Could The Work Programme Really Be Increasing Unemployment?

The figures speak for themselves – the Work Programme isn’t working.  Yesterday’s report by the Welfare to Work industry reveals that only 22% of long term unemployed people bullied onto the Work Programme have got jobs.  Of those many will be in temporary work.

Chris Grayling claimed that 36% of people on the Work Programme would gain sustainable long term employment.  Yesterday’s figures reveal this is little more than a fantasy.

Of more concern however is the figure given in the Telegraph today (thanks Eric) which reveals officials would have expected 28% of long term unemployed people to have found work without any help at all.  This means that the Government’s flagship Work Programme is not just under-performing, it appears to be making the problem of long term unemployment worse.

This almost appears counter-intuitive.  How could a multi-billion pound scheme, carried out by experts in the Welfare to Work field like A4e, actually be creating higher unemployment?

The recent drop in the unemployment count may be a blip and is entirely due to full time jobs being replaced with part time positions.  But still long term unemployment is rising.  The very problem the Government is throwing billions at is getting worse.  Worse even than if they weren’t throwing billions at it.

The Work Programme scheme does not exist in a vacuum and is one of several schemes designed to ‘help’ unemployed people into work.  Almost all of these schemes have workfare at their heart.  Whilst sanctions have temporarily been removed from some of those schemes, possibly hundreds of thousands of people are currently working for free in supermarkets and High Street stores.

The DWP claim they don’t know how many people are on workfare schemes as what the Work Programme providers are actually doing for their billions is shrouded in secrecy.

When the workfare row blew up perhaps one of the most illuminating excuses from corporate workfare exploiters came from Argos, who claimed they only use workfare during the Christmas rush.  This was a clear example of real jobs being replaced by unpaid labour, funded by the tax payer.  Temporary seasonal jobs are the kind of roles which companies may have been more likely to offer to the long term unemployed.  Perhaps some of those people would have been offered permanent positions.  These kinds of jobs and opportunities have disappeared due to workfare.

Common sense dictates that unpaid labour is almost certainly one of the reasons that the Work Programme, and all the other workfare schemes, appear to be doing more harm than good.

But could the problems run even deeper than that.  Successive governments have sought to blame the unemployed for unemployment, a useful lie which benefits both government and business alike.  Governments get to pass the buck for fucking up the economy and the demonisation of the unemployed allows greedy bosses to drive down wages.  As people become ever fearful of the murderous stigma that is now attached to claiming benefits, competition for the few jobs out there increases and therefore wages come down.

However the recent Work Programme figures suggest a problem with the current scapegoating of the unemployed.  If it is unemployed people’s own fault they are out of work, and long term unemployment is increasing for those on Work Programme, then what the fuck is the flagship Government scheme doing to them that means they are unable to find work?

Of course this kind of thinking is bogus, but ministers can’t have it both ways.  Following the logic of Iain Duncan Smith and his bunch of clowns at the DWP, the Work Programme appears to be demotivating people, increasing idleness and making people work less hard to find jobs.

Whilst it is shameful to blame the unemployed for unemployment, government schemes like the Work Programme do have real and tangible impacts on people’s lives.  It is entirely possible that being patronised, bullied and lectured at by A4e jobsworths is damaging people’s self-esteem and confidence.  It is also possible that the Job Search facilities offered by the  Welfare to Work industry are no better than those available at home or in libraries, the only difference being that in those environments they can be used in peace.  It is not unimaginable that people on workfare, or pointless fake training schemes, become not only institutionalised, but stuck in a rut and are less, not more likely to look for an alternative.  It is therefore even possible that the Work Programme is increasing, not decreasing, dependence on the state.

There are other factors that could be at play.  A recent comment from Dave L on this blog says:

“It’s a complete waste of time, in all the appointments I’ve had I’ve had absolutely no help, none at all. Last bit of ‘help’ was a cover letter that they thought was brilliant that contained lines such as “friends and family would say I’m a good worker”… I have work history too, so why put that?”

This is an all too familiar description of life at Welfare to Work companies.  Shoddy CVs, poor covering letters, badly trained staff, broken computers and unemployed people forced to send off mass applications for jobs which aren’t suitable, are all too common criticisms.  Perhaps the ‘help’ offered by poverty pimps like A4e is worse than no help at all when it comes to finding work.

To further compound the problem, many people currently having their time wasted on the Work Programme may have previously been on courses at local colleges which provided real skills.  Depending on which Work Programme shark they are sent to, they may have been forced to leave College to attend A4e.  This has been a feature of compulsory Welfare to Work schemes ever since Blair brought in the New Deal way back in the late 90s.  That, like Work Programme, was a dismal failure.

Unemployed people need and deserve support.  This means access to computers and the internet, advice on career options, as well as more practical provision such as fares for interviews, tools or clothing needed for work.  It also means real training, not the airy fairy vague bullshit offered by the Welfare to Work industry where IT training means little more than being told how to turn on a computer and any other training is virtually non-existent.

Where are the training courses for the long term unemployed to become plumbers, hairdressers, IT workers or classroom assistants?  They once existed, but in this neo-liberal brave new world training as a nurse, carpenter or midwife is not an economically viable option for most people over the age of 20.  As for the idea of education as a life long process, the big lie fed to my generation, forget it.

The Welfare to Work industry has deskilled the training sector in the UK, forcing unemployed people onto ever more pointless ‘jobsearch’ courses and workfare instead of providing real training.  They’ve done this because it’s far cheaper to pay someone little more than the minimum wage to run CV Workshops than it is to provide quality acredited training that would lead to real jobs.  Once again the private sector has been allowed to run rampant providing public services.  And once again the only people who have benefited have been the multi-millionaires who run the Welfare to Work racket.

51 responses to “Could The Work Programme Really Be Increasing Unemployment?

  1. Take a look at the following link where a guy is trying to show the country how 17 million has gone missing on Cameron’s watch and how getting that money back would solve our problems, there is a fantastic cartoon and some great info too…….

    http://eyreinternational.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/british-police-federation-ultimatum-to-the-prime-minister-but-did-it-go-far-enough/

  2. given that site also claims no planes hit the World Trade Centre on 9/11, I think I’ll take it with a pinch of salt🙂

  3. Wonder how long it will be before Jobseekers will have to go on their “welfare to work” courses everyday and on the weekend too. I can just hear the justifying rhetoric now “Since people on benefits are lazy and are getting free money for doing nothing they haven’t earned a weekend break.” One Tory has already suggested that the unemployed should have to dress up in a suit and tie to sign on.

    Their appetite for humiliating the unemployed is unlimited.

    • Johnny apologies I just came across the article and thought great people are actually going to chase after the fraudsters-)

      R32 understand where you are coming from but who is going to pay for the suit and tie?

      • bbest good question.

        “Either you come to the Jobcenter dressed in the designated attire or you will be subject to sanctions”?

        • exactly they are using every small tactic they can find knowing that people will not be able to fit the bill so it would be an easy sanction or loss of benefits.

      • Eric Greenwood

        I do wear shirt smart casual, with shoes rather than trainers. Most of my clothes come from charity shop, now that the jobcentre stopped paying for clothes, and a4e has stopped where i live as well..

        • Eric

          Most of us probably have decent clothes from our working life or we ensure we find some way of being tidy for our appointments it’s just the way they assume everyone will have a suit to wear plus shoes, shirt and tie etc.

          I for one dress as if I am going to work when I had appointments in the past but if someone told me I must wear an item of clothing and it was no longer my personal choice I would stop wearing it no two ways about it as just because I am suddenly unemployed does not mean I am an idiot…….

