Huge Numbers on Workfare Mask True Unemployment Crisis

The number of people working unpaid, often for large corporations, is at its highest level for almost 15 years with 166,000 people now on some form of workfare.

Today’s Labour Market Statistics reveal that the number of those on unpaid work schemes rocketed by 22,000 people in the last three months.  The headline figure claims that unemployment fell by 49,000, however those on workfare are classified as employed.  This means that along with 3000 more people beginning unpaid work in a family business, over half of the fall in unemployment is due to people working for no wages.

This is reflected in the Claimant Count, which measures the number of people who are claiming unemployment benefits, and which grew by 10,000 during the period.

People on workfare, often under threat of losing benefits, have long distorted the unemployment statistics.  Last months alleged fall in unemployment could entirely be accounted for the rise in workfare, self employment and unpaid family business workers. 

In the previous months figures it was claimed that unemployment fell by 7000, yet the number of people on workfare soared by 24,000 .  This means that if unpaid workers are taken out of the figures for August’s release then unemployment actually rose by 17,000 people – despite any pre-Olympic boost.

The last time the number of people working unpaid was so high was way back in 1998 when Tony Blair’s mass workfare programmes began to take effect. There are crucial differences however.  Whilst unemployment was high in 1998, it was significantly lower than today with around 1.8 million out of work compared to over 2.5 presently.  Participants on the New Deal received a training allowance, whilst young people on the Subsidised Employment option were paid £60 a week – astonishingly this is more than the £56.45 that young people on workfare receive today.  Even the workfare elements of the New Deal included training, usually with real, acredited NVQs available on completion.

Despite all of this the New Deal was largely abandoned after proving to be an expensive disaster which had little impact on youth unemployment.

Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship Work Programme appears to be an equally dismal failure as  long term unemployment continues to soar.  The number of people who have been unemployed for over two years shot up by a staggering 21,000 over the last three months, whilst those out of work over a year rose by 12,000.

The Work Programme is for those who have been unemployed over 12 months.  Almost a billion pounds has been handed to Welfare to Work companies in an attempt to help those out of work a long time to find jobs.  Despite this long term unemployment has risen month on month consistently since the scheme was introduced.

Today’s unemployment figures represent July – September and so are still likely to be affected by the Olympics.  The figures will also be distorted by the growing number of claimants who have had benefits sanctioned – meaning money is stopped due to not meeting the endless and ever changing job seeking requirements imposed by Jobcentres.  Over half a million claims were sanctioned last year and the number is expected to rise.

Sanctioned claimants may or may not appear as unemployed, depending on whether they are able to maintain their claim during a sanction and answers they give should they be questioned by the Labour Force Survey.  Many more claimants are ‘disallowed’ Job Seekers Allowance due to not meeting the stringent benefit eligibility.

With the claimant count on the rise and workfare behind much of the fall in unemployment over the last year, the true picture of the employment market is far from rosy.  Plans for a huge extension of workfare, which the DWP are now trialling in Derbyshire, will see thousands more people forced to work unpaid.

Many of the new workfare workers will be doing jobs which would previously have come with wages attached –  an increasingly outdated concept for many major retailers.  Earlier in the year Corporate Watch reported on the situation in one branch of Argos last Christmas:

“There were about 15 of us on placements. The manager said they had overspent on stocking Christmas stuff so they’d got people in on placements [to save money]. The paid staff told us they were being asked to leave before they’d ended their shift as we could do the work. I worked Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. They arranged it so everyone came in those days.”

Should the current trend for workfare continue then over 200,000 people could find themselves in unpaid work over the Christmas period.  And no doubt Iain Duncan Smith will announce this as a huge success – which it is, if you happen to run a supermarket.

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on December 8th.

42 responses to “Huge Numbers on Workfare Mask True Unemployment Crisis

  1. Don’t forget “apprenticeships” – they may not be quite as bad as workfare, but they’re still part of the wider project of tearing up the minimum wage, more and more jobs are getting rebranded as apprenticeships paying £100 a week.

