Tag Archives: Labour

The Forced Labour Party: The Day That Corbyn (And Half His Cabinet) Voted For Workfare

compulsory-jobs

Almost every new member of Corbyn’s cabinet, including Corbyn himself, voted in favour of the above motion to force unemployed people into temporary jobs – which involve ten hours a week unpaid work – or face benefit sanctions.

Corbyn was joined in his support for forced labour by over half of his new cabinet, including John McDonnell, Andy Burnham, Angela Eagle, Rosie Winterton, and Tom Watson.  London Mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan also joined the workfare frenzy as did Green MP Caroline Lucas.  She kept that quiet.  Never trust a hippy.

The vote took place in an Opposition Day debate introduced by creepy (and possibly former) Shadow Employment Minister Stephen Timms as recently as February this year.  In the debate Timms outlines Labour’s ‘tough plan’ for a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee that “will hold people responsible for accepting work when it is offered.”

These compulsory jobs would be set at the minimum wage and last six months with no guarantee of a real job at the end.  Instead unemployed people would then be expected to “pursue intensive job search” for six months. Appallingly, whilst these jobs would be full time, those forced to join the scheme would only be paid for 25 hours a week – meaning they would be expected to work for ten hours for free.  Labour said that these extra ten hours would be reserved for training, provided by the employer.  Employers like Poundland.  They must think we’re fucking idiots.

Compulsory jobs, that involve 260 hours of work for no wages, are workfare.  Jeremy Corbyn has said he opposes both workfare, and benefit sanctions.  Yet here he was, with all his so-called lefty chums, voting for both.  Not one Labour MP spoke up in the debate about the impact of removing benefits from those who chose not to, or were unable to take up a compulsory job.   Workfare is now so embedded within both main political parties that it no longer even occurs to them to ask what if these sanction backed schemes destroy more lives than they ‘help’.

There is a chance now for Labour to take a step back, admit they were wrong, and consign their support for benefit sanctions to the dustbin of history. Benefit sanctions kill and no amount of fucking job outcomes justify the horror of driving people to poverty, homelessness, ill health and even death in the hope of catching a scrounger.  The impact of sanctions are just the same whether applied by a leering Tory or a Labour do-gooder who’s convinced themselves that forcing people into poverty paid work under the threat of destitution is some kind of help.  If this weekend’s events represent real change then it time for Labour to call for benefit sanctions to be scrapped, without exceptions.  Otherwise, for unemployed people at least, then Corbyn’s victory is little more than meet the new boss, same as the fucking old one.

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If Jeremy Corbyn Is The Limit Of Our Imagination Then We Are Truly Fucked

spoilt-ballotJeremy fucking Corbyn.  Seriously?  It’s like finding out your old geography teacher just got made leader of the Labour Party.  The one you half remember, and then only because of that time he cried because some kid pissed in his slippers on the school camping trip.

If Jeremy Corbyn is the limit of our political imagination then we are well and truly fucked.  He might well be a nice bloke, but he is Labour to his core and the Labour Party have long been enemies of the kind of mass working class self-organisation that is needed if there is to be any meaningful change in our lives.  It is only a sign of how much ground we have lost that Corbyn is considered radical at all.  And as for those around him, well there will be no pleasure in watching him be kicked to death by his own side but that is what they will attempt to do.  Should he manage to stagger on for the next five years he will be so beaten down and stained by compromises that it will be a very different Corbyn who stands in the next general election.

That doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom, not by a long way.  Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves has gone already and good fucking riddance.  As have her Oxbridge chums Yvette Cooper and Tristram Hunt.  But there are vermin waiting in the wings, including the rumoured return of Liam Byrne.  Remember him?  Probably not, but he’s a cunt.

It will be where Corbyn stands on social security that will show the kind of direction that Labour is really about to take.  He has rightly condemned the Work Capability Assessment and claims to back groups like DPAC and Boycott Workfare who have taken action against welfare reforms.  But he has also voted for Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, although admittedly as part of a package of measures.  Nice bloke then, shame about the workfare.  If Corbyn means what he says then Labour’s policy must be for an unconditional social security system.  No more workfare and no more sanctions.  And doctors and their patients deciding who is fit for work, not bureacrats at the DWP and Maximus private health sharks.

Since 2010 there has been a resurgence in collective direct action and grassroots campaigning that has won real results.  Whether property developers chased out of buying up housing esates and hiking rents or private companies like Atos handing back lucrative contracts in the face of widespread protests, politics has happened on the streets, estates, universities and workplaces.  If that energy and anger is now sucked into the Labour Party political machine it will be a disaster.  Corbyn himself could have a role to play in stopping that happening, but the temptation of the old left to control and dictate resistance will need to be hard fought.

