Tag Archives: third sector

Snouts In The Trough – Charities Scramble For Lucrative Workfare Hand Out

snoutsIt’s full steam ahead on the workfare gravy train as charities and welfare-to-work companies scramble to profit from George Osborne’s upcoming mass workfare scheme.

Appallingly these charities will not just benefit from a mass influx of unpaid forced workers, but are even set to be paid for this abuse of unemployed people.

Welfare-to-work company Reed in Partnership have recently issued a call out for placement providers happy to join them in condemning claimants to forced labour. According to the company: “For organisations wishing to work with Reed in Partnership, financial remuneration will be available for each placement.”

So obsessed is the DWP with forcing people into unpaid work they are now bribing charities with tax payers money to take part in workfare!

Unemployed people will be expected to carry out 780 hours of unpaid work when the Community Work Placements begin next year.  This is over two and a half times the maximum possible community service sentence which can be handed out by the courts.

Those who refuse, or are unable to take part, could have benefits stopped completely for up to three years.  A recent report by Citizens Advice warned that benefit sanctions are driving people to attempt suicide and have led to people being forced to beg or go through bins to find food.

Yet this hasn’t stopped greedy charities lining up to take part in the scheme.  As revealed by @boycottworkfare several so-called voluntary organisations are currently promoting Osborne’s workfare on twitter.

The laughably named Voluntary Action Leeds (@VolActionLeeds) along with the equally misnamed Voluntary Sector NW (@VSNWnews) have both been encouraging organisations to sign up for mass workfare.  One Southampton based training organisation is already boasting that they are looking forward to ‘working with the prime contractors’ to offer Community Work Placements.

There should be no squeamishness about holding these organisations to account.  Every single organisation that takes a placement under the Community Work Placement scheme shares the blame for the brutal benefit sanctions which underpin the regime.  This scheme cannot work without the connivance of greedy charities, eager to sign up free workers and soon to be paid by the tax payer for doing so.  These charities will never see, or hear the stories of people sanctioned because they were unable to work for free – and they think this means they are not responsible for the suffering they have caused.

Benefit sanctions are state terrorism that do nothing to ‘incentivise’ people to find work.  Sanctions demolish people, leading to debt, ill health and homelessness.  So-called charities eager to profit from these callous measures should hang their heads in shame.  And the rest of us should make sure everyone knows exactly what these grubby little exploiters are up to.

Read Boycott Workfare’s statement on Community Work Placements: Seducing the voluntary sector: Or, never take sweeties from the men at the DWP

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

The Corporate Take Over of the Third Sector Begins

Iain Duncan Smith’s plans to use private sector poverty pimps to fix social problems is a long cherished business objective of the scandal rocked A4e and other welfare to work comnpanies.

Last week Iain Duncan Smith announced that new Payment by Results programmes will be established to address not just unemployment, but youth offending, low educational attainment and bizarrely, step-parent, single parent or other alternative family structures.

His latest crazy scheme will be based on the floundering Work Programme, under which private companies have been paid almost a billion pounds to fail to fix soaring long term unemployment.  So proud is Iain Duncan Smith of this unmitigated disaster that he now plans to export the model to other areas of social policy.

Welfare to work company A4e are best known for harassing unemployed and disabled people into attending sub-standard training or workfare.  The company however has had long held objectives to spread their rancid tentacles into all areas of social care.

In 2008 A4e attempted to launch a community website on which they sought to offer advice on all aspects of life from health to housing.  Originally only available to A4e inmates on government training schemes, the hope was that the site would become a hub for people to discuss and seek advice on a range of personal problems.

The website was soon abandoned when A4e realised that were it opened to public registration then it would fast develop into a forum for people to pour well deserved abuse onto the company.  In a telling sign of things to come however, much of the information on the site was concerned with highly personal topics such as health, relationships and even people’s sex lives.

Astonishingly A4e offered advice on impotence and unplanned pregnancy. People with mental health conditions were advised to contact A4e for help.  Perhaps most disturbingly A4e appeared to encourage cancer patients to seek out alternative health treatments.

Whilst much of this seemed like the kind of hippy-dippy bullshit that the company regularly espoused, this was an early, if bodged,  attempt to break into the social care market.

A4e, whose work already includes contracts with probation services and legal advice centres, now boast on their website of: “improving access to health and social case services and empowering disabled people through employment and advisory services”.

Increasingly charitable organisations who work with so called vulnerable people have been pushed into marketisation.  This means charities bidding for contracts, often against similar charities, to carry out a certain social purpose.  This could be housing street homeless people, providing services for drug users, running care homes or similar roles which would have once been the preserve of national and local government.

Iain Duncan Smith’s announcement last week pointed to plans to open up far more areas of social care services to the market than ever before.

When Blair brought the private sector into employment support services, companies like A4e and G4s soon muscled out the smaller community based job clubs and unemployed workers centres.  Larger charities were pushed into the role of sub-contractors, carrying out the dirty work for the money grabbing parasites who ran the sector.

Under Iain Duncan Smith’s Work Programme the role of charities has become almost indistinguishable from profit hungry welfare to work companies.  Charities such as Scope, Mencap, MIND, RNIB and many more have been only to happy to collude with brutal benefit sanctions and workfare.  With the take over of the Welfare to Work sector almost complete, companies like A4e are now looking for new ground in their drive to commodify and profit from the poor.

Charities only have themselves to blame for this erosion of their role in providing social care.  A united front declaring non co-operation with the government’s attempts to privatise welfare services could well have stopped welfare reform in it’s tracks.  Instead greedy charity bosses have paid themselves huge salaries by picking up lucrative welfare to work contracts with barely a thought for the needs of their service users.

The direction of travel is now clear.  A4e have already aggressively moved in on legal advice, resulting in the closure of Citizens Advice Centres.  Their ambitions do not end there.  Gormless charity bosses will only be able to look on in despair as vultures like A4e and Serco swoop in to take over relationship mediation, probation services, care homes, homelessness hostels and any other slice of the Third Sector that they can gobble up.

And some of us will say ‘we told you so’.  Not that it will matter anymore.

Grayling Lines Up Charities to Replace Tesco in Workfare Schemes

It’s not just benefit claimants who’ve spotted that Tesco seem to have a more ethical approach to sanctions than many major charities.  Chris Grayling’s new strategy seems to be aimed at putting charities at the heart of any future forced labour schemes.

The Mandatory Work Activity scheme is set to be vastly expanded whilst the new Compulsory Community Work, which is currently being trialled, will see some unemployed people forced to work for six months with no pay.  These placements could be at private companies, but it is stipulated in the guidelines that any forced labour must be for the benefit of the community (although this could include ‘working toward the profit of the host organisation’).

A now disappeared Freedom of Information request to the DWP revealed that many people on the Mandatory Work scheme had been forced to work in charity shops.

With the private sector running to the hills due to the outburst of protests aimed at workfare, all Grayling has left to save him is the charitable sector.  A piece in the Mail over the weekend describes Chris Grayling as impressively robust.  This means that even the Mail can’t believe the cunt hasn’t been sacked yet.  His career is hanging by a thread and he’s desperate for some charitable assistance himself.

The Mail suggests Grayling has identified the possibility of workfare slaves telling customers they are unpaid labour (or spitting in the food) could have been the ‘Achilles Heel’ which led to so many High Street names pulling out of the Work Experience programme.  He doesn’t appear to care if the same thing happens to charities.

Essentially Grayling seems to be asking charities whose side are you on?  Funnily enough this is the very same question hundreds of people have been also been asking organisations like the Salvation Army, Barnardos and the Disability Works consortium over the last two weeks.

Charities are now falling over themselves to say that benefit sanctions are a bad thing.  This hasn’t led to a single one of them handing back their lucrative contracts for the ‘Work Programme’ scheme which has sanctions at it’s very heart.  Their excuses, that they don’t sanction people the Jobcentre do, or that they have to be involved in this programme to help ‘shape and influence’  it, grow flimsier by the day.

Most front line staff of these organisation despise the sanctions regime as much as the people they work to support.  Many are furious and bewildered at their employer’s continued kowtowing to ever more abusive government schemes targeted at vulnerable people.

The problem comes from those at the very top of the charity sector.  Many charity chief executives run the organisations like personal fiefdoms.  Without even share holders to keep them in line, their personal power can dwarf that of their equivalents in the private sector.  Unions are notoriously weak in the third sector.  Boards of Trustees are stuffed with cronies, toffs and minor celebrities who if they manage to make one meeting a year consider themselves Mother fucking Teresa (who was a vicious old cow, just by the way).  Charity Presidents and Patrons, with little real power are elected for PR purposes only.  Take Stephen Fry’s recent appointment as  President of MIND, a role which allows him to think he’s doing something to help people with mental health conditions, whilst simultaneously doing precisely fuck all.

Charity bosses often don’t do that much either, unless you count attending hugely expensive seminars, eating lunch and making the occasional speech as work. This doesn’t stop them taking huge salaries with the top 100 charity bosses now earning in excess of £166,000 a year.

They justify this by reminding themselves how much more money they’d have if only they weren’t so wonderful and went to work in business instead.   The truth is most of them wouldn’t last five minutes in the private sectors.  The shoddy response to the workfare row has demonstrated that.  Where private companies took swift and decisive action, forcing the Government to negotiate, charities have dithered and attempted to hide their role in the Work Programme and benefit sanctions.

Charity bosses tell themselves they have to take tough decisions, that they have more worthy considerations than their lowly service users or workers.  Usually these tough decisions involve fucking over their users in the name of picking up a fat Government contract.  The continued existence and growth of the organisation (and their salary) is far more important than the aims and activities the charity was established to carry out.  They convince themselves that if it wasn’t their organisation involved in workfare then it would only be someone much more horrible.  Like liberal concentration camp guards, they think that they might somehow modify or influence ever more abusive measures aimed at their service users.  They even manage to convince themselves that attacks on the people they were established to support might actually be a good thing really.  They think they might be displaying ‘tough love’, the same paternal horseshit fake philanthropists have inflicted on the working class since Victorian times.

Ever ready to take their thirty pieces of silver, they comfort themselves with all the good work they will be able to do with the money, like printing leaflets, or having lunch with the Queen.  And should the troublesome users of their services complain they smile patronisingly, safe in the knowledge that sometimes the poor souls just don’t know what’s good for them.  How could they, many of them didn’t even go to university.

And like all self-serving elites they prop each other up at their swanky 500 quid a day conferences.  Ever ready to pat each other on the back, they lament that no-one understands just how difficult life is for charity executives and the terrible weight they carry.  Then they have another vol-au-vent.

Few, if any of these charity bosses have any concept of the poverty their users face on a daily basis.  It is unlikely any of them have any experience of the benefits system.  Almost none of the heads of disability charities are disabled themselves.  Homelessness charity bosses have never experienced homelessness.  That doesn’t stop any of them acting as self-appointed experts on things they can’t understand.  And because they don’t understand they continue to work hand in glove with successive government’s to attack and destroy the lives of vulnerable people.

There are rare exceptions.  Oxfam and Shelter both appear to have made strong statements attacking workfare and are refusing to involve themselves in any DWP schemes which utilise benefit sanctions.  Whilst neither of these organisations are perfect, it shows it can be done.  The sky would not fall if the big charities rejected Grayling’s frantic pleas to rescue workfare.  In fact, for their users at least, the world would be a slightly better place.

So for all those charities involved in Work Programme, Mandatory Work Activity, Community Work, and any schemes involving forced labour and sanctions, the questions remain.  Are you on the side of your service users?  Or are you on the side of Chris Grayling and the Government?