Category Archives: DWP

Worse Than The Poor Law, Universal Credit Slammed By Councils, Charities And Even Landlords

cih-poor-lawSavage new rules, which could leave newly unemployed, sick or disabled people with no money at all for six weeks, have been slammed in a consultation carried out by the DWP’s own advisors.

The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) ran the consultation after the DWP warned that the seven day waiting period already introduced for current out of work sickness and unemployment benefits is being extended to Universal Credit. As the SSAC rightly point out this will leave most new claimants without any benefits at all for six weeks due to the monthly payment cycle of Universal Credit.  Perhaps most shocking of all, this will include payments intended to cover rents, meaning new claimants will not just face the trauma of losing their job but immediately be plunged into huge rent arrears.

The plans have been met with outrage by charities, housing associations, local authorities and even landlords.  One organisation, the hardly fucking radical Chartered Institute for Housing, points out that: “Even under the poor law that preceded the welfare state it was unlawful for the authority to refuse support to a person who had no income or savings even for a short period of time.”

The result of the consultation is that the SSAC recommended to the Government that this proposal should not proceed.  The DWP, predictably, have rejected this recommendation  on the basis that they think people will have enough money to tide them over.

According to the DWP, most people are paid monthly and so should receive a final salary payment if they leave work and it is ‘not unreasonable’ to expect them to budget this money to last the full six weeks.  They also claim that low earners will aready be on Universal Credit anyway, so they will not face a waiting period if they lose their job.

The truth is that a single person, with relatively low housing costs, will cease being eligible for Universal Credit if their earnings go above about £310 a week before tax.  This is the kind of ‘relatively higher-income employment’ that the DWP believe means a person will have a couple of months rent lying around somewhere, as well as enough cash to get them through the next six weeks.  It is fucking astonishing they can say this stuff with a straight face.  What is perhaps of most concern is that they might actually believe it.

The DWP have brushed aside concerns that many workers are not paid monthly, particularly in lower paid jobs.  McDonalds, for example, pay fortnightly, whilst lots of agency and cleaning jobs pay weekly.  Additionally not everyone comes onto benefits after leaving work – a failed business, the end of a relationship or someone leaving the parental home can also trigger a benefit claim.  The DWP merely say that these people might be able to apply for a benefit advance, although this will be conditional on whether they think the person can afford to pay it back.  With some people likely to face housing costs running to over a thousand pounds, and that’s before they eat, it is unlikely that a Short Term Benefit Advance will do anything to bridge the gap.

The SSAC also recommended that if this policy were not to be scrapped then exempting the housing element of Universal Credit from the waiting period might “mitigate against the harshest impacts”.  The DWP have responded that this would only confuse claimants and therefore not meet the aim of simplifying Universal Credit.

For the last five years we have been told that giving money to the very poorest will make only make them lazy and unhealthy.  Now apparently it will confuse them as well, as if they will not be able to cope with such riches as being able to afford to pay their rent.  There has rarely been more transparent bullshit spoken to justify what is nothing more than a simple transfer of wealth from people in poverty to line the pockets of the filthy rich.  According to the DWP the money saved by this policy will be re-invested in welfare-to-work support, meaning yet more lucrative contracts for the likes of G4S, Maximus and A4e and the multi-millionaires who run and own them.

You can download the SSAC’s report and the Government’s response at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-universal-credit-waiting-days-amendment-regulations-2015-si-2015-no-1362-ssac-report

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The Biggest Attack On Wages Yet, Sectors With High Vacancies To Get Thousands Of Workfare Workers

Join the Day of Action Against B&M Stores on June 27th.

Join the Day of Action Against B&M Stores on June 27th.

The Government is claiming that up to 100,000 unpaid jobs are set to be created over the next year in a hand out to the corporate sector worth up to a billion pounds.  Astonishing some of these work experience positions will be targeted in areas which already have high numbers job vacancies making a mockery of the claim that these schemes are intended to reduce unemployment.

According to a recently updated document, produced to explain the various workfare schemes to the first victims of Universal Credit, the DWP are claiming that “An extra 100,000 work experience and sector-based work academy places have been made available between April 2015 and March 2016 for 18 to 24 year old jobseekers.” 

These are the corporate workfare schemes which have already seen almost half a million young people bullied into working for the pittance of benefits often for large national employers. This huge extension of the two schemes is being carried out at a time when unemployment is allegedly falling and this shows the real motivation for the extension of unpaid work.

In 2011 lying bastard Chris Grayling, then the Minister for Employment, launched Sector Based Work Academies, saying that they would be targeted at “sectors with high volumes of current local vacancies”.  You read that right.  Not areas of high unemployment, but the opposite, places where there are already lots of jobs.  Sector Based Work Academies can involve up to six weeks full time unpaid work and do not come with a guarantee of a job on completion.  So in sectors that are doing well, and that can afford to employ staff, the Government is encouraging employers to take on workers for free instead.  Workers that are funded by the tax payer and expected to survive on the pittance of benefits, just £57.90 a week for under 25s.

There has rarely been a more transparent measure to force down wages.  If greedy employers were expected to live by the same free-market principles inflicted on everyone else, then when demand for workers went up, they would have to provide better training and higher wages.  But the government are saying save your money, have a load of tax-payer funded free workers instead.  Britain’s biggest benefit scroungers are not the poor, but high street names like ASDA and Poundland.

Unpaid work for private companies is officially voluntary, and even illegal under minimum wage laws unless organised by the DWP.  But those who refuse corporate workfare face being sent on other mandatory forced work schemes for so-called community organisations.

It is unclear where these 100,000 new placements will come from, particularly as plans are being drawn up to force everyone under 21 into permanent workfare if they have been unemployed for over six months.  Many of the UK’s largest companies have withdrawn from unpaid work schemes completely after their carefully crafted corporate reputations disintegrated following protests from Boycott Workfare and others appalled at this grotesque exploitation of young workers.

Those protests are set to continue, with a day of action called against B&M Stores who in 2013 were even named workfare exploiter of the year by the vile welfare-to-work industry.  For more details visit (and share) Boycott Workfare’s website.

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Iain Duncan Smith’s First Re-Education Centre To Open In Streatham Jobcentre

my-jobStreatham Jobcentre is to become the home of Iain Duncan Smith’s first Re-Education Centre where teams of gormless Jobcentre workers, psychiatrists, social workers and voluntary sector busy-bodies will team up to bully people with a mental health condition into low paid shit jobs as part of their ‘recovery’.

The South London Jobcentre already contains a Living Well Community Hub* where specialist mental health services operating alongside Jobcentre Plus staff are working together towards a common goal of improving health and well-being and helping people to get back to, or stay in, work.”  This is to be joined by a new Increased Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) team who, along with Jobcentre staff, will attempt to fix unemployed people with Cognitive Behavior Therapy and when that doesn’t work probably just stop their benefits.

With forced psychological treatment already threatened for those claiming social security, and moves to increase information sharing powers between Jobcentres and other agencies, these new centres represent the end of mental health services that people who are poor can actually trust.  From now on only the naive or inexperienced will feel confident being open and honest with therapeutic staff knowing that a Jobcentre Work Coach is just next door waiting to sanction their benefits.  Jobcentre staff, health assessors and charities have already been weaponised against unemployed, sick or disabled people, now nurses and psychiatric workers are also to be drafted into the unceasing war on the poor.

A consensus has emerged amongst politicians, charity bosses and think tanks that unemployment, homelessness or living in poverty are themselves evidence of psychological defects.  That if you are unable to find a job – or even worse don’t want one – then there must be something wrong with you, something that can be fixed.  And if you are unemployed because you are sick, then becoming employed will cure you.  It is utter fucking horseshit and flies in the face of the reality of a low pay economy where work is often bad for your health and four million people are chasing 700,000 jobs.

Those at the top of the Tory Party know what’s really going on.  That this is really a blueprint to demolish the welfare state and normalise both unpaid work and desperate poverty for those who can’t find a job.  That this will create the kind of ultra-competitive and savage society that bosses want to force down the wages and working conditions of everyone.  All Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are really about is just another wealth grab that will consolidate the power of the capitalist class – the bankers, landlords and business owners who once again think they fucking own us.  And if anyone complains that our entire lives consist of nothing more then ceaseless, boring work to increase the wealth of the rich then they will be seen as deviant, in need of forced psychiatric treatment.  Or left to starve.  Either way they will be ‘helped’ to understand that poverty paid monotonous labour is good for you, and will make you happy and free.

A mass protest has been called by the Mental Health Resistance Network against the new Re-education Centre and which will march on Streatham Jobcentre on Friday June 26.  Meet at 1:30pm in Streatham Memorial Garden, more details on facebook, please share and spread the word!

*It comes as no surprise to find homelessness charity Thamesreach at the heart of this initiative, recently even welcoming Iain Duncan Smith himself to visit their Community Options Team in the new centre.  Thamesreach’s strategy to end homelessness has long been to make the lives of homeless people as difficult as possible in the hope that this will cure them.  This is the so-called charity that warns people not to give money to beggars because they are all druggies, that thinks increasing the price of Special Brew will stop people being alcoholics, that has teams of outreach workers harassing homeless migrants by telling them to go back to where they came from and who teamed up with Tory Westminster Council in their failed attempt to criminalise feeding homeless people.  Whilst Thamesreach has been pursuing these policies the number of street homeless people has doubled in the capital.  You can see why they would get along with Iain Duncan Smith whose attempts to fix poverty by making the poor poorer have only succeeded in creating more poverty.

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Douglas Carswell Has Got The Society He Wants, Of Course We Hate The Fucking Rich

simpsons“If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out.”

Nick Hanauer, billionaire and founder of amazon.com speaking at a TED talk in 2014

Former Tory and now UKIP opportunist Douglas Carswell, who has been whining in the press after being jostled and shouted at during yesterday’s fuck the tories protest, has got the world he wants.  In a society where the poorest are ground into the dirt whilst the rich live in unimaginable luxury it is inevitable that the wealthy will become despised.  As ever more people see their lives demolished by poverty pay, benefit cuts, forced work and soaring housing costs then it is no surprise that they start looking around for someone to blame.  And someone is to blame.

The likes of UKIP would have us turn on each other.  Worker versus claimant, pensioner versus the feckless youth, UK citizen versus immigrant.  But we didn’t do this to fucking each other.  Whoever you are, wherever you were born, we are on the same side – they are making sure of that.  If you are a tenant, a worker, a claimant or pensioner then Carswell and his political cronies, whether UKIP or Tory, Labour or Lib Dem, are coming for you.  And behind them the global super rich will cheer as their billions increase at the expense of our lives and futures.

The Tories and the rich they serve want to believe that they are a majority, or at least have the majority’s support.  Their newspapers tell us that anyone who opposes them is an extremist or trouble-maker, on the fringes of society.  Yet thousands have come out onto the streets already in protest at five more years of their shit.  In Scotland, Northern England, Wales, London and other large cities it is the Tories that are the isolated freaks.  Across the entire UK only about 20% of people voted for them.  More people than that didn’t vote at all.  The rich think these people don’t count.  They did in the Summer of 2011 when they were kicking in the windows of the local JD Sports.

Yet even the ferocious anger of the urban youth largely passed them by.  Just a blip they imagined, the plebs letting off a bit of steam.  So cossetted and pampered have their lives been so far that they think we will continue to accept any indignity.  That we will work for peanuts, or nothing at all, and let them sack us on a whim and jail us if we strike.  That we will continue to pay them huge rents to live in hovels and willingly accept being socially cleansed from our homes and communities. That the champagne will flow forever and their lives remain undisturbed as they steal the very world from beneath our feet.

Only a few of the pampered elite have looked to history and realised that this situation cannot last.  That the rage of the working class has conquered dynasties and empires centuries old in the past. That no army, or fucking copper will save them when they finally push too far.  And they will only have themselves to blame when the pitchforks eventually come.

pic above via Class War

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Mustn’t Embarrass The Queen: DWP Blank Out Statistics Rather Than Admit To The Failure Of Workfare

mwa-stats-blank

In the Queen’s speech this morning power crazed Elizabeth Windsor announced that her Government – her fucking Government – would introduce a new mass workfare scheme for those under 21.

She also claimed that new measures would lead to full employment, but what she really means is that people will be forced to work for the pittance of benefits.  Who’d have thought it?  The Queen of fucking England demanding her subjects labour full time for barely enough money to even eat.  Nothing changes, unless we make it change.

What she probably doesn’t know, although David Cameron does, is that workfare schemes are on the brink of collapse.  Most decent charities don’t want to be involved with workfare anymore after realising the horrifying impact of benefit sanctions inflicted on those who don’t want to work for free.  According to the latest Labour Market Statistics there were less people on unpaid work schemes in the latest recorded period than there were at the end of Labour’s administration five years ago.  Community Work Placements – which comprise of six months forced work – have now been in place over a year yet the DWP has been too scared to release any statistics at all concerning how many people have actually been on the scheme, and crucially, got a job at the end of it.

Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) – the four week short sharp shock of forced work which people can be sent on from the first day of their claim – has been a dismal failure.  So dismal that the DWP, who were due to release statistics on MWA today, decided to leave the table blank (pdf) in the part of the statistical release which would have told us how many people have started on the scheme in each of the latest six months.