An alternative is that Corbyn’s victory could ignite exactly the kind of struggle which is needed.  That we see this not as the road to a Labour government but as a sign that there is genuine hunger in the UK for change.  If half of the people who have attended Corbyn’s rallies had taken militant and disruptive action against workfare, the Bedroom Tax, or any of the raft of welfare reforms then they would have been stopped in their tracks and Iain Duncan Smith would be unemployed.  That’s not a whinge by the way, just a reflecton on what could be achieved if this weekend’s events are used as a springboard to create a radical working class movement with real teeth.  That cannot happen within the Labour Party, party politics is the road to defeat.  But it can happen and then we won’t need a party at all, we can do politics for ourselves.

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Sunday Mirror’s Savage Attack On Elderly Women’s Wedding Shows Where The Labour Party Are Heading

Meet your class enemy.  Public school toff Lloyd Embley is editor of the Sunday and Daily Mirror

Meet your class enemy. Public school toff Lloyd Embley is editor of both the Sunday and Daily Mirror.

The Sunday Mirror has given us a taste of what is soon to come from the Labour Party by printing an appalling attack on an elderly woman unable to work due to illness because she had the cheek to save up and spend a few quid on her wedding.

Todays top exclusive features the story of Richard Broom and Sandra Gallagher who recently spent £5000 on a marriage ceremony and reception after they saved money from their benefits and “borrowed from friends and family”.  You will rarely read a piece in any newspaper so dripping with class hatred and contempt for the poor.  Gallagher, who the paper calls a ‘granny bride’, is unable to work due to  a serious health condition whilst her partner is unemployed.  A few years ago Gallacher would have been a pensioner, but due to the rise in the women’s pension age she is now a scrounger, and so fair game for vicious bullying from the tabloid press.  The paper even attacks her for using the NHS, disclosing details of an intimate procedure she had some years ago for medical reasons.  Even the sex lives of sick and disabled people will now be used against them if they are unable to work due to their health.  Or at least they will be if the target happens to be a woman.

This gutter journalism has not appeared out of the blue.  Both the Sunday and Daily Mirror are little more than mouth-pieces for the Labour Party.  Be in no doubt, this is a warning shot from the establishment left that any lingering trace of sympathy for the poor has been extinguished.  They have been quite happy to exploit the suffering of sick, disabled and unemployed people in the past, but now they are lining up with Iain Duncan Smith and the Daily Mail to join the grotesque onslaught against people with nothing.  This couple lived on just over £100 a week each  after housing costs, and even this is dubious unless her unemployed partner was also paid a carer’s premium.  The current rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance is just £73.10.  The Sunday Mirror is either lying or omitting crucial facts to encourage their readers to hate this couple.

This is what we can now come to expect from a left-wing media dominated by public school toffs and a party where Oxbridge wankers are currently trying to jostle each other out of the way for the leadership.  George Osborne must be pissing himself watching a Labour newspaper softening up the public for his planned social security cuts.  This strategy has already cost the Labour Party their votes in Scotland and much of Wales.  Now they seem happy to lose the working class across England as well.  They do not fucking deserve us.  They never have.

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How Easily The Fickle Rich Are Swayed, Russell Brand Puts Down His Pitchfork

brand-cancelledIt’s hardly surprising that Eddie Izzard, Alan Partridge and now even Russell Brand all want us to vote Labour.  They are the people the modern Labour Party represents after all.  Millionaires who feel a bit guilty about poverty and stuff but don’t want to change things too much.  At least not so much that it might make an impact on their own cosseted lives.

Russell Brand will never face a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, the latest mass workfare scheme that Labour plan to introduce.  He will not have his income capped and be socially cleansed from his fashionable address like the families who will fall victim to Labour’s planned regional Benefit Caps.  He had his time dicking about on benefits when he was young, unlike the 18-21 year olds who will face their benefits being removed completely if Labour win power this week.

It is this last policy that tells us everything about the direction of any future Labour government and the so-called help they plan to inflict on the poorest.  Labour are planning to do just what Margaret Thatcher did to 16/17 year olds and implement a mass YTS style scheme for everybody under 21.  In return for the pittance of benefits young people will face full-time compulsory training.  Last time Labour did something like this, Tony Blair’s New Deal, this training quickly became workfare.  The truth is that’s all they can afford to do.  Real training, which leads to qualifications, costs a lot of money.  It’s far cheaper to pay private sector sharks like A4e to bully young people into unpaid work placements.

