The new workfare rules, rushed out in a panic after this weeks damning court verdict, set out the details of the various forced labour schemes currently in operation. This follows the High Court ruling that Iain Duncan Smith had been illegally sending people on workfare due to never fully explaining the schemes before Parliament as required by law.
Under the regulations it appears that almost anyone Iain Duncan Smith sees fit will be at risk of referral to the Work Programme, which is now vaguely aimed at any claimant “at risk of becoming long term unemployed”.
The DWP admit they don’t know how many people on the Work Programme are being sent on workfare as the private companies running the scheme are given free reign to behave as they like – something which flies in the face of this week’s court decision and may yet lead to another legal challenge on similar grounds.
Under the regulations, welfare to work companies, or the DWP, can mandate someone to up to two year’s full time unpaid work. As was announced last December, on International Disabled People’s Day, even claimants on sickness or disability benefits can now be mandated to forced labour.
These are all claimants who have been signed off as unfit for work by their own GP. Many more claimants, who have also been signed off work as sick by doctors, have had that decision over-ruled by the DWP and are now on mainstream unemployment benefits. With such a rushed and no doubt bodged set of regulations, there doesn’t even appear to be anything stopping the Secretary of State singling out claimants he doesn’t like and condemning them to hard labour.
With jobs in desperately short supply, especially for those with a health condition or disability, the choice facing unwell claimants sentenced to unpaid work will be whether to be worked to death or starved to death.
Of course someone with a life threatening condition may appeal against a decision which forces them to carry out unpaid physical work at a Sue Ryder charity shop or The Conservation Volunteer’s latest chain gang.
But sadly many people don’t appeal – and legal support for appealing benefit decisions is being slashed. And it is a truly chilling thought that the only thing protecting sick or disabled claimants from being sent to do work which may kill them is the whims of a DWP tribunal.
Iain Duncan Smith may not have introduced these laws as a way of working to death disabled activists, or anyone else on health related benefits who opposes his vicious and inept schemes. But the power is now there to do so.
None of this has ever been adequately discussed by Parliament. Even the Courts seem to be beneath the Secretary of State – today Iain Duncan Smith dismissed the judgement of three High Court judges on a very technical point of law as ‘rubbish’. Not even David Cameron seems to be able to control the power-drunk fool, whilst the Treasury willingly hands over billions of pounds to fund his whatever crazy old bollocks he cooks up next. It is clear that Iain Duncan Smith regards himself as above the Prime Minister, above Parliament and above the very law itself.
Iain Duncan Smith is out of control and has the power to destroy millions of lives. And that is exactly what the Secretary of State is doing. If Parliament or the courts can’t put an end to the carnage, then it is down to everyone else with a shred of humanity to stop this vile monster.
Join the Week of Action Against Workfare
For the latest on this week’s workfare ruling visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=2035
Above pic from: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/
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