jobs at the expense of people not yet referred to the scheme.  It is unlikely one single job has been created by the Work Programme.

This is because you can’t fix unemployment with crude attempts to fix unemployed people.  There are no fucking jobs.  It doesn’t matter how many billions of pounds are handed to vile scum like A4e to bully and harass claimants, there will still be no fucking jobs.  It’s about time politicians of all parties grew up and accepted the real, brutal and unequal nature of the capitalist economy that they all think is so wonderful.

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare from the 6th-14th July.

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Don’t Ask Me About Benefits I Don’t Understand Them Admits Benefits Minister

mark-hoban-scroungerSkiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban has confirmed what many people suspected, which is that he isn’t clever enough to understand the benefits system.

Speaking at a recent anti-poverty conference organised by the Catholic Church Hoban admitted: “I can’t navigate my way round the benefits system.”

The Guardian Diary reports (spotted by Obi Wan Kenobi in the comments) that Hoban claims the system is ‘complex’ and that whenever a constituent has a problem concerning social security he sends them to Citizen’s Advice.  Hoban will do almost anything to get out of actually doing some work.

Unfortunately it’s not just his own constituents that Hoban is abandoning.  Over five million people are on some form of social security.  Many are facing unprecedented poverty and homelessness due to the brutal and bungled welfare reforms.

And Hoban’s comments are the clearest indication yet that DWP Ministers don’t even understand the very system they are reforming.

Claimants manage to understand the benefits system.  As do advice workers and (some) Jobcentre staff.  Yet the man in charge hasn’t a clue.  The skiving scrounging bastard is picking up a huge tax payer funded salary and even he admits he isn’t up to the job.

The scary thing is that compared to Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Fraud, Mark Hoban is the clever one.

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Government Abandons Flagship Workfare Scheme

workfare-stick-upIn a major victory for campaigners, the DWP seem to be confirming that they have scrapped the Community Action Programme (CAP), the rolling workfare scheme which had been planned for those leaving the Work Programme.

The Government had planned to force all those who have been unemployed over two years onto near permanent workfare.  This scheme was recently trialled with disastrous results as participants were found to be no more likely to find work than those who had not attended the programme.

Then the Community Action Programme was dragged through the courts in the case brought by Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson.  Along with other workfare measures the CAP was found to be unlawful, but unlike the other schemes, there was no retroactive legislation introduced to bring it in line with the law.

It now seems it has been abandoned altogether, with an announcement from the DWP today of a new scheme involving ‘a hit squad of specialist advisers’ based in Jobcentres.  It seems that the floundering welfare-to-work companies in charge of the Work Programme are no longer to be trusted with those who have been unemployed for over two years.

Workfare is still likely to be involved in the scheme, with threats of Mandatory Work Activity for participants – four weeks workfare as opposed to six months.  This scaling back is almost certainly down to the huge resistance to workfare which has forced most of the UK’s best known charities to withdraw and refuse to provide further placements.

According to the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban, claimants on the latest scheme will also be forced to sign up for Universal Jobmatch – the bodged government job-seeking website riddled with spam and scam vacancies.  The DWP warn that these claimants will also be required to tick the box allowing Jobcentre staff to spy on their accounts – a move of dubious legality under data protection laws.

Hoban is threatening that the new scheme will be tough, intensive and uncompromising.  Yet with Jobcentres already creaking under the strain of the DWP’s ever more hare-brained schemes, it seems hard to imagine how Jobcentre staff will find the time to provide daily intensive support to over half a million people.

One thing that can be guaranteed is that whatever they do won’t work.  From Tony Blair’s New Deal to Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled Work Programme, not one of these measures has come even close to the aim of ending long term unemployment.  Despite the toughest ever welfare reforms, unemployment has risen over the last three months and long term unemployment continues to soar.

And whilst government ministers insist that unemployment is caused by unemployed people, then billions more will be poured down the drain to do little more than harass, impoverish and stigmatise those unable to find a job.

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Mencap Sponsor Workfare Award At Poverty Pimp Love In

mencap-ersaDecent people everywhere will be appalled to learn that the charity Mencap recently sponsored an award at the first ever ERSA Employability Awards.

ERSA are the trade body who were formed in 2005 to lie on behalf of the money grabbing welfare-to-work industry .  They represent the companies such as A4e and G4S who are being paid billions to harass and bully benefit claimants on the Government’s Work Programme.

Despite a disastrous year for this sector, during which almost no-one has found work through the Work Programme,  ERSA seem to have plenty of cash to splash out on a back-slapping awards ceremony.  Even the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban managed to drag himself off his tax-payer funded silk cushions to turn up for a free drink.

Mencap sponsored the Large Employer of the Year Award, at a cost of a cool £1000 according to advance publicity for the awards (pdf).  This award to went to B&M Stores, a company who have repeatedly been accused of using workfare and who work closely with poverty pimps Ingeus to recruit staff.

Mencap donors and supporters may be shocked to learn the charity is handing out money to cheer on the welfare-to-work sector, but sadly for those following welfare reform this is no surprise.  Whilst many large disability charities, including Mencap, have distanced themselves from workfare in their shops, they still have their snouts firmly in the welfare reform trough.  Scope, RNIB, Leonard Cheshire Disability and MIND are just some of the charities who, along with Mencap, are paid by the welfare-to-work sector to manage Work Programme sub-contracts.

And as this award ceremony shows, behind the scenes charity bosses are quite happy to stuff their faces with vol au vents and hand out money intended for disabled people to pay for glitzy love-ins with the worst of the corporate sector.

Another familiar face at the awards was Matthew Oakley, who was adding yet another lucrative string to his own personal welfare-to-work racket.  Oakley is a leading member of the right wing think-tank, the Policy Exchange, who recommended many of the current welfare reforms.  Oakley is also paid  £256.80 a day by the tax payer as a member of the Social Security Advisory Committee, the so called independent body of so called experts that scrutinise those welfare reforms.  And last week Oakley was a judge at an awards ceremony handing out prizes to the companieswho are paid to implement the reforms.

Over the last eighteen months, any involvement with forced unpaid labour has become a public relations nightmare for both private companies and charities alike.  These awards suggest the welfare-to-work sector is fighting back.  Companies using workfare may face boycotts and protests, but they might also get a shiny award, sponsored by a national charity to show how lovely they really are.  All those who object to Mencap acting as charitable cover for the crimes of the welfare-to-work sector can contact them on facebook or on twitter @mencap_charity.

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Number of Claimants On New Sickness Benefit At All Time High Boasts Mark Hoban

atoskillsgrafIt is a tribute to the hard campaigning carried out by disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters that the Government are now boasting that less people are being found ‘fit for work’ than at any point since the notorious Work Capability Assessment (WCA) began.

A revealing press release from the DWP makes the claim that the WCA is now ‘fairer’ stating that: “nearly three in ten people completing a Work Capability Assessment between June and August 2012 were awarded unconditional support through ESA. This compares to just one person in every ten completing an assessment three years ago.”

This refers to claimants placed in the Support Group part of Employment Support Allowance, in which there is no requirement to look for work.  It suggests that even the DWP admit that many of the initial assessments were ‘unfair’, despite internet con man Grant Shapps’ recent attempts to smear all those stripped of sickness benefits as fraudulent or fake.

The press release also contains  a timely acknowledgement that those placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG)  group – the majority of claimants now on sickness or disability benefits – are not ‘fit for work’ as has often been claimed.  According to the DWP:  “People who are placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) for ESA are currently too ill to work, but with the right help will be able to move into work in the future”

Astonishingly people in this group can still be sent on workfare or face having their benefits stopped.  Grasping charities such as the Salvation Army have been only too happy to staff their charity shops with claimants who, in the opinion of their own doctors, Atos and even the DWP, are too ill to work.

And it is this that reveals the truth behind this apparent change of attitude,  which is little more than some cheap spin spewed out by skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban in a panic before the local elections.  As well as condemning sick and disabled people to unpaid labour, Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are set to make a significant number of them homeless.  Despite minister’s lies that disabled people will not be affected by the bedroom tax or benefit cap, hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled claimants in the Work Related Activity Group will be hit by the changes.  Many will lose their homes.