No doubt the DWP will say this was all a terrible mistake, after all they are nothing if not incompetent. But it was a very convenient error, coming on the day the Government announced new workfare measures.  Luckily we can actually work out the total number of people who started on MWA in the six months between August 2014 and February 2015 by looking at the previously release and comparing the total.  It comes to 13,010, or 2,170 people a month, by far the lowest figures over a six month period so far.  And now they claim they are going to find hundreds of thousands of new workfare positions for young people.  They are living in a fucking dream world.  The pressure on workfare exploiters must be kept up.  But the fact they are so desperate to hide the truth about workfare shows that we are winning.

UPDATE (as spotted by @refuted): The DWP have now corrected the statistics and the figures are available.  They confirm the collapse of MWA with just 1,470 starts on the scheme in December 2014, the lowest figure so far and down from over 4000 a month at the start of 2013.

Come to the Welfare Action Gathering this Saturday 30th May hosted by Boycott Workfare.

UK Uncut are also out on the streets this weekend, keep an eye on their website for full details.

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Important Information: DWP Finally Admits To ESA Sanction Safeguarding Policy

esa-sanctionsSickness benefit claimants with a mental health condition who have been forced to attend the Work Programme should not have their benefits sanctioned without a face to face meeting first the DWP have finally admitted.

This important clarification, which could mean many people have been wrongly sanctioned, was finally published in an amendment to the Work Programme Provider Guidance.  This is the rule book that companies running the Work Programme must follow and last week a new chapter was added detailing the procedures for safeguarding so-called vulnerable claimants.

According to the guidance, claimants of the main sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance only, who have “mental health conditions or learning disabilities or conditions affecting communication/cognition” must not be referred for a sanction without safeguarding activity being carried out.  This means a home visit if necessary to establish a face to face conversation to ensure that the participant understands the reason they have been sanctioned.  If this face to face contact does not happen, or if the Work Programme provider believes the claimant did not understand the requirement to carry out mandated activity, then a sanction referral must not take place.

These rules, which also apply to Jobcentre busy-bodies hoping to sanction sick and disabled people’s benefits, are not newHowever they were previously only published in internal Jobcentre documents and only came to light due to a Freedom of Information request.  It is likely that this is the first time many Work Programme providers have even heard of them.  Anecdotal evidence has repeatedly warned of people only finding out they have been sanctioned when they check their bank balances and find out they don’t have any money.  The number of sickness and disability claimants who have had their benefits sanctioned is soaring, with almost 125,000 sanctions applied since new rules came into place.  Some of those sanctions should not have been applied.  How many is anybody’s guess.

Whilst these safeguarding rules will mean it is now harder for Work Programme companies to sanction people’s benefits, many claimants will not relish the prospect of some A4e dickhead turning up at their front door to interrogate them about why they didn’t attend workfare.  The best piece of advice?  Never answer the fucking door to any cunt with a clipboard.

You can download the safeguarding rules at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/427708/wp-pg-chap-4b-v1.pdf

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Austerity Might Be An Opportunity Says Welfare-To-Work Boss As She Eyes Up Jobcentres

Pauline could be heading for a P45 if ERSA get their way

Pauline could be heading for a P45 if ERSA get their way

Further austerity and welfare reforms might be seen as an opportunity says the chief spokesperson for the welfare-to-work sector Kirsty McHugh.

McHugh is Chief Executive of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade body established to lie on behalf of grasping welfare-to-work  parasites like G4S and Maximus.  In a blog post published after the election McHugh warns that some in her sector may view further austerity with trepidation, but points out that others may see it as an opportunity.

The reason for this optimism is because many of the leases for Jobcentre Plus offices are up for renewal over the next five years.  This could mean, according to McHugh, the possibility of out-sourcing Jobcentre services.

This is the long term ambition of the welfare-to-work sector, to take over Jobcentres completely.  Already ERSA have accused the current benefit sanctioning policy of being ‘bonkers’ and lobbied for Work Programme companies to be given a role in deciding whether to stop someone’s benefits.

This slow power grab has been ongoing for over a decade.  The DWP spends billions on salaries and admin costs and ERSA would like to see those billions going towards the companies they represent.  Of course this will mean tens of thousands of Jobcentre workers becoming unemployed (stop laughing).  But it will also mean the removal of any last lingering traces of humanity in the social security system as unemployed, sick and disabled people are transformed into nothing more than human commodities to be bought, sold and destroyed for profit.

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