Is Boris Johnson’s Workfare Scheme The Biggest Benefit Shambles So Far?

sanction-sabs‘It was a bit strange, I had to go to a job interview the next day so they said either you cancel it, or you will be sanctioned.’
(Claimant, non-start, North London)

The DWP have repeatedly claimed that benefit sanctions are a last resort aimed at those who fail to stick to the ever more draconian rules.  Yet a damning evaluation of a workfare scheme aimed at young people in London reveals that those who had their benefit claims stopped or sanctioned for refusing to take part were more likely to find jobs than those who completed the programme.

The laboriously named Day One Support for Young People (DOSfYP) Trailblazer was cooked up by then Employment Minister Chris Grayling and London Mayor Boris Johnson as revenge for the 2011 riots.  This nasty attempt at collective punishment means that young people in many London boroughs can be sent on workfare for 13 weeks from their first day of claiming unemployment benefits.

A recently published evaluation of the Traiblazer reveals that the scheme has been an utter shambles from start to finish.  Almost half of young people sent on the programme signed off or faced sanctions rather then undertaking unpaid work with many claiming they would rather spend their time looking for a job instead.

They seem to have made the right decision.  Only around a quarter of young people who completed the scheme had found jobs by the time the evaluation was carried out compared to half of those who refused workfare.

The Trailblazer was supposed to be aimed at those aged between 18 and 25 who had little or no work experience.  The evaluation found however that 25% of people referred to the scheme reported over six months prior work history.  Some of these young people were scathing about the so-called help being inflicted on them:

“‘It didn’t help me [the placement] it didn’t give me any more experience than I already had and it just used up my time during the week when I could have been looking for work that I actually wanted to do.’
(Claimant, completer, South London)

The programme was run by the upcoming Atos replacement Maximus in north London and the Careers Development Group (CDG) in the south of the city.  These companies were supposed to provide ten hours a week ‘provider led jobsearch’ but the report finds they barely bothered.  Just over half of young people questioned said they didn’t receive any of these kind of job search sessions at all.

In encouraging news for those opposed to workfare schemes, the private sector providers reported that placements were hard to source with charities concerned about “press coverage and public perception” should they become involved with forced work. As usual the majority of placements were in charity shops.  The rushed nature of the referral process meant young people were expected to attend an interview with the provider the day after their intitial claim and start workfare the day after that.  This led to chaos with some young people turning up to their workfare placement only to be mistaken for customers with no-one knowing who they were.

Jobcentre staff also criticised the scheme, saying they were not given adequate time to explain the details of the placements in a short meeting in which they also had to process a benefit claim.  According to some of the participants they were misled by Jobcentres who implied they were being sent on a training course rather than full time workfare.  Some claimants reported being threatened with benefit sanctions due to being unable to attend an appointment the next day because they had a job interview.  Other claimants who did attend their next day appointments with the private sector providers were sent away because paperwork had not arrived.

The evaluation reveals that the vast majority of young people sent on the scheme were living in the family home which may have lessened the impact of benefits being stopped.  The report notes however that those living independently “would complete the Trailblazer regardless of whether they believed it was worthwhile and were consequently unengaged throughout the placement.”

A third of those who refused to attend forced work were sanctioned, whilst others just abandoned their benefits claim completely.  56% of those who did start dropped out before their time on the placement was completed.  Almost a third of them were sanctioned as well.  Despite this those who left early were significantly more likely to be in work at the time the evaluation was carried out – around five to seven months after the placements ended.

It is clear from this report that the young people who rejected this scheme were not workshy.  Instead they simply had a better idea of how to find work than the bungling fucking idiots in charge of the DWP.  They were even prepared to give up their benefits rather than face being ‘helped’ by the Jobcentre.  If young people’s future were not being casually destroyed by schemes like these it would be laughable. But there is nothing funny about this appalling treatment of those entering the jobs market for the first time.

You can read the report at:

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

69 responses to “Is Boris Johnson’s Workfare Scheme The Biggest Benefit Shambles So Far?

      • A “reserve army of unemployment” –

        believe what there will be is a non-subsidised disposable and transient underclass and a precarious subsidised striving class – the non-subsidised disposable and transient underclass will be used to frighten the precarious subsidised striving class into subservience.



