Workfare Isn’t Working So Grayling Plans More Workfare – This Time It’s For Charity

Chris Grayling is once again depending on charities to prop up his Government’s exploitative and fraud ridden workfare schemes with the announcement that tens of thousands more benefit claimants are to face unpaid labour.  Grayling is planning to hugely extend the Mandatory Work Activity scheme in a desperate attempt to claw back some credibility for his shambolic welfare to work policies.

Whilst sanctions have temporarily been removed from some workfare schemes, they are fundamental to the Mandatory Work Activity schemes.  Sources have claimed that this scheme is used when claimants refuse to ‘volunteer’ for one of the other, currently non-mandatory,  workfare schemes.

The Mandatory Work Scheme was introduced last year despite the warning of the Social Services Advisory Committee (SSAC) who claimed the scheme could be racist in practice, open to wide scale abuse and will leave no time for unemployed people to actually look for a job.  The SSAC, who are an independent body whose role is to advise Parliament on welfare,  issued a stark warning that the scheme should not go ahead.

Under the scheme claimants can be ordered to carry out 30 hours unpaid work for four weeks at a time.  Despite Grayling claiming the scheme is ‘popular’, the mandatory nature of the scheme reveals it’s true purpose.  It is effectively a punishment for those that Jobcentre staff have deemed aren’t trying hard enough to find work.  After completing four weeks workfare there is nothing in the rules to stop claimants being re-referred straight back onto the scheme for another month.  In fact there is nothing in the rules to stop this happening indefinitely.  Claimants can be referred from the first day of their claim and face vicious benefit sanctions should they refuse.  Should whoever they’ve been forced to work for dismiss them for any reason they will also face benefit sanctions.

120 hours is three times the minimum Community Service (now called Community Payback) sentence that can be handed out in the courts.  Those convicted of sexual assault, Actual Bodily Harm or burglary could face a less stiff sentence than those forced onto Mandatory Work Activity because they missed an appointment at the Jobcentre or simply because their Jobcentre Advisor has taken a dislike to them.    There are no checks and balances in the system to ensure that harassment of claimants is not occurring and no right of appeal.

The Government were expected to publish figures this week outlining whether the scheme has actually helped anyone into work.  It now appears they have changed their mind. Just like their refusal to publish performance figures for the Work Programme, the largest shambolic Welfare to Work scheme, it seems the DWP are once with-holding information because it might embarrass ministers and reveal the scheme to be yet another expensive disaster.

Welfare to work company A4e were recently stripped of their Mandatory Work Activity contract in the South East due to concerns about fraud in the organisation.  Allegations of fraud at other welfare to work companies are now beginning to emerge.  An upcoming court case brought by Cait Reilly, forced onto workfare under another scheme, may yet rule that workfare is illegal.

Despite all of this, Chris Grayling, the minister just about in charge of the DWP, is to announce a huge expansion of Mandatory Work this week.  It appears to be this Government’s policy that when they find themselves in a hole they should start to dig furiously.  Austerity has plunged the country into the most prolonged recession in living memory so the Government has pledged more austerity.  When voters in the recent local elections rejected this Government’s right wing policies, for which they have no electoral mandate, the Tory’s answer was to move even further to the right.  And as workfare is revealed to be a dismal failure that may even be increasing long term unemployment, the answer from Chris Grayling is more workfare.

Astonishingly Grayling will be depending on charities to provide placements for those bullied onto Mandatory Workfare.  Despite the likes of Tesco pulling out (sort of) from the Government’s workfare schemes, huge numbers of charities are only to happy to profit from forced labour on an industrial scale.  Claimants on Mandatory Work will be sent to charity shops and other community organisations , many of whom are no doubt household names, to serve their sentences.

The DWP are so concerned that the image of those benefiting from this scheme may be tarnished that they are now refusing to reveal details of where people on Mandatory Work are actually being sent.  Previous FOI requests, which named some of the organisations so quick to benefit from this and other exploitative workfare scheme, have now disappeared from the DWP’s website.

Charities have fallen over themselves to pick up lucrative workfare contracts under which benefit claimants can face crippling sanctions which have forced people into poverty and homelessness.  The response to criticism of their involvement in these brutal schemes has been little more than pathetic.  Disability charities have claimed it’s not their fault people get sanctioned, it’s the fault of the DWP.  This is despite the contractual arrangements which demand charities reports ‘compliance breaches’ to the DWP. A compliance breach may mean not turning up for workfare under the Mandatory Work Scheme, or missing a meeting or training session for those on the Work Programme.  These sanctions can even be applied to sick or disabled claimants, and in fact almost 10,000 sick or disabled claimants faced sanctions last year and the number is expected to soar.  Many of these sanctions have been directly due to the actions of the charities involved in the various schemes.

