Tag Archives: Mandatory Work Activity

Mustn’t Embarrass The Queen: DWP Blank Out Statistics Rather Than Admit To The Failure Of Workfare

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In the Queen’s speech this morning power crazed Elizabeth Windsor announced that her Government – her fucking Government – would introduce a new mass workfare scheme for those under 21.

She also claimed that new measures would lead to full employment, but what she really means is that people will be forced to work for the pittance of benefits.  Who’d have thought it?  The Queen of fucking England demanding her subjects labour full time for barely enough money to even eat.  Nothing changes, unless we make it change.

What she probably doesn’t know, although David Cameron does, is that workfare schemes are on the brink of collapse.  Most decent charities don’t want to be involved with workfare anymore after realising the horrifying impact of benefit sanctions inflicted on those who don’t want to work for free.  According to the latest Labour Market Statistics there were less people on unpaid work schemes in the latest recorded period than there were at the end of Labour’s administration five years ago.  Community Work Placements – which comprise of six months forced work – have now been in place over a year yet the DWP has been too scared to release any statistics at all concerning how many people have actually been on the scheme, and crucially, got a job at the end of it.

Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) – the four week short sharp shock of forced work which people can be sent on from the first day of their claim – has been a dismal failure.  So dismal that the DWP, who were due to release statistics on MWA today, decided to leave the table blank (pdf) in the part of the statistical release which would have told us how many people have started on the scheme in each of the latest six months.

No doubt the DWP will say this was all a terrible mistake, after all they are nothing if not incompetent. But it was a very convenient error, coming on the day the Government announced new workfare measures.  Luckily we can actually work out the total number of people who started on MWA in the six months between August 2014 and February 2015 by looking at the previously release and comparing the total.  It comes to 13,010, or 2,170 people a month, by far the lowest figures over a six month period so far.  And now they claim they are going to find hundreds of thousands of new workfare positions for young people.  They are living in a fucking dream world.  The pressure on workfare exploiters must be kept up.  But the fact they are so desperate to hide the truth about workfare shows that we are winning.

UPDATE (as spotted by @refuted): The DWP have now corrected the statistics and the figures are available.  They confirm the collapse of MWA with just 1,470 starts on the scheme in December 2014, the lowest figure so far and down from over 4000 a month at the start of 2013.

Come to the Welfare Action Gathering this Saturday 30th May hosted by Boycott Workfare.

UK Uncut are also out on the streets this weekend, keep an eye on their website for full details.

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Hundreds Of Disabled People Sent On Workfare Every Week, Is Unpaid Work The New Segregation?

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Disabled activists protesting in 2007 against Tesco, an early pioneer of unpaid work. Pic from here

The new Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Nick Harper has teamed up with David Cameron this week to boast about huge numbers of disabled people being sent to work without pay, often for profit making companies.  The gushing press release forms part of the DWP’s cringe-making Disability Confident campaign, the latest gimmick to cover up the endless vicious attacks on disabled people by the department.

According to the figures around 45,000 people registered as disabled with Jobcentres have been referred to an unpaid work placement since 2011.  Of those 29,000 were sent on the Work Experience programme and 16,000 on Sector Based Work Academies, which the DWP now appear to be claiming leads to a guaranteed real job.  This is a lie, Sector Based Work Academies promise a job interview only as this guidance for employers wishing to scrounge free workers makes clear (PDF).

Both of these schemes are officially voluntary.  However with claimants facing benefits being stopped or sanctioned for trivial reasons and seemingly on the whims of Jobcentre staff then little could be said to be voluntary under the current regime.  Claimants who refuse could simply be sent on a mandatory workfare scheme instead, and many have been.  Almost 22,000 disabled people have been forced onto Mandatory Work Activity since 2011, bringing the total number of known unpaid disabled workers to 67,000 in the last three year.  This is more than the 61,000 disabled people who the DWP say have got jobs through the Work Programme – and as ilegal reports this largely represents young disabled people on Jobseeker’s Allowance, not those unable to work and claiming ESA, the benefit for people with more serious conditions or disabilities.

But even this does not tell the whole story of the number of disabled people who this Government has bullied into working without pay.  Supported Internships can involve up to a year’s unpaid work with private companies and are targeted at young people with a Learning Difficulty diagnosis or Special Educational Needs, Other young disabled people may have been sent on Traineeships – up to six months unpaid work leading to a vague possibility of eventual employment as an Apprentice at far below minimum wage.  Some disabled people will now be facing the prospect of being forced to attend a full time unpaid Community Work Placement for six months for so-called charities or community organisations.  And the number of disabled people forced into workfare on the Work Programme – which can even include people on out of work sickness or disability benefits – is simply unknown as no-one has any real idea what the companies running the scheme are up to.

If all these people are added to the figures then it seems likely that the number of disabled people sent on workfare is higher than the number who got actual real jobs through welfare-to-work schemes.  This is what the DWP means by being Disability Confident, an army of unpaid disabled workers, many only there under the threat of vicious benefit sanctions.

