Tag Archives: Help To Work

Worse than the worst case scenario, £300 Million workfare scheme is a disaster

boycott-workfare-real-jobsThe DWP have finally released some scant information on the performance of  George Osborne’s Help To Work scheme – the £300 million workfare programme announced at the 2013 Tory Party conference and then quietly scrapped in last month’s Autumn statement.

Those sent on Help To Work can be expected to sign on everyday at Jobcentres, face intensive and mandatory ‘interventions’ supposed to help them find work or in many cases be sent on an unpaid ‘Community Work Placement’ for six months.  Previously published statistics revealed that such is the unpopularity of workfare amongst charities and community organisations that these placements could only be found for half of those referred to the scheme.  What they didn’t tell us is how many people had found jobs.  It is only now, 20 months after Help To Work began and in a week when most journalists are pissed or on holiday, that the DWP are admitting just 1,670 Job Outcome payments have been made to the welfare-to-work companies running the programme.

These payments are only made once someone has been in work for six months, meaning many on the scheme have not had long enough to qualify.  Despite this, of the 67,000 people referred to Community Work Placements, around half began on the scheme long enough ago to have possibly found long term work.  The DWP’s own far from optimistic minimum expectation was that 1,860 people would have found jobs so far.  This is not a target by the way, it is a worst case scenario.  Whilst the department are not telling us how they came to this figure it is usually judged to be the number who would have found work without any so-called help at all.  So far this flagship scheme is performing worse than the worst case scenario.

It seems likely that bullying people into full-time unpaid work actually makes it harder for them to have the time, energy and confidence to go out and find a real job.  Meanwhile the brutal benefit sanctions that the scheme is backed with force claimants into a desperate hand to mouth battle just to eat and stay healthy.  As dismal as they are today’s statistics only tell one side of the story.  We do not know how many people referred to Community Work Placements have been sanctioned and as a consequence possibly lost their homes, had their health demolished (as benefit sanctions are intended to do) or even been driven to their death.  The DWP are investigatng 60 suicides which may be linked to Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms.  They are refusing to tell the public the results of these enquiries.

Referrals to Community Work Placements are due to end in April next year.  Until then many more people will be forced to work for free.  This is not going to ‘help’ them to get proper work – today’s statistics prove that.  It may even make it harder for them to get a job.  But that was never the point.  Community Work Placements were introduced as nothing more than punishment for being poor.  Well that and to line the pockets of the grasping welfare-to-work industry who are being paid millions to continue this shambles.To join the fight against workfare visit Boycott Workfare’s website.

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Don’t Stop The Free Workers Plead The Workfare Exploiters

Poundland have seen dozens of protests outside their stores over their use of unpaid workers.

Poundland have seen dozens of protests outside their stores over their use of unpaid workers.

In a bizarre move, several companies known to use unpaid staff on workfare schemes have teamed up to write a letter to The Guardian singing the praises of the disastrous Work Programe.

The list of employers – which includes Homebase who are known to have used workfare is the past, and Poundland, who were at the heart of the successful legal challenge against workfare – say that the government’s support for schemes like the Work Programme ‘must continue’.  Otherwise they might have to start actually paying their staff instead of exploiting unemployed people coerced into unpaid work by sanction-happy Jobcentre busy-bodies.

It is not known whether all the companies on the list, which include Ocado and Gap, are involved in unpaid work, although it is difficult to see why they have signed otherwise.  In fact it seems a strange thing for these businesses to be bothered to do at all.

The last signatory on the list may reveal one explanation for how this strange initiative came about.  Kirsty McHugh is the Chief Executive of the Employment Related Services Assocation, or ERSA for short.  This is the trade body established to lie on behalf of the welfare-to-work parasites like A4e and G4S who run the Work Programme.  Just last week they published a breath-takingly dishonest report making wild claims that no-one believed about how much money the Work Programme is saving the country.  It seems likely that this latest letter was co-ordinated by ERSA as part of a shabby PR campaign designed to convince the DWP to keep giving welfare-to-work firms billions of pounds of our money.

Labour have hinted that they might bring in local councils to run forced work schemes.  The Lib Dems are caling for a policy change and may yet hold the balance of power again come the next election.  More importantly, no-one knows better than the welfare-to-work sector that the latest ‘Help to Work’ scheme is set to be a disaster and that they will be the ones that get the blame when it all goes wrong.  The future does not look so assured for ERSA and their welfare-to-work cronies who  have made hundreds of millions out of bullying and exploiting unemployed people.  They will fight dirty to keep Brtain’s biggest benefit scam alive.  Expect more bollocks like this.

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on October 4th.  Please spread the word.

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G4S Ride To The DWP’s Rescue, Bungling Fraud Suspects Handed Huge Government Contract

g4s-workfareSeveral hours after the DWP’s £300 million mass workfare scheme began and the DWP have finally decided who’s going to be running it.  The Financial Times are reporting that G4s will operate the flagship contract to provide Community Work Placements in six regions.  This is despite the fact that up until just over two weeks ago they were still mired in a Cabinet Investigation over fraud allegations.   The company are still under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office after over-charging huge sums on their electronic tagging contract.  Other companies with their snouts in the workfare trough include Pertemps, Seetec and Interserve.