If the Tories had announced in 2010 that they were going to end benefits completely for those under 21 there would have been outrage amongst the mainstream left.  The Guardian and The Mirror would have run scathing headlines and ordered us to sign a petition.  Trade union leader Len McClusky would have given a speech.  Russell Brand would have made a youtube video.  And that by the way is as angry as the middle classes get about anything which doesn’t affect them directly.

Labour’s mass workfare plans go way beyond anything the Tory Party have pledged and yet they have still been met with hordes of gushing celebrities and newspaper columnists demanding that we vote for them. Anything to keep the Tories out – who don’t really seem to know what they will do in the unlikely event they actually win this election except that they will carry on being bastards  And they are bastards.  Horrible fucking arseholes in fact.  It is understandable that so many people would like to see the smug smirks wiped off their faces if they lose power this week.  But life will not change for the poor if that happens.

Sometimes having an enemy that is open in their intentions is better than a fake friend who will stab you in the back.  There is no doubt that a bunch of shambolic toffs embarking on reckless austerity policies has brought the questions of class and inequality back into UK politics in a way not seen in two decades.  The resistance to these policies has been well targeted and quietly ferocious – and it has not come from celebrities or Labour Party stooges.

That resistance is why there were less people on workfare schemes in the latest month’s figures than there were in the last period of the Labour Government.  It is why the number of people found ‘fit for work’ at sickness benefit assessments has plummeted from 60% in May 2010 to an all time low of 24% in the latest figures available.  It is why Atos, the company carrying out these tests, abandoned their contract as their name became a dirty word associated with cruelty and incompetance.  Benefit claimants and disabled people themselves did this, whilst the official opposition stood slack-jawed on the sidelines.

The danger of a Labour Government is that these inept traitors will be silent no longer.  It will be all of them, from the Labour Party to the Daily Mail, against us.  The regional benefit cap will be a tough choice, but necessary, we will be told by the people who once said they were on our side.  The reformed work capability assessment and further tests for disability benefits will be a beacon of compassion, getting help to those who need it most and killing off the scroungers.  Compulsory jobs that pay less then the minimum wage will become exciting opportunities.  And benefit sanctions will be fair and only aimed at really lazy chavs who refuse to get a job.

That is what a vote for Labour means.  Consent for the bastards to carry on as usual.  Popular permission to escalate the attacks on social security.  For Russell Brand – who called himself a revolutionary five minutes ago – to endorse this is both treason and boringly predictable.  It is astonishing and even quite funny that as soon as a rich person publicly denounces capitalism then the leader of a main political party dashes round their house and steers them gently back onto the path of neo-liberalism.  But it is a tragedy as well, at least for those who may have felt inspired by Brand’s crude radicalism.  His message, before Ed’s intervention, was essentially along the right lines.  They are all fucking wankers and only in it for themselves.  That includes Russell Brand as well it turns out.  Never trust a hippy, especially a rich one.

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Taking The WCA Back To The Bad Old Days, Why Sick and Disabled Claimants Should Fear A Labour Government

ESA-statsShadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green has pledged to return the despised Work Capability Assessment (WCA) back to its “original purpose” raising fears that gains made by capaigners over the last few years could be lost as Labour attempt to rehabilitate the despised tests for sickness or disability benefits.

Her comments were made at a union meeting late last year and were filmed by  Kate Belgrave who has made the video available to Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).  According to Green, Labour will: “make sure that the work capability assessment is returned to its original purpose of being the first step in the process to diagnose and identify what sort of support somebody who could work at some point would need to have in order to enable them work, and so we will give every single person who goes through the work capability assessment, at the end of their assessment, a statement of how their condition or impairment impacts on their capacity to work.”

Labour introduced the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) in 2008 with the ‘original purpose’ of stripping out of work benefits from over a third of sick and disabled people.  Speaking to Parliament about the reforms in 2006, the Labour Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions John Hutton said: “I believe that if we take the measures that I have outlined … we can get 1 million people off incapacity benefit within a decade. In doing so, we could ultimately save up to £7 billion a year for taxpayers. That should be the scale of our ambition.”

Whilst the tests were first introduced for new claimants only, in the 2008 budget (PDF para 4.5) Labour announced that all claimants on Incapacity Benefit would be re-assessed from April 2010.  All Iain Duncan Smith did, after the Tory Party weren’t elected in May 2010, was to continue the work begun by Labour.

The contract to carry out the shoddy tick-box style assessments was handed to the little known French IT firm Atos Origin, a company who had previously sponsored events at the Labour Party conference.  Atos were tasked with dividing claimants on sickness or disability benefits into three groups – those unable to work who were placed in the Support Group, those who might be able to do some work at some point in the future – the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) – and those who the company judged ‘fit for work’.