The abrupt closure of the Remploy factories was a nasty and vindictive act but few would argue that segregated employment for disabled people is something that should be encouraged into the future.  But at least the Remploy workers got paid.  A new segregation is now emerging.  Instead of real paid jobs, in an inclusive work force, thousands of disabled people now face endless and ever more draconian unpaid work schemes with many losing their benefits completely if they won’t, or can’t attend.

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Chris Grayling Is A Lying Bastard Court Hears At Workfare Tribunal

graylingSo desperate are the DWP to hush up the names of charities using workfare that they have been reduced to using a blog post titled “Chris Grayling is a lying bastard” to prove how horrible everyone is being to them because of their forced work schemes.

The post was part of the evidence provided by the DWP at yesterday’s tribunal brought to appeal the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) decision that charities using workfare should be named.  This followed a Freedom of Information request made two years ago asking for the names of organisations who are accepting workfare placements on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme.

The DWP have pleaded that if this information was made available then workfare will collapse such is the awesome power of Boycott Workfare.  Reams of evidence has been produced by the department, largely taken from the media and Boycott Workfare’s website, which they claim shows how MWA will be destroyed if the public learns the names of these charities.

They also complain that anger at forced work has been ‘strident’ rather than ‘standard’ criticism, and that some bastard had even referred to charities using workfare as “thieving fucking criminals” (which if you read the post you’ll see isn’t strictly true).

The DWP’s argument seems to be that workfare is so unpopular that who is involved has to be kept a state secret.  This is despite the duty of charities to be open and transparent about their activities.  Luckily we know only too well the names of many of the charities forcing people to work without pay.  Household names including @salvationarmyuk, @YMCA_England and @groundworkuk are just some of the organisations who use forced workers on Mandatory Work Activity.  They are not thieving fucking criminals, they are just exploitative cunts.  Boycott them.

A judgement is expected in four to eight weeks.  The individual who brought the original FOI has published details of the arguments made by both sides at the tribunal.

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Mandatory Work Activity Is Wobbling, Keep Kicking Till It Breaks

salvation-army-workfareIn a victory for anti-workfare campaigners, the number of people forced to work without pay on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme is steadily falling.

MWA is just one of several workfare programmes and involves four weeks full-time work for charities or so-called ‘community organisations’ under the threat of meagre benefits being stopped.  2,670 people were sent on the scheme in February 2014, compared to a high of over four thousand during the same period last year.  In December 2013 only 1,720 starts were recorded, the lowest figure since the scheme was just beginning in the summer of 2011.

The fall in the number of unpaid workers comes after two years of campaigning against by Boycott Workfare and other claimant’s groups which has now seen hundreds of charities rejecting forced labour schemes.  Household names such as Oxfam, Scope and Shelter have been joined by over 300 organisations to sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement which firmly rejects unpaid work under the threat of benefit sanctions.

This month’s figures are particularly embarrassing for the DWP as they attempt to roll out the most draconian workfare scheme yet.  Community Work Placements will see thousands of people sent to carry out 780 hours work without pay.  Where they will be sent remains shrouded in mystery.  The DWP refuse to say which charities are using workfare to protect the reputations of these supposedly ethical and transparent organisations.

We do know that @salavationarmyuk, @YMCA_England and @TCVtweets have all said they will not take part in Community Work Placements, but they are all still happy to use forced workers on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme.  All three of these charities are complicit in processing benefit sanctions which have driven people into destitution. 

Workfare quango @Groundworkuk also use free labour on the MWA scheme, and are the only national charity we know for sure that will be involved in Community Work Placements.

The fight against workfare is a long way from over, but as decent charities everywhere distance themselves from forced work, it is a fight that can be won.

To join in visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

The MWA statistics are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pre-work-programme-support-mandatory-programmes-may-2014

Sign the petition to scrap all benefit sanctions without exceptions.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Tax-Payer Funded Charity Workfare Subsidy Tops £50 Million!

workfare-stick-up74,070 people have now been sent to work unpaid on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme DWP statistics reveal today (via @refuted).

Claimants on Mandatory Work Activity are forced to carry out 120 hours of unpaid labour over a period of four weeks.  The scheme is used by Jobcentres to punish people they decide aren’t trying hard enough to find work.  Those receiving Jobseekers Allowance can be sent on this type of workfare from the first day they are unemployed or face benefits being stopped completely.  17,090 of these forced to work unpaid were recorded by the Jobcentre as being disabled people.

Many of the claimants are sent to work in charity shops such as those run by @salvationarmyuk and @YMCA_England.  Others are sent to work outside on chain gangs for environmental charities such as @TCVtweets and @Groundworkuk.

Many of these so-called charities have claimed that they do not benefit from unpaid workers and have bought into Iain Duncan Smith’s warped ‘work makes you free’ ideology.  Yet according to the figures, this scheme has meant a total of 8,888400 hours of forced unpaid work has been carried out by unemployed people for the ‘voluntary’ sector.

If charities had been required to pay even minimum wage for these workers it would have cost them over £56 million pounds.  And this is far from the only workfare scheme that grasping charities can make use of.  Anyone who’s ever visited the Salvation Army’s gleaming international headquarters knows these organisations are not short of money.  The Salvation Army’s UK boss is estimated to be paid around £150,000 a year.

Christmas is a busy time for charities and often their most lucrative time of year.  There has never been a better time to join Boycott Workfare’s week of action and hold these organisations to account for this gross exploitation.  Actions will take place on and offline from next week beginning with a noise demonstration outside the annual workfare conference on Monday 2nd December.

With the number of people on workfare increasing despite many high profile charities pulling out of the scheme, it seems that many organisations are trying to conceal their use of forced labour from the public.  Help track them down and then make sure they are named and shamed on the Boycott Workfare website.

And please sign/share/tweet the petition to bring an end to benefit sanctions without exception.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

The Vile Hypocrisy of Workfare Exploiters the YMCA

ymca-no-paySo-called charity the YMCA have issued a disgusting statement today in which they acknowledge that benefit sanctions can lead to debt, along with worsened physical or mental health and yet they still claim to support this vicious regime.  This vile attempt to justify their own role in stopping young people’s benefits comes on the day that the DWP admitted a huge increase in the number of benefit claims sanctioned in the last year.

Perhaps most contemptuously of all, they attempt to use the young people who makes use of their services to justify this grotesque hypocrisy.  According to the YMCA: “there is support in principle amongst YMCAs and the vulnerable young people we work with for some form of sanctions.”

They honestly expect people to believe that young people are just crying out to have their benefits stopped and be driven to homelessness, begging or even attempting suicide.  And like Jesus’ little fucking helpers the YMCA are only too happy to comply by forcing people to work unpaid in their charity shops or face benefits being stopped.

The YMCA want to have their cake and eat it, pretending to care about the people they impoverish in gushing press releases on their website whilst quietly forcing people to work without pay behind the scenes.  Don’t let them get away with it, tell them what you think on twitter @YMCA_England  and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/THEYMCA

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Do As I Say, Not As I Do Says Workfare Hypocrite John Sentamu

labourer-worthy“Millions of people across the country will get up today, leave their families and travel to work to carry out jobs that we all depend on. They will care for people, serve us food, clean the spaces that we all use and share. They will do more than a fair day’s work, but they won’t get a fair day’s pay.”

So said the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, writing in The Observer yesterday.  What the Bishop didn’t mention is that some of those people will not receive any pay at all.  In fact they could even be working – under threat of benefit sanctions – for the YMCA, the organisation of which he is the president.

Despite the Bishop condemning poverty pay, the organisation he heads uses workfare at both a national and local level.  Throughout the country people are mopping floors, stacking shelves and serving customers in YMCA charity shops without being paid a penny.  These people are the opposite of volunteers – they have been forced to work for no pay under the threat of brutal benefit sanctions on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme.

Benefit sanctions can now last up to three years and mean children going hungry and rent going unpaid.  Claimants are left in a desperate limbo, unable even to afford to look for work whilst they have no money for clothes, fares, stamps, phone calls and internet access.  The end result is often crippling debt as both legal and illegal loan sharks cash in on the poverty created by sanctions.

This is what people face should they refuse a referral to mandatory work with the YMCA.  Despite this the charity claims they believe people referred  “should still be offered a choice about where the placement is undertaken and if at all possible, the placement should reflect their personal interests or skills.”

This shows a gross misunderstanding of this form of workfare which is used as a punishment aimed at those people that Jobcentre advisors have decided aren’t trying hard enough to find work.  Not trying hard enough could mean refusing another form of workfare, or not using the spam, scam and spoof ridden government website Universal Jobmatch to the extent required.  The Social Security Advisory Committee – who scrutinise social security legislation – warned that disabled people or those with a caring responsibility are  likely to be the most vulnerable to sanctions handed out for being unable to attend Mandatory Work Activity (PDF).

The Archbishop has been silent on the use of not just low paid but unpaid workers by his own organisation.  This is not the first time John Sentamu has been guilty of breath taking hypocrisy on the question of workfare.  Astonishingly he has previously condemned workfare directly:  “By all means, pay companies incentives to employ young people, but do not take advantage of the vulnerable by using them as free labour.”

The YMCA, along the The Salvation Army, are one of the few charities left involved in the repugnant MWA scheme after most decent charities pulled out in disgust.  These two so called Christian charities never see the horrific suffering they cause when they report a claimant to the DWP for failing to attend forced labour in one of their shops.  This means they pretend they have no part in the brutality of benefit sanctions that they are directly responsible for initiating.

In The Observer this weekend Sentamu says that “what workers really need is pay, not platitudes”.  Yet he is still quite happy to give his name to an organisation which has become one of the last remaining cheerleaders in the charitable sector for forced unpaid work.  If the Archbishop really cared about low pay or workfare then he would force the YMCA to change course – or resign.

Sentamu ends his piece with an appeal to the low paid, and presumably unpaid, by announcing “If you are paid less than the living wage, I want to hear from you.”

Sentamu is on twitter @JohnSentamu.  His charity can be contacted @YMCA_England or on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/THEYMCA  

If you have been forced to attend or face mandatory workfare then why not join the Archbishop’s “national conversation about low pay in Britain”.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid