Tag Archives: George Osborne

Hard Working Families To Face Triple Whammy Of Benefit Cuts Announces Multi-Millionaire Osborne

gideon-osborneThe lowest paid working fmilies are to face a triple whammy of in-work benefit cuts multi-millionaire George Osborne announced today.

Those with jobs, but on shit wages, will see Tax Credits, Housing Benefits and Child Benefit all frozen in a real term cut to the incomes of the very poorest should the Tory Party be re-elected next year.  According to The Guardian the Tories are planning to freeze almost all benefits for two years including: “jobseeker’s allowance, tax credits, universal credit, child benefit, income support, the work-related activity component of employment and support allowance and the local housing allowance.”

Despite Tory lies to the contrary disabled people are also likely to be the hardest hit by these changes.  Whilst Osborne claims they will be protected, the inclusion of most claimants on Employment Support Allowance means that hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people will see already meagre incomes shrink even further.  If they have children, or live in rented accommodation, then they too will also face cuts to child and housing benefits.

At a time when rents are soaring in many parts of the country it is the inclusion of Local Housing Allowance in these plans that is the nastiest cut of all.  There are already huge numbers of people facing homelessness due to soaring rents, slashed social housing and the refusal of many landlords to rent to tenants on any form of benefits.  Osborne’s plan will make this situation far worse, and will affect those in and out of work alike, along with many of the poorest pensioners.

For those on the lowest benefit rates, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, these policies will cause devastation.  Welfare cuts already made mean that unemployed people, living on just £72.40 a week (or less if they are under 25) often have to use that money to top up their rent, pay the Bedroom Tax, or pay Council Tax.  With the price of heating and transport soaring Osborne’s cuts will mean many more people queuing in foodbanks instead of having the time to look for work.

Once again the Chancellor has shown his utter contempt for those who, unlike him, were not handed a vast fortune on a plate due to their parents wealth and privilege.  Despite the rhetoric, he couldn’t give a fuck whether his cuts hit low paid so-called hard working families, unemployed or disabled people or the children of struggling parents.  If you are poor you are fair game to this Government who, if they are re-elected, plan to make you a lot poorer.

Crash the Tory Party Conference Twittersphere with DPAC!!  (@Dis_ppl_protest).  Use Hashtag: #CPC14 to send your own messages or tweet DPAC’s!

Then join the week of action against workfare next week and support the Focus E15 mums fighting for decent housing for all of us – for more details follow them @E15OpenHouse or on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Focus-E15-Mothers/602860129757343

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Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Criticising Government Policy Online Is “Unacceptable Intimidation” According To Treasury

byteback-fb1As pointed out by @refuted, the Treasury’s claim that a recent anti-workfare social media storm was “unacceptable intimidation” comes just days after an Upper Tribunal judge endorsed this kind of criticism as “legitimate political expression”.

The comments came after news broke that Bristol IT company Byteback had pulled out of workfare a week after being visited by George Osborne to sing the praises of the scheme.  Hundreds of people had contacted Byteback on social media expressing dismay at their involvement in forced work after some fierce questioning from @andygale on twitter caused them to refer to their unpaid workers as ’employees of the state’.

Shortly after this bombardment, and in a huge embarrassment for Osborne, Byteback apologised for their involvement in his grubby scheme and promised “no more involvement ever with workfare”.

This prompted a tantrum from the Treasury who took to the national press to complain of the “unacceptable intimidation” Byteback had faced online, referring to it as “outrageous”.  Yet in Byteback’s comments above it seems that what finally prompted them to withdraw from workfare was a phone call from someone called Robin.  According to the company themselves “we had a good chat with Robin who explained in details the issues surrounding workfare”.  Byteback even thanked Robin for this conversation, saying that they had been “ill informed about workfare”.  Well done Robin!


It tells us everything we need to know about the Tory Party’s true attitude to civil liberties that a friendly phone call criticising Government policy is branded “unacceptable intimidation”.  Osborne seems to think the people running Byteback are fucking idiots, who are incapable of making decisions on their own based on new information.  He isn’t the only senior Tory who thinks this way either.

The DWP were back in court again this week as part of Iain Duncan Smith’s desperate attempt to keep the names of charities and companies using workfare a state secret.  The department were appealing an earlier decision by the First Tribunal (pdf) that these organisations should be named.  Part of their appeal was that the previous tribunal decision had not recognised that some comments made on the internet about workfare exploiters were really, really mean and had made the Salvation Army cry or something.