The results have been horrifying as people with serious health conditions have been forced off benefits after a brief computer based test ignored medical opinion to find them able to work.  Many in the WRAG group have faced benefit sanctions after being unable to carry out DWP mandated ‘Work Related Activity’ such as endless job search, compulsory training and even workfare.  The assessments have even become too much for Atos to stomach and following fierce campaigning by disabled people the company announced last year that they would be ending their contract with the government early.

The introduction of the Work Capability Assessment was based on the tabloid myth that hundreds of thousands of people were faking their health conditions  and were really able to work.  This lie took hold despite the UK not having significantly more people unable to work due to sickness or disability then other comparable economies.  Yet still the abuse persisted from politicians of all parties.  In 2011 Ed Miliband even attempted to blame benefit claimants for the financial crisis claiming many of those unable to work were “ripping off society”.

On the ground however a very different picture was emerging.  As early as March 2010 Citizens Advice published a damning report (PDF) backed by disability charities revealing the horrific suffering the WCA was causing.  It turned out that most people were not lying about their health condition after all and tragic stories began appearing in the media of poverty, homelessness, ill health and even suicides linked to the new sickness benefit regime.  Huge numbers of decisions made by Atos and the DWP to remove benefits were being over-turned at appeal.  Protests against the process began to spread throughout the UK.  And slowly, the number of people found fit for work, began to fall (as can be seen in the above graph which represents new claims, not re-assessments).

Just as significantly, the percentage of people placed in the Support Group – meaning they are not expected to look for work at all – has risen sixfold between the last period of the Labour adminstration and the most recent figures.  Of course this – combined with a huge backlog of cases as Atos struggled to find enough healthcare professionals nasty enough to carry out the assessments – has meant that the number of people entitled to sickness and disability benefits is back on the rise, and rightly so.   The job of new contractors, US based outsourcing firm Maximus, will be to reverse this trend.

Labour have promised to tinker with the WCA but have no plans to scrap it.  As DPAC rightly point out, Kate Green’s comments suggest those in the Support Group could soon be in the firing line and face pressure to look for work.  Last year Ed Miliband endorsed a think tank report which suggested the removal of the WRAG group for under 25s who would instead face workfare and their benefits being reduced to the same level as those unemployed.  Maximus, who will be taking over from Atos in March this year, have recently employed a former Labour special advisor alongside a prominent Labour blogger on a huge salary to manage ‘customer relations’.  Bill Gunnyeon, the DWP Civil Servant who oversaw the introduction of the WCA under the Labour government, has also recently been employed by the company.

Anyone who thinks that things might get better for sick and disabled claimants if the Tories are voted out this May could yet be in for a horrifying surprise.  Because if history is anything to go by, then under a Labour administration, things could get a lot worse.

Join the Day of Action against Maximus called by Disabled People Against Cuts on March 2nd.

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Ed Miliband, A Nasty Clueless Idiot, Now Who Does That Remind You Of?

What if the reason Ed Miliband looks and sounds like such a dick is because he is actually a dick?

What if the reason Ed Miliband looks and sounds like such a dick is because he is actually a dick?

Once again the chinless fucking idiots at Labour’s favourite think tank the IPPR have spoken and once again gormless Ed Miliband has lapped up their vomit and turned it into Labour Party policy.

The contemptible idea that benefits for young people should be means-tested based on their parent’s wealth is a recipe for tearing fractured families apart.  Young people whose parents decide they don’t want to pay their dole will face having to declare themselves ‘estranged’ from their parents, a process which could see them leaving the family home.  Those  who have faced parental abuse will be trapped with their abusers for even longer as the welfare state fails to provide a safety net.  Of course posh wankers like Miliband don’t think this kind of thing can go on in higher income families, only the poor abuse their children in the minds of Hampstead liberals.  Speak to anyone who has lived or worked in a young person’s homeless hostel and they will tell you a very different story – all of those young people will be at risk if Miliband ever gets his way.

His endlessly complex plans to strip benefits from those under 22 and force them into training or Labour’s workfare plus a sandwich scheme is equally reckless.   We already know what kind of training ends up being on offer on these schemes once the grasping welfare-to-work sector has their hands on them.   Miliband wants to force hundreds of thousands of young people into insecure, temporary and part time minimum wage work with their salaries all funded by the tax-payer.  So why would any employer actually offer a young person a real job?