      • Eric Greenwood

        Yes, Hell my signing on day is a friday, and its a casual day at my job centre LOL.. so if they say anything about my clothes i just have to look at the guy with the tshirt with the Hash leaf on..;).. But seriously, I wouldnt be surprised they have rules saying you have to go dressed as if it was an interview. I think this is just another way to demonise people, I think a lot of people are not getting jobs if the figures are right, they are tired of the feeling they are 2nd rate, I know when i go there i feel exhausted and it is hard to be motivated.

        • Eric

          I was lucky and only ever signed for JSA twice in my whole life but I hated turning up to sign as even going in the place made me feel like a second class citizen.

          I recently became quite ill and had to claim what is now called ESA and that was a whole lot worse experience so now I look back and wish I was signing for JSA benefits as at least I would be fit enough to work and still have that hope.

          Funny how a person’s prospective can change lol

      • Friday is my signing day, while it’s not dress down friday, it’s certainly understaffed friday. For some inexplicable reason they don’t have enough staff on fridays because they seem to allow anyone that wants to to have that day off.

    • wouldn’t worry, this time next year jobcentres might not exist. they’ll be checking to make sure we’re dressed properly via webcams

      • JOHNNY you said this time next year jobcentres might not exist. they’ll be checking to make sure we’re dressed properly via webcams

        hahha I had a good laugh at that one but believe me I would not put that past em if they thought they could get away with it lol

      • Made me chuckle too.

  4. It’s ludicrous. What is new about going to have help with CVs, access to newspapers and computers and other ‘job-searching’ facilities? These were all available at Job Clubs as far back as the 1980s.

  5. What’s changed is that those services are now delivered by the private sector and are almost always mandatory.

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  7. It just beggars belief that they can waste SO much money on private companies providing such awful service. I think the Sun said £5bn could pay for a lot of things, like nurses and teachers, shame they were targeting the legitimate benefit and muddying the waters with talk of fraud. However, I digress.

    Why is £13,000 just about enough incentive for a company to “help find” someone a job, but a cut to the just over £60 a week can be considered the incentive at the other end of the scale?

    They take £12m away from Legal Aid for benefit appeals, but pay billions to a profit making sector without even requiring how it is spend or what quality of service they expect. Yet qualified and experienced teachers and dictated to constantly about how they should teaching adding and multiplication!

    If I knew the answer I’d offer one, but what ever the answer is, the government are still asking the wrong questions.

    Did you hear the beginning of Radio 4s More or Less on Friday 18th May 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/moreorless – where they basically clobbered the “troubled families” figures and assumptions.

    • Peter

      The problem I have with their rhetorical spiel is that they can never provide provable results or figures to support any nut scheme they dream up just pure BS instead for the sheeple to believe and join the hate crime squad.

  8. Eric Greenwood

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/22/jobseekers-alcohol-drug-addiction-benefits-cut. This is scary if its true A new claimant contract lies at the heart of the universal credit reforms. Claimants will have to sign a contract in which they agree to look for work in exchange for an undertaking from the government to support them while they do so. Government sources said the contract would allow Jobcentre Plus staff to say that a suspected addict is in breach of their commitments if they refuse help for alcoholism or drug addiction. (Later on)The source said Duncan Smith believes it is right to give jobcentre staff powers to cut benefits if an addict refuses treatment because they can detect signs of trouble.

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  10. I spent 12 years in scientific research, was made redundant when the company collapsed. There was no work so I took an M.Sc in IT. After a long period of searching I landed another 10 years employment before the company was bought and my job was sent to India. Yes, job gone and there I was struggling to find work again, being told over and over again I am over-qualified by employers.

    Welfare to Work Pimps have the same solutions they had a decade ago. Solution: 1. Attempt to inform client (me) the problem will is unability to write a CV and a profit making provider can help with that. Should Solution 1 fail, move on to Solution 2; learn IT training, the training that involves “This is how you turn on a computer. Word is a word processing programme for writing job applications”

    Absolutely sole destroying and abusive.