The judge was unimpressed, saying that: “the thrust of those blogs was well within the bounds of legitimate political expression within a democratic society”, despite acknowledging that “the occasional comment overstepped the bounds of decency”.  The miserable cunt.

The DWP also once again argued that if the public were told who is using workfare then the four week Mandatory Work Activity scheme would collapse.  Again they were rebuffed in a damning verdict in which the judge repeatedly pointed out that an appeal to the Upper Tribunal is supposed to be used to correct errors in law, not as an attempt to re-argue the facts.

As Boycott Workfare point out, the DWP seem to be “playing a delaying game anything to slow down the release of the list of all the businesses and organisations  profiting from the use of workfare.”  They are right to be shitting themselves, anger against unpaid work schemes and the benefit sanctions they are backed with, is growing fast.

George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith seem genuinely astonished that so many people are appalled by forced and unpaid work.  But what is really making them furious is the devastating impact that mass collective action has had on their workfare policies. Those outside of the political classes, or the rich they serve, are not supposed to have any real political power.  That’s the kind of shit that gets toffs killed if you let it get out of hand.

To view the Upper Tribunal judgement visit: http://refuted.org.uk/2014/07/22/workfarenameandshame/

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Fightback Against Byteback And Their Grubby Workfare Exploitation

UPDATE: Byteback are out of workfare, top work everybody and fair play to them for admitting to making a mistake


A computer repair shop in Bristol has become one of the first companies to be caught boasting about forcing people to work without pay on the latest workfare scheme.

Byteback IT Solutions were recently featured in the Bristol Post after being visited by George Osborne due to their involvement in Community Work Placements.  These placements involve six months full time workfare under the threat of benefits being stopped.

This is a wonderful arrangement according to the company’s director Andy Town who said: “We recycle old computers so if they turn it on and make it work, everyone’s a winner but if they don’t, there’s nothing to break and it hasn’t cost us anything,”

When challenged by one critic of the scheme, @andygale on twitter, the company claimed, in a string of now deleted tweets, that people on workfare are ’employees of the state’, as if it’s perfectly acceptable for private  companies to have their wage bill met by the tax payer.  This is the real culture of entitlement, bosses and businessmen scrounging off the state.  In truth workfare workers are nothing of the sort, employees get paid minimum wage after all.

As pointed out by @refuted, Byteback are a profit making company who charge a minimum of £45 an hour to fix computers.  DWP regulations require that any mandatory unpaid work schemes are for organisations which can demonstrate a community benefit.  Whilst Byteback carry out computer recycling, what this means in practice is that you can drop off your old computer and they’ll strip it for parts they can flog on for a profit.  Depending on what you want to recycle, they might even charge you.  It is difficult to see how this company has any more of a community benefit than the local scrapyard or second-hand electrical shop.

With proper community organisations increasingly condemning Community Work Placements as exploitative,  it is likely to be smaller companies like Byteback who have a dirty little workfare secret.  It is vital that they are exposed as the workfare profiteers they are so that all their customers can make up their own minds about whether they want to use the services of a company involved in forced labour.  It’s time to send a message to every grubby two-bit business out there who thinks they can make us work for free – snip – see above tweet, Byteback say they are out of workfare.

To name and shame companies and charities using workfare visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=16

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

George Osborne’s Budget Was Class War, Let’s Give The Bastard What He Wants

class-war-stencil.gifWho the fuck has got fifteen grand a year to spare that they can stash in an ISA to take advantage of George Osborne’s so-called saver’s revolution?

The answer is George Osborne, his parents, and everyone he knows.  The same could be said about David Cameron, Nick Clegg, David Miliband and even Nigel Farage.  And that is the reason why high earners with whopping savings are now presented as the norm in the UK – and the only people that matter to all of the main political parties.

The reality is that the average weekly wage is just over £500 a week, which doesn’t leave much room for an ISA if that’s all a family has to live on.  Around 5 million people are paid below the living wage, and another five million or so live from hand to mouth on meagre benefits.  Nearly six and a half million households – that’s families not individuals – have incomes so low they qualify for Working or Child Tax Credits and the vast majority are in full time work.  Four million older people qualify for Pension Credit – the subsistence benefit paid to the poorest pensioners.