By far the nastiest element however of Miliband’s proposed reforms is yet more attacks on sick or disabled claimants.  Paying a higher rate of benefit only to those who have paid five years National Insurance contributions will enshrine disability discrimination in the benefits system.  Due to Labour’s last round of welfare reforms, thousands of sick or disabled people are now on the dole after being stripped of benefits due to the Atos regime.  Shamefully recent DWP statistics show that less than 2% of these people are actually finding work even after a year of help (stop laughing) from the Work Programme.

This group –  too sick to find a job and not sick enough to qualify for sickness benefits – would find themselves condemned to a lower rate of payment through no fault of their own.   A payment that will be vulnerable to further cuts as those on the lower rate of Jobseekers Allowance will fast become the official undeserving poor in the eyes of much of the press and the political classes.

It doesn’t even end there.  In the report on which Miliband’s policies are based, the IPPR are not just recommending that unemployed people be forced into training or workfare but also sick or disabled young people currently claiming Employment Support Allowance.  In a move so callous it would make George Osborne blush, the IPPR wants to cut their benefits as well with a new Youth Allowance set at the current rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Young sick or disabled people who are currently in the Work Related Activity Group of ESA would see their meagre incomes cut almost in half under these plans.  It is unclear whether this group would also be subject to the parental means test but it seems likely.  Anyone who thinks the Labour Party have changed and now give a shit about disabled people should take note.  This goes way beyond anything the Tory Party have proposed to date, although by playing their game Miliband has now  given them a reason to go even further.

It is not yet clear if Miliband will adopt this part of the IPPR’s recommendations as he barely seems to have a clue himself what he’s doing.  But these proposals show a genuinely repugnant side to the man who happily fucked over his own brother to further his career but can’t even eat a bacon sandwich without it turning into a national joke.  One of the hallmarks of the Tory administration has been the toxic combination of bungling and brutality.  Ed Miliband has shown this week that he is equally inept, but just as nasty as the very worst of the current slime in government.

The IPPR’s report can be read at: http://www.ippr.org/publications/the-condition-of-britain-strategies-for-social-renewal

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What Labour Said Then, What Labour Say Now And Why They Can’t Be Trusted On The Work Capability Assessment

atos_david_milibandWhat they said then …

Labour will: “increase support for claimants to return to work, replacing the old one-size-fits-all model, which writes people off as completely incapable of work, with a tailored, active system that addresses each individual’s capacity”

A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work (PDF) – The Green Paper which proposed the Work Capability Assessment in 2006

What they say now (2014)

“We want the assessment to be part of the process of ensuring disabled people who can work get the support they need to do so, not to threaten or punish them. The test should be a gateway to identifying and assembling that support.”

How Labour would reform the Work Capability Assessment – Labour Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions Rachel Reeves and Shadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green

Then (2006)

“We will work with health professionals, personal advisers and disability groups (including the Disability Rights Commission and the Disability Employment Advisory Committee) to ensure that the transformed assessment process is fair and equitable in application and operation.”

Now

“We would continue to produce an independent review of the WCA, and ask the Office for Disability Issues to support an independent scrutiny group of disabled people to work together with the independent reviewer to assess whether the test is being conducted in a fair and transparent way.”

Then

“It will never be reasonable to expect some people to plan for a return to work or to impose the responsibilities and conditionality associated with this on them.  These people – who have the most severe health conditions and disabilities – will receive the new benefit without any conditionality, and at a higher rate”

Now

“We also recognise not everyone can work and we’re committed to ensuring the support’s in place for those who can’t.”

The Work Capability Assessment was designed by Labour to strip sickness and disability benefits from one million claimants. There has been no announcement that this policy aim has changed. More people are placed in the Support Group now (meaning they are not expected to look for work) than they were under Labour. Whilst the Tories and Atos are currently at war, Atos have sponsored events at the Labour Party Conference in the past.

The Labour front bench have been silent about the introduction of Personal Independence Payments – designed to strip disability benefits from a fifth of disabled people. They have not spoken a word about the heartless closure of the Independent Living Fund. They voted for Iain Duncan Smith’s backdated legislation to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds from claimants by denying them compensation for illegally sanctioned benefit claims. They support unpaid work – even when the schemes are almost certainly illegal under minimum wage laws. Labour’s Job Guarantee is just workfare plus a sandwich which in practice could be more exploitative than current workfare programmes.

They have not changed. They will not change. When not pretending to give a shit about disabled people Rachel Reeves has boasted – boasted – that she would be tougher on welfare than Iain Duncan Smith. Most of the Labour front bench are chinless posh twats just like the braying toffs they pretend to oppose. They are on the side of bosses and billionaires, not us.  Do not fucking trust them.

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Labour’s Workfare Plus A Sandwich Scheme Could Be The Most Exploitative Forced Work Yet

miliband

Ed Miliband pretended he has a real job as he announced his latest forced labour scheme.

Labour’s workfare plus a sandwich scheme is no better than the Tory’s current workfare and is every bit as badly thought out.

Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee takes the worst elements of almost all previous welfare-to-work style schemes and has rolled them all into one giant and hugely expensive fuck up. Possibly hundreds of thousands of people are to be forced to work in part-time temporary jobs with wages pegged at the minimum wage or face their benefits will be stopped.

Many people in these compulsory jobs may find themselves worse off then someone on current Tory workfare schemes.  The jobs will only be for 25 hours a week, meaning those over 21 will receive just £156.70 under current rates.  For the vast majority of claimants, who have rent to pay, this is likely to leave them between £20-30 a week better off than being on the dole.  The problem is that going to work everyday costs money.  In London the cheapest weekly travelcard costs over £30 a week.  Those on workfare at present have travel expenses met by the placement providers or welfare-to-work companies who run the schemes.  If travel expenses are not met for participants on the Jobs Guarantee, then many people will find themselves worse off than those currently on Tory workfare.  If these costs are met then the Jobs Guarantee will cost a lot more than the £5 billion that Ed Balls is claiming.

The problems do not end there.  Since those on the Future Jobs Fund will no longer be classed as unemployed – handily for the Government – they may also lose eligibility for Council Tax Support.  This is Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled scheme which replaced Council Tax Benefit, handing control over to local authorities to help the poorest pay local taxes.  The predictable result has been a postcode lottery and as the Public Accounts Committee today reported, has made many people in work worse off than they would be on benefits.  This will apply to many in Compulsory Jobs, who may no longer be eligible for Council Tax Support due to being officially employed.  This could also cut the incomes of people on the scheme to around the same weekly pittance as those forced to undertake unpaid work by the Tories.

Just like on the New Deal – Tony Blair’s bodged plan to cure youth unemployment –  those in a compulsory job will also face mandatory training for 10 hours a week.  It is unclear how this will work in practice, although a Labour Press Release seems to suggest this will merely mean employers are handed £500 on top of their free workers to provide this training.  It seems likely that people with Compulsory Jobs will find themselves working these ten hours without wages under the guise of it being ‘work experience’.  This will mean participants on the scheme working five hours a week more than those on current workfare.

On the Politics Show yesterday, the Shadow Employment Minister Stephen Timms, admitted that the cost of the Jobs Guarantee may mean that other previously announced initiatives, such as building more low cost homes, may not be included in the party’s next manifesto.  Labour would rather spend money forcing people to work on poverty pay than in solving the housing crisis – the real reason for the spiralling benefit bill and the cause of huge suffering for both the young and old alike.

It says everything about the modern Forced Labour Party that the best they can come up with is a scheme which sounds mildly better than workfare – but in practice is likely to be more exploitative.  In the worst case scenarios people in Compulsory Jobs will be forced to work longer for less money in their pockets than people currently on workfare.  The sad truth is that this scheme is all spin – a shoddy attempt by Labour to show that they will be tougher on benefits than Iain Duncan Smith.

With brutal benefit sanctions behind this scheme, unemployed people will be plunged into desperate poverty if they refuse a Compulsory Job and face grotesque exploitation if they agree.  The end result will be the undermining of wages and working conditions for all low paid workers as an army of un-unionised and poverty paid forced workers enters the private sector.  This is the true face of the modern Labour Party – as nasty and out of touch as any of the Tories they are so desperate to copy.

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More Poverty, More Homelessness, More Deaths: Labour Set Out A Vision For Workfare Britain

war-on-the-poorThe war on the poor is set to continue if Labour win the general election Rachel Reeves confirmed in her speech on social security policy today.

Pinning the blame for unemployment directly onto unemployed people, Reeves has set out a number of measures to fix those unemployed people with forced work and benefit sanctions.

At the heart of Labour’s policy is the so-called Jobs Guarantee which will see everyone who has been unemployed over two years – or a year for those under 25 – condemned to forced work for paltry sums of money.  In a genuinely nasty move, this work will be pegged at minimum wage and set at a maximum of 25 hours a week, meaning participants will not be eligible for tax credits.

For the vast majority of claimants, who pay rent for where they live, the bulk of any extra money will go straight to landlords due to housing benefit payments being cut as income rises.  For most claimants the Compulsory Jobs Guarantee will merely mean they have enough money to travel to their forced work placement and on a good day afford a cheap lunch.

