In a bizarre move, several companies known to use unpaid staff on workfare schemes have teamed up to write a letter to The Guardian singing the praises of the disastrous Work Programe.
The list of employers – which includes Homebase who are known to have used workfare is the past, and Poundland, who were at the heart of the successful legal challenge against workfare – say that the government’s support for schemes like the Work Programme ‘must continue’. Otherwise they might have to start actually paying their staff instead of exploiting unemployed people coerced into unpaid work by sanction-happy Jobcentre busy-bodies.
It is not known whether all the companies on the list, which include Ocado and Gap, are involved in unpaid work, although it is difficult to see why they have signed otherwise. In fact it seems a strange thing for these businesses to be bothered to do at all.
The last signatory on the list may reveal one explanation for how this strange initiative came about. Kirsty McHugh is the Chief Executive of the Employment Related Services Assocation, or ERSA for short. This is the trade body established to lie on behalf of the welfare-to-work parasites like A4e and G4S who run the Work Programme. Just last week they published a breath-takingly dishonest report making wild claims that no-one believed about how much money the Work Programme is saving the country. It seems likely that this latest letter was co-ordinated by ERSA as part of a shabby PR campaign designed to convince the DWP to keep giving welfare-to-work firms billions of pounds of our money.
Labour have hinted that they might bring in local councils to run forced work schemes. The Lib Dems are caling for a policy change and may yet hold the balance of power again come the next election. More importantly, no-one knows better than the welfare-to-work sector that the latest ‘Help to Work’ scheme is set to be a disaster and that they will be the ones that get the blame when it all goes wrong. The future does not look so assured for ERSA and their welfare-to-work cronies who have made hundreds of millions out of bullying and exploiting unemployed people. They will fight dirty to keep Brtain’s biggest benefit scam alive. Expect more bollocks like this.
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