Tag Archives: Welfare to Work

What if the whole workfare industry got together in one place?

Boycott-Workfare-Poster-ColourFrom Boycott Workfare

12.30-1.30pm, Monday 2nd December, outside the ERSA workfare industry conference, Senate House, Malet Street, London (nearest tubes: Russell Square, Warren Street, Euston), facebook event here

(Can’t make it to London? Take part in the week of action where you are.)

On 2nd December, those driving forced labour for unemployed people on the government’s workfares schemes are getting together in one place for their annual conference. Be there too to show them that their days of vast profits for abusing the poorest people in the UK are numbered.

The workfare industry is already on the backfoot. The government’s flagship ‘Work Programme’ which promised to hand £5 billion to this sector – whose profits are wholly subsidised by public funds – has failed. The industry failed to meet even the minimum targets and tens of thousands have returned to the Jobcentre as the two year stint comes to an end.

Add to this arrests for fraud, consistent reports from jobseekers of the punitive and pointless measures these companies demand, and the immense public backlash against workfare – leading many of the big brands to withdraw from forced unpaid work.

ERSA, the trade body for the ‘welfare to work’ industry, have called their conference “Challenge and change in an evolving landscape”. Let’s make the scale of the challenge clear with fun and noise on the conference’s doorstep.

And in case you need more convincing, here’s a few good reasons you should come (in the form of a list of people who’ll be at [the conference] pushing their workfare agendas):  Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/557057277702834

Please spread the word.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

The Work Programme Model is Broken and Rewards Corporate Idleness

workfare-real-crimeLast night’s Panorama went some way to exposing the floundering Work Programme, Iain Duncan Smith’s fantasy scheme that is currently having no impact on long term unemployment beyond bullying, demoralising and sanctioning claimants.

What Panorama didn’t touch on was the reason for the shambles, which goes far beyond a few bad apples in welfare-to-work companies.  The entire model of the Work Programme is broken and based on the lie that unemployment is caused by unemployed people.  Ironically this has led to perverse incentives which mean that welfare-to-work companies can best profit from the scheme by doing the least work possible.

As described in Panorama, companies are paid large fees on the Work Programme should someone find a job and remain employed for six months.  The fee rises considerably if somebody is disabled, or faces other disadvantages such as homelessness.  Participants are mandated to the Work Programme for two years, with a further year’s tracking period under which job outcome payments can be claimed.

In three years, even some of the hardest to help may turn their lives around.  Many people will find a couple of year’s job hunting finally pays off and find work completely under their own steam.  A few people on sickness benefits will get better and re-enter the job market, as might single parents as their children grow up.  These are all people who would have got a job without any help whatsoever from private sector poverty pimps like A4e and G4S.  Despite this, every one of these job outcomes is worth thousands to welfare -to-work companies.

If that wasn’t enough, welfare-to-work companies have been receiving £400 every time someone walks through the door, rising to £600 if that person is on disability or sickness benefits.  And this is where it gets profitable.  Welfare-to-work companies usually induct people in groups, often quite large ones.  If a welfare-to-work company inducts just ten people a week then they can earn a whopping £200,000 minimum over the course of a year.  In terms of staff costs, this is about a day and a half’s work a week at the very most.  There would be ample time in the week for just a single staff member to then have a one to one session with every inductee and siphon out the small percentage of participants they think they might be able to help get a job.

For this lucky few – which is probably only around ten percent – welfare-to-work companies have unprecedented powers to use workfare and benefit sanctions in an attempt to micro-manage them into employment.  Usually they fail.  When they succeed it’s quite likely the person would have got a job anyway.  What this means is that all the resources of the Work Programme are being directed at those who probably don’t need any help.

But the welfare-to-work company has a problem, which is the 90% of people they refer to as Lying Thieving Bastards who are still on their books.  In a buoyant employment market, then it might be profitable to cream off the next top ten percent.  But at present the jobs market is far from healthy.  Most of the alleged fall in unemployment has been down to workfare schemes, part time work and casual self-employment.

The large Work Programme contractors have been around a while now.  They know, even if they can never admit it, that employers just aren’t hiring people who are sick or disabled, lack experience or have been out of work a long time.  They certainly aren’t hiring heroin addicts, street drinkers, those with long criminal records or complex mental health problems – the type of people Iain Duncan Smith seemed to think the Work Programme would magically ‘fix’.

With very little chance of any further profit from the majority of Work Programme participants, welfare-to-work companies do what any other business would.  They cut costs.

This is why many Work Programme participants only get phone interviews, or invited in to see providers once every two months.  The less welfare-to-work companies pay out in wages, they more money they make.  It is not inconceivable that a small Work Programme office, with 2 or 3 full time staff, could generate a quarter of a million a year just by creaming off the most employable and abandoning the rest.  Every new staff member means taking a financial risk on the 90% who probably won’t get jobs anyway.  With job outcomes so thin on the ground even for ‘job ready’ participants, it’s just not worth the risk.  Better to sit on their arses and let the bucks come rolling in.

There is a problem ahead for the welfare to work companies however, which is that the start fees are reducing a by £100 a year.  That means in 2013 new starts will only be worth £300 – still enough to make a profit doing nothing, but not quite as lucrative.

Predictably the welfare-to-work companies are already blaming the failure of the Work Programme on the lack of money in the system.  These companies are large enough, and co-ordinated enough, to bring down the Work Programme, and both they and the DWP know it.  Whether they are successful in their quest for more cash is simply a question of who blinks first.

The whole sorry saga points to the impending and inevitable social chaos being created by the neo-liberal drive to marketise and privatise all public services.  Iain Duncan Smith threw open welfare-to-work provision to the free market, giving businesses unprecedented powers to control claimants lives and huge tax payer funded rewards for success.  The market responded by demonstrating that it is just not profitable to devote resources to the hardest to help.

Unemployment is not caused by unemployed people, but by intense competition for jobs due to a flat-lined economy.  Grasping employers don’t want to take risks on hiring long term unemployed people, especially when they don’t have to.  Even in an economic boom, it would still be unprofitable to support the hardest to help – those whose lives are shattered by illness, homelessness, addiction and often desperately sad life experiences and childhoods.

The market has spoken, and it doesn’t give a fuck about the poor.  The problems created by capitalism will never be fixed by more capitalism.  The tragedy is that this failed model is already being exported to the probation services and social care.  It is a naked wealth grab by the rich, who can’t even look at the poorest and most vulnerable without wondering how they can make a profit from them.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

More Money Likely For Workfare Parasites if DWP Reward Work Programme Failure

Even the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban, a man who makes Chris Grayling look busy, was dragged from his bed yesterday in an attempt to justify the floundering Work Programme.

As has been widely reported, the number of people finding sustained work through the Work Programme is a pitiful at just 2.3%.  It is hard to overstate just how dreadful these performance figures are.  Much of the media has pointed out that this misses the target of 5.5% and therefore the scheme is getting less people into work than simply doing nothing at all.  But 5.5% was not the target, it was the minimum acceptable level providers needed to reach to ensure they kept their contracts.

Mark Hoban has claimed the private sector poverty pimps running the Work Programme are ‘on notice‘.  Apparently warnings have been issued that if the figures do not improve then those companies performing poorly will lose contracts.  Yet all of the providers are performing poorly and all should have lost their contracts according to yesterday’s figures.

When the Work Programme was announced the DWP claimed that 36% of participants would be placed into long term, sustainable employment. Whilst this percentage covered the full two years of the scheme, plus a year’s tracking period, it is clear that providers are nowhere near the real Work Programme target.

Even these targets are derisory.  Ever since welfare-to-work parasites like A4e took over providing any help for unemployed people, the performance standards in the sector have been deliberately eroded.

