Category Archives: JSA/Workfare/Work Programme

Like Feeding Time At The Fucking Zoo – Workfare Industry Hijacks In-Work Sanctions Inquiry

snouts“ERSA believes it would be more appropriate to utilise the skills and experience which exists in the employment provider community”  The Employment Related Service Association (ERSA – the trade body established to lie on behalf of the employment provider community – better known as the workfare industry)

“We strongly believe that such in-work support should be contracted out, and would suggest that the existing work-based learning infrastructure would be in a prime position to achieve the results required.”  Association of Employment and Learning Providers (also ERSA, more or less).

“Stronger alignment and integration of housing associations into Universal Support and in-work employment support would help engage those facing complex barriers and improve outcomes” – National Housing Federation who represent housing associations.

“The Government should take a holistic approach to in-work progression, ensuring that employers, skills providers and employment support organisations are all involved.” Remploy, better known as Maximus, who can handily claim to be an employer, a skills provider and an employment support organisation.

“National Numeracy can help identify, assess and address poor numeracy …  among job seekers …” – National Numeracy

“The Department for Work and Pensions should therefore look to other organisations who deliver specialist job retention and in-work services with a strong track record.” Mental health charity MIND (hint, hint)

“If Universal Credit is to be truly ‘universal’ then no claimant groups should be exempt.” – Workfare company Learn Direct

“We think that charities could play an important role in the delivery of in-work progression.”   –  lone parent charity Gingerbread

“Specialist organisations already providing support to vulnerable claimants are a key resource. “ Homelessness charity Centrepoint .

“Delivery of pilots, research, consultation and communication could be achieved in partnership with BITC and its business membership base.”  BITC (Business in the Community)

It’s like feeding time at the fucking zoo.  The above quotes come from submissions to the recent government inquiry into changes to the social security system which will see benefit sanctions for part time workers.  This means that when Universal Credit is finally introdeced then claimants without a full time job will face payments being stopped or reduced for non-compliance with Jobcentre demands to  constantly look for more or better paid work.  They could even be sent on workfare in the hours they are not working.   The Work and Pensions Select Committee, a group of MPs who scrutinise DWP policy, carried out the enquiry into these measures which are already being piloted in some parts of the UK.

The responses to the inquiry from the welfare-to-work industry  – the toxic mixture of private companies and so-called charities involved in mandatory workfare and training programmes – were united in one demand.  They all want some money in the form of juicy government contracts to run any future scheme.

This is despite them almost all acknowledging that introducing benefit conditionality for part time workers has never been tried anywhere in the world and that there is no evidence it will be effective.  It is also despite the fact that the proposed system is to be backed by a horrifying benefit sanctions regimes which will see even those with jobs living in unprecedented poverty if they are sanctioned.  And of course it ignores the stark reality that it is near certain that no part-time worker in history has ever wished they could be sent on an unpaid work scheme or mandatory CV workshop in the hours they are not working.

It is true that many charities say they are opposed to sanctions for part-time workers whilst even the more naked profiteers such as private companies like Maximus raise concerns.  ERSA, who represent the industry, have used the enquiry to lobby for all in-work conditionality to be managed outside of Jobcentres – a long standing aim from an organisation which seeks to place all DWP services in private hands.  Others call for sanctions to be fair, or to not affect those they call vulnerable too badly.

Some are transparent in their self-interest such as the National Housing Federation who want ‘stronger integration of housing associations’ into any future scheme suggesting they could act as formal contractors and sub-contractors..  Their only concerns about benefit sanctions are focussed on those with rent arrears or special rent payment arrangements who they say should be excluded from conditionality.

A few submissions call for any in-work conditionality to be voluntary such as the one from Gingerbread, who want working lone parents to be exempt from sanctions.  They also insist however that charities should be involved in running the scheme and it is this that reveals the cynicism that now exists within the voluntary sector.  Gingerbread also oppose benefit sanctions for unemployed single parents.  That didn’t stop them running a lucrative Work Programme scheme where they were contractullay required to report lone parents to the Jobcentre for sanctions in cases of non-compliance.  We hate this, they say, it is unethical and counter to our charity’s objectives.  So we want a lot of money for doing it is the real message.

Of course some submissions to the inquiry were harsh in their criticism.  Boycott Workfare say no claimants should face sanctions whether in work or not and that the record of organisations running mandatory schemes is “a catalogue of corruption, violation of work and safety standards, and abuse.”  Oxfam warn that in-work sanctions are overly punitive, fail to take into account employer behaviour and could drive people into poverty. Parkinson’s UK say that neither the voluntary or the private sector should be involved in any future scheme and slam the ‘systemic failure’ of current benefit related health assessments.  The University of York who have a team studying benefit sanctions say “in practice, in-work conditionality can be counterproductive – undermining work incentives and opportunities rather than reinforcing them.”  And the PCS Union demand that “under no circumstances would it be appropriate to sanction an in-work claimant”, adding “but don’t expect us to do anything about it”.  Actually I added that bit.