The hypocrisy from charities has been even more staggering.  Mental health charity MIND have said they will not use forced labour in their charity shops, but were quite happy to profit from a scheme in which participants could be sent to carry out forced labour in other people’s charity shops.  Substance misuse charity Addaction recently condemned benefit sanctions for those with drug or alcohol dependencies, yet are one of the largest Work Programme sub-contractors.  Addaction are contractually obliged to refer their own users for sanctions, despite their Chief Executive recently saying that benefit sanctions “can severely damage someone’s chances of beating an addiction and recovering”.

A piece recently published on Disabled People Against Cuts’ website contains inside information from a charity worker who calls his employer’s  involvement in these schemes ‘disgusting’. and reveals: “I remember one client with severe psychosis. He didn’t know what day of the week it was—but he was about to lose his benefits because he had missed his appointments.”

After the private sector rejected workfare as unethical, Chris Grayling needs charities and community organisations to force tens of thousands more claimants into unpaid work.  There should be no squeamishness about holding these charities to account for their actions.  Organisations that depend on a fluffy public image at their charity fun runs and galas should not be surprised if they face protests, pickets, boycotts and direct action.  Charities like Addaction, Mencap, Scope, The Salvation Army and many more are all conniving with this toff Government in a brutal and unprecedented attack on the very people they claim to support.  If they are to happy to profit from Tory attacks on the sick, disabled and the unemployed, then they should be prepared to face the consequences.

If you are currently on, or about to be sent on any of the Mandatory Work schemes please get in touch with one of the many organisations campaigning against them such as Boycott Workfare .  We urgently need to know exactly who is profiting from forced labour and the government is trying to keep it secret.

19 responses to “Workfare Isn’t Working So Grayling Plans More Workfare – This Time It’s For Charity

  1. and now charities will be in the firing line as using slave labour … compulsion to work in a charity is NOT charity … just imagine what sort of charity we end up with when its staffed by volunteers who are forced to be there ?

  2. calvin227

    Exactly right………

  3. Many charities *are* businesses,pure and simple. Less pay for staff means more available for executives just like anywhere else.

    • Agreed KAY FABE but I often sit and wonder how us ordinary people can change it because if we don’t people are always going to be born into this slavery and unjust system….and each generation that is born thinks this is just the way it is supposed to be….

  4. Eric Greenwood

    It cannot be voluntary if there is any form of coercion. They are using the charity as a feel good factor, People will say why are these people are objecting about working with charities.. They will try to make it look like we dont want to work.

    Charities, are a business, they would rather free workers than anything else, so why should they hire people and pay them.. Ok it may give experience, but of what type.. There are only limited amount of jobs people can do, If everyone has the same experience then doesnt that devalue it.

  5. Since mandatory work is basically a punishment, the SSAC mentioned in their report that this could be disincentive to prospective employers as participation on the scheme would indicate the person had been deemed workshy by the jobcentre

  6. So – hundreds of thousands of people on these schemes have failed to find work (or have real work found for them by A4E etc) and many have been punished to boot.
    Those who get jobs are much more likely to have found work by themselves. So making others like them spend 30 hours a week doing something which is LESS likely to get them into work, leaving no time to jobsearch, makes sense how, exactly?
    Sick and disabled people in the WRAG who are not fit for work (but capable only of Work Related Activity) are being sent to, er, work, by the very people who say they’re incapable of it.
    If they refuse, or fail in some unspecified way (to be decided by an employer, a programme provider, or a DWP clerk, at whim) they will be sanctioned – if they do this 3 times in one year, their benefit can be stopped for THREE YEARS.

    Chris Grayling (private landlord, expenses cheat, house-flipper, paid in excess of £100,000 pa plus expenses) has no idea what it’s like to live on JSA/ESA at the current rates.
    He might know that, until recently, there were just 5,000 JSA claimants on benefit for 5 years or more (so much for the generations of feckless families he’s so fond of.
    He might not know – if he doesn’t, he’s incompetent; if he does he’s mendacious. He’s got form. For both.

    Thanks for this Johnny – I took heart from the Daily Heil link. There are plenty of comments that are not the usual scrounger rhetoric. When even the Heil readers are getting annoyed (and there have been some remarkably civilised Telegraph posts recently too) maybe something is beginning to change.

    Trouble is, a lot of people will starve or die (Mark and Helen Mullins, anyone?) before this is stopped.

    I really hope Cait Reilly is successful – I applaud her courage, and she may not realise it, but she’s doing this for me too.

    Keep up the pressure Johnny. Good stuff.