There was nothing in last week’s budget for the poorest: the families queuing at foodbanks, or disabled people living in fear of the next Atos assessment.  Osborne’s decision in 2012 to impose a cut on in-work benefits by pegging annual rises below inflation means that low income workers have been effectively locked out of seeing any extra money from raising the income tax threshold.

The poorest pensioners, either now or in the future, will not see any benefit from pension reform.  Those without annuities, who struggle to afford a train ticket let alone a Lamborghini, will not be a penny better off due to Osborne’s changes.  Many will see a cut in their incomes from April as housing benefits, now also pegged below inflation, mean they have less money to pay soaring rents – a cut that has received little media attention and could lead to over 200,000 pensioners facing possible homelessness.

Half the country is now being written off, fobbed off and abandoned simply because they don’t have enough money.  The entire political class and the rich they serve now just see us as either hard-working mugs or thieving scroungers.  And they couldn’t give a fuck which, as long as the distinction keeps us at each other’s throats.  Unemployment keeps wages  low, competition for jobs ferocious and a steady supply of low paid skivvies to empty their bins and wipe their arses.  The largest bulk of the benefits bill goes to landlords, whilst much of the rest props up low wages.  Most of the spending on social security finds its way back into the pockets of the rich one way or the other.

The latest divisive trick is to talk of generational conflict as the reason why so many young people have little to look forward in the future.  You’re poor because your parents spent all the money laugh the chortling toffs as they light another cigar.  The youth are out of control and too lazy to work they whisper to the older generation – not like you, salt of the earth types, here have a game of fucking Bingo on the cheap.

But this is not generational conflict anymore than it is about skivers versus strivers – this is class war and last week’s budget shows that.  The poorer you are the less you get whilst those at the top are given hand outs and tax cuts.  We are all being fucked over, young or old, working or not working.  Never has it been more important that we recognise that, and never more vital that we escalate the fight back against all these attacks – together.

Since I’m on the subject, the new Class War election website is now up and running. 

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

More Workfare, More Sanctions, Iain Duncan Smith’s Brutal and Barmy Plan To End Child Poverty

Iain-Duncan-Smith415The Government’s latest child poverty strategy is a blueprint for pushing already struggling single parents into financial destitution with benefit sanctions and workfare.

This year’s five reasons for child poverty are predictably unemployment, along with low levels of qualifications, single parent families, having more than three children and ill health.  Such is Iain Duncan Smith’s desperation to blame children being poor on anything other than not having enough money that this is his fourth re-definition of poverty in just three years.  Previous reasons for poverty, which included step-parents, mothers with mental health problems, being disabled, and of course drugs, no longer make the top five.

The main thrust of the latest strategy is to tackle what is repeatedly referred to as ‘worklessness’ – as if raising children requires no effort at all.  The measures to combat this great social ill – which can mean parents spending time raising their young children instead of working for Tesco – are unpaid work and benefit sanctions.

Lone parents are to face Jobcentre harassment from the time their child is three, with the possibility of mandatory training.  Parents of older children leaving the Work Programme will be sent on the same woefully misnamed ‘Help To Work’ scheme that single unemployed people are to face from April.  For many this will mean workfare, as they are forced to attend Community Work Placements.  Others will be forced to attend the Jobcentre everyday, where they will not doubt spend most of the day in a queue rather than actually looking for a job.

One slip, such as a missed meeting, or being late for ‘work related activity’,  will result in a benefit sanction – one of the real reasons why so many children are living in desperate poverty  Alongside these increased conditions for claiming benefits Iain Duncan Smith is still pretending that Universal Credit will not only happen (stop laughing) but will also magically lift 300,000 children out of poverty overnight.  Mostly this will be done by threatening part time and low paid workers with in-work benefits being stopped if they fail to spend every waking hour they aren’t at work looking for a better paid job.

There is barely anything in this child poverty strategy for children and parents themselves.  Plans to give free school meals to all infant school children had already been announced and simply represents one of increasingly meagre scraps thrown down from the top table to stop Nick Clegg crying at Cabinet Meetings.  Alongside some tinkering with utility bills – which will merely save a handful of families a few pence – other measures for destitute families include keeping down the cost of petrol and building more affordable homes – like the ones built in Stratford last year which charge £323 in rent a week for a two bedroom flat.

Measures to strengthen the minimum wage, also hinted at in the document, have already been torpedoed by the pitiful 3% increase announced this week.  At a time when prices of essentials such as food and fuel are still soaring, in-work benefits, such as Housing Benefits and Tax Credits, will still only rise by 1% this year, a move which the Government themselves admit will drive a further 200,000 children into poverty.  Every poor family will get a little bit poorer from April this year.

In a humiliating blow for Iain Duncan Smith, none of the measures in this strategy will actually mean anything.  The Secretary of State, along with the Lib Dems, had hoped to rewrite the rules by enshrining new definitions of child poverty as official targets.  George Osborne – who couldn’t give a fuck about hungry children but does seem to understand that the main reason for poverty is not having enough money – has recognised this for the bollocks it is and put the brakes on. This will be no relief to struggling parents as the Treasury draws up ever more vicious ways to cut the incomes of the poor.

The lowest income households are now trapped between the wild delusions of the messianic Work and Pensions Secretary and the cut-throat brutality of the Chancellor.  Osborne’s only interest is stealing enough money from the poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich.  Iain Duncan Smith seems  convinced his backwards strategy to blame unemployment on unemployed people and poverty on the poor will magically create enough well paid jobs for everyone to do overnight.  Even the Bedroom Tax and the Benefit Cap – two of the most vicious cuts to social security – will help bring down child poverty according to this latest strategy. Businesses are also to be encouraged to offer more Work Experience places, as if forced unpaid work will somehow put food on the table.

It would be laughable if it weren’t real and you almost couldn’t make it up.  But the real tragedy is that Iain Duncan Smith is making things up, with little regard for either the evidence or the suffering he has already caused.  There will be more poor children because of Iain Duncan Smith, possibly up to a million more.  One man’s arrogance did this, and that must never be forgotten as the social costs of this onslaught resonate throughout future decades.

The strategy is now open to consultation and can be read at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/child-poverty-a-draft-strategy

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Young People To Face Workfare In Supermarkets Or 780 Hours Forced Community Work Osborne Announces

jesus-workfare-salvationFor a long time now anti-workfare campaigners have warned that so-called ‘voluntary’ unpaid work on Jobcentre schemes is often forced labour in disguise. Such is the toxic environment in Jobcentres that those who refuse to take part in ‘voluntary’ workfare can simply be sent on a mandatory scheme instead.

Now George Osborne has let the cat out of the bag and in his speech yesterday signalled his intention to enshrine this vile practice in government policy.  Starting as early as April next year in some cases, almost all unpaid work schemes will now be mandatory for the young.

Osborne will force all those out of work for six months and between the ages of 18 and 21 into Traineeships or Work Experience.  Those who refuse will be sent on a Community Work Placement  – 780 hours unpaid work – or face losing benefits completely.  This is a huge turn around for a Government that in early 2012 were falling over themselves trying to persuade people that unpaid Work Experience – for major employers such as ASDA and Poundland – was voluntary.

Osborne’s speech yesterday made a laughing stock of companies like Tesco and charities like Barnardo’s who have insisted that Work Experience schemes are not workfare.  Even if you bought that, they are now, or will be as soon as Osborne gets his way.

Traineeships involve up to six months unpaid work in ‘preparation’ for becoming an Apprentice. Greedy employers including Subway and Learn Direct have flocked to sign up for this chance to recruit unpaid workers from Jobcentres.  Up until now Traineeships have been officially voluntary.  Now young people are to be forced to work without pay to swell the profits of supermarkets and other High Street names.

Appalling it is the so-called voluntary sector who will provide the teeth to Osborne’s plans.  Already some charities – such as Groundwork and The Conservation Volunteers are salivating at the prospect of being paid to force people to work for free on Community Work Placements.  You read that right.  Charities are to be bribed with tax payer’s money to provide the forced labour placements that Osborne’s plans are backed with.  And some of them, like The Salvation Army, will be only too happy to take their thirty pieces of silver and throw away any semblance of principles or decency.

Anti-workfare protests will take place in Edinburgh, Lewisham, Sheffield, Glasgow, Wood Green (Sunday 8th December 2pm outside Wood Green High Road Marks & Spencer), Reading and Islington this weekend.  There’s still time to join in online as well.  Please help spread the word about all events and spread the message now that next year’s massive extension of workfare will be stopped.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

210,000 Pensioners Face Last Year’s Vicious Autumn Statement Cut

Osborne-mrbeanThe newspapers have been predicting that George Osborne is expected to raise the pension age to 69 in his Autumn statement today.  The cut he made last year to the incomes of some of the poorest pensioners however has gone almost unnoticed by the press.

