Details of George Osborne’s upcoming – and possibly illegal – mass workfare scheme have emerged and make grim reading for everyone but the companies set to profit from this huge extension of forced labour.
Tender documents unearthed by @refuted reveal the specifications for the six month Community Work Placements scheme which begins in April 2014. These documents form the basis of a ‘commercial competition’ currently taking place, in which grasping welfare-to-work parasites like A4e and G4S will bid for lucrative government contracts to force long term unemployed people into unpaid work.
Those leaving the Work Programme will either be placed on daily signing at Jobcentres and ‘intensive support’ or face the six month workfare scheme. This will involve 780 hours of forced unpaid work, over two and a half times the maximum possible community service sentence which can be handed out by the courts.
In some cases this will not even be a work for your benefits programme. The tender documents reveal that people who have had benefits sanctioned will not have payments re-instated even if they agree to attend full time workfare. Instead claimants will be expected to work for 30 hours a week with no income at all – unable to feed themselves, but still forced to work for free.
Part time workers are also not exempt. Providers are instructed that people in part time work at the time of their referral should have a ‘top up’ workfare placement to ensure ‘full time participation’. People who are volunteering already are also under threat and will have to volunteer somewhere else if welfare-to-work advisors decide that their current work is not ‘appropriate’.
Astonishingly that could mean ‘volunteering’ for the welfare to work company themselves. According to the tender documents it is perfectly acceptable for providers to use this scheme to recruit unpaid workers for their own businesses, and get paid by the tax payer for doing so.
One big change which will have welfare-to-work companies cheering from the rooftops is the payment model for the new scheme. Gone is ‘payment by results’ and with it any pretense that this is about finding people jobs. Just 30% of the money handed over to the companies involved will be based on job outcomes, with the rest paid out merely for finding placements and ensuring people attend. The minimum performance figure for job outcomes is a derisory 15%, almost certainly around the same as the number of people who would be expected to get jobs anyway.
It’s not all good news for the welfare-to-work sector however. Whilst their furious lobbying to water down ‘payment by results’ appears to have paid off, they will know all too well that these contracts are undeliverable. Up to two hundred thousand people are expected to be referred to this scheme. The charitable sector doesn’t need or want hundreds of thousands of free workers, especially as new rules state that only 25% of placements should be in charity shops. Just like every single other workfare scheme since Blair started the shambles with the New Deal, Osborne’s mass workfare will fail because welfare-to-work companies cannot find enough workfare for people to do.
And this is where those opposed to workfare can help bring about the end of this grubby exploitation. Already most of the UK’s best known charities have pulled out of workfare in disgust – and this is the worst workfare scheme yet. Whilst the DWP will try desperately to keep quiet about who is using unpaid workers, they can’t stop claimants telling people where they are being sent to work for free. Any organisation which is happy to force people into 780 hours of unpaid work should be be prepared to face the consequences as they are shunned as pariahs by decent people everywhere.
To read the documents visit: http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/24/workfarecompetition/
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