Category Archives: Welfare Reform

How George Osborne’s Minimum Wage Rise Will Mean Brutal Benefit Cuts For The Self-Employed

gideon-osbornePlans to raise the minimum wage will mean a brutal benefit cut for the lowest earning self-employed workers due to complex changes to in-work benefits.

When Universal Credit is fully introduced (stop laughing) then anybody who is self-employed will be subject to the ‘Minimum Income Floor’.  What this means is that when calculating in-work benefits, such as Tax Credits and Housing Benefit, the DWP will assume a level of income regardless of how much the self-employed worker is actually earning.  For most people this means that the rate of benefits they receive will be based on them earning the equivalent of the minimum wage for 35 hours a week.  This will apply even if they earnt nothing at all that month, potentially plunging people hundreds of pounds into rent arrears just because they’ve had a bit of a slow period.

So, as George Osborne is well aware, any rise in the Minimum Wage will prove devastating for the self-employed if they are not able to constantly improve their earning to keep up.  Instead of it being an employer’s duty to pay the Minimum Wage, for the self-employed at least, it will be the worker’s duty to earn it.  Failure to do so will mean an effective cut to vital housing benefits as well as the replacement for Tax Cedits.

For five years the Tories have been happily encouraging low paid, precarious self-employment, not least because it helps bring the unemployment figures down.  Companies running the Work Programme have been handed pay-outs worth thousands of pounds in some cases everytime they encourage someone on the dole to become self-employed.  And now, having used a bogus fall in unemployment to help them win an election, the Tory Party are setting out to destroy this socially engineered entreprenuership.

The median self-employed income in 2012/13 was £207 a week.  When the Minimum Wage rises to £7.20 these people will be assumed to be earning £252 a week for benefit purposes, leaving a huge shortfall unless they can increase those earnings.  Every time the Minimum Wage goes up again, they will be forced to try and keep up or face being unable to pay their rent.  For most, going onto unemployment benefits will be preferable to this kind of imsecurity.

Only the Tory Party could have produced a draconian system that means a rise in the Minimum Wage will prove devastating for the lowest earning workers.  They may talk the language of aspiration, but what they do shows a very different intention.  Rules are planned which will force social housing tenants to pay eye-watering rents if their earning rise above a certain amount.  Further Benefit Caps are on the way to force the poor out of big cities where the best jobs are.  Huge student fees and the abolishing of the Educational Maintenance Allowance have devastated the opportunities of the poorest youth.  And now they are coming for the self-employed, who are struggling to stay afloat, let alone prosper in an ever-more insecure jobs market.

George Osborne wants to put the working class back in their place, just like his idol Margaret Thatcher.  Unless you come from the gilded elite then don’t think about ever owning a house, getting an education, or setting up a small business.  Don’t get on your bike and look for work alongside the newly graduated rich kids in cities like London or Edinburgh.  Stay in your box.  Don’t complain.  Doff your fucking cap.  Stay poor. That is the real goal of Tory Party policy.

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A Tale of Two Cities. How London Is More Divided Than Ever Before.

simon-jenkinsRarely has London been so divided.  The fracture in UK politics – where the Tories are despised in the North, Scotland and Wales but rule anyway – cuts through the heart of the capital city.  Here the poor and the rich often live alongside each other, and walk the same streets, but they might as well be in different cities.  And whilst those with nothing cannot fail to notice the gleaming new skyscrapers, the wealthy cannot the see the lives of the poor.  We are just tenants to them, or low paid skivvies, here to clean up their shit and fatten their wallets.  Not worth talking to, or thinking too much about.

So it is no surprise at all that a fucking toff like Simon Jenkins – ex-public school then Oxbridge of course, and now a columnist for both the Evening Standard and The Guardian – should be so blisteringly out of touch that he can declare that London’s housing crisis is a myth.  That’s all you need to know by the way, you don’t have to read his shit.  Jenkins, who lives in a plush Kensington & Chelsea house and reportedly owns another property, thinks everything’s just fine and the poor should stop whining and live in sheds.  Or move to Salford where that £65,000 they’ve probably got kicking around in a savings account somewhere will buy them a home.  Or some such bollocks.

To the pampered rich, money doesn’t run out and poverty is really beyond their comprehension.  They have no knowledge of the small, but never ending depravations that fill up the lives of the poor.  They have no way of imagining what’s it’s like to be sucked dry of what little you have by pre-pay electric metres, benefit sanctions, travel costs, loan sharks or rent increases.  They have never experienced the debilitating panic that devours the body and mind when you receive an eviction notice, or your hours are cut, or you get a brown letter from the DWP calling you in for a benefit assessment.  If the rich are hungry they eat, if they are cold they put the heating on, and if their kids need shoes they buy them some, without a second thought.