    • ephemerid
      I agree and worry for all those that will die because they surely will because of these politics……

    • Eric Greenwood

      I cannot tell you how many cv’s, applications, spec letters i have sent off in years.. Yes i have been unemployed for a long time, not due to lack of trying, but because of lack on investment in my home town. We had Lots of industries here, all gone.. and nothing is left.. This is what these people dont understand, There are a LOT of places that have never recovered from the massive loss of workers.

  7. The hooded claw

    Look into the workfare CEO’s and their other company interests….

  8. Maybe I’m wrong but I think it will likely be the most vulnerable people with learning difficulties, alcohol/drug issues, mental health issues that are the most likely to be picked on by job centre staff and others – those who have even less of a voice than others, who are unable to speak up and stand up for themselves – easy prey for bullies. Not only is this unethical, it is shameful, a step on a slippery slope.

    • apparently some figures regards sanctions were released by DWP recently which proved that it was the sick and disabled being sanctioned above all other groups what does that tell us all..

  9. this has all been gone around before on new deal and it hasn’t worked,all it does is create a two tier system those who have to attend and those who are volunteers,those sentenced and unemployed being mistreated and scapegoats when there is internal tension between other staff/manager who are volunteering.

    forced to wear a volunteers badge while being badly treated is unjust and grossly unfair,they justify this as a job reference but experience shows the managers of this shops last less time then the people forced on to this farce,its of no benefit to anyone.

  10. So-called “charities” are some of the most destructive and evil organisations out there. Remember when there used to be loads of second-hand bookshops and junk shops and stuff, but then middle class “charideees” went and put them all out of business? The same thing happens at the other end too – “Charities” go and dump unasked-for cheap junk on African communities, destroying the local economy in the process. All too often charity is just a Dickensian excuse for middle class bastards to feel good about themselves while destroying people’s lives.

    So I wasn’t remotely surprised when they started using Workfare slaves back in the 90s. I hope they are finally shamed out of the practice but it will be hard because they are among the most shameless scum out there. Good luck!

  11. Tesco Shareholder

    … and Tesco’s share price just keeps on plunging 🙂

    • Surrey Stockbroker

      lol sir terry, I imagine Tesco bitterly regrets getting involved in the whole workfare fiasco – bit late now though; their profits have sunk like a stone with no chance of a recovery.

  12. Ken – yes, it has been done before, to a limited degree, on New Deal. But when that was first brought in, the young people on it had a choice between a work placement, community work, or a course/education. They also got an extra tenner a week. The New Deal for single parents ended up with parents doing their “training” in child care at the very place their children were sent to at the governments’ expense to be cared for…..bonkers.
    This is different though – unlike New Deal, this is forcing the sick and disabled to work for free indefinitely. The young and able-bodied currently have time limits on the MWA of a few months; the ex-IB/ESA claimants have no such limit, and the WRAG claimants don’t either. This is discrimination against the disabled, IMHO; and there’s more discrimination in the PIP proposals – the British Legion (rightly) made a fuss about the probability of injured ex-servicemen losing their existing award of DLA, so the government has said the new rules won’t apply to them. So if your amputation wasn’t due to war, you’ll be treated differently. Much as I admire the forces (my daughter serves in the RAF) I’m as sure as I can be that legs are no more likely to grow back just because you haven’t been to Iraq.
    IDS and his henchmen have intended all along to force all benefit claimants of working age – irrespective of ability or health – into mandatory workfare. The missing DWP guidance that got “disappeared” during the Tesco debacle proves it.
    Labour are no better – despite Liam Byrne wanting to leave government (the good people of Birmingham decided they didn’t want an elected mayor, so he’s stuck with Parliament and we’re stuck with him) he remains in post as the opposition’s welfare shadow, and he thinks all this is just fine and dandy. Labour brought in Atos, after all, and they invented New Deal, so there’s no hope that they’ll reverse any of this if they come to office.
    And “office” is the word – I am heartily sick of hearing politicians talking about being in or coming to “power” – they are elected to SERVE. And all they do is serve themselves.
    There is trouble ahead – I’ve witnessed riots; as an A&E nurse, I’ve dealt with triaging and treating the victims, and I hope I never see riots again – but I think I will. And soon.
    On one level, I really hope that the people protesting for the likes of me (I’m too ill now to go myself) get angry enough to engage in a lot more civil disobedience; but I also care about what might happen to them given the brutality of the police at the moment. Kettling, rubber bullets, etc.
    But if the balloon goes up in the middle of the JUbilee or the Olympics, I think I’ll probably be proud…….

  13. Pingback: British Heart Foundation – The Charity at the Heart of Workfare | the void

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