    No thanks. I’m now moving abroad thanks to nothing but sheer luck to take a PhD. Anything, anything to escape the insanity of this country. I hope never to return to this small island governed by the smallest of people.

    • First of all Jane congratulations on being able to get out of the insanity that is the UK.

      I spent many years of my life working abroad and loved it until my company closed down and in the end I was forced back to the UK very reluctantly because of it.

      I laughed when you provided the solutions above as I too was only ever unemployed twice in my life prior to illness and felt quite insulted by those idiot solutions as I suspect you did too.

      Good Luck and try to enjoy yourself in the process.

      • Eric Greenwood

        When i was in a4e, I was frequently asked to repair the computers there, I was asked by the staff to teach other clients how to use the computers, At one point their tech service (useless), spoke to me to get me to fix one of the computers. It got to the point where complete strangers other clients would come upto me and say I hear you know computers can you help me with the cv.. the staff was always too busy,

        One day, when i was tired of not being able to use the computers,too many clients, broke computers I decided to take my own in.. I was told off how i shouldnt do that.. I re did my cv and spec letters, and the adviser said WOW, that is a great cv..and great letter.

        One guy i was there with, he hadnt got a cv so the adviser told him to make one and went through how too.. 1 week later this same adviser said to him that cv is crap, who did that for you.. He said you did.. and she wandered off..

        • hahaha Eric,

          Proves Jane’s point regards stupid solutions and the level of trained staff and equipment doesn’t it.

        • lol. my cv was also declared perfect. nothing to add, nothing to take out. my advisor’s spelling is crap and so are his basic IT skills. how did these people get their jobs in the first place?

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  13. Paul Champion

    Reblogged this on The Apprenticeship, Skills & Employability Blog and commented:
    Good article and comment.

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  17. Michael J Nicholls

    If the government are really serious about getting people off benefit and into work,then they should be prepared to fund DECENT QUALITY TRAINING – for example IT training up to an INDUSTRY RECOGNISED STANDARD – the polar opposite of what is actually offered by these providers. I am a participant of ‘The Work Programme’, and my IT skills and supporting knowledge is of a far higher level than MOST of the staff of the provider that I am with. This is coupled with completely inferior hardware at such centres – I am sick of piss-poor computers and inadequate broadband connections. I could outfit such a training centre, like the one I am stuck in, with much faster PC’s and better internet speeds. First thing I would do is replace Windows with Linux. I too get sick of being asked to ‘help out’ – WHEN is anyone gonna help me eh?

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  21. After being on work programme for over 6 months, I too can say that it has done nothing to improve my circumstances. What’s worse is that my personal advisor never lets any chance go by to flirt a bit with me. It just feels like going to the jobcentre and nothing else. I’m willing to change career so I can get off benefits forever but am I getting any advice/guidance? none at all.

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  32. I have been on the work programme(Ingeus) for 14mths, i am on my 3rd advisor as every 18weeks or so you get moved on to what they call a more advanced intense programme, i’m on my 2nd intense programme, my first lasted 18weeks and in that whole time i never had one interview with my advisor, i was told to travel to Gateshead (i live in Newcastle ) weekly to do 2hour jobsearch on a pc in the office, i’m now back at Newcastle branch and have my 3rd advisor who booked a group of us to go into the office for two hours at 4pm on monday…i was there 10mins early she didn’t come and get us til nearly 4:30pm then all the pc’s were taken so we were put in a room while she went to get the list of jobs off the notice board…all 6 of them, four of those jobs were for apprenticeships to which all in the group were too old, one was for a chip shop in Blyth, 10mins later she sad ok we are done for today go get your travel exspenses, my first advisor would take any jobs i had found and searched for and tell her other clients about them, so not only was i finding and applying for my own jobs but i had to compete with all her clients too, once in a interview with her she spent the first 15mins of my interview looking for jobs for herself, people may think i am making all this up but i swear it is that bad, i could tell you much more but feel i have ranted on too muc halready.

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