In the absence of any real experience of how many people live, all the privileged like Jenkins have to go on is cold statistics.  That’s why he says the only priority for housing policy should be addressing the 60,000 families in temporary accommodation, with everybody else abandoned to market forces.  He probably doesn’t even know that those 60,000 families only represent a fraction of the true number of homeless people.  It doesn’t even include people living on the street, or in fact anyone at all without chldren unless they have a significant health condition.  Neither does it consider the hundreds of thousands of kids growing up in social housing who will not be able to afford to live in London when they are old.  Or the growing number of people in their 40s and 50s who are renting privately and will never know what it is like to have a secure place to live – and who face a bleak future in retirement when they are dependent on Housing Benefit to pay the rent.  Whilst every measure of homelessness is rising sharply, it is not just those without a roof who are suffering from the housing crisis.

When something directly affects the rich however, even in the most trivial way, we never fucking stop hearing about it.  In 2013 Jenkins wrote a breath-taking piece for the Evening Standard declaring that the only real housing crisis in London was that the opulent West London streets he lives in are becoming a ‘peculiar’  and ‘eerie’ due to the number of homes bought as investments and left empty.  This is a terrible thing whines Jenkins, whilst condemning everyone else’s housing concerns as hysterical.  After all you can still buy a flat in Camden for less than £300,000.  Except you can’t.

London is now two cities, a fantasy world for the rich and an economic torture chamber for the poor.  And someone living in a fantasy can never understand the rage of those being quietly exploited, or expelled.  Just look at the acres of newsprint devoted to some paint on a cereal cafe whilst the desperate stories of social cleansing go almost untold.  It’s news when the powerless fight back but  only when there is a minor inconvenience to the cosseted business class.  They are so astounded by our anger that they think it’s unreasonable.  Why don’t we just have a crêpe and a latte or something and calm down.  Or spend a fiver on a bowl of cereal.  For heaven’s sake poor people, you might spoil Disneyland.  Indeed we fucking might.   In fact we intend to.

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Access To Work Cuts Show The True Nature Of This Pig-Fucking Government

access-to-work-marchCuts to the Access To Work scheme – which pays for adaptations, equipment and support for disabled people in the workplace – shows the true nature of this pig-fucking Government.

Whilst Iain Duncan Smith rants at disabled people to get a job, the changes being made to Access To Work will make this impossible for many.  That won’t stop people’s benefits being slashed however.  Some sick and disabled people are now being plunged into desperate poverty, with no way out.  It is little wonder that benefit claimants and disabled people are now openly calling Iain Duncan Smith a murderer.

A march is taking place in London on Saturday (26th Sept) to protest against the cuts to the Access To Work scheme.  According to the organisers:

“Changes to Access to Work mean that Deaf, Deaf blind and hard of hearing and disabled people are being restricted to unrealistic budgets for support that does not meet their needs. The budgets are insufficient to fund qualified interpreters and personal assistants and prevent personal choice or control, placing jobs at risk.

“The introduction of arbitrary rules has changed the relationship between Access to Work and the individuals it supports. Deaf and disabled people are no longer being acknowledged as the experts in their own access needs and issues and problems they raise are being ignored.

“Please stop the changes to Access to Work support for BSL users and disabled people.”

The march will be gathering at Old Palace Yard, Westminster, SW1P 3JY at 12pm on Saturday 26th September.  Please help spread the word and share the facebook page.

For more info visit:

And don’t forget the Fuck Parade on Saturday night in Shoreditch!

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Unpaid Work Schemes Are De-Skilling A Generation And Perhaps That Is The Intention


A delegate at a recent skills conference promotes the use of unpaid work schemes. h/t @screenedout

Anyone who thinks you need to carry out an unpaid work experience placement  to be qualified to work in Poundland has never shopped in fucking Poundland.  This is not being a job snob as former Employment Minister Chris Grayling claimed when people objected to Tesco using unpaid staff.  It is simply recognising that an employee in a shop adds value to that business from day one – and so they should be paid from day one.

The growth of unpaid work in the UK has been justified with familiar claims that the young are lazy, or need to be taught how to get out of bed in the morning.  There is nothing new about this.  The generation that came of age in the late 80s and early 90s were ‘slackers’ and all the same crap was said about us.  Now some of those slackers are saying the same thing about young people today.

