Tag Archives: work programme

They ruin lives. Let’s ruin their day: Contact The Workfare Bosses

seetecFrom Boycott Workfare

A mysterious source has revealed the mobile numbers for some of the top executives profiting from forced unpaid work at Seetec.

This workfare company pockets over £400 for every person sent on Mandatory Work Activity while claimants retain only their Jobseekers’ Allowance of £286.80 for 4 weeks’ work. These executives are currently pushing for more people to be sanctioned. They are helping push ever increasing numbers of people into hunger and destitution. These are the executives – whose wages are paid solely by the taxpayer – who are bidding for even more of your money from the state, to force people into workfare.

Seetec has the contract for delivering Mandatory Work Activity in London and East England and has numerous contracts for the disastrous Work Programme. We’ve already heard they’re not big fans of Boycott Workfare, complaining that placements are more difficult to find as a result of your campaigning!

One in five people sent on Mandatory Work Activity has their benefits stopped. Sanctions can now last for up to three years. These managers ruin people’s lives on an industrial scale. We think pointing this out to them might just ruin their day:

Graham Martin, Chief Operating Director at Seetec – 07773 773102 graham.martin@seetec.co.uk

Andrew Emerson, Executive Director at Seetec – 07977 002278 andrew.emerson@seetec.co.uk

Mark Smith, Operational Director for Mandatory Work Activity, 07870 244087 mark.smith@seetec.co.uk

Please contact these Seetec bosses and help make sure they can’t go on ignoring the consequences of their workfare profiteering.

Top tips:

  • Why not highlight your concern about the jobs that are being replaced, the fact volunteering is being undermined or the devastating impact of sanctions?
  • If you don’t want them to call you back, you can dial 141 first.
  • No credit? You could try an online free text service or there’s always email!
  • They’re paid by the public, so it’s totally legitimate for the public to contact them with our concerns.

For more info on the campaign against forced unpaid work visit:  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

Please remember that making threatening or obscene phone calls is a criminal offence.

Please spread the word!

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

The Mass Corporate Benefit Fraud Being Shrugged Off By The DWP

cash-backhanderA key component of the Government’s initiative to help more young people into work is riddled with abuse by both employers and welfare-to-work companies a report quietly released this week has revealed.

The Wage Incentive is the only one of the flagship youth employment measures within the Youth Contract which isn’t workfare, although participants are only paid minimum wage.  The scheme pays out £2,275 (or  £1,137.50  for part time positions) to employers who employ someone on the Work Programme between the ages of 18 to 24 for a minimum of six months.  160,000 places are to be funded over the next three years.

The scheme, which even the DWP admit may be illegal under age discrimination laws, will cost up to £350 million in total.  If the current shambles continues then a third of that, over £100 million pounds, could be handed out to companies claiming for jobs which are not eligible under the rules.

The DWP had attempted to avoid this simply becoming a free pay cheque every time a company employs someone under the age of 25 by forbidding employers from claiming the subsidy for people they have already employed.  The Q&A for employers using the Wage Incentive says:

“I’ve recently filled a vacancy with a young person who might qualify for a wage incentive. Can I claim retrospectively?

No. The aim of the wage incentive scheme is to incentivise employers into giving young jobless people a chance in a weaker market by encouraging them to fill vacancies with young people. If the young person is already in work the Wage Incentive should not be necessary.”

But this week’s report, which is based on a survey of employers who have received the payments, reveals they are doing just that, and in huge numbers.  The report shows that 27% of employers surveyed claimed the payment after the person was already employed by the company and 15% during the recruitment process.

This means almost half of the payments are going to employers who haven’t created a single new job.  In fact, just 9% of employers said that they had created a new vacancy due to the scheme.

The DWP are aware of this abuse but don’t seem interested in asking for tax payer’s money back.  Instead the:  “DWP are exploring ways to strengthen the message to Work Programme providers and Jobcentre Plus staff that employers should be informed about the wage incentive scheme prior to, or during, the recruitment process”.

As things stand, when an employer hears about the Wage Incentive for the first time, then all they need to do is look over their books to see if they’ve employed anyone under 25 who was on the Work Programme recently and they can then claim a whopping £2,275 subsidy.

The report also tells how some Work Programme providers are encouraging young people on the scheme to use the payment to bribe potential employers into giving them a job at interviews.  Candidates have also been encouraged to add details of the scheme to their CVs ‘in order to give them an edge over other candidates’ – casting further doubt on the legality of the Wage Incentive under the Equalities Act.

The scandalous abuse of the scheme doesn’t end there.  Whilst the Wage Incentive is supposed to be directed at long term jobs which last at least six months, only 63% of the survey respondents said the positions they had  offered had been permanent or open-ended.  14% of jobs subsidised on the scheme were described by employers as temporary or casual.

There is even evidence that some employers are simply sacking young people after six months to take on a new placement, or using the scheme to raise capital.    Here the report can speak for itself:

“There was some indication that on occasion medium-sized employers were using wage incentives for multiple recruitment to fixed-term positions as a way of injecting capital into the business. For example, this could entail recruiting six labourers on six-month contracts and using the funding from wage incentives to buy vans or other equipment.

There were also instances of employers applying for wage incentives for a series of temporary contracts within the same post, meaning that employees would only be employed for a maximum of six months. The employed individual may then be regarded as being less attractive as a recruit, in comparison with other applicants who were still eligible for wage incentives. Work programme providers felt this practice was more likely to occur for unskilled jobs as replacing employees every six months would not significantly impact efficiency.

Both of these scenarios are in breach of the terms and conditions of the scheme to which all employers must sign up to when applying for the wage incentive.  DWP are exploring ways of strengthening the messaging about the rules of eligibility “

It is little wonder that employers are abusing the scheme when it is being run by the fraud riddled welfare-to-work sector who are currently using every trick in the book to improve their dreadful performance figures.

The Wage Incentive is good business for everyone concerned, except for the young people paid a pittance for six months and then thrown back on the dole.  Work Programme providers get paid a job outcome fee, the employer gets a bung themselves and the DWP get to pretend that the scheme is working.  There is barely any criticism of this appalling abuse of public money in the report which even hints that the subsidy to employers should be increased.

The good news for the DWP is that employers think the scheme is a fairly straightforward way of stealing tax payers money.  80% of employers thought there would be ‘a small amount of work or not much at all’ when making a claim and most respondents said they would be all to happy to do it again.  At over two grand a pop simply for employing someone who would have been offered a job anyway, this is hardly surprising.

The report, which has to be read to be believed, can be found at: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/report_abstracts/rr_abstracts/rra_828.asp

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Sue Ryder Admit They Will Force Sick and Disabled Claimants to Work Unpaid (and that workfare doesn’t work)

chain_gangBREAKING NEWS: Sue Ryder have said they will begin a ‘phased withdrawal’ from the Government’s mandatory workfare schemes.

In the second astonishing statement in a week, Sue Ryder have admitted their workfare scheme is useless at helping people find work and they will be possibly the only UK charity to force sickness benefit claimants to work unpaid.

In an effort to excuse their shameful use of forced unpaid workers they have released a Q&A document in an attempt to justify their appalling activities.   The first question asks:

“Why continue involvement when government statistics show that workfare schemes are not helping more people find paid jobs?”

Sue Ryder had already answered this in their earlier statement when they boasted that they make millions from unpaid workers in their shit charity shops.  According to their own “internal research” the charity claims that just 1 in 4 of their forced workers eventually find a real paid job,  This is a somewhat suspicious boast given that in their first statement, just a few days ago, the figure was one in five.  Even this merely suggests that 75% of people are so traumatised by their time at Sue Ryder that they never work again.

It is the third question in their statement however which is likely to shock even the most hardened benefit bashers.  Sue Ryder now have the horrific distinction of being the only charity so far in the UK to admit to being happy to force claimants on sickness and disability benefits to work unpaid.