Last year Osborne pegged benefit rises at 1% for the next two years no matter what happens to inflation.  This measure included Local Housing Allowance, the benefit paid to those on low incomes in to provide help with rent payments.  Pensioners are also eligible for this benefit, and the latest DWP statistics show that over 210,000 private sector tenants over 65 depend on this support.

Almost no-one seems to have noticed that this means that Osborne’s changes will hit pensioners despite government lies they would be protected from the cut.  Over 200,000 of the UK’s poorest pensioners will now see incomes shrink as the money they receive to stay in their homes is reduced and they will be forced to make up the difference out of meagre pensions.

How much their income will shrink is open to question.  A DWP Equalities Analysis predicted they will lose on average about £3 a week (PDF).  For those in high rent areas this is likely to be a woeful understatement.

Around 20,000 people over 65 are currently claiming LHA in London.  Rents are soaring in the capital, with one estimate claiming they have risen by 7.9% in just one year.  If this continues then a pensioner living in a private sector flat and claiming the LHA rate for central London could see their income reduced by up to £30 a week over the next two years.

Just like the victims of the Benefit Cap, these pensioners will be socially cleansed from the capital.  Some of them may have lived here their whole lives.  If they choose to stay they may face homelessness as rents soar.  This  will place even more pressure on Local Authorities to provide one bedroom flats at a time of desperate shortage of smaller properties due to the bedroom tax.  The housing crisis in London is set to get worse, and George Osborne is directly responsible.

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Poorest Pensioners Could Be Made Homeless By Osborne’s Benefit Slashing

gideon-osborneA Government Equality Analysis has revealed that some of the UK’s poorest pensioners could be forced from their homes due to George Osborne’s Benefit Uprating measures which will cap Local Housing Allowance (LHA) increases at 1%.

Disabled people, and those with children, are also likely to be affected and could find themselves forced to move the analysis warns.

Osborne announced in his Autumn statement last year that for the next two years almost all benefit increases will be capped at 1% no matter what happens to inflation.  With food, fuel and travel costs soaring this will place huge pressure on those who are already facing a desperate struggle for survival due to the raft of other vicious cuts to social security.

Up until now pensioners have been largely excluded from the savage cuts and rightly so.  The Equality Analysis reveals however that those over 65 living in private rented accommodation will be affected by the Benefit Uprating Bill.

According to the DWP, 12% of private renters claiming Local Housing Allowance (LHA) are over 65.  The only criteria for claiming LHA is income and assets, meaning that this benefit only goes to the poorest households – and the poorest pensioners.  It appears that the Government are only interested in protecting better off pensioners.  Those who are poor and already struggling between the choice of heating or eating can now add paying the rent to this horrific dilemma.

The Equality Analysis states: “the 65 plus age group renting in the private sector may be disproportionately disadvantaged than others of working age as they are more likely to be disabled or have a health condition and are far less likely to be able to increase their household income, either through working or increasing hours of work. Moving may be more of a challenge for claimants in this group that rely on local community support systems or have specific accommodation needs (eg. If they need to be in a ground floor property).”

The report also warns that lone parents and disabled people will be disproportionally affected by the cut, as these groups may find it more difficult to move if they can no longer afford the rent.  It also reveals that 46% of those impacted will be single women – with or without children – compared to 25% of those hit who will be single men.

In a crude attempt to offset some of the carnage from this change the Government has announced a Targeted Affordability Funding scheme.  This will provide some money for extra LHA increases in areas where rents rises far outstrip the meagre 1% on offer.  Astonishingly this money will not be used to increase housing benefits in the highest rent areas such as London where LHA is already capped far below market rents in many areas.  According to the report:  “those LHA rates which are currently capped in the most expensive areas will only increase by 1% as all LHA rates will still be subject to maximum limits”.

This Government is intent on socially cleansing the poor from London and other better off areas by any means necessary.

The DWP are quite open about the fact that the cap on LHA increases will mean some people will have to move.  In the section of the analysis on how the impact of this policy will be mitigated it suggests that:  “Some claimants may consider looking for cheaper accommodation”.

What this will mean in practice is that some claimants – including pensioners and disabled people – will be made homeless.  Few people on the lowest incomes can afford to just move at the drop of a hat even if there is anywhere for them to move to.  With house prices rising and the rental market sure to follow the trend, the number of properties affordable to those on benefits is set to shrink even further.