Around the turn of the century Employment Service Programme Centres, many of which were run by charities, local authorities and community organisations, were expected to place 45% of participants into employment.  This was a twelve week scheme which provided basic training and job search facilities and was a mix of both mandatory and non-mandatory contracts.  The tracking period under which organisations could claim job outcomes after the provision ended was just 16 weeks.  In 2001 Programme Centre Providers were achieving a 45% job outcome rate in just six months.

Around the same time Off the Streets and Into Work – an organisation which bid for Jobcentre and European money and then subcontracted to homelessness charities – was providing training and jobsearch for street homeless people.  The target figures for those expected to find work was 10%, again in just six months.  The client group included people with literacy problems, heavy drug and alcohol users, people who hadn’t worked for decades and those living on the streets.  Four times as many homeless people were finding jobs under this scheme as the private sector are managing to place those without these difficulties into work on the Work Programme.

Many of the organisations who provided these services closed down when big money moved into the sector and muscled out the competition.  As the welfare-to-work cartel gained control of ever increasing government funding, targets were steadily lowered, workfare and sanctions replaced genuine training and long time unemployment began a relentless climb upwards.

Now there is nowhere left for the DWP to go except leeches like A4e, G4S, Ingeus, Reed and Manpower.  With government ministers now held firmly over a barrel by the welfare-to-work industry the most likely outcome of yesterday’s dismal news is that yet more tax payers cash is set to be shovelled in their direction.

ERSA, the body which represents the welfare-to-work racket, published their own figures yesterday claiming that 200,000 people had found work on the Work Programme.  What the trade body didn’t make clear is that most of these jobs were short term.  Some could even have represented just a couple of days work.  There was a time when these would be considered job outcomes, a situation the welfare-to-work sector rather liked.  Simply put, it’s far easier to cook the books by bullying someone off benefits (under threat of sanctions) into a couple of days agency work than it is to demonstrate sustained employment.

It is plain to see that ERSA are attempting to re-establish payments for any old job outcome, even if it means that the participants will be back on benefits within a fortnight.

By dangling these figures on the day of the Work Programme embarrassment they simply baited a trap that the inept Mark Hoban walked right into.  The DWP is cheering ERSA’s figures in a crude attempt to hide the truth about the Work Programme.  Expect more money for welfare-to-work parasites to be announced soon.

Not that Iain Duncan Smith will mind.  His stupid Christian think tank, which came up with the Work Programme, is funded by the welfare-to-work sector after all. 

Yesterday’s long awaited Work Programme figures were swiftly followed by today’s news that sick and disabled claimants are now to face workfare. This comes of top of the launch last week of the new Universal Jobmatch snooping system which is to be used to police how claimants look for jobs.  It appears that the DWP is using the headlines generated by the Work Programme disaster to bury some of the most brutal and insidious aspects of welfare reform.  They know doubt hope that tomorrow’s Leveson report will further keep welfare off the front pages whilst the Christmas break will dampen any ongoing resistance to the reforms.  We must not let this happen.

How Welfare to Work Companies Cook the Books – and why this Government will let them

Bungling Employment Minister Chris Grayling was quick to tell us that last week’s appalling Work Programme performance figures were not to be taken too seriously as ‘revised’ figures will be released in Autumn.

This will give Welfare to Work companies more time to pick up some ‘job outcomes’ from people who have got jobs under their own steam. With claimants sentenced to two years on the Work Programme, the odds are that eventually many people will find work despite the scant help offered by welfare to work training companies.

This is just one of the perfectly legal ways that Welfare to Work companies can cook the books.  Below is a handy guide to what these shysters are really up to behind the scenes.

Rorting

The Australian Government recently announced an investigation into their own Welfare to Work sector after it was revealed that many companies were picking up lucrative Government fees for placing people in jobs that individuals had actually found themselves.  This is known as ‘rorting’.  In the UK this practice is entirely legal and even encouraged.

