Category Archives: JSA/Workfare/Work Programme

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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Iain Duncan Smith Is Still A Fucking Idiot – And Only We Can Stop Him

Incapacity Benefit for new claimants will go, replaced by Employment and Support Allowance with the emphasis on what a person with a physical or mental health condition can do, rather than what they can’t.

Peter Hain, Labour Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007

We need a system focussed on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need – and not just on what they can’t do.

Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2015

It’s just the same old shit, over and over again, whichever bunch of bastards is in charge.  The above two comments were made almost a decade apart and in that period the number of people claiming out of work sickness benefits has barely changed.  And why would it?  In any society there will be some people who cannot work due to illness or disability and as the pension age gets ever higher then that number as a percentage of the workforce will grow.

There is nothing unusual or unexpected about this.  Whoever you are reading this, one day you will get sick and then you will die.  If you are lucky this will not happen until you have reached retirement.  If not then you will be helped on your way to an early grave by politicians desperate to cover up for their failure to provide enough jobs by blaming unemployed, sick and disabled people for unemployment.

Iain Duncan Smith’s speech yesterday was a masterclass in this deception, but everything he said has been said before.  So out of ideas is the Secretary of State that he is now misrepresenting the entire process for claiming sickness benefits – pretending it is a binary system which “decides that you are either capable of work or you are not”.  This is simply an outright lie and he knows it.  Currently claimants are assessed as being fit for work, unable to work, or placed in the Work Related Activity Group which means capable of some work, or of being able to work in the future.  In the recent budget George Osborne declared that this group is to be scrapped, creating precisely the binary system that Iain Duncan Smith says he opposes.  Perhaps he hopes we won’t notice.  Perhaps even he hasn’t noticed.

The UK does not spend significantly more on out of work sickness and disability benefits than other comparable economies.  According to the OECD we spend a fraction more than Poland as a percentage of GDP on ‘incapacity’ – and less than Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, Belgium. Luxembourg, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.  It is true as Iain Duncan Smith said yesterday that the UK spends more than France, Germany and Japan.  In humane society this would be a source of pride.  Or at least it would be until you found out that Germany spends over three times as much on unemployment benefits whilst France and Japan – where the retirement age is lower – both spend almost double what the UK spends on pensions.  And the incapacity spending figures by the way come from 2011, before most of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts had been implemented.

Only an astonishing degree of self-delusion could explain Iain Duncan Smith’s latest belief that more workfare, more assessments, and more benefit cuts will magically cure those unable to work because of illness.  But then he is deluded.  That’s why he could claim yesterday that  “The Work Programme is … the most successful back to work programme we’ve ever seen.”  That’s the Work Programme that has seen less sick and disabled people enter employment than it was estimated would have done if the scheme hadn’t existed.  Hundreds of millions of pounds spent on making things worse.  This is what Iain Duncan Smith calls a success.

Rarely, if ever, has such a fucking idiot been given so much power over so many people’s futures.   If the human cost were not so great then the best response would be to point and laugh.  But we can’t do that, not as millions of lives are destroyed.  If society means anything at all it means looking after each other and that means driving Iain Duncan Smith back into the sewer he crawled from before he can do anymore damage.  No-one should stand idly by now.  We need to be relentless as he is, to wake up every day with one thought on our minds – to destroy Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms before they destroy us.

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#WEcan Expose The Wannabe Tory Councillor Behind The DWP’s Workfare Campaign

After failing to become a Tory Councillor Laura-Jane Rawlings decided she was the voice of youth employment instead

After failing to become a Tory Councillor Laura-Jane Rawlings decided she was the voice of youth employment instead

It’s been a humiliating week for the DWP on social media.  Yesterday hundreds of people used the hashtag #fakeDWPstories to take the piss out of the them after Welfare Weekly revealed that they were inventing case studies in support of benefit sanctions.

Whilst all this was taking place the DWP were desperately trying to rescue their #WEcan campaign which had also become a laughing stock on twitter.  This was a shabby attempt to promote unpaid work schemes, and came with a gushing press release promising that up to 12,000 young people would be posting ‘workies’ and sharing their stories of unpaid work experience.  Those 12,000 young people were supposed to come from their campaign partners Youth Employment UK (@YEUKYouth).  They never turned up.  Fucking kids eh.

At first glance Youth Employment UK appear to be exactly what they say, which is “The Voice for Youth Employment in the UK”.  On twitter yesterday they claimed that both the organisation, and the woman who runs it, are politically neutral and all they care about is helping young people get jobs.  They emphatically denied that their Chief Executive, Laura-Jane Rawlings, is a Tory.  That tweet has now been deleted.

In truth Laura-Jane Rawlings stood as a Conservative candidate in the 2011 Corby Council elections.  She lost and shortly afterwards set up Youth Employment UK.  And be in no doubt, Laura-Jane Rawlings is Youth Employment UK.  She is the sole director, the website is registered to her and even one of her claimed corporate patrons – plotr – is a company run by her.

Her qualification for this lofty position as The Voice for Youth Employment is that she’s a life coach.  In a nice little sideline business if you pay her £35 quid she will talk to you on the phone for 50 minutes.  Her coaching, according to her, is inspired by the discredited pseudo-science neuro-linguistic programming along with counselling and Cognitive Behavoir Therapy – neither of which she seems to be qualified in.  As she boasts on her website, she isn’t really qualified in anything at all.

But of course none of that matters if you know the right people in the Conservative Party and are prepared to say the right things.  Yesterday she gave a cautious welcome to the announcement that young unemployed people are to be sent on bootcamps or face benefit sanctions.  She sounds far more like the voice of the Conservative Party pretending to be neutral than she does the voice of youth employment.  And she has been well rewarded for it.  Whilst Youth Employment UK say they have not been paid by the DWP for the #WEcan campaign, they have received a huge of amount of free advertising including national media coverage.

Youth Employment UK claim to be led by their young members and youth ambassadors rather than just a Tory spiv with a big mouth.  If this is the case then those young people need to know they are ripping off themselves and millions of their fellow young people by endorsing workfare and benefit sanctions.  There is no evidence that Work Experience schemes help people get jobs.  A recent DWP evaluation found that young people who refused workfare were more likely to find work than those who went on the scheme.   Demand a wage and join the fight to destroy workfare.

Visit Boycott Workfare’s website for more info on the fight against unpaid work.

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#WEcan and We Did Fuck Up The DWP’s Online Campaign To Promote Workfare

Once again the DWP have been reduced to a laughing stock on social media after their online campaign to promote unpaid work became dominated with comments from those opposed to workfare.

The #WEcan campaign aimed to enourage employers to provide unpaid work experience placements for young people.  The DWP had also hoped that young people would post up ‘workies’ – apparently the work version of a selfie – on social media alongside their experiences of unpaid work placements.  It turns out though that the young were too lazy and feckless even to bother doing that.  Minister for Employment Priti Patel must be furious.  It wasn’t like this when she worked for the tobacco industry encouraging kids to take up smoking.

Instead what happened is that the hashtag was dominated by people furious at a government that seems obsessed with forcing young people to work for no wages.  Alongside this many people used the hashtag to pledge to boycott some of the companies named as being involved in workfare, such as @marksandspencer, and @Halfords_uk.

Amusingly the DWP also invited people to laugh at them on facebook, where unfortunately for the department the #WEcan hashtag is already in use by the Wellness Education Cannabis Advocates of Nevada. The DWP’s social media team get paid real money – our money – for this bungling shit.

In what seems like an attempt by the DWP to muddy the waters the #WEcan campaign promotes all forms of work experience, including short placements for schoolchildren or paid internships as well as workfare schemes.  This led to some of the organisations backing the campaign complaining that they only do nice work experience and they don’t support the nasty stuff.  These organisations should be at the forefront of challenging the government about ever more exploitative Jobcentre enforced workfare which can now involve 780 hours of forced, unpaid work.  Instead they are quite happily helping the DWP rehabilitate workfare with gushing tweets about how wonderful unpaid work can be.  So fuck them, they are on the wrong side.

The DWP have now resorted to drafting in Jobcentres to tweet furiously and try to rescue the campaign. Make sure it doesn’t work and tell @WEcan what you think of workfare using the hashtag #WECan.  Please spread the word.

Here’s what some people have said so far:

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