All measures of homelessness are rising and the use of foodbanks is at record levels.  Not content with this, George Osborne’s Benefit Uprating Bill will mean that the UK’s poorest people are set to be made even poorer on an annual basis.  No-one is to be excluded, not those in work on low wages or those who have worked their entire lives and are now drawing a pension.  Meanwhile  George Osborne has just spent £10 million of our money on some fancy office furniture.

You can read the Equality Analysis at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/262034/lha-uprating-equality-analysis.pdf

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Part Time Workers And Volunteers To Be Hit By Osborne’s Mass Workfare

Boycott-workfare-holiday-innDetails of George Osborne’s upcoming – and possibly illegal – mass workfare scheme have emerged and make grim reading for everyone but the companies set to profit from this huge extension of forced labour.

Tender documents unearthed by @refuted reveal the specifications for the six month Community Work Placements scheme which begins in April 2014.  These documents form the basis of a ‘commercial competition’ currently taking place, in which grasping welfare-to-work parasites like A4e and G4S will bid for lucrative government contracts to force long term unemployed people into unpaid work.

Those leaving the Work Programme will either be placed on daily signing at Jobcentres and ‘intensive support’ or face the six month workfare scheme.  This will involve 780 hours of forced unpaid work, over two and a half times the maximum possible community service sentence which can be handed out by the courts.

In some cases this will not even be a work for your benefits programme.  The tender documents reveal that people who have had benefits sanctioned will not have payments re-instated even if they agree to attend full time workfare.  Instead claimants will be expected to work for 30 hours a week with no income at all –  unable to feed themselves, but still forced to work for free.

Part time workers are also not exempt.  Providers are instructed that people in part time work at the time of their referral should have a ‘top up’ workfare placement to ensure ‘full time participation’.  People who are volunteering already are also under threat and will have to volunteer somewhere else if welfare-to-work advisors decide that their current work is not ‘appropriate’.

Astonishingly that could mean ‘volunteering’ for the welfare to work company themselves.  According to the tender documents it is perfectly acceptable for providers to use this scheme to recruit unpaid workers for their own businesses, and get paid by the tax payer for doing so.

One big change which will have welfare-to-work companies cheering from the rooftops is the payment model for the new scheme.  Gone is ‘payment by results’ and with it any pretense that this is about finding people jobs.  Just 30% of the money handed over to the companies involved will be based on job outcomes, with the rest paid out merely for finding placements and ensuring people attend.  The minimum performance figure for job outcomes is a derisory 15%, almost certainly around the same as the number of people who would be expected to get jobs anyway.

It’s not all good news for the welfare-to-work sector however.  Whilst their furious lobbying to water down ‘payment by results’  appears to have paid off, they will know all too well that these contracts are undeliverable.  Up to two hundred thousand people are expected to be referred to this scheme.  The charitable sector doesn’t need or want hundreds of thousands of free workers, especially as new rules state that only 25% of placements should be in charity shops.  Just like every single other workfare scheme since Blair started the shambles with the New Deal,  Osborne’s mass workfare will fail because welfare-to-work companies cannot find enough workfare for people to do.

And this is where those opposed to workfare can help bring about the end of this grubby exploitation.  Already most of the UK’s best known charities have pulled out of workfare in disgust – and this is the worst workfare scheme yet.  Whilst the DWP will try desperately to keep quiet about who is using unpaid workers, they can’t stop claimants telling people where they are being sent to work for free.  Any organisation which is happy to force people into 780 hours of unpaid work should be be prepared to face the consequences as they are shunned as pariahs by decent people everywhere.

To read the documents visit: http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/24/workfarecompetition/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Why George Osborne’s Workfare Plans Won’t Work

ids-sadGeorge Osborne’s mass workfare scheme is so unworkable that even Iain Duncan Smith winced when it was announced during the Tory Party Conference yesterday.

Osborne claims that 200,000 people will be forced into either full time workfare or massively increased conditionality – such as having to attend Jobcentres everyday.  This will apply to people leaving the Work Programme, the two year scheme which is already costing tax payers a fortune and failing miserably.

Already Osborne’s sums don’t add up.  People are currently returning to Jobcentres after leaving the Work Programme at a rate of around 50,000 a month.  If all of these people are sent on Osborne’s new scheme – as he promised they will be – then that will be 600,000 in the first year alone.  One third of these are expected to be sent on full time workfare.

As even bungling Iain Duncan Smith knows, this is completely unworkable.  The reason IDS knows this is because he just tried it.

