The National Housing Federation (NHF), the umbrella body which represents housing associations, are quietly teaming up with the fraud-ridden welfare-to-work sector in a bid to monetize ‘workless’ tenants in social housing.
Tomorrow the NHF will hold a joint event with the notorious Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade organisation established to lie on behalf of the welfare-to-work industry. The Housing and Employment Forum will allow housing associations to discuss how they can further collaborate with sanction-happy workfare exploiters like G4S, Serco and the shadowy US conglomerate Maximus. To look at the website of the National Housing Federation however you would never know this event is happening, despite them being the joint organisers and chairs. They are right to be ashamed of their dirty little workfare secrets.
ERSA themselves are also remaining tight-lipped about the forum which is only open to ERSA members and details of which – such as where it is – are not available. Claimants and housing association tenants themselves are obviously not welcome.
Several housing associations already hold Work Programme sub-contracts, although many pulled out when they realised that they weren’t making enough money out of the mandatory scheme. In a renewed effort to get their snouts in the welfare-to-work trough they are now not just sucking up to ERSA but also lobbying the DWP directly to get their hands on some of the workfare cash. Over 40 housing associations are now members of the Give Us A Chance (GUAC) consortium which was formed in 2011 to try and hoodwink the government into giving them some juicy welfare-to-work contracts. The Give Us Some Money consortium would be a more accurate name.
According to their literature, GUAC are being advised by Jonathan Shaw, the former Labour Minister for Disabled People who helped oversee the introduction of the despised Atos fitness for work tests. Housing Associations who join GUAC are also being offered free automatic membership of ERSA. They have even released a joint manifesto (pdf) with the workfare industry in which they ominously call for more data sharing powers between social housing providers, Work Programme companies and Jobcentres. Who better than a landlord to be the ever-watching eyes of the DWP.
Don’t be in any doubt that this is about anything other than fucking money. It’s not like housing association tenants are crying out for more CV workshops or mandatory work placements. Billions of pounds is being doled out by the DWP to organisations prepared to bully and harass unemployed people and housing associations have no intention of missing the gravy train. Don’t expect them to actually build any houses with all this cash though. Those six figure Chief Executive salaries won’t pay themselves you know.
Above pic from the SchNews archive.
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