The truth is that the young are working longer for less money than at any point in the last half century.  Many are on shitty Apprenticeships which will be paid just £3.30 an hour even after an increase which takes place next month.  Others are not even being paid at all and are working full time on Work Experience schemes whilst trying to survive on £57.90 a week Jobseeker’s Allowance.  To put this sum in context, as far back as 1989 employer based Youth Training schemes for 16-18 year olds paid a similar amount to this and usually came with a day-release placement at college once a week.  Even this has now disappeared.  Those on the government’s Work Experience scheme receive no formal training at all beyond the odd workshop in how to write a CV.  A recent survey of employers found that even 26% of young people on an Apprenticeship only received less than 3 hours training a week.

This shocking statistic comes from the Employer Perspectives Survey carried out by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).  This large annual survey has regularly been used as evidence that unpaid work experience for the young is essential because this is what employers say they want.  The DWP’s recent disastrous #WECan campaign was launched with a gushing press release quoting from the survey that two thirds of employers say that “work experience is a crucial factor when hiring new employees”.

This was an outright lie.  What the survey actually says is that 23% of employers believe ‘relevant’ work experience is critical when recruiting staff whilst 43% said it was significant.  This is just obvious.  The first thing anyone’s going to ask when offering someone a job is whether they’ve done it before or not.  In some cases, such as being an airline pilot, it will indeed be critical that they have had some experience flying a plane.  Yet the #WeCan campaign claimed that any work experience was important, no matter how irrelevent to the job hopes of the young people concerned.

The DWP are not the only ones who have been less than honest with these survey results.  UKCES themselves have misrepresented the results to promote the value of unaid work – such as in the tweet below which claims that work experience is the most common attribute employers cite as lacking in young recruits.  A look at the accompanying graph shows that employers appeared to think that it is work or life experience that is lacking amongst new young recruits.  A look at the survey from which these figures came shows that what employers were actually asked was whether education leavers had a “lack of working world / life experience or maturity”.  Even then less than half of bosses said this was a problem amongst 16 year olds, whilst only 14% of employers thought that 18 year old college leavers lacked life/work experience or maturity.ukces-tweetWhat this survey suggests is that it is just not true that most employers are obsessed with the idea that the young are too lazy and feckless to work. And this shows in their recruitment practices.  31% of employers said they had recruited an education leaver in the last 2-3 years whilst only 29% had recruited someone over 50.

The current obsession with mass workfare is not just pandering to the needs of employers, it is pandering to the never-ending whining of the worst kind of employers – like the 10% of bosses who brazenly told UKCES that the reason they offered work experience placements was to help with the workload or because it meant they didn’t have to pay people.

Legislation is on the way which will force all young people into an unpaid traineeship, an unpaid community work placement, or if they can find one, a poverty paid Apprenticeship.  These are young people that could be studying at college, or might have gone to university had the government not tripled tuition fees.  They could be fucking about with computer code, or motorbikes, or making things to flog online.  Or making music, art or youtube movies.  From the UK’s once thriving music scene to the once thriving alternative press, young people with time on their hands have achieved incredible things which have brought benefits to the whole of society in time.  And in that process they gained far more work/life experience or maturity then any shitty work placement in a supermarket could offer them.

Unpaid work experience schemes are de-skilling the young, the opposite of their claimed intention.  But perhaps this is really why they exist.  With the number of middle class jobs expected to shrink due to automation then there will no longer be space for social mobility.  The architects of workfare schemes are simply ensuring that in future the good jobs go to their kids and the working class youth are put back in their place.

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The Forced Labour Party: The Day That Corbyn (And Half His Cabinet) Voted For Workfare


Almost every new member of Corbyn’s cabinet, including Corbyn himself, voted in favour of the above motion to force unemployed people into temporary jobs – which involve ten hours a week unpaid work – or face benefit sanctions.

Corbyn was joined in his support for forced labour by over half of his new cabinet, including John McDonnell, Andy Burnham, Angela Eagle, Rosie Winterton, and Tom Watson.  London Mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan also joined the workfare frenzy as did Green MP Caroline Lucas.  She kept that quiet.  Never trust a hippy.

The vote took place in an Opposition Day debate introduced by creepy (and possibly former) Shadow Employment Minister Stephen Timms as recently as February this year.  In the debate Timms outlines Labour’s ‘tough plan’ for a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee that “will hold people responsible for accepting work when it is offered.”

These compulsory jobs would be set at the minimum wage and last six months with no guarantee of a real job at the end.  Instead unemployed people would then be expected to “pursue intensive job search” for six months. Appallingly, whilst these jobs would be full time, those forced to join the scheme would only be paid for 25 hours a week – meaning they would be expected to work for ten hours for free.  Labour said that these extra ten hours would be reserved for training, provided by the employer.  Employers like Poundland.  They must think we’re fucking idiots.