This workfare plus a sandwich scheme will be backed with tough benefit sanctions, already one of the main drivers of poverty in the UK.  A report published last year by Citizens Advice warned that sanctions had led to people becoming homeless, attempting suicide and being forced to go through bins to find food.  Labour’s workfare programme would only makes these problems worse as over-zealous Jobcentre staff and welfare-to-work crooks seek out ever more ludicrous ways to leave people destitute.  If Labour are elected then we might yet see what happens when the foodbanks run out of food.

As well as 25 hours a week forced work, claimants will have to complete 10 hours a week ‘training’, leaving little time to actually look for a job.  With training increasingly a euphemism for workfare, it remains to be seen what shoddy provision this will entail.  One thing is for sure – it will be done on the cheap and is unlikely to lead to real skills or qualifications.

Around one million people could be forced onto this scheme and it is likely that most will be employed by the public sector or in charities as they were under Labour’s Future Jobs Fund.  That means one million new workers entering the workforce, with wages pegged at minimum wage and no  employment rights.  If people on Labour’s workfare are sacked they don’t just lose their job – which on these terms might be a blessed relief – they lose everything, even entitlement to the pittance of benefits.

Astonishingly Reeves also called for higher wages in her speech today, although there was little indication of how that might be achieved.  Yet it’s hard to imagine a better strategy to force down wages and undermine working conditions for everybody than an army of poverty paid workers who face destitution if they leave, get the sack, or take industrial action.  If the unions tolerate this, then they will only have themselves to blame as their relevance in the public sector vanishes into thin air.

Anyone who thinks that cash strapped local councils will not use claimants facing the Compulsory Jobs Guarantee as a cheap source of tax-payer funded free labour is a fucking idiot.  Ignore what Rachel Reeves says about shrinking wages – her policies are a blueprint for high unemployment and low pay.

What she doesn’t say is equally as important as what she does.  There is no mention of scrapping the despised Work Capability Assessment – and Ed Miliband has already said that these assessments will stay.  There was also no mention of halting massive cuts to Disability Living Allowance, which will see a fifth of disabled people losing vital benefits.  Ominously Reeves talks of ‘better targeted support’ for single parents and disabled people to enter the workplace to combat what she repeatedly calls ‘worklessness’.  Anyone who thinks we can trust the Labour Party to end the demonisation and harassment of sick or disabled claimants – which they started whilst in Government –  is also a fucking idiot.

As Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms bring back poverty not seen in generations, the answer from the Labour Party is more of the same.  Despite a spate of reports of suicides linked to welfare reforms over Christmas, they are every bit as committed to driving the poor into the ground as the Tories they are so desperate to copy.

It is hardly surprising that an Oxbridge clown like Reeves, with her background in the banking sector, is so clueless about what people with nothing really need, which by the way is more money.  She’s probably never done a real day’s work in her life, let alone had to survive on benefits.  But that won’t stop her condemning people to lives of utter misery by blaming them for the poverty caused by capitalism.  There will be more tragic deaths linked to the erosion of the welfare state if Labour are elected next year.  And if Rachel Reeves still has her job, then she will have just as much blood on her hands as Iain Duncan Smith.

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More Workfare, More Sanctions, Labour Think Tank Proposals Are Just The Same Old Deal

emma-harrison-a4eToday’s report by think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (@IPPR)  offers a chilling glimpse of what life might be like for young people under a Labour government.

The paper titled ‘No More NEETs’ has been widely reported in the press as a Labour plan to strip benefits completely from those under 25.  This will suit Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves who has already promised to be tougher on welfare than Iain Duncan Smith if Labour are elected.  The truth is that this is a paper from a toff dominated think-tank, which may yet manifest as Labour policy, but so far remains the rantings of a few out of touch idiots.

Most of the proposals are little different from those which have failed so miserably over the last fifteen years, since the obsession with hounding young people into unpaid work under the guise of fake training began.  The main thrust of the report is that benefits for those under 25 are “conditional on participation in further and vocational education or intensive job search”.  This is the same kind of crap that the IPPR came out with over fifteen years ago and which was used to justify Tony Blair’s New Deal in the late 1990s.

The New Deal was Labour’s flagship programme to end youth unemployment forever by forcing young people into some form of work or training under threat of benefits being stopped.  The reality of the scheme was the emergence of the monstrous welfare-to-work scam.  Companies like A4e trousered billions whilst young, unemployed people were sent on workfare or warehoused for 30 hours a week undertaking sub-standard or often non-existent training.  Those who escaped this fate were forced into Subsidised Employment, which meant six months forced work on poverty pay.

