Yet more outright lies drip from the mouths of DWP ministers, with the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith attempting once again to mislead the electorate in the Daily Mail today.
IDS is talking about the government’s workfare schemes which he claims don’t exist, stating explicitly that: “this Government does not have a workfare programme. Workfare is an American term used to describe employment programmes which force all jobseekers to work at a certain point of their welfare claim — a practice which we do not consider to be effective.”
And staggeringly: “our work programme is purely voluntary.”
This is a fucking lie and one that takes seconds to disprove – take the answer to this Freedom of Information request which confirms that claimants could be forced to take up an unpaid work placement for six months – far longer than the two month workfare scheme which has hit the headlines. If six months unpaid work isn’t workfare then perhaps IDS will tell us what is.
Every aspect of the Government’s Work Programme scheme is mandatory and the poverty pimps who run the scheme are free to force claimants to do whatever they choose, including unpaid work. Thousands of people are currently undertaking forced labour under the Work Programme, some examples of which are given on the Boycott Workfare website here and here.
In fact the government plans to extend the use of workfare, as lying bastard Chris Grayling confirmed in a DWP Press Release just three months ago. The new ‘compulsory community work’ is currently being tested and will be rolled out across the UK next year.
Chris Grayling said back then: “If people who are fit for employment, still haven’t managed to find a job after the intensive support provided by the Work Programme, we want them to do community work and get into the habit and routine of work. No one should expect to be able to sit at home doing nothing.”
As more and more people are bullied off sickness benefits increasing numbers of people with disabilities and mental health problems are likely to face long term unemployment due to the continued prejudice of employers. It now appears that after undergoing the two year Work Programme, during which they may be expected to carry out up to six months of unpaid work, they could then be referred onto the Compulsory Community Work scheme to face another six months of forced labour.
Not everyone on the Work Programme will be forced to undertake workfare, however many will and already are. It is at the discretion of the contracters and sub-contracters, which includes Disability Works, the alliance of charities formed to maximise income from the Work Programme (more on this later). Some people will be forced to sit around doing nothing in A4e’s offices helping Emma Harrison save up for a new mansion at the tax payer’s expense. Others will be sent to work for nothing, often for private companies. There are currently no statistics on exactly how many people have been forced onto Workfare due to the Government’s work programme, but the number is set to soar. Chris Grayling said last year that: “The Work Programme will be the largest welfare-to-work programme the UK has seen since the 1930s.”
This is far from the first time that IDS has lied outright about welfare policy. It appears that the age old tradition of government ministers pretending to tell us the truth is over. Now they can come up with any old shit, and the compliant national press appear to be giving them free reign to do so. They wouldn’t let Hugh Grant get away with this bollocks.
When ministers aren’t lying outright they are attempting to cover up the truth. This week we were expecting the first batch of statistics on the Work Programme, including information on how many people actually got jobs. A DWP release (PDF) has announced that so far 332,000 people have been referred onto work programme. Of these around 99% were subject to mandatory referrals. How many have been forced onto workfare schemes is unknown. So Far. It now appears that the department isn’t going to tell us how many got jobs or came off benefit either, in fact we now have to wait until Autumn. That the government have this information and are choosing not to share it is telling, particularly as bold claims were made that over 40% of Work Programme participants would find work. With unemployment continuing to rise, it seems increasingly apparant that this isn’t the case.
The National Day of Action Against Workfare is on March 3rd. With government ministers lying through their teeth, the best thing to do is ignore them and get out on the streets. The more pressure that can be placed on the likes of @Argos_Online and @salvationarmyuk, who have both boasted of their involvement in non-existent workfare, the more likely it is we can break workfare for good.
Let the ministers lie through their teeth, we can, and we will stop workfare.