The figures also contain details of appeals, and show that 37% of appeals against decisions made by Atos have been successful, a figure which has remained more or less stable since the introduction of the WCA.  This translates total to a shocking 15% of all ‘fit for work’ decisions in total.  And that just represents people who appealed.  The number of those wrongly stripped of benefits and now forced into the Jobseekers Allowance regime, or living on the charity of friends and family, will be far higher.

A couple of year’s ago this press release would have been littered with smears claiming to prove the number of ‘fit for work’ decisions shows how those on sickness or disability benefits are scroungers.  The new direction should not fool anyone.  It seems that the new DWP spin on the figures is intended to imply that the WCA they inherited -  shamefully introduced as it was by Labour – was terribly unfair, but now they’ve fixed it.  The persistent high rate of successful appeals reveals they have done little more than change the PR and tinker around the edges.

Hundreds of thousands of people with serious health conditions or disabilities are still being found ‘fit for work’.  The appeals figures show over 1 in 7 of those decisions are ‘officially’ wrong, whilst the Work Programme statistics show barely any of those thrown off sickness benefits are finding jobs.  The number of disabled people helped into work via the Government’s Access to Work scheme has slumped to an all time low over the last two years. 

There has been no time in living memory that those who are too sick or disabled to work have been treated so viciously. It has not been enough for this Government to impoverish people and now even drive them from their homes, but also to collaborate in callous smear campaigns in the press to abuse and discredit sick or disabled claimants.  This week’s figures show that those smears were based on lies so big that not even the DWP dare attempt to hide the truth any further.

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Benefit Cap Means The Safety Net For London’s Poorest Children Has Disappeared

cap-rentsIt is not hyperbole to say that yesterday’s introduction of the benefit cap effectively ends the safety net of social security for poor families in London.

Households in Enfield, Haringey, Croydon and Bromley from today will now face losing their homes should they become unemployed or too ill to work.  This social cleansing is to be extended to all London Boroughs and elsewhere in the UK from July.

It is true that the cap, set at £500 a week , is a lot of money.  It is not true however that it meant equivalent families receive more on benefit then they would in work.  A family earning £26,000 a year and living in the private sector in London would receive significant housing benefits.  Those who objected to people living in high rent areas whilst on benefits were perfectly free to do the same, and would have had some help with housing costs even if they were in full time work.

It is not the fault of claimants that rents have soared out of control in London, making often the most modest of properties unaffordable without some benefits.  Even in the very cheapest outskirts of the capital rents are soaring.  Most of the families struggling with rocketing private sector housing costs were born in London or have lived here for years.  Some have seen neighbourhoods previously regarded as poor like Notting Hill, Dalston or Brixton turn into playgrounds for the latte slurping middle classes around them, sometimes in the space of just a few years.  Others live in areas which were always poor, like Tottenham and Catford.  With the benefit cap pegged at £500 a week and housing benefit now frozen far below the rate of rent increases, very soon even these areas will be unaffordable for medium sized families on benefits.

The DWP went on the offensive yesterday in support of the cap, which is set to cost 40,000 people their homes over the next few months.  Skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban was even dragged off his silk cushions to lie that 8000 people had found jobs due to the cap.  The Government has revised down the number of people they think will be affected, but this is not down to people finding work as ministers claim.

The fall is almost certain to be due to the disregard from the cap announced late last year for the housing costs of  people in Supported Exempt Accommodation.  This means that people living in supported housing such as homelessness hostels and women’s refuges – where rents can be eye-watering – will still have those rents met by benefits, for now.  Far from London claimants living the high life in Chelsea mansions, the reality is that some of the poorest people, in the most difficult circumstances, are those paying the highest rents.

Anyone working enough hours to qualify for Working Tax Credits will be exempt from the cap, leading to a perverse situation where someone in work may now be eligible for more in benefit payments then someone unable to work due to sickness or unemployment.  To qualify for the exemption, a single parent must be working at least 16 hours a week.  Therefore a single mum working ten hours a week in term time may now be forced to give up her job and move hundreds of miles away, often to an area of high unemployment where rents are lower.