Recent leaked documents revealed how the fraud ridden A4e were instructing staff on how to claim a job outcome fee, which could be worth up to £13,000, even when someone has found themselves a job before formally joining the Work Programme.  More often claimants are harassed, sometimes for months,  into providing details of any employment they may have found during or after leaving welfare to work provision.  Welfare to work companies have hoodwinked this and previous governments into believing that no-one is capable of getting a job without first attending a motivational training session or having an A4e advisor massacre their CV.  The truth is that people find themselves jobs everyday with no help at all from welfare to work vultures.  There is no obligation to tell Work Programme providers where you are working should you find a job.

Double Funds

Many Welfare to Work companies, and larger charities who may have Work Programme sub-contracts, often have other funding in place aimed at helping people find work or gain qualifications.  These could be European Social Fund (ESF) contracts, lottery money or even sub-contracts to deliver training for local colleges.  Despite the Tory lie that they invented payment by results, these contracts will usually be ‘output based’.  This has been the standard arrangement across the sector for 20 years, and means payment is dependent on securing a certain number of job outcomes or qualifications.

As an example, a charity may have an ESF contract to work with long term unemployed people.  They are paid depending on how many people they place into work.  Should they also have a Work Programme sub-contract then they can sign participants up to the Work Programme as well, meaning they get paid twice when anyone finds a job.

It is not unheard of for providers to buy job outcomes from other providers who are operating different contracts.  This can be done simply by using a combination of threats and bribes to encourage claimants to fill in paperwork to sign them up to the Work Programme.  A4e are notorious for using vouchers to encourage certain behavior,  such as forcing people to just sign the damn paperwork and then they can leave.

Another form of double fund is when a provider has a contract to carry out some form of public services, for example providing security for a major international sporting event.  This leaves Welfare to Work companies like Serco and G4S with two lucrative opportunities.  Firstly they can mandate people on welfare to work schemes to workfare to carry out the public service contract, saving a fortune in wages.  Secondly they can cherry pick their Welfare to Work participants and employ them on the public service contract picking up fat job outcome fees in the process.  A4e are notorious for staffing their own company with participants from their welfare to work provision and claiming job outcome payments.  This is entirely legal.

Friends and Family

Like all of us,when in trouble the Welfare to Work industry calls on friends and family for support.  Staff will be encouraged to hunt down unemployed acquaintances and family members.  Participants in welfare to work schemes may well be asked to do the same, with promises of bribes in the form of bonus payments or vouchers if they can track down an elusive ‘job ready’ candidate.  Job Ready candidates are the Holy Grail of the welfare to work industry – representing as they do free money.  These are people quite capable of, and quite likely to find a job under their own steam.  When they do the provider picks up a payment just as long as they’ve managed to convince them to sign the right paperwork.

Mass Outreach

A variation on this theme is using a form of mass outreach to gather multiple sign ups to welfare to work provision.  This could involve a bunch of A4e spivs descending on an independent living centre, homelessness project or anywhere else they know they will find lots of benefit claimants.  The company can then sign up claimants en masse, no doubt after giving some gushing presentation about how wonderful their provision is.

The company knows that some of these people will get jobs under their own steam.  Even if they don’t they will still pick up between £400 and £500 pounds as an ‘attachment fee’ on the Work Programme.  So should a welfare to work company manage to sign up five claimants on sickness benefits they will receive two and a half grand, just for an afternoons work.  If just one of those people happens to find a long term job, then the company can claim up to a staggering £13,000.

The company doesn’t even have to do anything but sit back and watch the money roll in. This leads nicely onto …

Creaming and Parking

This is the practice under which the easiest to help are creamed off and given  intensive support (or harassment, often in the form of pr0longued workfare) to get them off benefits and into a job – any job.  These are people who would have got jobs themselves, often skilled workers or graduates.  As to everyone else, well they can be left to rot, or parked as it is known.

Under the ‘black box’ style of provision on the Work Programme, welfare to work companies are able to almost anything they like to ‘help’ someone back into work.  This can include doing nothing at all and in fact that makes good business sense.  It’s a numbers game.  Some of even the hardest to help will find work on their own, meaning yet more money for providers.  As to the rest, well the company already have the attachment fee in the bank.