  2. In Brussels today:

    I think the banner says: “Austerity is THE PROBLEM, not THE SOLUTION”.

  3. It is a technique that has worked wonders for the German unemployment figures. I think about 1 million have been Disappeared through Sanktionen, “Ein Euro Jobs” and workfare. has teh Dope.

  4. Carl a Austrian tells me that they indeed have Ein Euro Jobs but with 2.4 million people unemployed for a population of 80 million. There problems are no way as bad as ours!

    Do they have Nuclear weapons and our so-called ‘Independant deterrent’ which costs over 34 billion. The old Cold War threat from the Soviet Union no longer exists and therefore the UK no longer needs nuclear weapons, or does not need a submarine-based system designed for the Cold War era. It is also said that nuclear weapons are useless in that they could never be used and would not combat the new threats from international terrorism.

    The cost issue is also especially salient at a time of extensive government spending cuts. Welfare, Health, Policing, Conventional forces, regional grants and Education are cut whilst we did not have a Nuclear war.

    Finally, there is the question of Britain’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the point made by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament that if some states renew their arms it encourages proliferation elsewhere and clearly buying this expensive near useless toy should not be considered in these austerity times.

  5. G4S Guard on Murder Rap

    G4S Guard On Woman’s Murder Charge

    A 34-year-old man has appeared in court charged with murdering a Thai woman at the SECC complex in Glasgow.

    Clive Carter, who is believed to be a security guard with G4S, is accused of killing Khanokporn Satjawat on Monday.

    He allegedly attacked the 42-year-old in a second floor female toilet at the Clyde Auditorium by striking her on the head and body with an instrument.

    Mr Carter, from Motherwell, made no plea or declaration at Glasgow Sheriff Court and was remanded in custody.

    He appeared before Sheriff Danny Scullion and is expected to appear in court again next week.

    A spokesperson at G4S said: “We are not going to comment on this incident just yet.”

    Ms Satjawat, a pharmaceutical firm manager, died while attending a conference on HIV drug therapy at the auditorium, which is commonly known as the Armadillo, on the banks of the Clyde, west of the city centre

    • Poor woman. Wonder if this guy was on workfare because according to the DWP: “Some Workfare Workers Will Be Violent and Aggresive Warn DWP”

  6. have you noticed this on the Jobcentres website I see they are wanting you to create a cv online
    Universal Jobmatch is coming on 19 November 2012.

    Universal Jobmatch will replace the Jobs and Skills service and will make looking for jobs easier and quicker. You will be able to build or upload a CV online and Universal Jobmatch will automatically match your CV to jobs posted on the service.

    Watch out for this new service launching and use it to find the job you want.

  7. It’s quite a bit worse than it sounds. The nice lady at the job centre mentioned this to me recently and (when I asked) said that the site will be set up so that ‘advisers’ can monitor (my words not hers) jobsearch activity as well as reading any and all correspondence to employers and sending out recommended jobs direct … I did ask whether this could be legal and/or mandatory (there will be a form to sign and a box to tick shortly) and she said that it’s not actually mandatory but if I choose not to sign up to it she will probably have to “see me more often”. I’ve been reading as much as I can find about this since our conversation two weeks ago. I did go to CAB the following day but trying to get legal advice hasn’t been very successful so far. Am trying to decide how best to ‘politely decline’ signing their form and opening an account without appearing to be too uncooperative (!). Monster will be running the site and their record on keeping personal data safe is not good.