The charity states:

“Since December 2012, people who have been assessed by the government and found unfit to work, but potentially able to work in the future with support, may be referred onto a work placement.

“Our volunteer recruitment process ensures we have honest and open conversations with individuals about any conditions they have that could impact on their ability to take on a volunteering role. We don’t put volunteers into roles they are not able to carry out, and we regularly review volunteers already in roles in case of changes in ability, physical or mental, as well as changes in their interests, availability and training needs.”

Note that in the first paragraph Sue Ryder admit that even Atos and the Government consider this group to be too unwell to work at present.  These claimants have also all been signed off work by their own GP.  This matters not to greedy Sue Ryder bosses, who after a quick chat – no doubt with a charity shop manager – will now force people with serious health conditions into unpaid physical labour.

This defiant statement, which praises forced labour even for those whose own doctors have said they should not work, comes after the charity’s twitter and facebook pages were bombarded with people demanding an end to their cruel and exploitative practices.

That Sue Ryder have chosen to come out fighting shows utter contempt for the hundreds of former customers and donors who have complained about their use of unpaid work.

It is clear that all this charity cares about is money so boycott them, keep up the pressure and tell them what you think on twitter @sue_ryder and facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SueRyderNational

Join the National Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on March 18th: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

We Make Millions From Forcing Sick and Disabled to Work Unpaid Boast Sue Ryder

BREAKING NEWS: Sue Ryder have said they will begin a ‘phased withdrawal’ from the Government’s mandatory workfare schemes.

An astonishing statement has been produced by so called charity Sue Ryder in which they boast of making millions from forced, unpaid work.

Despite most ethical charities distancing themselves from workfare, Sue Ryder claim that they earn a whopping half a million pounds a week (pdf)  from people forced to work in their shops for meagre benefits.

It also appears that Sue Ryder have no qualms about forcing sick and disabled claimants to work for nothing, saying:  “To honour our duty of care to Sue Ryder staff and volunteers we ensure people living with conditions that impact on their physical and mental abilities can safely and competently take on roles. We do this by talking honestly about a person’s capabilities and ensuring skills match roles.”

Last year the Government announced that many people on the sickness or disability benefit Employment Support Allowance can now be forced to work unpaid or face being plunged into immediate poverty and possible homelessness by benefit sanctions.  Under the regulations, unpaid placements could last as long as two years.

Up until now it had seemed that no organisation was unpleasant enough to take up the Government’s vile offer of free workers on sickness benefits.  Even the mass workfare using The Conservation Volunteers (@tcvtweets) amended their workfare policies and pleaded they would not use sick or disabled claimants as forced labour – unless of course they had been fount ‘fit for work’ by Atos, in which case off to the fields with them.

Sue Ryder also participated in the (currently missing, possibly dead) Community Action Programme, under which claimants are sentenced to 720 hours of unpaid work just for the crime of being unable to find a job.  As pointed out by Boycott Workfare, this is over twice the highest possible Community Service punishment that can be handed out by the Courts.

Despite Sue Ryder’s claims that their forced workers can leave any time they choose, the reality is that should they do so they will have benefits stopped, possibly for up to three years.

It seems that Sue Ryder are keen to establish themselves as one of the least ethical charities in the UK – an interesting branding strategy, particularly as Marie Curie Cancer Care, who carry out similar work, were one of the first major charities to pull out of workfare.

The only justification Sue Ryder offer for this mass exploitation is that it helps make them lots of money, a significant chunk of which no doubt goes to their highly paid executives.

Yet Scope, MIND, Shelter, Oxfam, Marie Curie, Sense, Age UK, Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation and countless other charities which depend on income from shops have all made statements claiming they will no longer use people forced to work for free.

If all these charities can live without forced labour then so can Sue Ryder.  They will only have themselves to blame when customers and donors abandon them in disgust at their boasts of gross exploitation.

Tell Sue Ryder what you think on twitter @sue_ryder or on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/SueRyderNational

Join the National Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on March 18th: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

The Case of the Disappearing Workfare Scheme

superdrug-workfareIt seems that despite Iain Duncan Smith’s tantrum yesterday – when he insisted he would not back down on forced work for the poor – one major chunk of the Government’s workfare policies has disappeared.

The floundering Community Action Programme (CAP) is one of the nastiest workfare schemes, which sentences people to six months unpaid work simply for being long term unemployed.  This scheme was intended for the 96.5% of people who aren’t likely to find work during the two year Work Programme.  The message was clear, if you can’t find a job in two years then you will be expected to work, full time, for nothing.

The ‘Trailblazer’ for this scheme was one of the programmes challenged in the courts recently.  Jamieson Wilson, a former lorry driver, was stripped of benefits and left destitute after refusing to undertake unpaid work on the scheme.  Along with Cait Reilly, who was forced to work in Poundland for no pay on a different programme, they took their case to the High Court.

As is well known now, both of the scheme were found to be unlawful on largely technical grounds.  Simply put, neither the legislation behind the schemes, or the information given to claimants, was legally sufficient.  The DWP’s panicky response was to issue new regulations and rush them before Parliament.

The new regulations make no mention of the Community Action Programme, or any comparable scheme, which means for now, the programme would seem to be still illegal.

It is possible the DWP are planning to table some specific regulations for this scheme just as soon as skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban makes it into the office.  It is equally possible they fucked up the new regulations and forgot about it.  In fact with the DWP mired in chaos, almost anything seems plausible at the moment.

The scheme has not yet been launched nationally and the Trailblazer pilots are over, so this is unlikely to affect anyone currently on workfare.  But it does suggest that a major plank of Iain Duncan Smith’s bodged welfare reforms is either being rethought, or has been abandoned completely.

This is hardly surprising.  The early analysis of the scheme revealed it had no impact in actually helping people find work.  More importantly, providers were struggling to find work placements.  This problem can only have become much worse recently as a growing number of charities snub the Government’s workfare obsession.  Even workfare profiteers like Poundland are attempting to distance themselves from the DWP shambles (whilst still attempting, possibly illegally, to ensure they have a steady stream of unpaid workers).

Lack of placements has dogged workfare programmes ever since Tony Blair launched the first mass workfare scheme in the late 90s with the New Deal for Young People.  The truth is a lot of charity work is quite specialised and outside of charity shops the voluntary sector has no real need of hundreds of thousands of unpaid full time staff.  Now even the charity shops are pulling out, many in disgust at the brutal sanctions regime and new powers to send sick and disabled claimants to work unpaid.

This hasn’t stopped some charities, such as The Conservation Volunteers (@tcvtweets) or Sue Ryder (@Sue_Ryder), who are only too happy to force people to work for free.  Many more companies, including Poundland, but also Superdrug and Argos, have discovered it can be profitable to take on unpaid temporary staff for work which involves little training.

It’s too early to say whether CAP is gone for good or the real impact of last week’s judgement on workfare.  There is even speculation as to whether the new regulations, which are only slightly less vague than the old ones, would withstand another legal challenge.

The DWP is ploughing ahead regardless of the consequences and insists that it’s business as usual on the workfare gravy train and no-one will be repaid sanctioned benefits.  The lawyers disagree.  Iain Duncan Smith is near meltdown, picking a fight with not just shelf stackers, by insisting they work for free, but also the Judiciary and bizarrely, even geologists.

There is still a long way to go to end workfare.  But if you kick something hard enough and for long enough it will break eventually.  Join the Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on 18th March and help bring a final end to forced labour for good: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996

Join and share the facebook page for the week of action: http://www.facebook.com/events/517491058274105/

A highly recommended piece about the fight against workfare up until now can be read at: http://www.redpepper.org.uk/workfare-a-policy-on-the-brink/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Iain Duncan Smith’s Licence To Kill

IDS-I-dont-care-whos-diedSick or disabled people could be worked to death under legislation tabled this week simply because the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions takes a dislike to them.

The new workfare rules, rushed out in a panic after this weeks damning court verdict,  set out the details of the various forced labour schemes currently in operation.  This follows the High Court ruling that Iain Duncan Smith had been illegally sending people on workfare due to never fully explaining the schemes before Parliament as required by law.

Under the regulations it appears that almost anyone Iain Duncan Smith sees fit will be at risk of referral to the Work Programme, which is now vaguely aimed at any claimant “at risk of becoming long term unemployed”.

The DWP admit they don’t know how many people on the Work Programme are being sent on workfare as the private companies running the scheme are given free reign to behave as they like – something which flies in the face of this week’s court decision and may yet lead to another legal challenge on similar grounds.

Under the regulations, welfare to work companies, or the DWP, can mandate someone to up to two year’s full time unpaid work.  As was announced last December, on International Disabled People’s Day, even claimants on sickness or disability benefits can now be mandated to forced labour.

These are all claimants who have been signed off as unfit for work by their own GP.  Many more claimants, who have also been signed off work as sick by doctors, have had that decision over-ruled by the DWP and are now on mainstream unemployment benefits.  With such a rushed and no doubt bodged set of regulations, there doesn’t even appear to be anything stopping the Secretary of State singling out claimants he doesn’t like and condemning them to hard labour.

With jobs in desperately short supply, especially for those with a health condition or disability, the choice facing unwell claimants sentenced to unpaid work will be whether to be worked to death or starved to death.

Of course someone with a life threatening condition may appeal against a decision which forces them to carry out unpaid physical work at a Sue Ryder charity shop or The Conservation Volunteer’s latest chain gang.

But sadly many people don’t appeal – and legal support for appealing benefit decisions is being slashed.  And it is a truly chilling thought that the only thing protecting sick or disabled claimants from being sent to do work which may kill them is the whims of a DWP tribunal.

Iain Duncan Smith may not have introduced these laws as a way of working to death disabled activists, or anyone else on health related benefits who opposes his vicious and inept schemes.  But the power is now there to do so.

None of this has ever been adequately discussed by Parliament.  Even the Courts seem to be beneath the Secretary of State – today Iain Duncan Smith  dismissed the judgement of three High Court judges on a very technical point of law as ‘rubbish’.  Not even David Cameron seems to be able to control the power-drunk fool, whilst the Treasury willingly hands over billions of pounds to fund his whatever crazy old bollocks he cooks up next.  It is clear that Iain Duncan Smith regards himself as above the Prime Minister, above Parliament and above the very law itself.

Iain Duncan Smith is out of control and has the power to destroy millions of lives.  And that is exactly what the Secretary of State is doing.  If Parliament or the courts can’t put an end to the carnage, then it is down to everyone else with a shred of humanity to stop this vile monster.

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare

For the latest on this week’s workfare ruling visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=2035

Above pic from: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Is Poundland’s Workfare Scheme Illegal?

poundland-workfareIn a bungled response to this week’s workfare ruling, broken toy retailers Poundland have attempted to brush off criticism of their use of forced labour, by admitting to employing a huge number of unpaid workers!

Poundland  (@poundland) claim to have unpaid staff members at 71 of their stores in a revealing admission which is only like to re-invigorate the campaign by Solidarity Federation and others against their exploitative practices.  Until now campaigners have been unsure about the true extent of workfare at the company.

In a major embarrassment for the DWP, the company are quick to distance themselves from any involvement with the current government workfare programmes stating: “This programme replaces any involvement with the Department of Work and Pensions prime providers and their work experience schemes.”

Sol Fed point out that their scheme sounds very similar to the Work Experience programme – the scheme that first hit the headlines early last year.  This programme is at least notionally now voluntary after several major retailers including Waterstones and TX Maxx pulled out due to public outrage at the use of benefit sanctions to force people to work unpaid.