The most lucrative way to manage the hardest to help is to not spend a penny on them.  This is far more profitable than throwing endless resources at people who the welfare to work companies know are unlikely to find work.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit is payable to people in self-employment who work for 30 hours a week.  It is paid at a rate of £20 a week less than the dole, but claimants no longer have to sign on.  Claimants do not have to be earning any money from their self-employment to claim Working Tax Credit, although in the long term this will raise alarm bells with HMRC.

Last months unemployment figures revealed that a huge rise in the number of  people becoming self-employed.  There is some anecdotal evidence that welfare to work companies are ‘encouraging’ people to sign off and become self-employed.  Companies can claim outcome fees should this happen.

Working Tax Credit for self employed people meets many of the aims of Universal Credit, the new benefits system being introduced in 2056.  Claimants can easily take up short periods of part time work, casual work or self employed work and declare it quite legally without losing benefits.  With the payments set at just over two thirds of dole payments and far less administration, it also saves the tax money as well.  Unfortunately Universal Credit will end all this for anyone who can’t prove they are earning the equivalent of minimum wage for 35 hours a week.

If welfare to work firms are bullying people into self-employment the claimants will have their lives devastated when the new regime comes in if they have not sustained the necessary income.  Even before then, HMRC regularly make checks to determine whether someone is genuinely working 30 hours a week on their business.  Should the HMRC decide they aren’t, then claimants can find themselves not just back on the dole, but in debt for the tax credits they have already been claimed.  Not that welfare to work company bosses will care.  They’ll be off mansion hunting with the money like Emma Harrison by then.

Workfare

Workfare is slightly different, but once again it is a mechanism which helps welfare to work companies gain tax payer’s cash rather than actually reducing unemployment.  Sending people on workfare is cheaper than having them sitting on job search training courses for starters.  More importantly it is a way for welfare to work companies to mop up any jobs that may have otherwise gone to unemployed people who aren’t on their provision.

It is noticeable that many workfare schemes have involved large employers like Tesco or Holland & Barrett.  If a welfare to work company can get their foot in the door with a big company they can effectively take over their recruitment.  Where Tesco might have once approached the Jobcentre with 100 jobs on offer, A4e can step in and promise them fives times as many workers for the same dosh.  The pay off is that Tesco take on the number of paid staff they were planning to recruit anyway and the welfare to work companies can claim an outcome fee for every job.  No jobs are created by doing this, and indeed they may even be lost as Tesco now have a glut of unpaid labour.  So even when Welfare to Work companies are at what they pretend is their best, they are simply moving unemployment around.  As usual it’s claimants who lose out as the job market shrinks and unemployed people are forced to work without pay.

These are just some of the scams that enable welfare to work companies to pick up huge wads of tax payers cash for doing basically nothing.  They are all more or less legal, and no-one’s paying that much attention anyway.  Employment Minister Chris Grayling, like ministers before him, needs his welfare to work provision to be a success.  Scams like these help boost the dire performance figures that the welfare to work sector achieves.

The welfare to work sector is one big scam and always has been.  It began under Labour and now a Tory Government is throwing £5 billion at these crooks.

This doesn’t mean unemployed people don’t need and deserve support.  Decent IT provision, internet access, quality advice on producing CVs, help with fares to interviews – all of these things can be vital for people trying to get back into work.  Unfortunately there is a scant supply of such services on the Work Programme.

Even better would be high quality acredited training, that leads to real skills and real qualifications.  NVQs were once available as part of welfare to work provision.  But that’s seen as old fashioned by welfare to work companies these days.  NVQ assessors are expensive after all.

The new style of black box welfare to work provision ranges from endless workfare to abandoning people to their own devices.  Anything that’s cheap will do.  And still the cost to the tax payer rises.  Welfare to work companies are laughing at us all the way to the bank.  And Chris Grayling’s career depends on the racket continuing.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

First Statistics Reveal Work Programme To Be A Shambles

The Government today released performance figures on the flagship Work Programme which reveal that the £5 billion pound scheme is failing miserably with less than 25% of claimants off benefits after 36 weeks on the programme.

The rate of people who would be expected to find jobs without any help at all is believed to be 28%.  And today’s figures don’t even represent job outcomes.  Claimants could be off benefits due to reaching pensionable age, starting full time education, having a child, moving in with a partner or having benefits sanctioned.

In the 90s the minimum job entry rate for similar types of provision aimed at helping long term unemployed people find work was 45%. Previously Chris Grayling has boasted that 36% of people would find work on the Work Programme.

Whilst the Government state that during their time on the scheme 48% of people had some break in their benefit claim, this is little more than meaningless.  Around 100,000 people were sanctioned on the Work Programme last year, meaning benefits were stopped temporarily by the private sector poverty pimps running the scheme due to the claimant not completing mandated activity – such as workfare.  Claims can also be temporarily stopped due to a period of sickness, a change of address or any other change in personal circumstances.

It seems highly likely that this 48%, many of whom were back on benefits by the end of the tracking period, were simply sanctioned.

Further statistics, which will include job entry rates, are to be published in the Autumn.  It is already abundantly clear however that Work Programme isn’t working.  Private sector like fraudsters like A4e are being paid hundreds of millions of pounds to do little more than bully, harass and sanction benefit claimant, something the DWP were already quite adept at doing for far less money.

The figures do not tell us which benefits those attending the programme were claiming.  With sick and disabled people now forced onto the Work Programme under threat of sanctions (administered by so called charities), it is unclear whether anyone on sickness benefits has actually got a job through the scheme.

George Osborne has stated he wants to cut £10 billion further from the welfare system despite the savage cuts that in many cases are still to take effect.  Half of that figure could be saved by scrapping the Work Programme which is serving little function other than lining the pockets of the poverty pimps running the scheme with tax payers cash.

The statistics can be viewed at: http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/adhoc_analysis/2012/wp_early_entrants.pdf

Join in the National Week of Action Against Workfare – tell the charities involved in workfare what you think: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1298

Could The Work Programme Really Be Increasing Unemployment?

The figures speak for themselves – the Work Programme isn’t working.  Yesterday’s report by the Welfare to Work industry reveals that only 22% of long term unemployed people bullied onto the Work Programme have got jobs.  Of those many will be in temporary work.

Chris Grayling claimed that 36% of people on the Work Programme would gain sustainable long term employment.  Yesterday’s figures reveal this is little more than a fantasy.

Of more concern however is the figure given in the Telegraph today (thanks Eric) which reveals officials would have expected 28% of long term unemployed people to have found work without any help at all.  This means that the Government’s flagship Work Programme is not just under-performing, it appears to be making the problem of long term unemployment worse.

This almost appears counter-intuitive.  How could a multi-billion pound scheme, carried out by experts in the Welfare to Work field like A4e, actually be creating higher unemployment?

The recent drop in the unemployment count may be a blip and is entirely due to full time jobs being replaced with part time positions.  But still long term unemployment is rising.  The very problem the Government is throwing billions at is getting worse.  Worse even than if they weren’t throwing billions at it.

The Work Programme scheme does not exist in a vacuum and is one of several schemes designed to ‘help’ unemployed people into work.  Almost all of these schemes have workfare at their heart.  Whilst sanctions have temporarily been removed from some of those schemes, possibly hundreds of thousands of people are currently working for free in supermarkets and High Street stores.

The DWP claim they don’t know how many people are on workfare schemes as what the Work Programme providers are actually doing for their billions is shrouded in secrecy.

When the workfare row blew up perhaps one of the most illuminating excuses from corporate workfare exploiters came from Argos, who claimed they only use workfare during the Christmas rush.  This was a clear example of real jobs being replaced by unpaid labour, funded by the tax payer.  Temporary seasonal jobs are the kind of roles which companies may have been more likely to offer to the long term unemployed.  Perhaps some of those people would have been offered permanent positions.  These kinds of jobs and opportunities have disappeared due to workfare.

Common sense dictates that unpaid labour is almost certainly one of the reasons that the Work Programme, and all the other workfare schemes, appear to be doing more harm than good.

But could the problems run even deeper than that.  Successive governments have sought to blame the unemployed for unemployment, a useful lie which benefits both government and business alike.  Governments get to pass the buck for fucking up the economy and the demonisation of the unemployed allows greedy bosses to drive down wages.  As people become ever fearful of the murderous stigma that is now attached to claiming benefits, competition for the few jobs out there increases and therefore wages come down.

However the recent Work Programme figures suggest a problem with the current scapegoating of the unemployed.  If it is unemployed people’s own fault they are out of work, and long term unemployment is increasing for those on Work Programme, then what the fuck is the flagship Government scheme doing to them that means they are unable to find work?

Of course this kind of thinking is bogus, but ministers can’t have it both ways.  Following the logic of Iain Duncan Smith and his bunch of clowns at the DWP, the Work Programme appears to be demotivating people, increasing idleness and making people work less hard to find jobs.

Whilst it is shameful to blame the unemployed for unemployment, government schemes like the Work Programme do have real and tangible impacts on people’s lives.  It is entirely possible that being patronised, bullied and lectured at by A4e jobsworths is damaging people’s self-esteem and confidence.  It is also possible that the Job Search facilities offered by the  Welfare to Work industry are no better than those available at home or in libraries, the only difference being that in those environments they can be used in peace.  It is not unimaginable that people on workfare, or pointless fake training schemes, become not only institutionalised, but stuck in a rut and are less, not more likely to look for an alternative.  It is therefore even possible that the Work Programme is increasing, not decreasing, dependence on the state.

There are other factors that could be at play.  A recent comment from Dave L on this blog says:

“It’s a complete waste of time, in all the appointments I’ve had I’ve had absolutely no help, none at all. Last bit of ‘help’ was a cover letter that they thought was brilliant that contained lines such as “friends and family would say I’m a good worker”… I have work history too, so why put that?”

This is an all too familiar description of life at Welfare to Work companies.  Shoddy CVs, poor covering letters, badly trained staff, broken computers and unemployed people forced to send off mass applications for jobs which aren’t suitable, are all too common criticisms.  Perhaps the ‘help’ offered by poverty pimps like A4e is worse than no help at all when it comes to finding work.

To further compound the problem, many people currently having their time wasted on the Work Programme may have previously been on courses at local colleges which provided real skills.  Depending on which Work Programme shark they are sent to, they may have been forced to leave College to attend A4e.  This has been a feature of compulsory Welfare to Work schemes ever since Blair brought in the New Deal way back in the late 90s.  That, like Work Programme, was a dismal failure.

Unemployed people need and deserve support.  This means access to computers and the internet, advice on career options, as well as more practical provision such as fares for interviews, tools or clothing needed for work.  It also means real training, not the airy fairy vague bullshit offered by the Welfare to Work industry where IT training means little more than being told how to turn on a computer and any other training is virtually non-existent.

Where are the training courses for the long term unemployed to become plumbers, hairdressers, IT workers or classroom assistants?  They once existed, but in this neo-liberal brave new world training as a nurse, carpenter or midwife is not an economically viable option for most people over the age of 20.  As for the idea of education as a life long process, the big lie fed to my generation, forget it.

The Welfare to Work industry has deskilled the training sector in the UK, forcing unemployed people onto ever more pointless ‘jobsearch’ courses and workfare instead of providing real training.  They’ve done this because it’s far cheaper to pay someone little more than the minimum wage to run CV Workshops than it is to provide quality acredited training that would lead to real jobs.  Once again the private sector has been allowed to run rampant providing public services.  And once again the only people who have benefited have been the multi-millionaires who run the Welfare to Work racket.