Tag Archives: Chris Grayling

Is Boris Johnson’s Workfare Scheme The Biggest Benefit Shambles So Far?

sanction-sabs‘It was a bit strange, I had to go to a job interview the next day so they said either you cancel it, or you will be sanctioned.’
(Claimant, non-start, North London)

The DWP have repeatedly claimed that benefit sanctions are a last resort aimed at those who fail to stick to the ever more draconian rules.  Yet a damning evaluation of a workfare scheme aimed at young people in London reveals that those who had their benefit claims stopped or sanctioned for refusing to take part were more likely to find jobs than those who completed the programme.

The laboriously named Day One Support for Young People (DOSfYP) Trailblazer was cooked up by then Employment Minister Chris Grayling and London Mayor Boris Johnson as revenge for the 2011 riots.  This nasty attempt at collective punishment means that young people in many London boroughs can be sent on workfare for 13 weeks from their first day of claiming unemployment benefits.

A recently published evaluation of the Traiblazer reveals that the scheme has been an utter shambles from start to finish.  Almost half of young people sent on the programme signed off or faced sanctions rather then undertaking unpaid work with many claiming they would rather spend their time looking for a job instead.

They seem to have made the right decision.  Only around a quarter of young people who completed the scheme had found jobs by the time the evaluation was carried out compared to half of those who refused workfare.

The Trailblazer was supposed to be aimed at those aged between 18 and 25 who had little or no work experience.  The evaluation found however that 25% of people referred to the scheme reported over six months prior work history.  Some of these young people were scathing about the so-called help being inflicted on them:

“‘It didn’t help me [the placement] it didn’t give me any more experience than I already had and it just used up my time during the week when I could have been looking for work that I actually wanted to do.’
(Claimant, completer, South London)

The programme was run by the upcoming Atos replacement Maximus in north London and the Careers Development Group (CDG) in the south of the city.  These companies were supposed to provide ten hours a week ‘provider led jobsearch’ but the report finds they barely bothered.  Just over half of young people questioned said they didn’t receive any of these kind of job search sessions at all.

In encouraging news for those opposed to workfare schemes, the private sector providers reported that placements were hard to source with charities concerned about “press coverage and public perception” should they become involved with forced work. As usual the majority of placements were in charity shops.  The rushed nature of the referral process meant young people were expected to attend an interview with the provider the day after their intitial claim and start workfare the day after that.  This led to chaos with some young people turning up to their workfare placement only to be mistaken for customers with no-one knowing who they were.

Jobcentre staff also criticised the scheme, saying they were not given adequate time to explain the details of the placements in a short meeting in which they also had to process a benefit claim.  According to some of the participants they were misled by Jobcentres who implied they were being sent on a training course rather than full time workfare.  Some claimants reported being threatened with benefit sanctions due to being unable to attend an appointment the next day because they had a job interview.  Other claimants who did attend their next day appointments with the private sector providers were sent away because paperwork had not arrived.

The evaluation reveals that the vast majority of young people sent on the scheme were living in the family home which may have lessened the impact of benefits being stopped.  The report notes however that those living independently “would complete the Trailblazer regardless of whether they believed it was worthwhile and were consequently unengaged throughout the placement.”

A third of those who refused to attend forced work were sanctioned, whilst others just abandoned their benefits claim completely.  56% of those who did start dropped out before their time on the placement was completed.  Almost a third of them were sanctioned as well.  Despite this those who left early were significantly more likely to be in work at the time the evaluation was carried out – around five to seven months after the placements ended.

It is clear from this report that the young people who rejected this scheme were not workshy.  Instead they simply had a better idea of how to find work than the bungling fucking idiots in charge of the DWP.  They were even prepared to give up their benefits rather than face being ‘helped’ by the Jobcentre.  If young people’s future were not being casually destroyed by schemes like these it would be laughable. But there is nothing funny about this appalling treatment of those entering the jobs market for the first time.