However – and this is key – with the ever increasing use of sanctions by Jobcentres, and both claimants and Jobcentre staff unsure about the rules due to endless DWP meddling, almost nothing can be said to be a ‘voluntary’ programme anymore.  Claimants who refuse workfare at Poundland could just be sent on Mandatory Work Activity on one of the other schemes.  Until benefit sanctions are removed completely as an attempt to police the benefits system, then all welfare to work schemes can be considered mandatory, in practice if not necessarily officially.

And even without sanctions, mutli-million pound companies thinking they can get away with employing young people for free should be fiercely resisted.  How long before young people are expected to slave away for six months before they see a penny of wages, or a year?  And what happens to existing workers when private companies start taking on hordes of unpaid staff with no workplace rights and use them to drive down wages and working conditions for everyone?

Poundland are not a charity.  In no sense of the word can their participants be considered volunteers. Every worker deserves a wage – and if they don’t get one, it’s workfare.

It is unclear however what exactly Poundland’s involvement with the DWP is under this new contrived arrangement.  If this is not a formal government scheme, then by the DWP’s own admission, it may be illegal.

The Work Programme provider guidelines clearly state:  As a general rule, persons participating in a relevant Government Scheme – which includes the Work Programme – designed to provide training, work experience or temporary work, or to assist in seeking or obtaining work, do not qualify for the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in respect of work done for an employer as part of that scheme.”

Helped by campaigns from the NUJ and Internaware, many interns have won backdated wages after being expected to work for free.  If Poundland are not part of a formal Government scheme then they may be in for a shock as a wage bill lands on their doorstep, along with a bill from the tax office for backdated National Insurance payments.

If the DWP are correct (and even they don’t seem sure whether workfare workers should be paid the minimum wage or not), then even if Poundland’s scheme has some official status it could still be illegal.

Poundland boast on their website that a meagre 20% of unpaid workers are offered a job at the end of their provision.  This appears to be a confirmation that for some candidate, successful completion of workfare at their stores could lead to employment.  According to the DWP:

“Even if they are not paid by the employer, participants will qualify for the NMW (National Minimum Wage) if they are regarded as employees of the employer AND are participating in a trial period of work with that employer, in which the employer has agreed to offer a job to the participant if they successfully complete the trial, in cases where the trial is in excess of six weeks.”

If Poundland intend to offer 20% of workfare participants a job, then it sounds an awful lot like a trial period of employment.  In any future workfare case brought under minimum wage regulations, it will be employers who could face a huge bill, not the DWP.  Workfare could prove to be an expensive mistake for the cheap bastards at Poundland.

Join Sol Fed in South London for anti-workfare action tomorrow (Saturday 16th February) .  Meet at the Poundland branch of the Aylesham Centre, Rye Lane, from noon, full details at: https://www.facebook.com/events/398008846962583/

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare beginning from March 18th – 24th: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Fuck the Government, Fuck the Courts, We’ll Beat Workfare on the Streets

superdrug-workfareJoin the Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on March 18th and let’s bring a final end to forced work:  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996

Charities around the UK are abandoning the Government’s forced labour obsession and pulling out of workfare.  Last year the volume of pressure from the public forced many private companies to distance themselves, with ongoing pickets and boycotts aimed at High Street names.

After an ongoing and sustained campaign by Solidarity Federation even Holland & Barrett, who were planing to take on thousands of unpaid workers, abandoned their exploitative plans.  Sol Fed have no turned their attention to Poundland, with a protest being held in Peckham this Saturday (16th March): https://www.facebook.com/events/398008846962583/?ref=2

The Unions have condemned workfare, with the PCS yesterday issuing their strongest statement yet objecting to unpaid work.

And yesterday the Courts ruled that Iain Duncan Smith’s bodged legislation led to many workfare schemes being illegal.

Workfare has been rejected by the public, ethical charities everywhere, the Unions and now even the courts.  But even this is not enough for DWP ministers who have caused utter confusion by attempting to rush new rules into law – exactly the kind of panicky blundering that led to yesterday’s court verdict.

Workfare can now only be beaten on the street, organise and spread the word about the week of action to help make it happen!

