The way the welfare to work industry scam works is simple. The real profit in lucrative government contracts to ‘help’ people back into work is not made supporting the most marginalised benefit claimants or providing quality training. The money comes from finding those who would have got jobs anyway and then claiming huge job outcome fees when they secure employment.
Sometimes the welfare to work company doesn’t have to do anything at all. Leaked documents from the fraud ridden A4e even instructed their staff on how to claim job outcome payments when someone referred to the Work Programme found work themselves before they had even started on the scheme. A4e in this case would have done nothing at all other than persuading someone to sign a piece of paper to say they had started on the Work Programme. Bribes are often used to secure signatures like these. With job outcome payments as high as £13,000 it is well worth slipping someone £50 in clothing vouchers or for travel expenses. It is not unknown for welfare to work bosses to ask staff to quiz friends and family to see if anyone they know is on benefits and likely to find work soon. Welfare to work companies are far more concerned with finding the lucrative ‘job ready’ participants than they are in helping those struggling to find work.
Of course even the so-called job ready pay a price. The welfare-to-work sector seeks to destroy aspiration by mandating people into low paid, low quality work as quickly as possible. Benefit sanctions are used to enforce compliance. Many people, especially the young, have even been forced to give up college courses and instead attend welfare-to-work companies where they will be bullied into the first shitty job that comes along. This is why the welfare-to-work sector does not provide any real training beyond the odd session on how to write a CV and happy clappy motivational workshops. They are not acting with the interests of unemployed people in mind, but their own profits. The pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo that now dominates the sector is intended to encourage people to give up their dreams and instead take the first job available. That’s how welfare-to-work companies make money.
If the most employable are deskilled and demoralised, the situation is even worse for those deemed ‘furthest from the labour market’. If they are lucky they will be ‘parked’, meaning largely abandoned and left to their own devices. More commonly however this group will be relentlessly bullied with workfare and ever more condionality intended to pummel them into being profitable. Bored welfare to work staff, often riddled with nasty little prejudices about unemployed people, take out their frustration on those who might be homeless, or have a mental health condition. They are sanctioned, repeatedly and sometimes to death, as a message to everybody else what might happen if you don’t do what you’re told.
The welfare-to-work industry has been given billions of pounds of tax payer’s money over the years to operate what is little more than a giant benefit scam. Prior to the launch of Tony Blair’s New Deal, the sector did not even exist yet unemployed people still managed to find jobs without any help at all from a Work Programme busy-body. But the government’s intention in funding the sector is not about finding unemployed people jobs. Welfare-to-work, and workfare, benefit sanctions and all the human misery that comes with them, are firstly about establishing the workhouse principle of ‘less eligibility’. This means ensuring that the life of an unemployed person is ‘less eligible’ or more shit, than the life of the lowest paid worker. It is intended not just to punish the poor but impose workplace dicipline in everybody else. And this is the second function of welfare-to-work. It is the PR wing of capital, encouraging and enforcing people to work in shit jobs, to never complain, to not ask for more and accept the life of low paid drudgery that makes those we work for so rich.
Today the welfare-to-work industry has been trying to drum up publicity by holding an Employability Day. There’s still time to join in. They claim to want to show the impact of the sector on communities, inviting MPs and councillors into their premises in the hope of yet more tax payer’s money. So tell the truth about the real activities of this vile bunch of poverty profiteers on twitter using hashtag #esday16 or using this handy tweetlist: http://dftr.org.uk/Songbird.php?TweetFile=ESDay16
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