      “There is no actionable law of privacy in the UK and nothing in English (or Scottish) law that makes it unlawful for one private individual to record, video record or otherwise film another without consent, unless it is for the purposes of “voyeurism” under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.”

  1. People being SANCTIONED for attending an actual job interview rather than an appointment for a fifth rate ‘training’ scheme? Calling it ludicrous does not do it justice. It also makes a mockery of Cameron’s claim that people are only sanctioned as a last resort such for reasons such as not taking a job.

    So when a jobseeker DOES show interest in a job and secures him or herself an interview (no doubt using their own efforts), they’re still being penalised! If this makes sense then get me a straight jacket and declare me insane.

    ” According to some of the participants they were misled by Jobcentres who implied they were being sent on a training course rather than full time workfare. ”

    When I was sent to Ingeus under the WP, I asked my then JCP ‘adviser’ what training was available. He said no courses were available. However, simply turning up counted as ’employability training’!!!

  2. My son was made redundant 8 weeks ago.
    He applied online the next day for JSA He received a email back that day that they would contact him in a few days.
    Roll on 4 weeks later after he never heard back from them, he visited the Non/fake Job Centre where they told by his advisor he was not getting his claim backdated to when he became unemployed because he waited four weeks and he didn;t seem that “interested”…who the fuck are these people. ???

    • Perhaps he could go to some politician or even a newspaper with the e-mail copies, and prove they are lying their faces off. For that is what that is.
      You could find out if it amounts to some kind of negligence in public office. I would imagine even hitting them with that very thought will spook them, and if they insist with it, then go hit them hard with it !
      I foresee big trouble looming. Not that anyonr wants trouble, but the peasant plebs will only take so much.

  3. I’ll say it again: if you can possibly survive by other means — especially if you’re a young person living with family — DON’T sign on at the Jobcentre. They’re not there to help you find paid work, but to prevent you doing so, while punishing you for being unemployed. The government aren’t ‘bungling idiots’, JV — that’s the only thing in your post that I disagree with: they’re doing exactly what they intend to do, which does not include reducing unemployment. The bastards love unemployment, if by employment is meant paid work. The more benefit serfs and punching-bags they have, the happier they are.

    I think some people called me a Tory troll for saying this before, because they were thinking that the government wants people not to claim benefits, so that it can save taxpayers’ money. But the government doesn’t give a toss about saving money, just about implementing its ideology (if you can call sheer hatred of the working class and the poor an ideology).

    • overburdenddonkey

      but no one would sign on in present circumstances unless they absolutely had to…and when they do they are actively prevented from seeking paid work… within 3mins she describes the founding principles of the nhs,,,this equally applies to the welfare state…
      it is now being used as an emotional stick to beat people into compliance with…

    • “I’ll say it again: if you can possibly survive by other means — especially if you’re a young person living with family — DON’T sign on at the Jobcentre.”

      Then they are conceding their right to welfare and handing the DWP a victory of self-disqualification or self-sanction. That weakens young claimants that do not have parents with the means to support them.

      • I take your point about conceding the right to welfare, except that unfortunately in Britain today there is no effective right to welfare, whatever the law may say. The government and all too many members of the public treat claimants as anti-social elements, and any payments given them as equivalent to the grudging subsistence allowed prisoners (sometimes even less than that). Human rights law guarantees people the right to an adequate standard of living and a home, but what are the courts or the EU doing about the flagrant breaches of these rights, which have been going on for a long time? Rights have been said to exist only in law, but they also depend on enforcement.

        Of course, people can’t avoid the Jobcentre if they have no other means of survival. I’m just saying they should not think of it as something that’s going to help, and should avoid it if they can. Yes, it’s hellish difficult.

  4. christmas is cancelled at the jobcentre.been told today that daily signing will be going all through the christmas period.the only days jobentres are closed are christmas,boxing and new years day.on these days we still have to do jobsearch.while ids is tucking into his turkey,we are all logging into universal jobmatch.

  5. Learn Direct Scotland, do you know why CWP is enacted under the cover of community – in the hope that at future time if the need be it can be used as a defence against charges of crimes against humanity – forced labour and human trafficking.

  6. The bumbling double act of In Deep Shit & Boris – 2 of the most stupid & failures that are keeping the party afloat. Boris is rude while his cycle lanes are death traps. Great double act getting Boris involved with the DWP.