G4S will use their experience fucking up the Work Programme to fuck up the Help To Work scheme of which the unpaid workfare placements are a key part.  Quoted in The FT, Sean Williams, managing director of G4S employment support services, said:  “Building on our experience on the Work Programme, we will work through a network of specialist, experienced organisations from the public, private and charitable sector, to ensure that claimants are given real, relevant work experience which will improve their long-term employment prospects.”

Already the new Community Work Placements are mired in chaos with the DWP claiming the scheme had been launched even before contractors had been announced.  The placements are also proving hugely unpopular – over 50 charities and voluntary sector organisations signed up to the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement on the campaign’s first day.  Liverpool Council have said they will boycott the placements, calling them “immoral and unworkable”.  Which to be fair is the kind of thing G4S are good at.  But they won’t do much to help the image problem of this exploitative scheme which is currently being roundly rejected by the real voluntary sector.

For some of the many and varied reasons why G4S are a bunch of wankers visit http://www.stopg4s.net/

To join the fightback against Community Work Placements and all workfare go to: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Mass Workfare Begins Next Monday … Or Does It?

bhf-workfareWith less than one week to go until the launch date of the DWP’s woefully misnamed ‘Help To Work’ and details of the programme are still shrouded in secrecy.

‘Help To Work’ is the mass workfare scheme announced by George Osborne at last year’s Tory Party conference.  Those leaving the Work Programme without a job – which is almost everyone – will either have to sign on every day or be forced to work for no pay for a ‘community’ organisation for six months.  The whole package is expected to cost almost a third of a billion, with most of that money lining the pockets of private sector profiteers running the scheme.

The problem is no-one knows who those providers are yet, including the DWP themselves.  A response to a Freedom of Information request dated  April 10th said that the tender for ‘Help To Work’ was still ongoing.  The DWP have also said that the guidance for companies running the scheme will not be published until the launch date, 28th April.

What we do know is that Help To Work is already mired in chaos.  Several high profile volunteer’s organisations have condemned the plans whilst three of the largest supporters of other workfare schemes have said they will not accept placements.  Both The Conservation Volunteers and The Salvation Army were expected to bid for Help To Work contracts or sub-contracts, and neither of them have.  YMCA have also said they will not accept placements on the scheme, whilst even workfare quango Groundwork are wobbling.

This is more than just an embarrassment for Help To Work, it is a fucking disaster and one was that was entirely predictable.  For years workfare programmes have come close to collapse due to a lack of available work placements.  Despite what politicians would like to think, the charitable sector has no need for hundreds of thousands of forced workers.  The truth is that there isn’t enough workfare to go round for everyone on benefits, let alone real, paid work.  The Community Action Programme pilot –  a similar workfare scheme to Help To Work –  found that placements could only be found for 63% of participants.  This took place before scores of charities distanced themselves from workfare due to huge pressure from their supporters who turned out to be disgusted that these organisations used unpaid forced labour.

Help To Work is not the only DWP scheme that looks to be in trouble.  Remember Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to warehouse unemployed people for six months at a time on full time job search?  No?  Well it seems neither does he. There has been no sign at all of this scheme, which was also announced at the Tory Party Conference.

It will the the demise of Help To Work which will be the biggest embarrassment to this Government however.  This is their latest big idea to fix unemployment after the disaster that has been the Work Programme.  It already appears to be yet another shambles.  Whatever is announced next Monday – if anything at all – the Help To Work scheme is unworkable.

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Charity Slams Osborne’s Workfare – These Placements Are Not Voluntary

bhf-edingburgh-workfareA centre for volunteers in Liverpool has issued a strong statement rejecting George Osborne’s plan for mass workfare.

Beginning in April next year thousands of unemployed people will be forced into six month workfare placements with charities or community organisations.  The scheme is a huge roll out of mandatory workfare and depends on the so-called voluntary sector playing ball to be successful.

Volunteer Centre Liverpool’s re-assuring statement this week pledges they will not take part in Osborne’s workfare and encourages others to think carefully about any possible involvement in workfare.  As they rightly point out, forced work, under threat of destitution, is not volunteering:

“There has been a lot of talk recently about the latest scheme to help people who are unemployed, with mention of “compulsory volunteering” as part of the “Help to Work” programme.  DWP do not refer to it as volunteering, but others are starting to, which is muddying the waters.  These “Community Work Placements” are NOT volunteering, as people are not freely choosing to participate in them, but rather will be faced with benefits sanctions if they do not engage in the compulsory placements.  

The part of this which does have an element of freedom of choice is voluntary sector organisations’ decisions on whether or not to be involved in this scheme, as providers of “placements”.

Volunteer Centre Liverpool will NOT be having anything to do with this scheme”

The full statement can be found on their website.  Volunteer Centre Liverpool are on twitter @VCLiverpool and have a facebook page.  In a change to the usual format why not contact them and wish them a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

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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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