The IPPR’s current plans are little different, with unpaid workfare based on the current Government’s Traineeships for some, and a Jobs Guarantee or some form of poverty-paid traineeship for the rest.  Welfare-to-work providers will be at the heart of the scheme, sending young people to carry out six months forced work (or so-called training) at minimum wage, before they are dumped back on benefits to make way for the next tax payer subsidised free worker.  And when these magical measures don’t work – which they won’t,  evidence shows that Government work experience schemes do little to improve people’s chances of finding a job – then young people will be given an “intensive, diagnostic review with their personal adviser”.

After that doesn’t work it will back to the same old ‘participation in learning or work preparation activities’, ‘intensive jobsearch’ and ‘work trials’ that are already inflicted on unemployed people of all ages.

The New Deal for Young People cost billions and largely collapsed as not enough work placements could be found whilst welfare-to-work parasites delivered little of the training they promised.  Just like the current Government’s dismal Work Programme, it barely made a dent in the number of people out of work.  More importantly, the failure of the New Deal showed quite clearly that you can’t fix unemployment by fixing unemployed people, a lesson which has sadly still not been learned by politicians today.  There is nothing in this report that hasn’t already failed countless times to bring down the number of young people out of work.

Unfortunately the IPPR do not stop there and this is where things stray into callous fantasies which would make even Iain Duncan Smith blush.  The regime the IPPR describe will not just be aimed at young people currently on Jobseekers Allowance – which will be renamed a Youth Allowance.  Young, single parents with children over the age of one along with sick and disabled claimants under 25 and currently on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) will be subject to similar conditions.

The report glibly ignores the fact that people on ESA have been judged by not just their own doctors but even the horrific Atos assessors as being currently unable to work due to sickness or disability.  Tough shit think the ‘progressive’ IPPR – the pittance extra that these claimants receive will be slashed, leaving those unable to work due to illness forced to try and survive on just few pounds a day.  Only those in the Support Group, people with the most serious conditions, will receive any extra in benefits – although the report warns that for even some of this group that may be ‘conditional’.

Single parents with children over the age on 1 will also be expected to take part in ‘back-to-work support’.   If they are unable to do so or refuse they will lose not just their own Income Support, but also Child Tax Credits and possibly even Housing Benefits. The risk of hungry and homeless toddlers is apparently worth it if it means struggling single parents are lectured at about their CV for a few hours a week.

Many young people will no longer qualify for help with housing costs at all with an assumption that everyone can stay at home until they are at least 21.  Whilst the think-tank say there will be exceptions, such as those who are “unintentionally homeless or estranged from their parents” this will depend on an “assessment of whether they could be housed – or be supported to be housed – by their parents.”

Perhaps more than anything else these proposals show just how out of touch the clowns at the IPPR really are.  Will young people fleeing abuse really have to wait around for a DWP assessment to decide if that abuse is serious enough for them to leave home?  Has it not occurred to the IPPR how this might be used by exploitative adults to trap children at home?  Do they really imagine that this kind of assessment is workable in practice in cases of family breakdown when parents and children may not even be on speaking terms?  Has anyone at this think-tank ever even met anyone who has had to leave home at a young age for any reason other than to go to University?

The answer is clearly not likely and none of these new conditions will apply to under-graduates who will continue to be maintained by the loans system.  For those parents whose kids don’t go to university however this report carries a very real sting in the tail.  The newly-named benefit for unemployed young people will be means tested, based on their parents income.  In a policy precision targeted at the so-called squeezed middle, more affluent parents will be financially responsible for their children until they are 22.  And that’s how you lose an election.  By listening to unaccountable think-tank knobheads who think that crazy schemes they scribbled down on the back of a Starbucks napkin can fix the structural problems of poverty and unemployment.

Whether Labour do listen to the IPPR remains to be seen.  The fact that they haven’t spent the day pointing and laughing at these ludicrous proposals is telling.  There has been a denial that Labour will stop benefits for under 25s but the report doesn’t actually call for that. Labour have already announced a mandatory six month minimum wage ‘Jobs Guarantee’ for the young which is little more than workfare and will involve 10 hours a week unpaid ‘training’.

One thing is clear – the modern Labour Party are no friends of the poor.  Workfare, benefit sanctions and new attacks on both sick or disabled claimants and lone parents are likely to be at the heart of any future Labour Government.  The war on the poor will not end if the Tories lose the next election.

The report can be read at: http://www.ippr.org/images/media/files/publication/2013/11/no-more-neets_Nov2013_11516.pdf

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