Despite wildly optimistic claims from the DWP, today’s launch of mass workfare seems to be in chaos behind the scenes. With barely any information yet available on the scheme it appears that the flagship Help To Work programme has no-one actually running it, no guidance for companies involved and no real plan to deal with the huge influx of claimants to Jobcentres from daily signing.
According to the BBC a mere 70 so-called charities have signed up to provide placements on the scheme which will involve forcing unemployed people to carry out 780 hours of unpaid work. For ‘Help To Work to be successful, these charities will need to accept hundreds, or possibly thousands of placements each. Predictably the DWP are not saying who the charities are. So far the only voluntary sector organisation prepared to admit to being involved are @groundworkuk who hope to secure a lucrative sub-contract from whichever private sector profiteers are running the scheme.
Perhaps most astonishingly, no-one knows who those private companies are either. Whilst some of the most despised companies in the UK were invited to bid – including A4e, G4S and Atos – there has been no announcement from the DWP about who has been successful. A recent Freedom of Information request revealed that just 18 days ago no decision had yet been made on who will run the scheme.
The DWP must be a bunch of fucking idiots if they think we’ll believe that a huge programme, affecting 200,000 people, could have been cobbled together over the Easter holidays by whichever welfare-to-work parasites they’ve finally chosen . It takes time for companies to train and recruit staff, secure placements and develop the administration systems needed. This is likely to have been made all the harder by the fact that as of just over 3 weeks ago, the guidance (rules) for the Help To Work scheme ‘had yet to be finalised’. It has still not been published.
A similar scheme to Community Work Placements has already been trialled and not only did almost no-one find real work, but over a third couldn’t even be found an unpaid placement. Case studies published by the DWP today show that of the only three claimants they could find prepared to endorse unpaid mandatory work, only one of them had actually found a job!
One Jobcentre source has claimed staff locally have been informed Help To Work will not launch today, despite even David Cameron putting his name to a press release saying that it would. With no-one running the scheme, and no rulebook, it is hard to see how the Community Work Placement part of Help To Work can genuinely start this week.
This is not the only part of Help To Work that looks to be in trouble. Tens of thousands of unemployed people will now be expected to attend the Jobcentre and sit in a queue waiting to sign on everyday rather than looking for work. A memo to members from the PCS Union said that the DWP was only bothering to meet them this week to discuss the staffing and health and safety implications of the new regime. The memo also confirms that travel expenses are to paid to those signing on daily which could add millions to the cost of the scheme.
Also launching today is a new campaign to Keep Volunteering Voluntary. In contrast to the DWP’s bungling efforts, this has already proved a huge success with almost 40 voluntary sector organisations already pledging they will not take part in workfare schemes including Oxfam, Unite, Children England and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO). Martin Sime, chief executive of SCVO has gone even further saying that Help To Work will be: “demeaning, counterproductive and undermine genuine volunteering”.
Please help spread the word about the new campaign, who can be found on twitter @keepvolvol or join the facebook page. Please also share, tweet and blog details of the new website at: http://www.keepvolunteeringvoluntary.net/
Read the latest from Boycott Workfare about the new scheme and how to fight it.
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