    I think they are going to try to sneak this in almost by default and hence they are ‘selling’ it as a ‘really good thing to help with finding a job’. There will probably be people who are either new to computer jobsearching and/or just don’t realise all the implications and will ‘tick the box’ giving consent … The best suggestion I’ve come and which I’m going to try to do is to ask whether the job centre could send any details of suggested employers direct in preference to registering on the site and thereby not refusing the offer of increased ‘help’. If this is a waffle it is partly due to doing a lot of extra reading this week and last and trying not to feel like an actual character in 1984 in the run-up to our next conversation about this new development in the next few days (before 19th November, which (watch this space) is the day the extra ‘help’ will be coming to a computer near you …

  8. You’re on the ball johnnyvoid, telling it like it is, exposing the bullshit and getting ever more prolific in doing so …keep up the great work mate and many thanks for it

  9. Good point from somebody who commented above, Is this new service a way to match employers and unemployed people, or is it a way of snooping on the unemployed by tracking all their moves on the internet ? What I am wondering is how much it costs to keep all these people in employment just in order to monitor unemployed people.

  10. “Tax and welfare policies should also be instituted that provide incentives to work and ensure that those who do work can live decent lives (the workfare concept).”

    The globalisation of “workfare” = Slavery of humanity.

  11. The jobmatch or whatever they are calling it is a way of monitoring people’s activities on a minute-by-minute basis with the intention of being able to catch them not fulfilling the agreed-to required amount of job seeking in a given period and then being able to claw back some of the money that person is trying to ‘live’ on via a sanction.

    Someone said to me around a month ago that this would be what the new site would be used for and I thought it sounded far fetched (neither legally do-able nor morally defensible). This is exactly what is has been dreamed up though and it’s what people are going to be asked consent to – with the not-very-thinly veiled threat that if they don’t fancy it they will face added pressure in other ways (more visits to see personal advisers for eg.) and will be seen as not fully complying with the job centre’s tireless efforts to ‘help’ them.

    Data protection is one thing. The right to a private personal life (correspondence etc.) is another. If the long arm of the DWP is set to reach directly into people’s houses – it’s no longer going to be enough to make people feel demoralised and treated like they are on trial twice a month, the feeling will now be able to continue on arrival home – (a bit like wearing a tag?). Any pretence that even a very small amount of ‘trust’ between the job seeker and their ‘adviser’ may have existed – has now been got rid of to be replaced with this cynically ingenious way to offer ‘more help with finding work’ – (as in ‘more ways to control and terrorise with the overhanging threat benefit withdrawal whilst also being ‘overlooked’ 24/7′). Not sure they will need so many advisers to operate this brave new world at the job centre so perhaps that will save even more money along the way.

    • Universal Jobmatch will be monitored using similar software used for employee monitoring in call centres (really Orwellian stuff that even records “talk-time”), it can then flag you for sanction or just automatically generate one as the case may be.

  12. According to Lord Fraud (Freud) jobseekers will be expected to perform 35 hours a week of jobseeking activities in order to comply with the new rules for Universal Credit. Failure to comply will result in draconian sanctions. This is the start of it, the universal jobmatch is the method they are going to use to monitor jobseeking activity, and they will be able to inpect all emails sent to employers in application for jobs. They suspect that many people are sending hopeless covering emails for jobs that they dont want, just in order to satisfy the JCP that they are applying for jobs, so this will now enable the JCP to check the emails and sanction people for not taking steps to make themselves attractive to employers.
    They will also check that jobseekers are applying for all jobs “recommended” to them by the universal jobmatch, with severe sanctions for not applying.
    Although the 35 hours a week requirement will not be introduced at this point, they are building up to this from next April I suspect. This is when huge numbers of claimants are going to be sanctioned for failure to comply with the 35 hours a week of jobseeking activity rule that Lord Freud has devised – deliberately to enable people to be sanctioned, so that the claimant count starts falling and IDS can revel in the good news each month that people are being got into work, when in reality they are all getting sanctioned.
    The nightmare begins here – from now on in, claiming JSA is going to get harder and harder with the risk of sanction getting higher and higher.

    As regards the unemployment figures – they are a load of crap – the claimant count is increasing, but unemployment is falling – because they are all being got onto workfare and being classified as employed, but the taxpayer is paying their benefits still. I cant believe the British public are so fucking gullible to fall for this, thinking that people are actually getting into proper paid jobs.