Compulsory jobs, that involve 260 hours of work for no wages, are workfare.  Jeremy Corbyn has said he opposes both workfare, and benefit sanctions.  Yet here he was, with all his so-called lefty chums, voting for both.  Not one Labour MP spoke up in the debate about the impact of removing benefits from those who chose not to, or were unable to take up a compulsory job.   Workfare is now so embedded within both main political parties that it no longer even occurs to them to ask what if these sanction backed schemes destroy more lives than they ‘help’.

There is a chance now for Labour to take a step back, admit they were wrong, and consign their support for benefit sanctions to the dustbin of history. Benefit sanctions kill and no amount of fucking job outcomes justify the horror of driving people to poverty, homelessness, ill health and even death in the hope of catching a scrounger.  The impact of sanctions are just the same whether applied by a leering Tory or a Labour do-gooder who’s convinced themselves that forcing people into poverty paid work under the threat of destitution is some kind of help.  If this weekend’s events represent real change then it time for Labour to call for benefit sanctions to be scrapped, without exceptions.  Otherwise, for unemployed people at least, then Corbyn’s victory is little more than meet the new boss, same as the fucking old one.

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Male Applicants Only! The Government’s Job Seeking Website Is Still Breaking The Law

UJ-male-onlyOver a dozen job vacancies on the government’s job seeking website are advertising for male only teachers in Saudi Arabia in breach of UK recruitment laws.

The teaching vacancies, which ask for “MALE Applicants only”, appear on the DWP’s Universal Jobmatch website, the scandal hit online recruitment service run by Monster Jobs which unemployed people are bullied into using by Jobcentres.

In an embarassment for the government these vacancies have come to light on the same day that the DWP published a Privacy Impact Assessment for the website outlining how potential employers using the site are vetted.

Previously any dodgy bastard could post a job advertisement to Universal Jobmatch with barely any checks on whether they were a genuine employer.  This led to a predictable series of spoof vacancies along with many outright scams.  In order to prevent this the DWP have said that staff now check the first advert placed for each new employer.  Yet as these vacancies show, that hasn’t worked.

The problem is that most of the job adverts are automatically generated from other recruitment sites, meaning there is little real checking of whether the positions are genuine or legal.  These ‘male only’ teaching jobs have been harvested from but originally came from the employment agency Alderwood Recruitment. currently have over 40,000 other vacancies posted on Universal Jobmatch.

Alderwood Recruitment boast that they also specialise in hiring staff for the fraud-ridden welfare-to-work sector.  Says it all.

If you are required to sign up to Universal Jobmatch you still do not have to tick the box giving the DWP access to your account and can untick the box giving them permission to send you emails.  You should only be forced to use the website in Jobcentres.  To save time when using the site you can  download Universal Automation.

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Threatened With A Benefit Sanction For Going To Hospital? Now It’s Government Policy

sanction-hospitalStaff working for welfare to work companies are being advised to threaten benefit claimants with a sanction if they are unable to attend work related activity due to an emergency hospital appointment.

The above paragraph comes from the guidance handed out by the Department of Work and Pensions to the companies running the Work Programme* instructing them when to refer claimants for a benefit sanction.  According to the department, it may be possible for a claimant to re-arrange mandated activity without facing a sanction, however it warns: “not taking compliance doubt action and allowing a participant to arrange an alternative appointment on a number of occasions weakens the link between cause and consequence.” 

It then goes on to say that even if the claimant has an emergency hospital appointment, staff should process a sanction if they have ‘any doubt’.  Whether this means doubt over whether the appointment is genuine, or doubt over whether somebody arranged a medical emergency to get out of workfare is unclear.

According to te DWP sanctions should only be handed out if a claimant has previously given the same, or similar reasons for re-arranging mandated activity.  But chillingly, these rules are not just aimed at people who are unemployed, but also sick and disabled claimants in the Work Related Activity Group – exactly the type of people who might have a lot of hospital appointments.

Welfare-to-work companies do not make the final decision on sanctions – that responsibility lies with the DWP.  If evidence of a medical appointment can be provided by a claimant to the Jobcentre then it is almost certain no sanction would be imposed.  But that doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that welfare-to-work dickheads are now being given a green light to threaten people with benefit sanctions if they are unable to attend mandated activity due to health reasons or other emergencies.  And where it counts, on the front line, that will mean scared claimants missing medical treatment so they can go and work for no pay in the local Salvation Army fucking charity shop.

*This guidance only applies to claimants on Universal Credit who have been referred to the Work Programme, which is currently probably about six people.

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