You can read the report at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/378308/rr888-day-one-support-for-young-people-trailblzer.pdf

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Chris Grayling Is A Lying Bastard Court Hears At Workfare Tribunal

graylingSo desperate are the DWP to hush up the names of charities using workfare that they have been reduced to using a blog post titled “Chris Grayling is a lying bastard” to prove how horrible everyone is being to them because of their forced work schemes.

The post was part of the evidence provided by the DWP at yesterday’s tribunal brought to appeal the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) decision that charities using workfare should be named.  This followed a Freedom of Information request made two years ago asking for the names of organisations who are accepting workfare placements on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme.

The DWP have pleaded that if this information was made available then workfare will collapse such is the awesome power of Boycott Workfare.  Reams of evidence has been produced by the department, largely taken from the media and Boycott Workfare’s website, which they claim shows how MWA will be destroyed if the public learns the names of these charities.

They also complain that anger at forced work has been ‘strident’ rather than ‘standard’ criticism, and that some bastard had even referred to charities using workfare as “thieving fucking criminals” (which if you read the post you’ll see isn’t strictly true).

The DWP’s argument seems to be that workfare is so unpopular that who is involved has to be kept a state secret.  This is despite the duty of charities to be open and transparent about their activities.  Luckily we know only too well the names of many of the charities forcing people to work without pay.  Household names including @salvationarmyuk, @YMCA_England and @groundworkuk are just some of the organisations who use forced workers on Mandatory Work Activity.  They are not thieving fucking criminals, they are just exploitative cunts.  Boycott them.

A judgement is expected in four to eight weeks.  The individual who brought the original FOI has published details of the arguments made by both sides at the tribunal.

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Chris Grayling: The So-Called Justice Secretary Who Wants To Be Above The Law

bungling-chris-graylingThe Chris Grayling comedy show had tragic consequences as he ran rampant at the DWP so it is no surprise that he has exported his unique brand of dishonest chaos to the Justice Department.

Grayling wants to tear up the rule book on Judicial Reviews – the means by which people can challenge the lawfulness of decisions made by public bodies.  This is based on his obsession with ‘left wing’ campaigners who he says are abusing justice by holding the government accountable to the same laws as the rest of us.

Along with being a compulsive liar, Chris Grayling is notoriously paranoid.  Back when he was the bungling Employment Minister he bizarrely accused the Socialist Worker Party (SWP), a minor and decaying Trotskyite sect, of hacking his email account.  Grayling sees reds under the bed everywhere and claimed the public’s disgust towards workfare – which saw thousands of people contacting well known companies demanding they pull out of unpaid labour schemes – was all down to an SWP plot.  Along with Iain Duncan Smith, Grayling even tried to pretend this form of workfare didn’t exist – and when DWP documents proved that it did – those documents were mysteriously altered to remove references to mandated workfare.

When a Freedom of Information request was made asking for the names of companies and charities involved in workfare schemes, Grayling pulled every trick in the book to dodge the decision by the Information Commissioner’s Office that this information was in the public interest and should be released.   The DWP are still dragging their feet on supplying this information.

It was inevitable that putting a bent bastard like Grayling in charge of the courts would lead fierce opposition from the legal profession, with some now calling for his resignation.  One of his first moves was to tear up the right to legal aid.  Now he wants to remove the right for people to hold Government to account when it breaks the law.

The Tories have long pretended to be the party of small government, but in reality are quite happy to use legislation as a blunt instrument to attack against anyone they have taken a dislike to – whether that be striking miners or uppity lawyers.  This is the same party that made it illegal for schools to talk about non-heterosexual relationships in the 1980s and later even brought in laws specifically to clamp down on certain kinds of music.

When Tories whinge about the nanny state, or meddling bureaucrats, what they usually mean is they haven’t got exactly what they want and so are having a tantrum.  Or they’ve just got been given a parking ticket.  But when it comes to stamping out any dissent to their vile policies they are as happy to don the jackboots as any tin-pot dictator.

In a well timed protest, UK Uncut will be literally taking to the streets to take direct action against the plans to slash legal aid.  Join them on October 5th and help spread the word: http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/press-release-roadblocks-will-go-ahead

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Chris Grayling Hands Probation Service Over To Bunch Of Crooks

a4e improvingBungling Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, has announced plans to hand over probation services to some of the shadiest companies operating in the UK.

Grayling is introducing a payment by results scheme for new probation contracts, similar to the one he helped launch on the Work Programme back when he was the bungling Employment Minister.  The Work Programme so far has been an unmitigated disaster as private sector poverty pimps have sat back and let the cash roll in from start fees, cherry picked the easiest to help and forced them into workfare, and largely abandoned everyone else.

Astonishingly it is likely to be many of the very same companies who have screwed up the Work Programme who will be let loose on probation services.  G4S, the company most famous for the death at their hands of Jimmy Mubenga, and the bodged Olympic Security fiasco, are certain to be on the list of those bidding for contracts.  A4e, the workfare company who have faced a string of fraud allegations, have also long been eying up probation services, presumably on the basis that they know a thing or two about crime themselves.

One of the key measures private companies are likely to be paid out on is whether they are able to stop people re-offending and ending up back inside.  This will mean that from the board levels down to the front line staff – who will no doubt be working to strict targets – it will be in the financial interests of the companies to cover up any further crimes probation workers may suspect have been committed.

Will a G4S worker really help the police with their inquiries, as grassing probation officers often do, if it means they won’t hit their targets that month?  G4S’ experience of getting away with crime could prove invaluable in keeping those ‘outcome’ payments flowing into their grubby pockets.

Experienced crooks like A4e and G4S giving people tips on how to stay out of jail for what will be trivial offences in many cases may turn out to be no bad thing.  But the potential for abuse is terrifying.  Grayling is said to favour the ‘black box’ approach to commissioning services.  This means all he cares about is the price, as under these kinds of contracts companies involved are given free reign to do whatever they choose to try and hit their targets.  Just like the Work Programme, these companies could be given unprecedented powers over people’s lives with barely any scrutiny.

According to The Guardian, the public sector will not be allowed to bid for the draconian new contracts which will cover 70% of the work carried out by probation services.  Social Workers should take note, this won’t end with probation staff.

It seems that Chris Grayling is intent on exporting the shambles he left   behind at the DWP into the Ministry of Justice.  Like some malevolent  jumped-up imp, he seems to think he’s being tough by prancing around scattering chaos wherever he treads.  In truth he’s far more Norman Wisdom – without the wit or talent- then he ever will be Norman Tebbit.

And when it all comes crashing down compulsive liar Grayling will no doubt slink off somewhere else in Government, turning his back on the shambles he’s created and claiming “it wasn’t me guv”.

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Doctors Warn of The Hidden Costs of Welfare Reform

bubblesA letter written by Scottish Ministers to Iain Duncan Smith reveals one of the often overlooked consequences of the savage cuts to social security.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Alex Neil claim that the brutally flawed Work Capability Assessment used to determine eligibility for sickness and disability benefits is creating a “workload problem” for GPs.  This follows a recent letter signed by over 25 doctors and health professionals warning that the process is not only “cruel” but has also led to “significant adverse events such as self-harm and suicides which many of us have witnessed”.

It will not just be the NHS which begins to creak under the strain of welfare reforms, as millions of people are driven into destitution and a benefits regime which is increasingly designed to punish the poor.  As pointed out yesterday, when Universal Credit is fully introduced, parents of teenagers may find themselves expected to work, or attend workfare for many of the hours their children are not in school.  Leaving possibly hundreds of thousands of teenagers to wander the streets could create an explosion of anti-social behaviour, bullying and crime.  Benefit sanctions, as one leading homelessness charity has already warned, could lead to people being forced to beg and steal to survive.

The impact on policing, courts and prisons could be astronomical as parents are no longer permitted to care for their children and are sent on workfare instead.  The cost to the communities we live in, and to those children themselves, can not even begin to be measured.

Street homelessness is rising sharply, and the bedroom tax, benefit cap and housing benefit cuts can only add to that.  A think tank recently warned that one in four children will be living in poverty by 2020 as a direct result of changes to benefits.  Iain Duncan Smith’s crass attempts to redefine poverty as a personal failing rather than an economic disaster will not change the consequences of creating a society in which a quarter of young people are near destitute.

One of architects of welfare reform, Chris Grayling, once alleged that an area of Manchester was akin to the fictional representation of Baltimore in the television series The Wire.  Baltimore has a horrifically high murder rate and the show depicts a  flourishing drugs trade which all to often fills the vacuum in the absence of socialised protection for the poorest.  Grayling couldn’t have been more wrong about Manchester, yet this Government seem intent on making that absurd comparison come true.

The UK did not have an overly generous welfare system despite the claims made by all three political parties.  The main reason the social security system became so complicated is years of thinly designed cuts, bodges, anti-fraud initiatives and endless schemes aimed at trying to cure people of unemployment.  The reason the social security is so expensive is largely down to the astronomical costs involved simply in keeping a roof over your head in the UK.

The last Tory Government launched an all out assault on social housing – with the end result being soaring private sector rents and a rocketing housing benefit bill.  Iain Duncan Smith’s reckless experiment with welfare goes far beyond what even Thatcher would have dared suggest.

Those on benefits, whether in or out of work are now seeing their incomes decimated, and it’s only going to get worse.  No-one can truly know the social consequences of the changes that are taking place, which are all too often hidden under the cover of relentless propaganda claiming that the poorest people in the country are secretly living it up at the tax payers expense.

In truth this country already had poverty that should shame any nation as rich as the UK even before these changes to social security.  But even that may pail into insignificance compared to what is to come.  One thing is surely beyond doubt however.  Whatever is left of society after these reforms are fully implemented, it will be expensive for all of us.

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Thugs and Fraudsters to Run Probation Service in Bid to Cut Crime

The Chris Grayling comedy show is set to continue as the bungling Justice Secretary reveals plans to privatise probation service using the same disastrous model inflicted on long term unemployed people.

Astonishingly Grayling’s plan will allows Olympic bodging thugs like G4S and fraud ridden A4E to bid for contracts in a bid to cut crime!

The ‘payments by results’ model planned for probation services is to be based on the shambolic Work Programme, the scheme devised by Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan Smith, in a bid to bring down long term unemployment.

Despite approaching a billion pounds being handed to welfare to work companies like the aforementioned A4E, long term unemployment has continued to rise even whilst other measures of unemployment have (allegedly) fallen.

Grayling is currently singing the praises of the Work Programme in his bid to export the chaos he created at the DWP to the Justice Department.  The truth is that the Work Programme has proved such an unmitigated disaster that the Government are terrified of releasing the performance figures which would tell us if anyone had actually found a job under the scheme.

Work Programme statistics were promised last Spring, but then the date was pushed back to Autumn. The DWP statistical release calendar promises that figures will now become available on November 7th.  Yet according to the calendar these figures will only reveal attachments and referrals to the Work Programme – meaning the number of people who have started on the scheme.  It appears that the DWP may be attempting to push back information on the performance of the Work Programme even further.

Despite this Chris Grayling has halted pilot projects aimed at assessing whether the same model would work in probation services.  In the tender documentation for these projects the Justice Department conceded:  “There is a very limited body of evidence for payment by results for reducing reoffending.  The Ministry of Justice therefore wants to test the approach through an initial pilot phase, before applying the principles of payment by results more broadly.”

Yet Chris Grayling is to plough ahead regardless despite the results of these pilots not being available.  It even seems as if only a fortnight ago Grayling was planning to scrap payment by results.  Yet this week he announces a plan to hugely expand the scheme, despite there being no evidence whatsoever that these plans will work.  It’s almost as if David Cameron has pressured him to resurrect the farcical plans in a bid to deflect attention from the endless succession of blundering toffs in his cabinet.

Above pic, showing activists blockading G4S’ annual meeting, from: http://nobordersnortheast.org/2012/06/22/protest-at-g4s-agm-accuses-company-of-violating-human-rights/

A Lying Bastard at the Justice Department is Cameron’s Worst Joke Yet

The Chris Grayling comedy show lives on!

Bungling Employment Minister Chris Grayling has been promoted to bungling Secretary of State for Justice in today’s cabinet reshuffle, replacing Ken Clarke who has been demoted to minister who’s lost his portfolio.

Grayling will be relieved to be out of the DWP, where he was little more than a whipping boy for Iain Duncan Smith’s ludicrous and unworkable benefit bashing schemes.  But the promotion of a compulsive liar like Grayling to head the Justice Department is a risky strategy for a Government that’s as out of ideas as they are out of touch.

Grayling is unlikely to fair well when his lies are scrutinised by judges and barristers rather than benefit claimants.  Whilst his appointment represents a dark day for human rights, he is likely to prove the perfect example of what can happen when a fool is promoted above their level of competence.

Grayling may not feature as highly on this blog any longer which is a shame because he’s such a knob.  Tory spiv Grant Shapps, and Maria Killer Miller are also out of the picture, meaning new ministers for both disabled people and housing are on the cards.  It has yet to be announced who will replace them.

It is the news that Cameron pleaded with Iain Duncan Smith to leave his role as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions at the DWP which is most revealing.  IDS is now effectively squatting the DWP, without the support of the Prime Minister.  Whilst Grayling has dodged the upcoming Universal Credit car crash, Cameron remains firmly dazzled by the headlights.  He had his chance to end what could be a Tory Government destroying shambles and he bottled it.

Universal Credit is the new benefit regime dreamed up by Iain Duncan Smith on the back of an envelope after watching an episode of Shameless.  Millions of people are to be transferred to multi-billion pound new ‘big brother’ database.  All those currently claiming any benefit, including Child Benefit, could be bundled onto the computer system which is currently behind schedule and over budget.

This computer system, which underpins the new benefit, is set to be the most complex IT database ever built in history, anywhere.    Even, if by some miracle, it works, the plans are riddled with holes, and in some cases appear unworkable.

Changes planned to Council Tax Benefit as part of the new regime will leave Councils chasing benefit claimants through the courts for trivial amounts of money or facing huge budget shortfalls – a situation comparable to the Poll Tax.  The benefit caps, to be introduced next year, will plunge tens, if not hundreds of families into homelessness.  The ruthless assessment regime for sick and disabled claimants carried out by Atos is developing into a national scandal and almost the exact same system is about to be inflicted on over 2 million people claiming Disability Living Allowance.

Private sector poverty pimps running back to work schemes are struggling to find enough workfare placements with ever more charities and companies pulling out of forced labour.   Yet IDS keeps announcing endless new workfare schemes.  And the £5 billion Work Programme, designed to help the long term unemployed, appears to be doing quite the opposite. 

All of these problems could have disappeared had Cameron had the courage to sack Iain Duncan Smith.  Yet so scared is he of the Tory right he has chickened out, run away and left Iain Duncan Smith to die another day.  The far right of the Tory Party love Iain Duncan Smith who plunged the party into bitter splits and helped make them unelectable for a decade.  He may well do the same again, to the delight of some back benchers who would far rather be drinking gin and whinging about the communists in Government than doing any real work themselves.

The human curse that is Iain Duncan Smith may yet be the downfall of this toff Government.  The problem is he seems intent on dragging most of the rest of the country down with him.