Tag Archives: Frank Field

How Consent Has Been Manufactured For In Work Benefit Sanctions


Same old Labour, committee headed by Frank Field says DWP should be congratulated for in-work benefit sanctions.

There are many thing which could be done to tackle in-work poverty.  The most obvious being to raise in-work benefit levels.  Other measures such as rent caps or free public transport would make an immediate difference whilst longer term solutions could include a mass social house-building programme and the recreation of a militant trade union movement that was prepared to strike for better wages.  The restoration of student grants or free training in bankable qualifications that are currently only available at huge cost would also make a huge change in how people choose to develop their working lives.

More radical ideas might include the collectivisation of private (profit-making) property and a seizing of the wealth of the rich.  There’s plenty of stuff, and space, for everybody to live well.  The problem is some people are greedy and have too much.  There’s more of us than them.  We could just take it.  That’s what they did.

None of these ideas were mentioned in the recent inquiry by the Work and Pensions Commitee into ‘in-work progression’, the latest DWP initiative designed to force part time workers to constantly strive for more pay or more hours or face benefit sanctions.  From the radical to the mundane, these concepts are outside of current acceptable, neo-liberal conversation.  Even calling for a reverse to recent reforms such as the Bedroom Tax, or the restoration of full council tax benefit, have now slipped outside of the acceptable agenda.  Instead all solutions must be market based, individualised, and place the blame for poverty squarely at the feet of the poor.  And austerity and cutting government spending have now become aims in themselves, as if they were a moral force.

With a couple of exceptions, this ideology informs every single response to the Work and Pensions Committee’s recent inquiry.  This has allowed the committee’s final report to call the reforms potentially ‘revolutionary’.  Which they don’t mean in a good way.

The depressing truth is that consent had been manufactured invisibly before the committee even began, simply by the type of people they involved, and the narrow spectrum of beliefs they represent.  If you don’t share these views you will not become one of those people, the listened to people.  As such the submissions by Boycott Workfare, and even the PCS Union whose members will be expected to implement any changes, are completely ignored in the committee’s final report.    Instead it was the likes of Matthew Oakley who were called to give evidence in person, the chinless knobend who began his barely working life at the hard right Policy Exchange think tank.  Oakley has made a lucrative career out of pretending to be an independent expert whilst telling the government exactly what they want to hear.

Of course it helps that there was a financial incentive for most of those who responded to the consultation to support the DWP’s plans in the form of juicy government contracts to run the scheme.  And it does no harm that of the eleven people who sit on the Work and Pensions Commitee, six of them are Tories and one of the others is Frank fucking Field.  This is no doubt how they came to the appalling conclusion that the current government should be congratulated for these sweeping changes to the benefit’s system that will see low paid workers consigned to desperate poverty if they fail to meet the endless humiliating demands imposed on them by Jobcentres.  The committee even suggests that in-work progression could be extended to those further up the earnings scale, although it is unclear whether they support this on a voluntary or mandatory basis.  How to sanction people’s benefit when they aren’t on benefits is likely to prove a challenge.

There were two issues really that were being examined by the commission – that of in work ‘progression’ and also in work ‘conditionality’.  The first simply means mild harassment masquerading as help from Jobcentres or welfare to work companies to encourage claimants to look around for better paid work or be confident enough to ask for a pay rise.  Almost all of the organsations who responded said yes, we’d like some money to do that.  In-work conditionality however means benefit sanctions for not complying with demands placed on claimants to improve their earnings, which under current legislation could even include workfare or mandatory job search sessions in the hours people aren’t working.

This conditionality was rejected by some organisations who called for a purely voluntary scheme whilst many others warned that so-called vulnerable people should be excluded.  None of the responses were enthusiastic about sanctions, although one, from welfare-to-work company Prospects, did say they believed people should “not be allowed to settle for working only a few hours each week indefinitely”.  This was probably the most extreme statement out of all the responses to the committee and was duly included in the final report to help demonstrate ‘strong support’ for an ‘in-work service’.

A fair analysis of the evidence would be that there was support for a voluntary service, although it was not unanimous and largely came from organisations with a vested financial interest.  And there was opposition to and wide ranging concerns about sanctioning claimant’s benefit for non-compliance.  The committee’s report acknowledges some of these concerns and even agrees that inflicting a financial penalty on someone could, in some cases, work against the aim to increase their earnings.   But even this doesn’t mean they oppose sanctions.  In conclusion the report merely calls for people to be sanctioned less often than those currently on unemployment benefits.

The DWP’s attitude to sanctions for part time workers is already clear.  Evidence submitted to the enquiry included a training document for Work Coaches currently carrying out pilot schemes into in-work conditionality.  They inform Jobcentre workers that “Conditionality is an important element in driving greater independence and ensuring that claimants take greater accountability to earn and work more” and that “sanctions play a vital role in supporting the conditionality regime”.  The committee do not comment on this overt encouragement of enforcing strict conditionality on working claimants, despite it being current practice already for those unlucky enough to be selected for the pilot.