  13. If a certain number of ‘comfort breaks’ is exceeded this could incur a sanction – too much time away from the computer and a ‘session time out’ will occur. It will probably be best to only eat very bland food and restrict fluids. I am fluctuating between “of course – this all makes perfect sense” and “It can’t be happening – can it? Which century is it again and which country is this??

    • You are going to be stuck at a “terminal” all day “applying for jobs”. It will drive you nuts – literally! Or maybe that is the whole idea! I would suggest you stick to fava beans and a nice chianti. 🙂

      • Too right. Your days will be spent going through the full list of jobs available, applying for all the available jobs whether or not you are qualified to do them and then once you’ve finished doing that, in order to fulfill the seven hours a day requirement, you’ll have to go back round again and again looking at the same jobs you’ve already looked at, over and over again hour after interminable hour, applying multiple times to the same company for the same job.

        It’s quite simply psychological torture.

  14. Its the UK and IDS is the Fuhrer. You will sign up for UJ or sign off. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated into the workfare collective or you will be sanctioned. Universal Jobmatch appears to be mandatory with sanctions for not “joining” it. You had better believe it, because it is happening, the harsh reality is that many of us ARE going to get sanctioned. If Lord Fraud and IDS cant get the umeployed into paid work, then they want us on Workfare, or sanctioned off benefits for failure to comply with the “requirements and expections” of the ever more draconian “conditionality”.
    Sanctions are the new preferred method of reducing the claimant count now, and JCP will be gunning for everyone – just waiting for a slip up before firing off a sanction doubt.
    Welcome to Hell under IDS – he is now closing in for the kill, and no-one seems prepared to stop him, so god help us – he will sanction us all.

  15. For a small payment of £5 a week, my company will be happy to assist in fulfilling all jobsearch requirement on a client’s behalf. Simply register your details with us, along with your unique Universal Jobmatch login and an email address and we will enable you to live your life in freedom of monitoring from Jobcentre Plus and the Work Programme.

    Please contact UJ Direct for further details on…

    UJ Direct – Turning crises into opportunities since November 2012


  16. Soon, with all this Draconian shit going down, we will see more and more ‘non-persons’ à la Stalinism, like the poor benighted bastards I met when I was 15 and visiting the workers of Yugoslavia. They did not exist in the eyes of the state, therefore they could get no work, no benefits, nothing. Reduced to begging.
    Go far enough Left, go far enough Right and you meet in the basement of Totalitarianism……exactly where we are heading now.

  17. Your post implies that new deal was the panacea to unemployment, not in my experience. Those with degrees cannot find work so nvq’s are a step down and an insult to those that have years of work experience and higher qualifications – a race to the bottom I’d say.

  18. I wanted to check out yet another company trying to make money out of the unemployed and google warns UJ direct is infected with a virus – I’d say that about sums up these money making scam companies.

  19. @Guy Fawkes
    You obviously missed the [/satire] remark at the end of my post.

    There is no ‘UJ Direct’, and the post was intended solely to illustrate just what the whole ‘back-to-work’ industry has become.

  20. Are the Workfare Programme poverty pimps going to use some of the money from the billions of taxpayer pounds the government has been throwing at them, to buy enough internet connected computers, so that every “customer”, has a computer he/she can sit at for seven hours a day searching for non-existent jobs?

    • Speaking to my Work Programme job coach about this today – he said that that is indeed what will happen from next April when the Universal Credit is launched – on the work programme, it will be like the old “New Deal” used to be, where all users have to attend Monday – Friday 9 till 5 to do jobsearch, No exceptions, and there wont be enough computers for all, so we will be expected to share computers, write spec letters and cold call companies out of the phone book asking if they have any jobs. They are having banks of phones and desks installed for the cold calling of employers and he reckons they will get subsidised by IDS for their phone bills and postage costs.
      There will be no flexibility as the WP provider will be monitoring our every move during the day to ensure that the 35 hours a week of jobseeking activity are being met, and also targets for the number of jobs to be applied for are met. Non compliance will be deemed to be a higher level offence and subject to 13 weeks sanction for a first flouting, 26 weeks for a second and 3 years for a third.
      He said that they would be mandating everyone there to join the Universal Jobmatch next week, also with sanctions for non compliance, saying that refusing to join would be seen as failure to engage with the Universal Jobmatch, and failure to make the most of the “help” that was being provided. He said that it was because it is to be a requirement of the JCP that all claimants of JSA have to register so that jobsearch can be monitored, and targets set for jobs to be applied for can be checked on, with higher level sanctions being applied for not meeting these targets. He thinks the targets could be as high as 50 jobs a fortnight (or 5 jobs each day over 10 working days) (depending on area in the country) must be applied for using Universal Jobmatch or sanctions will be automatically issued by the system.
      Those that finish 2 years on the work programme next June without getting a job will then be forced to do 30 hours a week on the new CAP (Community Action Programme) scheme to be administered by ATOS and 10 hours mandatory forced jobsearch at a provider with higher level sanctions for non compliance.

      This is what IDS has planned for us – wonderful eh?

      • Thanks for the information IhateIDS. The noose is tightening more and more every day. I feel upset.

        • R33, thats the whole idea that you feel upset – that is what IDS wants. I feel livid and fuming that no-one is organising mass protests against workfare and all this crap that the unemployed are being made to suffer, but IDS is putting the fear of god into everyone and they are shitting their pants in fear of what the JCP are going to heap onto them next.
          When I said what I thought about IDS, JV moderated it, so I think even he is now afraid of IDS’s henchmen.
          Next, I can see sites like this, and unemployment movement being taken down on IDS’s orders, so that the unemployed have no voice- even online. We will have our twitter and facebook accounts monitored by the police on IDS’s orders.
          I can’t believe all this crap is now going down, but after I saw the “welfare reform bill” get passed, I knew it would all end in tears, and now, the welfare reform act is beginning to come into reality – and the reality is VERY serious for a lot of people. They will suffer. Some will even die over this. And IDS will be sat there loving it – his dream will have come true – he will be the supreme master of all he surveys, the new Fuhrer. His time has come. His revenge will be merciless.

      • he seems to think that there will be enough jobs to actually apply for, this man should lay of the Crack. and employers will soon get pissed off with all the cold calling.

  21. sorry gil – did miss the satire remark ever quick to condemn exploitation of the unemployed.

  22. Just heard on the news our elected mayor has been replaced with a committee made up of elected councillors. As the councillors in our town are mainly labour and are running community associations that exploit the unemployed, using them as volunteers (sent by the job centre) while they are publicly or grant funded themselves to run these centres add to that their councillor allowances and they are on a nice little earner. Will they now be paid for doing the mayors job or will it be part of their allowances as councillor which they have asked to be increased. The whole situation is a conflict of interest, the mayoral role should have been replaced with a committee of independant members of the public, not partisan to any political party who would scrutinize and bring to account public bodies.

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  25. I can confirm that Salvation Army are using forced labour, i received a letter today stating i must work for them 40 hours a week, I have not signed on before in my 32 years on this planet and was proud of that but I lost my job. I was told I had to do mandatory work or loose my benefits, I told them what I thought about that and was told I have no choice or will loose bennefits, it states in the literature that the job doesn’t need to be to do with my career, it is purely to make me be on time, work under supervision, hold down the job. If I fail to meet any of those criteria I will loose my bennefits…. While doing this month of work I will be classed by the government as employed which massages their employment figures as looks like they are reducing employment, I still have to sighn on though, even though though I am working 9 – 430 I am to make up that time, I’m assuming by working Saturdays as no time left in the week. I am very angry, I feel used and people are getting paid to use me, there is no job at the end and this will not add to my job prospects, oh and I’m still expected to spend the rest of the time job searching. Angry in fact is an understatement.

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