But even those who meet the threshold for Tax Credits will now face the threat of imminent homelessness should they become unemployed.  The same applies to anyone who has managed to find a job to escape the cap. With increasingly only casualised or temporary jobs available for low waged workers, almost all those at the bottom of the labour market may face the prospect of losing their homes at some point in the future.  Only those who have been in continuous work for 12 months when they lose their jobs will have a short term exemption of 39 weeks from the cap

Shelter recently released a report which showed that one in three people could not pay their rent for more than a month if they lost their job.  For those families living in London, the welfare state will no longer provide a safety net to help them keep their homes.  Some will be unable to pay the rent immediately leading to eviction in a matter of weeks.  Others will face a desperate scramble to find work within the exemption period – or get better in the case of sickness -  or they too will no longer be able to stay in their homes.

Whilst 40,000 people could be made homeless overnight due to yesterday’s changes, possibly hundreds of thousands more Londoners will now live in fear of the streets should they fall ill or are made redundant.

Above pic from: http://hackneyrenters.org/

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Iain Duncan Smith Is A Power Crazed Fool And Should Be Sacked

Iain-Duncan-Smith-workfareEven the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban was forced to drag his lazy arse out of bed today to defend the workfare shambles which saw many of the government’s welfare to work schemes declared illegal.

Hoban claims that hastily rewritten regulations have been placed before Parliament which meet the requirements of today’s appeal court judgement.  It remains to be seen whether he has been successful.  In a truly shocking turn of events he has also insisted that no sanctioned benefits will be repaid despite today’s ruling declaring many workfare schemes illegal.

The pompous halfwit has only been in the job he does part time for five minutes and already thinks he’s above the law.

But it is the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith who has been shown to be out of control by this judgement.  Hoban thinks he’s above the courts, but events have shown that IDS considers himself above the entire parliamentary democracy.

In his desperate rush to ram-raid mass workfare into law, Iain Duncan Smith neglected to develop the necessary regulations and instead assumed he could rewrite law on the hoof without any scrutiny from Parliament.

This breath-taking arrogance will come as no surprise to claimants and those fighting welfare reforms who have watched in astonishment as DWP Ministers have lied through their teeth about workfare, disappeared or re-written documents and attempted to dodge  freedom of information requests.

In short, Iain Duncan Smith, and his then lacky Chris Grayling made two significant bodges.  The first was in failing to provide adequate information about the nature of some workfare schemes to claimants and the consequences of failing to participate.

This means that any sanctions which were applied on those schemes were not legal and are likely to have to be repaid.

The second charge is far more serious.  It appears Iain Duncan Smith attempted to use poorly worded legislation in the Jobseekers Allowance regulations as a kind of ‘enabling act’ giving him powers to mandate claimants to any scheme or activity he dreamed up.  In a crude attempt to bypass Parliament, the Secretary of State failed to correctly set out regulations covering many workfare schemes instead relying on tricks of language to avoid scrutiny.*

In the words of one of the appeal judges:

“The Secretary of State cannot avoid the requirements of the Act in relation to schemes by calling them programmes. It would be absurd to conclude that a scheme is subject to the statutory requirements only if the Secretary of State decided to call it such.”

It seems that in Iain Duncan Smith’s rush to force claimants onto welfare he attempted to bend the law to the point it snapped.  The end result is not just a huge embarrassment for the Government, but could still lead to millions being paid out in backdated benefits to those sanctioned

In any other job in the world, someone who bent the rules, got caught out and cost their organisation millions would be fired.  It also raises the question of just how solid is the rest of the legislation on which welfare reform is based.

Iain Duncan Smith should be hounded from office.  Instead bungling ministers are hastily trying to rush yet more legislation into law with the same inept arrogance that caused this farce in the first place.

Join the National Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on 18th March and help bring an end to forced labour for good: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996

Visit consent.me.uk for the full ruling: http://consent.me.uk/2013/02/12/ruling/

* Basic summary  – Original Job Seekers Allowance regulations which gave powers of sanction backed training or ‘back to work’ type schemes etc were worded so they could also be applied to any future ‘prescribed’ schemes as devised by ministers – prescribed meaning (as was judged today) properly explained and legislated for.  IDS used this to assume he could set up any old scheme, including workfare, without legislating and just referring to the powers for ministers to set up future schemes as justification.  Judges said don’t take the piss, you cant just make up regulations as you see fit that have big impacts on peoples lives without them being placed before parliament.

Mandatory Work Activity is not included in today’s judgement as it is based on different legislation.

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