In-work sanctions may have been dreamed up in the feverish mind of Iain Duncan Smith, but everyone has played their part.  From the charities too greedy or spineless to condemn these plans and say they will take no part in the scheme to the grasping welfare-to-work sector who are facing huge funding cuts and are desperate to rinse yet more money from the tax payer.  From the think tank’s fake experts who’ve never had a proper job to Frank Field’s committee and their skewing of the evidence in favour of the government’s demands.  The DWP have now been given a green light to carry on as they always intended and launch an onslaught on the low paid which will cause the same devastation in the lives of the poorest workers that has already been inflicted on the unemployed.  Everyone, who they consider important, has said it’s a good idea after all.

There has been no demand from the electorate for these measures, in fact most are horrified when they hear of it.  There have been no calls from part time workers, or the unions that represent them, for a Jobcentre run in-work service, whether mandatory or otherwise.  As the committee’s final report points out, there is no evidence that this scheme will be effective and nothing similar to it has ever been tried anywhere in the world.  That is probably because it’s such a shit idea.  But this shit idea is now going ahead as support has been gently fabricated at every stage to ensure that there is no serious, or even visible opposition to the DWP’s plans.

In a few years, even criticising the concept that in-work benefits should be conditional will be outside of acceptable thought for the listened to people.  This is how neoliberalism marches on.  The long, great theft of our labour and the demolition of our living standards is decided in committees, by reasonable people, who do not even notice the political agenda they are pursuing.  They barely even know they are doing politics.  Their cut-throat capitalist ideology is so entrenched that it is all that they can see or imagine.

You can read the committee’s report at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2015/in-work-progression-report-published-15-16/

h/t Noam Chomsky who first used the phrase manufacturing consent in an analysis of the US media, there’s a film about it here.

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Iain Duncan Smith and Frank Fucking Field – Two Sides Of The Same Coin


If it looks like a wanker, and sounds like a wanker, it’s probably Frank Field.

Few people in the modern Labour Party are as much of a wanker as Frank Field – and there’s some fierce competition.

Reportedly a Tory in his youth, Field has slithered around the margins of UK politics for decades, always looking for a way in and always fucking it up whenever he is given one.  After the 2010 election he even slimed his way into David Cameron’s affections, being granted the title of Poverty Tsar – a lord of misery with an insincere smile sent out to provide ideological cover for the Tory Government’s vicious social security cuts.

Duirng the previous Labour administration Field was briefly Minister for Welfare Reform – a position now occupied by the equally odious Lord Fraud.  During this period he proposed a breath-takingly complex reform of the entire benefits system based on restoring the link with National Insurance.  So garbled were his plans that nobody but him could understand them and Tony Blair –  for once in his miserable, wretched, mass-murdering life – made the right decision and sacked him immediately.

Field has remained obessed with restoring what he calls the contributory principle, despite the stark historical fact that it never worked.  By 1951 almost one and a half million people were already claiming National Assistance, which was not funded from the National Insurance pot.  In fact the overall take from the insurance based scheme – which charges the rich a far lower percentage of their income than the poor – was so low that many people were having pensions and benefits topped up by National Assistance.  But just like Iain Duncan Smith, Field has never let evidence get in the way of his own messianic insistence that if only people would listen to him then he could create a utopian form of capitalism with no poor people.  And he would achieve this by making the poor poorer, to teach them a lesson and turn them into productive strivers.

In 2015 Field was given a new job, elected by fellow MPs to chair the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the body tasked with scrutinising welfare refoms.  This was not good news.  There is barely a fag paper between his views and those of Duncan Smith, and it is in this context that his report examining welfare reform- published this week by the Civitas think tank – should be considered.

Field has made a couple of headlines by pointing out what everyone already knows which is that Universal Credit is a shambles that will not make work pay.  He is also critical of the current benefit sanctioning regime, a bizarre position for someone to take who in 2011 called for greater use of sanctions for people on the Work Programme.  His solution to the mass poverty being engineered by Jobcentre sanctions is not to scrap them, but to introduce the so-called yellow card system – the patronising early warning initiative first dreamed up by a chinless five year old from the Policy Exchange think-tank.

Field also proposes a Future Jobs Fund Mark 2, a revamp of the last Labour government’s short lived scheme which involved paying huge subsidies to employers to provide jobs for young people.  This call comes despite his objection to in-work benefits which he says subsidise low wages – he wants to scrap Tax Credits completely for those without kids.  In other words he’s quite happy to subsidise employers, but not workers, who presumably will just fritter all that extra money away on food and gas bills.

Elsewhere in the report he is mildly critical of the despised assessments for sickness and disability benefits, although his chief objection seems to be that not enough people are being found fit for work.  He claims a long drawn out assessment, made up of several appointments, would be better system, whilst he would expect all sick and disabled people to sign an ‘improving your life’ contract.  Really.

Field also praises the introduction of Personal Independence Payments – the replacement to Disability Living Allowance which is currently stripping benefits from around 23% of disabled people.  He’d just like to see people lose their benefits faster, complaining that not enough money has been saved so far.

He is equally gushing about the Benefit Cap, repeating Iain Duncan Smith’s lies that it has encouraged people to find work – a claim not backed by evidence according to the head of the UK Statistics Authority.  On housing he falls into parroting Labour’s election policy that more houses should be built without any real further details of how and who for.  He then goes wildly off-script by worrying that there might not be enough brick layers.  Luckily he has another brilliant idea.  Young people on benefits could be forced to a attend a ten week brick-laying course at a private college and then spend a year learning brick-laying properly in a presumably compulsory minimum wage job.  To pay for this enforced training he suggests that these young people take out a loan, similar to the student loan scheme.  You’ve never fucking had it so good kids.

Field reserves his most lavish praise for George Osborne, for doing what even Thatcher failed to achieve and cutting social security spending.  He acknowledges that this had little to do with five years of welfare reform and was simply down to an old-fashioned cut – the decision to freeze benefits at below the rate of inflation.  Still Field calls this a big success, whilst he also praises Iain Duncan Smith’s obsession with family values and insistence that non-traditional families, like single parents and gays, cause poverty.  It’s like the last half century never fucking happened.

By this point you’re probably thinking who gives a shit what this condescending relic from the past thinks.  Surely a dickhead like this, whose political career is riddled with failure, can never achieve any real influence.  But that’s what everybody thought about Iain Duncan Smith.  Just like his Tory counterpart did in the early part of the century, Field is now positioning himself as an expert on poverty and friend of the poor.  His vile opinions have gone almost unmentioned as he exploits the ineptness of the DWP to raise his own political profile.  With Labour’s social security policies seemingly non-existent he is well placed to position himself as the natural opposition to Tory welfare reforms – despite his rhetoric and ideology being near identical.  He just think’s he’d be better at being Iain Duncan Smith then the Work and Pensions Secretary is himself.  He must never be allowed to get there.

You can read his stupid report at: http://www.civitas.org.uk/publications/fixing-broken-britain-an-audit-of-working-age-welfare-reform-since-2010/

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What Lies Behind The Archbishop’s Demand For State Run Foodbanks Is Every Bit As Nasty As Iain Duncan Smith


Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Dressed like a tit as usual.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will launch a report in parliament this week which calls on the government to fund the growing network of foodbanks – many of which are run by churches. This is his toxic solution to the growing hunger crisis which has emerged after the string of vindictive and bungled welfare reforms implemented by Iain Duncan Smith.

It is shameful that so many people are now dependent on foodbanks just to be able to feed their children, but to enshrine this charity within the social security system would be a disaster.  What poor people need is more money, not more foodbanks.  This is just common  sense.  But you won’t hear calls for an end to vicious cuts to social security from the clowns behind Welby’s report.

One of the authors of the report is Frank Field.  This vile piece of shit was asked to think the unthinkable on welfare reform back in 1997 before being sacked a year later for talking such incomprehensible drivel that even Tony Blair called his ideas “unfathomable”.  Sadly this did not shut him up and he has been  whinging from the sidelines ever since.

Shortly after the current government weren’t elected Field accepted a job with them as a Poverty Tsar, whatever the fuck that means.  He also sits on the advisory board of the right-wing Centre for Social Justice who first proposed many of the coalition’s welfare reforms.  In 2009 he said that the most important task for the dying Labour administration was “to build up a system of workfare” and called for stricter benefit sanctions.  In 2011 he was still at it and demanded more sanctions on the Tory Work Programme to tackle “recidivist, workless claimants” who he claims are “barely able to read or write”.

Now the bastard has got what he wanted – with approaching one million benefit claims sanctioned in the last year – he wants to further undermine social security by entrenching emergency food supplies within the system.  Field has gone on, and fucking on, for years about ending what he calls means tested welfare.  This means benefit payments given to people because they have no money.  Instead he has devised an elaborate semi-privatised insurance based model that no-one but him seems to understand.  You can see why he is so pally with fellow messianic crank Iain Duncan Smith.

Field’s plans would mean an end to social security for vast swathes of the population who are unable to find work.  He knows that to achieve this then something needs to be done to stop bodies piling up in the street.  His vision no doubt is queues of the undeserving poor lining up at state run foodbanks to be handed out of date food thrown out by supermarkets.  This will be suitable punishment for their fecklessness.

And he has found a useful fucking idiot in the Church of England to do his dirty work for him.  A man whose incisive understanding of poverty was no doubt first gained in the torrid dormitories of Eton where he was educated.  An Archbishop who has presided over a redundant church which has had nothing meaningful to say about the breath-taking greed of the rampant rich which is defining the modern era.

The sad truth is, that with some notable exceptions, the response from prominent Christians to Iain Duncan Smith’s relentless war on the poor has often been contemptible.  When disabled campaigners gathered in the grounds of Westminster Abbey in outrage at the abolition of the Independent Living Fund, the reaction from the Dean of Westminster was to stand back whilst police violently assaulted, kettled and abused the protesters.  The Salvation Army have been praised by the DWP for holding the ‘line on workfare’ when other more decent charities have pulled out in horror at the suffering caused by the sanctions which underpin the regime.  Archbishop of York John Sentamu pretends to oppose workfare, but is still president of the YMCA, another government funded defender of forced work and benefit sanctions.  Whilst those on the lowest incomes have seen their lives destroyed by this Goverment, the response from many of Jesus’ most important little helpers has been hypocrisy, cowardice and even naked profiteering.

It comes as no surprise that it should be the Mail of Sunday who have given space to Archbishop Welby to air his views.  They must be pissing themselves.  This is how the welfare state is lost.  By the liberal arm of the establishment hijacking the argument away from us and presenting their watered down demands as the compassionate solution.  Yet there is no compassion in the insecurity and desperation of people without enough money to feed themselves and forced to rely on the state for food parcels.

By all means support your local foodbank this Christmas.  Kids can’t be left to go hungry because of a point of principle or long term political aim.  We are not bastards like them.  But state funded foodbanks as part of the social security system are a line that must not be crossed.  Don’t buy into this fake fucking concern from zealots like Frank Field who helped to create the current situation.  And let’s leave Welby to slink away back to doing what he does best.  Like lying to small children that they will be tortured for eternity if they don’t pretend to love a non-existent man in the sky.

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Universal Jobmatch Still Riddled With Illegal Unpaid Work

uj-unpaid-work“Not paying the National Minimum Wage is illegal and if an employer breaks the law, government will take tough action,”

“Anyone considered a worker under the law should be paid at least the minimum wage, whether they are an intern, or someone on work experience.”

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson MP

The Government job-seeking website Universal Jobmatch is still littered with illegal unpaid work despite David Cameron’s claims that companies who fail to pay the minimum wage will be ‘named and shamed’.

Many employers are using the site to offer unpaid work experience roles or internships such as this advertisement calling for”extremely hardworking” graduates to work in exchange for lunch and travel expenses.

Unless unpaid work experience positions form part of a formal Jobcentre scheme they are illegal under minimum wage laws.  The law is very clear and guidance on who is entitled to receive the minimum wage can be found on the same gov.uk website which hosts Universal Jobmatch.

These exploitative employers are far from the only criminals making use of this website to fleece unemployed people.  According to opportunistic wanker Frank ‘Atos’ Field, several of his constituents have been scammed after using the website by fake employers asking for bank details or money upfront for criminal record checks.

Field claims that half the jobs advertised on Universal Jobmatch may breach the terms and conditions of the site, a fact backed up by the recent Channel 4 investigation which found that over 11,000 bogus jobs on the website were invented by just one man.  Shady businessman Mark Coward received money from recruitment agency CV Library every time a jobseeker sent in their CV to apply for one of the fake jobs.  Last night Channel 4 News also revealed that over 20% of the jobs advertised on the site are duplicates.

It is genuinely astonishing that the DWP is aiding and abetting outright fraudsters by giving them an online platform to recruit victims.  Meanwhile one Government department is claiming they are cracking down on employers who don’t pay the minimum wage whilst the DWP are happily advertising these kinds of jobs on their own website.

Iain Duncan Smith can’t even run a fucking website without it being over-whelmed by scammers, fake jobs or illegal job vacancies. Yet he is still being handed billions to build a new IT system which he claims will revolutionise the benefits system when Universal Credit is finally launched.  The DWP already claim that Universal Jobmatch “revolutionises the way jobseekers look for work”.  If this is a sign of things to come then Universal Credit could be the most expensive and embarrassing Government IT farce that the UK has ever seen – and we’ve seen quite a few.

Whilst registration on the Unversal Jobmatch website can be mandated by Jobcentres, there is currently no requirement to tick the box allowing the DWP to snoop on your jobsearch (you can also untick the box which asks if they can send you emails).  You should be under no obligation to use the website anywhere but Jobcentres and there is really no need to tell the DWP if you have a home computer.  For the most up to date information on Universal Jobmatch and your rights visit: http://refuted.org.uk/jobmatch/

Fancy a break from work related activity – there’s an app for that.  Let Universal Automation take the strain whilst you put your feet up.

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