Tag Archives: ERSA

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

snouts

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: http://dftr.org.uk/Songbird.php?TweetFile=ESDay16

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

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

#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.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

Never Trust A Landlord. How Housing Associations Are Teaming Up With The Workfare Industry

workfare-gravy-train-largeThe National Housing Federation (NHF), the umbrella body which represents housing associations, are quietly teaming up with the fraud-ridden welfare-to-work sector in a bid to monetize ‘workless’ tenants in social housing.

Tomorrow the NHF will hold a joint event with the notorious Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade organisation established to lie on behalf of the welfare-to-work industry.   The Housing and Employment Forum will allow housing associations to discuss how they can further collaborate with sanction-happy workfare exploiters like G4S, Serco and the shadowy US conglomerate Maximus.  To look at the website of the National Housing Federation however you would never know this event is happening, despite them being the joint organisers and chairs.  They are right to be ashamed of their dirty little workfare secrets.

ERSA themselves are also remaining tight-lipped about the forum which is only open to ERSA members and details of which – such as where it is – are not available.  Claimants and housing association tenants themselves are obviously not welcome.

Several housing associations already hold Work Programme sub-contracts, although many pulled out when they realised that they weren’t making enough money out of the mandatory scheme.  In a renewed effort to get their snouts in the welfare-to-work trough they are now not just sucking up to ERSA but also lobbying the DWP directly to get their hands on some of the workfare cash.  Over 40 housing associations are now members of the Give Us A Chance (GUAC) consortium which was formed in 2011 to try and hoodwink the government into giving them some juicy welfare-to-work contracts.  The Give Us Some Money consortium would be a more accurate name.

According to their literature, GUAC are being advised by Jonathan Shaw, the former Labour Minister for Disabled People who helped oversee the introduction of the despised Atos fitness for work tests.  Housing Associations who join GUAC are also being offered free automatic membership of ERSA.  They have even released a joint manifesto (pdf) with the workfare industry in which they ominously call for more data sharing powers between social housing providers, Work Programme companies and Jobcentres.  Who better than a landlord to be the ever-watching eyes of the DWP.

Don’t be in any doubt that this is about anything other than fucking money.  It’s not like housing association tenants are crying out for more CV workshops or mandatory work placements.  Billions of pounds is being doled out by the DWP to organisations prepared to bully and harass unemployed people and housing associations have no intention of missing the gravy train.  Don’t expect them to actually build any houses with all this cash though.  Those six figure Chief Executive salaries won’t pay themselves you know.

Above pic from the SchNews archive.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

It’s Workfare Week! Tell The Bastards What You Think On #WEWeek2015

snouts

Workfare industry bosses react with delight to news David Cameron intends to attend their next conference.

The vile welfare-to-work sector are teaming up with a DWP controlled front organisation this week to hold a celebration of all the money they are making out of unpaid work.

The inaptly named Fair Train are funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, a government body under the control of both the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and Iain Duncan Smith himself.  Despite their name, this so-called charity exists to promote unpaid Work Experience schemes, by flogging off dubious Quality Standard awards to workfare exploiters.  In 2013 they were paid a whopping £283,000 of tax payer’s money to promote unpaid work schemes.

Week Experience Week is part of this gushing celebration of exploitation, so it is no suprise to see ERSA, the trade body established to lie on behalf on the welfare-to-work sector, joining in the festivities.  Fair Train say that want others to get involved with Work Experience Week, with aim of encouraging as many companies as possible to stop paying wages and start using workfare.  You can let the bastards know what you think on twitter using the hashtag #WEWeek2015.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Priti Patel Hands Award To Poverty Pay Employer That Pays Just £2.68 An Hour

priti-deathThe DWP’s new Minister of Death Priti Patel last night handed out an award to a company who pays just 11 pence an hour more than the minium wage to staff in a supervisory role whilst retail staff on Apprenticeships earn just £2.68 per hour.

Patel was the main speaker at the annual awards ceremony held by the Employment Related Service Association (ERSA), the trade body established to lie of behalf of the welfare to work sector.  Every year the likes of G4S and A4e gather for a slap up meal at a luxury London venue to celebrate another year of fleecing the tax payer and dole out awards to employers who have helped them gain ‘job outcome’ payments.

This year’s Large Employer of the Year award went to Poundbakery, a not very large employer who run a chain of bakery shops.  Accrding to ERSA, this was for demonstrating “exceptional commitment in creating opportunities for disadvantaged and long term unemployed jobseekers.”

Some of those ‘”fantastic and rare” opportunities involved working in one of their shops on the Apprenticeship scheme for as little as £2.68 p/hr for 24 hours a week.  These apprenticeships could last for up to two years, reflecting the length of time it takes to train people to sell loaves of bread rather than just being an excuse for the company to dodge minimum wage laws.  Or at least that’s what grasping employers claim to ensure this grotesque exploitation remains legal.

Other vacancies for the company ask for people with “ideally some retail management experience” to work as supervisors for the princely sum of £6.61 an hour, just 11 pence more than the minimum wage.

You might have thought that the welfare-to-work industry would want to give awards to ethical employers, who pay at least the Living Wage, but sadly this is far from the case. Previously the Large Employer award has gone to companies involved in unpaid schemes such Greggs and B&M Stores who will be the target of workfare protests later this month.  It is unclear whether Poundbakery also making use of Jobcentre programmes providing free labour, but with their retail assistants working for the pittance of £64 a week, they hardly fucking have to.

Poundbakery are on twitter (and facebook) if you want to ask them to pay their workers properly: @poundbakery

Bakers everywhere can fight for better wages by contacting the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Current Benefit Sanctions Policy Is Bonkers Says Workfare Industry’s Top Spokesperson

sanction-sabs3Aspects of Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal benefit sanctioning regime are bonkers  according to an astonishing diatribe from the workfare industry’s top spokesperson Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of the  Employment Related Services Association (ERSA).

ERSA are the trade body established to lie on behalf of the welfare-to-work companies like A4e and G4S who hold lucrative contracts to run workfare and forced training schemes.  In a frank statement on their website McHugh says that the use of sanctions is based on sending political messages rather than evidence of what works and that a more humane system is needed.

According to McHugh, current rules which mean welfare-to-work companies have no choice but to refer people for a benefit sanction for not carrying ‘mandated activity’  are ‘bonkers’ and that this causes inappropriate sanctions to be applied.  She also backs the recent call for an urgent review of the sanctions regime made by the Work and Pension Committee saying that current policies have been introduced “without a huge amount of reflection”.  This is about as close as an industry spokesperson can come to calling Iain Duncan Smith a fucking idiot without losing their job.

Claimants should not be fooled, ERSA have not suddenly developed a conscience, this is about money.  According to McHugh, ERSA still believe sanctions “play an important role” although this is based on a “hunch”.  What the welfare-to-work industry wants is the power to make sanction decisions themselves, along with new rights to snoop on medical information the DWP hold on those in receipt of sickness or disability benefits.  This is a cynical power grab from an industry that has realised the more adminstrative roles they can seize from Jobcentres then the greater the prospect of the entire social security system ending up in private hands.  Their hands.

There is another reason however why these companies are now lobbying for a less draconian system – and McHugh even suggests a voluntary approach might be more appropriate for some claimants.  Welfare-to-work companies get paid when someone finds a job.  People who are hungry, anxious, or can’t afford to maintain personal hygeine do not perform well at job interviews.  McHugh’s comments are an admission that sanctions harm rather than help people’s prospects of finding work, something that has long been obvious to claimants themselves.  That it is now being said by workfare companies, who were previously Iain Duncan Smith’s best friends, is a damning condemnation of the coalition government’s bungled welfare reforms.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Join me on facebook or follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid