“It’s time to change the conversation about extending working life from one about working “until you drop”, to one about a fuller working life, that means working as long as is necessary to create the future you want.”
Esther McVey and Steve Webb, Fuller Working Lives Ministerial Statement
What they mean …
Unpaid work, cuts to disability benefits and mandated ‘work-related activity’ are set to be at the heart of the latest DWP strategy aimed at bullying older people off benefits
Last week the DWP published Fuller Working Lives, a ‘framework for action’ for older unemployed people and the rhetoric is depressingly familiar. Under the guise of help and support it will be business as usual as older claimants are left at the mercy of the grasping welfare-to-work industry.
The report notes that around a million people over 50 are out of work due to a health condition or disability and the new strategy sets out measures to force this group back to work. Astonishingly the DWP claim that one of ways to achieve this is the introduction of Personal Independence Payments. This is the replacement for Disability Living Allowance which has been designed to strip benefits from 20% of disabled people and currently has up to a six month waiting period for new claims. Disabled people’s organisations have warned that many will actually have to give up work if they lose this benefit which pays for the cost of care and mobility needs.
Other measures to ‘help’ sick or disabled claimants include a trial to establish whether harassment from a Work Programme provider, a health care professional, or a Jobcentre Plus Work Coach is the most effective means of bullying someone off benefits.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. The DWP is promising some exciting new initiatives, such as testing telephone based ‘employment-focused talking therapies’ from a ‘specialist provider’ – which is likely to mean a phone call from some half-qualified quack who’s blagged a job on the basis that they saw a Derren Brown show once. If this doesn’t work then claimants with a mental health condition will be able to access “online mental health assessments and computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy”. If Poundland did healthcare, then this is what it would look like.
Poundland will be pleased with the new strategy, which sings the praises of Sector Based Work Academies – a long winded way of saying workfare – for older unemployed people. This is the scheme which hit the headlines after young graduate Cait Reilly was forced to work in Poundland for no pay. Older claimants are not be left out of this exciting opportunity to work without wages for high street retailers.
It’s not just workfare employers who are in for a windfall. The DWP recognise that “Some unemployed older people will need the more intensive support available through the Work Programme”. There’s plenty of cash available to prop up this disastrous scheme which has seen barely 5% of disabled people find work after two years of bullying by private sector Work Programme providers. There’s even more money on the way for the welfare-to-work industry with Supervised JobSearch Pilots finally to be introduced. Older unemployed people will soon have the lucky chance to be cooped up in offices for 35 hours a week whilst some twat with a clipboard harangues them about being unemployed. If they don’t turn up their benefits will be stopped.
Older claimants who want real training will have to pay themselves however, by taking out a Professional and Career Development Loans. I didn’t make that up. The Government are encouraging people nearing retirement to take out a huge loan on the off chance it may get them a job for the for last couple of years of their working lives. Loans that are repayable with interest, whether or not someone finds work, and those repayments will continue once they draw a pension.
This lays bare the truth about all this fake fucking help that the DWP plans to inflict on older people. There has never been any decent training available for people on out of work benefits despite billions spent on welfare-to-work schemes. Try telling a Jobcentre Work Coach you fancy training as an electrician and they’ll send you on workfare in Comet to hump televisions about all day for no pay. The DWP have no interest in providing real training so that older unemployed people can get jobs that might actually pay the bills. They’d far rather condemn older claimants to the same low or no-waged precarious world that those starting their working lives now face. That’s probably this Government’s warped idea of equality.
You can download Fuller Working Lives at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/319872/fuller-working-lives.pdf
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