    Published on 20 Nov 2014

  7. Learn Direct Scotland,

    Could this be defined as Community Work Placements.

  8. “Minister: ‘We don’t warn social workers when vulnerable claimants are sanctioned”

    By john pring


    A minister has admitted that it is not government policy to warn health or social services when “vulnerable” service-users have had their benefits “sanctioned”.

    The admission by the Conservative employment minister Esther McVey comes just weeks after her department admitted to Disability News Service (DNS) that it had carried out 60 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths since February 2012.

    McVey was responding to a written parliamentary question from Labour’s shadow employment minister, Stephen Timms.

    Timms asked whether it was Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) policy that Jobcentre Plus officials should “liaise with health and social services agencies when benefit sanctions are applied to vulnerable individuals”.

    But McVey replied: “There is no formal policy to liaise with health and social services agencies when a sanction is applied.”

    She said DWP “recognises the importance of ensuring claimants understand the requirements they must fulfil to get benefit, the consequences of not complying and support available when sanctioned, including reconsideration, appeal and hardship payments”.

    She added: “As part of this, work coaches also encourage claimants to engage third party support where this is available.”

    A key element of the coalition’s welfare reforms has been to introduce a stricter sanctions regime.

    Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative work and pensions secretary, said in February that he was “ending the something for nothing culture and supporting those who want to work hard and play by the rules”.

    But ministers have consistently denied any connection between their welfare reforms and cuts and the deaths of benefit claimants.

    There have been numerous reports of disabled people whose deaths have been linked by relatives and friends to the employment and support allowance (ESA) claim process, the refusal or removal of ESA and other benefits, and the DWP’s use of sanctions to temporarily remove benefits from a claimant.

    One notorious case was that of David Clapson, who was sanctioned because he missed two DWP appointments.

    Even though he was actively looking for work at the time, his benefits were stopped.

    Clapson, who had diabetes, died through an acute lack of insulin. His electricity had been cut off, so the fridge where he kept his insulin was not working.

    An autopsy found his stomach was empty at the time of his death. He had just £3.44 in his bank account and there was almost no food left in the flat.

    Catherine Hale, the author of a review which found that the back-to-work support provided to disabled people by the government actually pushes them further from the jobs market, said: “This revelation makes a mockery of the government’s claim that sanctions policy is intended to move people into work for their own wellbeing.

    “This government will stop at nothing to cut public spending, as long as its core voters don’t notice that their fellow citizens are being cast out to destitution and sometimes death. The sanctions regime shames our whole society.”

    Hale had more than £70 a week of her ESA stripped from her for three months because she could not attend a Seetec back-to-work workshop that a government assessment had already concluded would be inaccessible to her.

    Bob Ellard, a member of the Disabled People Against Cuts steering group, said McVey’s response was “appallingly callous”.

    He said: “It appears that in Esther McVey’s world, people who have no economic value have no value at all.

    “We don’t have a death penalty for even the most heinous crime in this country, but Esther McVey’s officials handed out what turned out to be a death penalty to David Clapson, for the ‘crime’ of missing two appointments.

    “Benefit sanctions are an abuse of human rights, and will be the cause of more deaths and suicides. Sanctions must be stopped.”

    And John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said Clapson’s treatment at the hands of DWP was a violation of his right to life under article two of the European Convention on Human Rights, and article 14, which prohibits discrimination.

    He said DWP’s failure to contact the necessary people within health or social services when a vulnerable disabled person had their benefits sanctioned “amounts to passive euthanasia”.

    He said the state had put Clapson in the position where he was unable to use the medication he needed to stay alive and had “failed to carry out its duty of care”.

    Last month, DNS reported that the use of sanctions to punish disabled ESA claimants had risen by 370 per cent in just 18 months, from 1,091 in December 2012 to 5,132 in June 2014.

    About nine in 10 sanctions were for a failure to participate in work-related activity, with the others imposed for a failure to attend a mandatory interview.

    Claimants lose at least a week’s benefit for missing a single appointment or session of work-related activity.



      Last month, DNS reported that the use of sanctions to punish disabled ESA claimants had risen by 370 per cent in just 18 months, from 1,091 in December 2012 to 5,132 in June 2014.

      • Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to life The article contains a limited exception for the cases of lawful executions and sets out strictly controlled circumstances in which the deprivation of life may be justified. The exemption for the case of lawful executions has been subsequently further restricted by Protocols 6 (restriction of the death penalty to war time) and 13 (abolition of the death penalty), for those parties who are also parties to those protocols. The European Court of Human Rights has commented that “Article 2 ranks as one of the most fundamental provisions in the Convention”[1] The obligations on a State under Article 2 consist of three principal aspects: the duty to refrain from unlawful deprivation of life, the duty to investigate suspicious deaths; and in certain circumstances, a positive obligation to take steps to prevent avoidable losses of life



    • I’ve missed a handful of “advisor” appointments, i was forced to use the paltry 2 sick periods a year to cover for 2 such appointments, i missed others (through my own fault but i thought my reasons were solid), and i got slapped with a 1 month sanction every time, i tried appealing but to no avail… they then told me to apply for hardship to receive just 80 of the 280 i usually got and they would not pay the first 2 weeks of a sanction (max of 80 hardship per fortnight).

      If i didn’t have money saved up and if there wasn’t a “nil-income” option with regards to housing benefit then i would have truly been in the shit, which begs the question, why take away a lifeline just to provide another?

      It’s all completely backwards!



          Campaign for change moves to Prime Minister’s doorstep after benefits death of Stevenage ex-soldier

          By Michael.Havis | Posted: December 05, 2014

          Gill Thompson addresses the meeting in Witney

          The sister of a diabetic ex-soldier who passed away after his benefits were sanctioned has brought her campaign for change to the Prime Minister’s constituency.

          Gill Thompson told a public meeting in David Cameron’s parliamentary seat, Witney, about the death last year of her brother David Clapson, 59.

          The former soldier, who could not afford to keep his insulin cool after his benefits were sanctioned, died at his home in Hillside, Stevenage, from complications caused by a lack of the medicine.

          Also speaking at the event – to which the Prime Minister was invited, but failed to attend – was Cathie Wood, whose brother Mark starved to death after his benefits were cut.

          Mrs Thompson, 57, told the Mercury: “It did go well. It was two sisters fighting for two brothers.

          “She spoke about how her brother died after he was deemed fit for work. I talked about David, sanctions and how they say sanctions are a last resort.

          “I have read that they have issued more than 2,000,000 sanctions, many of which are overturned but in the meantime they are causing so much heartache.”

          She continued: “We got a very good reception, everyone stood up. People came up to me and said it was very touching and said how they felt.

          “Other people said what was happening to them. There are so many stories that aren’t being told.”

          Mrs Thompson also said she was willing to “take the fight wherever” and that she was “more determined than ever” to bring about change.

          The event on November 27 was organised by the West Oxfordshire Green Party.

          Stuart Macdonald, who will contest the Prime Minister’s seat for the Green Party, said: “Our audience was unbelievably sympathetic. Both of them spoke from the heart.

          “This sort of thing is necessary for others to come out of the woodwork and speak against the extraordinary behaviour of the Department for Work and Pensions.

          “Both sisters have been fobbed off and without consistent pressure they would continue to be.

          “My feeling is that it is nothing to do with austerity at all. In a civilised society these things just don’t happen.”

          He continued: “They are still grief stricken, every time they talk about it they must just be screaming out to forget it but they are so brave that they don’t do that.

          “The two sisters spoke extraordinarily well. They keep up the fight despite the personal cost. That’s hugely admirable.”



          Stayin’ Alive and fuck you DWP 😀

      • They don’t pay Hardship for the first two weeks of any sanction, and then when it is “awarded” it is paid out as JSA….2 weeks in arrears meaning some poor soul has a 4 week wait before they get a dime, and by which time they have already lost 220 pounds., while the evil satan worshipper himself blows 39 of taxpayer funds on a breakfast.

  9. i must be 1 of the only people in the uk that since this gov got in i have not had to stay and do any off it for the last 8 years. 😉

  10. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog.

  11. When the CONs win the May 2015 which they will with Ukip, the thing will get much worse – You ain`t seen nothing yet. The last push to finish the ethnic genocide cleansing of disabled people. The real UK Rogue State starts in May 2015 – 2020.




  13. One In a Billion- Dub Syndicates & Luciano

    I could put at least 100 charges up just for the DWP.


  16. Big Youth – Political Confusion [CASH AND CARRY RECORDS – 1979]

    Big Youth – Bail Out – Dec 2012


  18. Get the MPs out of the way – then there is a level playing field. Gagging Orders.

  19. Pingback: Is Boris Johnson’s Workfare Scheme The Biggest Benefit Shambles So Far? | Pilion Trust's Blog

  20. overburdenddonkey

    disabled person auctioned off for care contract…

  21. Unemployed dad auctions himself on eBay to raise cash for Christmas presents

    Read more:
    Follow us: @GlosCitizen on Twitter | GlosCitizen on Facebook


    D Robinson left an annotation (26 November 2013)

    So they don’t run a disability denial factory?
    Ok let’s look at the evidence
    Many people have commited suicide for either failing a WCA or simply denied benefits?
    See all these links

    I could spend the rest of the night filling in websites about your disability denial factory ATOS (I even have saved web pages of articles about ATOS in countries as far away as Australia and the USA and none of them talk in “glowing terms” about you nor ATOS)
    Isn’t a known fact they ATOS and your DM’s get bonuses for making the most ill in our society suffer?
    Hasn’t ex-ATOS doctors’ and nurses’ turned on the evil company that they, in good conscience couldn’t work for any more?
    Hasn’t there been whistle-blowers’ in the DWP that’s blown the gaffe on your bonus culture? With bonus parties and sanctions of the unemployed all being exposed, do I have to add dozens of web links about this practice, or are you going to admit that you do all this evil things?

  23. Nick Clegg on Andrew Marr show ” Of course there should be benefit sanctions”?
    Really, I thought they were brought in by Blair and sanctioned by Cameron/Clegg, never been known before in the welfare state!

    • Not being a paid up member of the hard working families collective is a sanctionable offence and is punishable by death.

      Sanctions (welfare reform) were swirling around left of centre politics before the nineties, IDS opportunistically picked those ideas up and ran with them.

  24. A British pound for the poor – the currency of food industry slurry and trailer trash perishables.

    Let them eat slurry. 🙂

  25. Politicians like Nick Clegg don’t seem to realise that people are being sanctioned even though they are making every effort to find work.
    It would be odd if this government paid out money to fund foodbanks as they are forcing people to the food banks through their policies.

    • FoodbanksPlus to finally replace JobcentrePlus?

      Jobsearch done remotely/at library – ‘customers’ signing on at the same time as collecting their weekly food parcel/rations, then staying to do worksearch – ‘In-House’ computers installed (running UJ only) …

      I hope there are not plans to introduce JobCrechePlus for those with pre-school age children so they can be called in for Foodbank and JobsearchPlus (madated) activities.

    • … but it is kind of obvious that this dude is not looking for a REAL job… PA, driving, film-making, arty-farty? Come on, give us a break. If they want a REAL job they should enquire at the local jokeshop about MWA/CWP – not cushy arty-farty shite on that. This ad just sound likes sound arty-farty art school project dreamed up by some middle-class knobhead.

    • I am sure the jokeshop will have some minimum wage shit-shovelling jobs on offer especially at this time of year. No excuse for this self-indulgent crap.

    • Film-making, PA-ing, art, driving are all things that people actually ENJOY. It is not REAL work. This fucker wants to GET PAID for doing something that he ENJOYS. This chancer want to enhance his skill-set, get some experience/practice and get paid for it at the same time lol Get real buddy, cos the jokecentre are really going to fuck you over – I can see the sanctions looming.

      PS If anyone out there is looking for an airline pilot I am eager and willing to train for free 😀

      • Exactly, it says in the ad that he has a clean driving licence and is interested in film-making. But I would bet that he has recently passed his test and hasn’t had much crucial post-test experience which at £6 a gallon but car costs would cost him a fortune. So ideally, and what he is REALLY looking for is for someone to pay him to tour round the country scouting film locations… and taking a few snaps for his portfolio, making some contacts in the industry. A win-win situation for him. As the owner of a re-cycling facility who proudly uses MWA/CWA I would wager that if I offered him a ‘job’ I wouldn’t hear a dickie-bird. This guy is going to come a cropper at the jobcentre if he doesn’t get a real job soon. The jobcentre can see right through these types… 😉

  26. Pingback: #WEcan Expose The Wannabe Tory Councillor Behind The DWP’s Workfare Campaign | the void

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s