The difference between these organisation, and those mentioned previously, is that none of them have been involved in welfare-to-work programmes.  As such there is no financial incentive for them to modify their demands. They have no need or desire to sell out their principles for thirty pieces of silver from the DWP.  So they are rightly damning of these proposals which are based on some horseshit Iain Duncan Smith scribbled down on the back of an envelope one day and new Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb is too cowardly to scrap.

In-work benefit sanctions could leave those working part time abandoned to survive on just a few pounds a day, for months, or even years at a time.  They are perhaps the most vicious social security legislation yet, from this or any previous government.  Those sanctioned will face a desperate choice between eating, or paying to get to work.  Homelessness, destitution and unemployment will be the likely outcome for many.  All of the organisations that responded to this enquiry know this.  Some don’t care.  A few oppose it outright and are prepared to say so.  But most are content to whinge a bit and then use the enquiry to make sure that if this system is to be widely introduced then at least they will make some money from it.  Those whopping charity chief executive salaries won’t pay themselves after all.

You can read all the submissions to the inquiry at:

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Vile Tory Who Referred To Scummy Housing Estates To Speak At Workfare Industry’s Annual Meeting


Pub bore rants for hire, Fraser Nelson will speak at the workfare industry’s AGM.

A hard right magazine editor who once referred to ‘scummy’ Scottish social housing estates and cheered unemployed people being forced to sleep under a bridge has been invited to be to keynote speaker at the latest tax-payer funded skive for welfare-to-work bosses.

Fraser Nelson, who oversees the pub bore rants published in The Spectator, will be speak at the annual general meeting of the Employment Related Services Asscoiation (ERSA), the trade body established to lie on behalf of the workfare industry.  Nelson is an avid supporter of coercing people to work without pay and once claimed that those sent to sleep under a bridge before being used as unpaid stewards at the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations were being given an opportunity to show they were ‘dutiful’ workers.  According to Nelson forcing ‘suspected malingerers’ to work in return for benefit payments is ‘tough love’.  So tough, in fact, that it can kill, as the growing number of deaths linked to benefit sanctions and welfare reform reveals.

Nelson has previously faced protests after referring to the Glasgow districts of Castlemilk and Easterhouse as “beautiful names, scummy estates”.  When called on to justify these comments he launched into in a vile tirade about “drug-addled welfare ghettoes” where children play around broken vodka bottles and pubs were boarded up to save them from attack.

Nelson’s invitation to speak at ERSA’s annual meeting is a new low for the welfare-to-work sector that often attempts to hide behind a mask of caring for the poorest whilst demolishing their lives with forced work and benefit sanctions.  But with Iain Duncan Smith’s spending spree coming to an abrupt end the workfare industry will need hacks like Nelson to ramp up the rhetoric to justify ever more government spending to persecute unemployed and disabled people.  He will be happy to oblige.  Despite reams of evidence that unpaid work has little or no value in helping people into sustainable jobs and risks driving people into desperate poverty there are few bigger workfare cheerleaders than Fraser Nelson.

The event is being held this Wednesday at the swanky London offices of top law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, an understandable choice for the fraud ridden welfare-to-work industry. Keep your Tory friends close, but keep the lawyers even closer.

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A New Direction From Crabb And The DWP: Outright Fucking Lies

crabb-resignUnemployment has risen in the last three months but you wouldn’t know that from today’s gushing press release from the Stephen Crabb and the DWP.

There were 21,000 more unemployed people in the latest period and, in further bad news for the government, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by just under 7000.  Neither of these key facts are mentioned on the DWP websites and it is only by digging into the Labour Market Release produced by the Office for National Statistics that this information is available.

Previously the DWP has sulkily acknowledged any rise in unemployment whilst pointing out how wonderful everything else is.  The truth is that the Labour Market Statistics contain a huge amount of information and normal fluctuations within the figures mean that they can usually be cherry-picked for both good and bad news.  Stephen Crabb does just that today by claiming that a small fall in the number of people who are economically inactive is a huge triumph.  This by the way is always a sign of desperation.  A fall in economic inactivity can mean a massive amount of things, from variations in the number of those who are long term sick to a drop in the number of people taking early retirement.  In the latest figures it largely represents a fall in the number of students and of those taking time from work to look after the family home.

Crabb is also celebrating a tiny rise in the total number of people with jobs with the DWP claiming this is driven by those entering full time work.  But even this is hugely misleading.  Population increases combined with a just about growing economy mean that there are almost always more people in work than ever before.  The question is whether the rise in the number of jobs is keeping pace with growth in the working age population.  This month that didnt happen.  The number of working age people rose by 27,000 in the latest three month period, but the working population grew by just 22,000.  And whilst there was an increase in full time work as Crabb claimed, this was only amongst those who are self-employed.  The number of people working full time for an employer fell by 34,000.

These figures don’t matter much unless we see them repeated over the coming months.  What is critical is the way they were, or in most cases werent announced by the government.  Departmental communications are bound by rules intended to ensure both impartiality and objectivity. Yet today’s press release from the DWP was an attempt to deliberately mislead the public about the true state of the UK’s labour market and that’s called lying.  Even Iain Duncan Smith didn’t try and pull this sort of shit.  Not that often anyway.  Stephen Crabb is moving in a dangerous direction.  Don’t believe a fucking word he says.

Image above from the recent protest in Wales calling on Crabb to resign from his local Mencap branch over supporting cuts to disabled people’s benefits.

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How The Welfare To Work Industry Is Ripping Off The Tax Payer #esday16


Snouts in the trough, just another busy day at the offices of a welfare to work provider.

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:

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Meet @TheLennoxP, The Welfare-To-Work Parasites Caught Fining Unemployed People For ‘Tutting’

The list of potential fines first

The list of potential fines first revealed in the Ardossan Herald.

A story so astonishing many assumed it was an April Fool is breaking in Scotland after sleazy welfare-to-work parasites the Lennox Partnership were caught fining unemployed people for looking at their phones or having their hands in their pockets.

According to the local press, the Lennox Partnership are contracted to run training services for unemployed people by the SNP controlled North Ayrshire Council.  This training involved participants being fined for often trivial reasons such as ‘tutting’, swearing or answering their phones.  Whilst the lowest level of fine was just 10p, those on the course could be fined as much as £5 if their phone rang outside of designated break times.  After all it’s not like people looking for a job might have a good reason to take a phone call in the middle of day.

Even the DWP are appalled, with the Daily Record reporting they have suspended referrals to the STRIVE  programme run by the Lennox Partnership.  Those behind the schme are unrepentent, with North Ayrshire Council claiming that they are just trying to “change behaviours and instil a professional attitude”.  Participants who refuse to pay the fines are required to leave the course raising fears they may face benefit sanctions for refusing to take part in ‘work related activity’

The company say that their scheme is entirely voluntary and nobody will be sanctioned should they choose to leave.  This reveals a shocking ignorance of the current situation faced by claimants who are subject to benefit sanctions for ever more trivial reasons.  It is Jobcentres, not the Lennox Partnership, who decide whether a sanction should be imposed.

The STRIVE programme is aimed at long term unemployed people, and it is possible that some participants may have care and support needs meaning safeguarding rules should be in place to prevent this kind of financial coercion.  The Lennox Partnership also boast on their website that some participants in the STRIVE programme have been as young as 16.  It is unclear whether they also fine children.

Whilst the legalities of the scheme are murky this practice is clearly unethical.  With the ever-present threat of sanctions hanging over unemployed people’s heads it is little more than extortion.  Whatever mealy mouthed excuses the Lennox Partnership come out with, the experience of claimants is the same.  This company are demanding money from some of the poorest people in Scotland with the unspoken menace that their benefits may be taken away if they refuse.

You can tell the Lennox Partnership what you think of this vile practice on twitter @TheLennoxP

h/t enigma

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April 15 Is Workfare Day – A Chance To Tell The Truth About Benefit Sanctions And Forced Work #esday16


Wave your hands in the air. Like a fucking idiot.

The welfare-to-work industry is planning a gushing celebration of forced work and benefit sanctions with the UK’s first Employability Day due to be held on April 15th.

According to ERSA, the trade body established to lie on behalf of companies running workfare and forced training schemes, this exciting day will offer a chance to show the impact of ’employment support’ in local communties.

Welfare to work companies are being encouraged to invite employers, MPs and other local agencies to their premises to show off all the wonderful support beig inflicted on unemployed and disabled people by companies like G4S, Atos and Maximus.  Perhaps they could also take them to a local foodbank and show them all the people who have had their benefits sanctioned for being late to a meeting with their so-called Work Coach or not turning up for workfare.  Or organise a tour of closed local libaries and other public services to show how funding has been much better spent forcing disabled people to endlessly attend CV workshops and recruiting young people to work in supermarkets without pay.

And it is funding that lies behind ERSA’s shabby promotional drive.  Be in no doubt, the welfare to work industry are collectively shitting themselves.  With George Osborne turning off the money tap and chaos at the Department of Work Pensions then for the first time in two decades the future of this sector does not look so rosy.  There has never been a better time to escalate the struggle against these parasites.

Luckily ERSA insist you do not have to be a member of their organisation to take part in Employability Day.  Just turn up, let yourselves in, bring a cake they seem to be saying.  Let’s not disappoint them.  Let’s fucking trash their workfare party.

Companies taking part in the day are using the hashtag #esday16.  ERSA have also produced a map of where events are taking place – although predictably, it doesn’t really work.    There will rarely be a better time to show the real impact that benefit sanctions and forced work have inflicted on our communities.  Be creative and spread the word.

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And This Time It’s Personal Psychocompulsion & Workfare: Watch The Video From @WellRedFilms

A good summary of where social security is heading featuring Boycott Workfare, Mental Health Resistance Network and more.


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