The Community Action Programme (CAP) was a workfare scheme which was piloted in 2011/12 for long term unemployed people.  It was claimed that the programme would go live in Summer 2013 to catch the tens of thousands of people currently leaving the Work Programme without a job.

In mis-directed revenge for the failure of welfare-to-work companies to help people find work , those who were still unemployed at the end of the  Work Programme were to be sent on six months workfare for a community organisation.  This is exactly the same thing that Osborne proposed yesterday.

The Community Action Programme even enjoyed a brief moment of fame as one of the schemes that was hauled through the courts and ultimately found to be illegal.  Curiously, when Iain Duncan Smith rewrote history to make several previously unlawful workfare programmes legal, he did not include the Community Action Programme in the revised back-dated legislation.

One reason for this was presumed to be due to an evaluation of the pilot scheme  which revealed the Community Action Programme to be a disaster.  A DWP report found it had no impact on whether anyone was more likely to get a job, although this is hardly uncommon for one of Iain Duncan Smith’s crazy schemes.  More importantly, it brought home some stark realities to the out of touch mandarins at the DWP.  According to the report, it was unsurprisingly difficult for welfare-to-work companies to find placements for some long term unemployed people who are described as being ‘particularly challenging’.  This included people who were homeless, had current drink or drug problems or such serious criminal records that in the words of the report they represented a ‘risk to placement providers’.

As things turned out the welfare-to-work companies who ran the scheme were only able to find 63 per cent of CAP participants a work placement.  One  reason for this was that many charities pulled out of the scheme after fierce campaigning from Boycott Workfare and other groups exposed the exploitative nature of forced unpaid work.  Another is that most charities do not have the capacity or skills to employ chaotic individuals dubbed the ‘hardest to help’.

That doesn’t mean everyone who is long term unemployed is ‘challenging’, has ‘behavioural disorders’ or faces ‘significant barriers to employment’.  In fact the opposite is true, most long term unemployed people live in areas of sky high unemployment where there are simply no jobs and that is the biggest barrier to work by far.  But there is no denying that a certain percentage of the ‘hardest to help’ are hard to help  for a reason.  That reason may be that they sleep in a shop doorway, or are the first ones queuing up waiting for the off-licence to open as the physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal start to play havoc with their nervous system.  It may be that they have been given a dual-diagnosis – meaning they have a mental health condition and a substance use problem.  In a very small number of cases it may be that they have a long and violent history of offending.

It is this group of long-term unemployed people that George Osborne thinks he can fix, on the cheap, with his workfare fiasco.  Osborne genuinely seems to believe that Jobcentre staff or welfare-to-work companies can solve these desperate social problems where doctors, social workers, mental health professionals and probation officers have failed.  Iain Duncan Smith used to think these problems would be solved by the magical Work Programme.  But where that two year scheme has been little more than an expensive waste of time, Osborne’ wants us to believe his six month workfare fantasy will mean an end to crime, addiction, homelessness and unemployment amongst this group of claimants.  And if that doesn’t work he’s going to stop all of their benefits.  That’ll teach them.  And us.

£300 million pounds is to be spent on this nonsense, most of which is likely to end up in the pockets of the fraud ridden welfare-to-work sector.  Whilst some of the most exploitative charities, like @salvationarmyuk and @YMCA_England will be only too happy to force vulnerable claimants to work for free, decent and moral organisations are likely to shun the scheme.  Anti-workfare campaigners are almost certain to begin a campaign naming and shaming those involved.  Charities happy to exploit the unemployed in this way will pay for it, one way or another.

That £300 million could fund scrapping both the bedroom tax and the benefit cap, along with halting the closure of the Independent Living Fund for the most seriously disabled people and there would still be money to spare.  Money that could be spent on projects for the hardest to help that genuinely do help and that people do not have to be bullied by benefit sanctions into attending.  It could pay to provide a home for everyone who needs one who currently beds down for the night on the pavement, or be used to reverse some of the most vicious cuts to mental health services and the NHS.

Instead this money is being squandered on a crowd-pleasing shambles – something to appease the UKIP bound swivel-eyed right of the Tory Party.  Osborne will be pleased with himself for stealing the limelight and humiliating Iain Duncan Smith in the process by announcing a new flagship DWP policy.  But it may yet turn out to be one of the most expensive rounds of applause in history as the social consequences of this nasty little move will be felt for decades.

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