Visit Boycott Workfare for more info or join the facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/517491058274105/

And tell the workfare using charities on twitter what you think:  @Sue_Ryder @RSPCA_official @pdsa_hq @ymca_england @salvationarmyuk @tcvtweets @Papworth_Trust @RBLI

(and in the meantime, for once in their miserable lives, it might actually be worth contacting your MP.  John Mcdonnell has tabled a ‘prayer’ – don’t ask – in Parliament which may delay the new rules and needs support from MPs: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/1072)

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Iain Duncan Smith Is A Power Crazed Fool And Should Be Sacked

Iain-Duncan-Smith-workfareEven the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban was forced to drag his lazy arse out of bed today to defend the workfare shambles which saw many of the government’s welfare to work schemes declared illegal.

Hoban claims that hastily rewritten regulations have been placed before Parliament which meet the requirements of today’s appeal court judgement.  It remains to be seen whether he has been successful.  In a truly shocking turn of events he has also insisted that no sanctioned benefits will be repaid despite today’s ruling declaring many workfare schemes illegal.

The pompous halfwit has only been in the job he does part time for five minutes and already thinks he’s above the law.

But it is the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith who has been shown to be out of control by this judgement.  Hoban thinks he’s above the courts, but events have shown that IDS considers himself above the entire parliamentary democracy.

In his desperate rush to ram-raid mass workfare into law, Iain Duncan Smith neglected to develop the necessary regulations and instead assumed he could rewrite law on the hoof without any scrutiny from Parliament.

This breath-taking arrogance will come as no surprise to claimants and those fighting welfare reforms who have watched in astonishment as DWP Ministers have lied through their teeth about workfare, disappeared or re-written documents and attempted to dodge  freedom of information requests.

In short, Iain Duncan Smith, and his then lacky Chris Grayling made two significant bodges.  The first was in failing to provide adequate information about the nature of some workfare schemes to claimants and the consequences of failing to participate.

This means that any sanctions which were applied on those schemes were not legal and are likely to have to be repaid.

The second charge is far more serious.  It appears Iain Duncan Smith attempted to use poorly worded legislation in the Jobseekers Allowance regulations as a kind of ‘enabling act’ giving him powers to mandate claimants to any scheme or activity he dreamed up.  In a crude attempt to bypass Parliament, the Secretary of State failed to correctly set out regulations covering many workfare schemes instead relying on tricks of language to avoid scrutiny.*

In the words of one of the appeal judges:

“The Secretary of State cannot avoid the requirements of the Act in relation to schemes by calling them programmes. It would be absurd to conclude that a scheme is subject to the statutory requirements only if the Secretary of State decided to call it such.”

It seems that in Iain Duncan Smith’s rush to force claimants onto welfare he attempted to bend the law to the point it snapped.  The end result is not just a huge embarrassment for the Government, but could still lead to millions being paid out in backdated benefits to those sanctioned

In any other job in the world, someone who bent the rules, got caught out and cost their organisation millions would be fired.  It also raises the question of just how solid is the rest of the legislation on which welfare reform is based.

Iain Duncan Smith should be hounded from office.  Instead bungling ministers are hastily trying to rush yet more legislation into law with the same inept arrogance that caused this farce in the first place.

Join the National Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on 18th March and help bring an end to forced labour for good: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996

Visit consent.me.uk for the full ruling: http://consent.me.uk/2013/02/12/ruling/

* Basic summary  – Original Job Seekers Allowance regulations which gave powers of sanction backed training or ‘back to work’ type schemes etc were worded so they could also be applied to any future ‘prescribed’ schemes as devised by ministers – prescribed meaning (as was judged today) properly explained and legislated for.  IDS used this to assume he could set up any old scheme, including workfare, without legislating and just referring to the powers for ministers to set up future schemes as justification.  Judges said don’t take the piss, you cant just make up regulations as you see fit that have big impacts on peoples lives without them being placed before parliament.

Mandatory Work Activity is not included in today’s judgement as it is based on different legislation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid