Humiliated, Humiliated and Humiliated.
Iain Duncan Smith confronts claims DWP staff given targets to stop benefits
Iain Duncan Smith was confronted at the work and pensions select committee with claims that job centre staff are being handed targets to reduce the number of claimants by moving them off the register or ensuring that they have their benefit removed.
An anonymous whistleblower, a former job centre worker who was employed in the Greater Manchester area, told local Labour MP Debbie Abrahams and the Guardian that on one occasion the entire staff at a job centre were warned they would be disciplined unless they increased the number of claimants coming off the register, or raised the number threatened with the loss of their benefit entitlement.
The complainant’s concerns were subsequently aired at the select committee by Abrahams, but in an interview before the work and pensions secretary’s appearance, the former employee told the Guardian that the system of benefit sanctions is very subtle. “They say to you that not enough people are coming off the claimant register and that if you do not get more people off the register you may be subject to an internal disciplinary assessment – a personal improvement plan.
“If you ask managers how many people you are supposed to get off the register, they say more and more continuously. It is your job to make the claimant’s life difficult, they say. It creates a target culture.”
The former employee also says that a Department of Work and Pensions internal whistleblowers system is not working since the complaints by staff are being handed to the senior district managers responsible for demanding job centres do more to drive claimants off the register.
The complainant wishes to remain anonymous, saying they were made ill by the strain of seeking to complain, but told the Guardian they would like nothing more than to meet Duncan Smith to explain the culture that has grown up in the department.
Then it was this,
The Universal Credit scheme has wasted £130million on ‘useless’ IT systems and will only reach one tenth of its intended recipients by 2015, MPs heard today.
But despite the latest revelations, the project’s pioneer Iain Duncan Smith claimed it is still on track in angry clashes with Labour MPs on the Commons Work and Pensions select committee.
Duncan Smith insisted: “There is no debacle in Universal Credit.”
He admitted £40.1million had been written off on IT systems – but his figures did not include £91million spent on software which will have to be replaced in five years’ time.
The figures also show IDS had forecast 4.5million could get the credit by 2015-16 – but this has now been revised down to 400,000.
Howard Shiplee, the ex-Olympics’ boss brought in to sort out the mess, admitted that the system – which covers six benefits in one payment – is not up to dealing with “complicated” family situations and much of the work has to be processed manually.
Mr Shiplee said: “Couples come together, they divide, have children. Things happen.”
He admitted the system, which is being piloted in a handful of areas, will only be running in the North West of England by the end of next year.
The Government has already said it will not hit the 2017 UK-wide deadline.
Finance Director General Mike Driver said the £91million of IT depreciation had been taken into account.
Labour MP Glenda Jackson was scathing about the way the project had “slipped”.
But IDS accused critics of “moaning” about his performance.
Now it’s this:
Iain Duncan Smith’s plans to force claimants to spend 35 hours a week endlessly applying for unsuitable jobs via the DWP’s shoddy jobsearch website have suffered another humiliating blow.
Universal Automation, which was recently released as a trial version, has now been launched in google’s Chrome store and is free to download. The app automatically applies for jobs on Universal Jobmatch, the Jobcentre website that claimants are often forced to use as a condition of claiming benefits*.
According to the developers the latest version has several new features:
You can now set all Universal Jobmatch search parameters in the extension options. We added distance, posting date and job type.
The extension will apply for jobs on all pages of search results, not just the first one. To control that, you can set the maximum number of jobs the extension will apply for in a single session.
When the extension finishes applying, you can see a report with all jobs that were applied for.
There is a new delay option. It can be used to slow down automated applications so that the extension behaves more like a human using Universal Jobmatch.
The Void adds,
Whilst registration on the Unversal Jobmatch website can be compelled, there is currently no requirement to tick the box allowing the DWP to snoop on your jobsearch (you can also untick the box which asks if they can send you emails). You should be under no obligation to use the website anywhere but Jobcentres and there is really no need to tell the DWP if you have a home computer.
The Guardian reports (Hat-tip: Obi Wan Kenobi)
A group of techno-activists have devised a way of sending CVs to multiple employers on the government’s official jobseekers’ site, in protest at poor-quality adverts and “the drudgery of work”.
Developed by “a loose collective of people who identify as anarchists and work in the tech industry”, the Universal Automation plugin, which was added to the Chrome web store in early December, mimics the action of a real-life jobseeker. After the user searches for a job, with one click, the plugin automatically sends a CV to every position advertised on the first page of the results.
NOTE: HERE IS THE MAGIC LINK FOR YOU TO USE (??? – probably thwarted by now).
“I’m sure you applied for jobs on the internet before and you know it’s the most tedious thing to do,” said one of the developers, who has asked to remain anonymous. “Most of time you’re just sending the CV to as many places as you can and hoping that you’ll get a response.
“With Universal Jobmatch it’s even worse,” the activist told the Guardian. “The majority of postings on the site are spam. If they are not outright attempts at identity theft, a lot of them (and I mean a lot, I would say up to 90% on some queries) are third-party posts which are automatically reposted on the site and link to their websites.
“Now people who use Universal Jobmatch do so because they are forced to do so and they’re also forced to apply to jobs posted directly on it, so that they can be monitored by job centres.”
More broadly, however, the collective is aiming to highlight the drudgery of work in general.
The Universal Job Match site is a disgrace: hard to us, ugly, and useless.
Hats off to the Techo-activists!
There must be many people, if not all of us, who read Ipswich Unemployed Action, who’ve done (and have had to have done) courses on helping you back to work.
Despite having finished the Work Programme I just did a Course (half a day) on Effective Job Searching.
The back-to-work industry is focused on getting people’s CVs right.
This is useful and you can’t complain.
There’s also the guidelines on how to apply for jobs, use the Net, keep records, set goals, and prepare for interviews.
So far so good.
Though having done a handful I can’t say that I’ve learnt more by having to do to more and more and more of them.
One thing I have noticed is that as the welfare-to-work industry gets more desperate about their pitiful record in the Work Programme the more intense the pressure on claimants has become.
It used to be that we should present ourselves respectable and take a serious attitude towards getting a job.
At the worse it was if we should be like agricultural labourers in the 19th century.
They had ‘fairs’ where the assorted shepherds, milkmaids, cordwainers, cowmen, and ploughmen, not to mention domestic servants, would assemble in their best clothes and clogs, covered with ribbons, and smiling, all looking for the kindly farmers and gentry who would employ them.
Now it’s our CV’s that are bedecked with finery.
Yet I notice that we are expected to do more.
We have to make nuisance calls, and generally pester people saying ‘Give us a job please.”
Those giving the courses (I am not signaling out any individual, but if the cap fits…), seem have got harder as well.
Inspiring tales (true or not) of those who’ve found work are only a step away from saying that those who have not got any are to blame themselves.
The idea that the high streets are increasingly derelict (post-Xmas), that machinery, from automatic check-outs to robotics, are making the long-term need for human employment less likely, never gets mentioned.
Instead it’s get up and go! Be like me!
Live off the out-of-work the UK’s Unemployment Industry.
And, I hate, really hate, an audience being called “you guys”.
It’s like that tick in the shops, “Sorry to keep you waiting.”
I am not a ‘guy’, blood.
The Daily Mirror has just reported.
A flagship back-to-work scheme for troubled families has been dismissed as a “catastrophe” after a Government watchdog savaged its failings.
Bungling ministers spent almost £8million trying to find 88,000 people from these families a job – but managed to get just 720 off the dole.
This left taxpayers with a £10,000 bill for each person helped into work on Iain Duncan Smith’s scheme.
The Work and Pensions Secretary had set a target of getting 19,832 on the scheme into work.
But a damning National Audit Office report found the “families with multiple problems” programme was missing this target by 96%.
Under the scheme the Government pays private companies to get those from troubled families off benefits.
But Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of Whitehall’s Public and Commercial Services union, said the poor results also showed that giving work to private firms was “fantastically misguided”.
He said: “It’s difficult to see the DWP programme as anything other than a catastrophe for the vulnerable families who deserve our help but are being let down.
“First with the work programme and now this, private companies are proving themselves incapable of providing the kind of complex, dedicated support necessary, despite the hundreds of millions of pounds of public money being funnelled their way.”
Public Finance adds,
By Tom Forrest | 3 December 2013
Two government departments did not work effectively together when introducing overlapping programmes to support troubled families, according to a report published today by the National Audit Office.
Auditors said there had been ‘poor co-ordination’ between programmes run by the Department for Communities & Local Government and the Department for Work & Pensions. As a result, there were doubts over whether their ambitious targets could be achieved.
The DCLG’s Troubled Families programme is attempting to turn round the lives of 120,000 families, while the DWP’s Families with Multiple Problems scheme aims to find employment for 22% of participants.
But the NAO report said that the DWP programme had only achieved 720 employment outcomes, just 4% of its target. Meanwhile, the number of families attached to the DCLG scheme by local authorities is 13% below auditors’ assessment of what would be reasonable.
‘These innovative and ambitious programmes are beginning to provide some benefits, but elements of both are underperforming,’ said Amyas Morse, NAO head.
We would love to be there (from the Void).
We met some people from Boycott Workfare in London a couple of weeks ago and were impressed.
Apart from congratulating them on their actions, IUA gave our solidarity.
But we will not be at this demo.
On Monday 2nd December the welfare-to-work industry will be splashing out yet more tax payers’ money on their annual workfare conference in a plush Central London venue.
Workfare exploiters like the Shaw Trust and the Salvation Army will be gathering to discuss how to further profit from the huge increase in unpaid work. From April next year hundreds of thousands of unemployed people will be forced to work for free for six months or face losing benefits completely. The cost of this scheme is estimated to be £300 million. Most of this cash will end up lining the pockets of the welfare-to-work sector – companies like A4E, G4S, Ingeus and Serco who specialise in forcing people to work without pay.
Many of these companies will be present at Monday’s conference where tickets cost up to a whopping £534 in some cases. Claimants are clearly not welcome at the conference unlike Employment Minister Esther McVey and Matthew Sinclair from hard right think tank the Tax Payer’s Alliance who will both be giving speeches at the event. The Tax Payer’s Alliance recently released a report calling for permanent workfare for those out of work even if this is due to sickness or disability.
The conference is being organised by ERSA, the trade body established to represent the welfare-to-work racket along with the Centre for Social Inclusion (CESI).
Boycott Workfare will be holding a noise demo outside the conference from 12.30pm as part of the Week of Action Against Workfare and Sanctions . A day of online protest has been called targeting the sponsors of the event who hope to gain some positive publicity from being associated with this workfare love-in. Contact them on social media and let’s make sure that doesn’t work out quite in the way they hoped as they are named and shamed for their support of forced work.
What we will do is track down and nail every workfare exploiter in Suffolk.
The Guardian reported a few days ago,
Equipping benefit claimants with the digital and financial skills to use the government’s new universal credit welfare system is likely to cost hundreds of millions of pounds, unpublished research commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has found.
The study, carried out by three London councils using DWP data and a methodology agreed with Whitehall officials, found they would each need to spend about £6m over a two-year period to support vulnerable claimants to get online, help them open bank accounts and manage monthly budgets.
The research, seen by the Guardian, , reveals the extent to which socially excluded claimants will struggle with the huge cultural and behavioural changes demanded by universal credit, and warns that without help, those who fail to get to grips with the new welfare system will face debts, arrears and eviction, leading to a rise in homelessness.
It suggests councils, charities and private companies will be required to deliver millions of hours of specialist training and support face-to face and over the telephone to ensure claimants are confident and technically proficient enough to use the system.
Around one in 10 users of the system are likely to need intensive or ongoing support, it finds.
It is no surprise that this seems to be leading to what posters on Ipswich Unemployed Action have noticed as increasing local burdens for local authorities and various ‘bodies’ concerned with the unemployment.
We confidently predict that the unemployment business will be involved.
Conference: Meeting the challenge of welfare reform at a local level
20th December 2013
Prospero House, London
PLEASE NOTE THE NEW DATE: 20th December 2013
Registrations priced from £63.75 +VAT*
In February this year, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced its intention to work in partnership with local authorities and other agencies to ensure that effective support is put in place for claimants who need additional help when Universal Credit is rolled out. This includes help with budgeting support and with the management of claims on-line.
The ‘Local Support Services Framework’ orignally published by DWP in February of this year is currently being updated to provide guidance on the development of local delivery partnerships and on potential funding for these to provide the required support for vulnerable claimants, including those with mental health and additcitin problems.
This one day conference will provide an early opportunity to consider the updated Local Support Services Framework and will feature examples of best practice in the planning and delivery of services sharing learning from the Universal Credit pathfinder projects as well as drawing on the experience of local authorities, housing associations, and third sector organisations in the delivery of budgeting support, debt advice and financial inclusion inititatives, local welfare schemes, and digitial inclusion projects.
*delegate fee calculated on early bird charity/voluntary sector rate with CfRC subscriber and bulk booking discount (15%). Fee includes entrance to full conference, refreshments throughout the day and lunch.
Today’s Observer carries this story.
The fate of nearly 550,000 benefit claimants currently deemed unfit for work due to serious illnesses such as cancer is in the balance as it emerged that Iain Duncan Smith is planning a radical change to the welfare system.
The work and pensions secretary is pushing to scrap a part of the benefits system that helps sufferers of recent illnesses get back into employment. These individuals are covered by the term “work-related activity group” (WRAG) and are regarded as being capable of work in the future. They are paid benefits if they carry out training or practice interviews.
However, the Observer understands that Duncan Smith wants to disband the group, currently made up of 546,770 people. Such a move would require an overhaul of the whole benefits system, say experts.
The cabinet minister is said to be concerned that only half of claimants in WRAG are coming off benefit within three years, and that hundreds of millions of pounds are being tied up in administration of the benefit, including the work capability assessments and appeals process.
Tobanem recently commented on Ipswich Unemployed Action that when those who have been sanctioned JSA go back on full benefits they have a special interview.
After being sanctioned, you are likely to be called in for interview by the Customer Compliance Team based in Jobcentres. This type of interview is automatically triggered when someone is sanctioned. The customer compliance team are concerned with benefit fraud.
You will be questioned about how you have been able to maintain yourself without any money coming in during your sanction period.
If you can show that you have survived off some meagre savings by showing them your Bank Statement, all might be well. But if you cannot do that, then that is another story…you are likely to be further investigated for fraudulently working on the fly or any other alleged nefarious activity.
On the latest of Ian Duncan Smith’s plans Anne Begg MP, the Labour chairwoman of the cross-party work and pensions select committee commented.
Her fear was that the vulnerable people in that group would be forced to join the dole queue and be at the mercy of the sanction system, under which claimants lose benefits if they do not attend enough interviews or make efforts to find a job.
No doubt they will have to explain how they survived being seriously ill.
These People Didn’t Follow Our Helpful Advice.
Handy-Tips for those who, from April next year, will be doing six months unpaid labour on Community Work Placements.
- Always be well-turned out and polite. Your owners should be addressed as Sir or Madam. A brief bow or curtsey will not go amiss.
- Do not stay in your “comfort zone”. No task is too difficult for those on Community Work Placements. If asked to crawl, reply, “How low?”
- Community Work Placements are there to develop valuable interpersonal skills. If told to go and fetch a Latte from Starbucks, run.
- The scheme is an excellent way of helping those without work experience and motivation. Show your motivation! A happy smile never hurt anybody.
- Every morning look in the bathroom mirror and say ten times, “I will do a good job today.”
Ian Duncan Smith ideas in the pipe-line.
- You will be forbidden to leave the owner’s property during the Placement, unless accompanied by a responsible person, or obtaining permission. If a claimant leaves the owner’s property without permission, “every Daily Mail reader” is required to chastise such a scrounger.
- Any claimant attempting to run away and leave the scheme will be tagged with an electronic ”collar” .
- Any claimant who evades capture for 20 days or more is to be branded with the letter S (Scrounger) on the right cheek, dressed in a bright red ’Benefit Cheat Onesie’ for the second offence; have a kidney removed (and sold to BUPA) if absent for thirty days for the third offence; and castrated for the fourth offence.
- Claimant homes are to be searched every two weeks for weapons, alcohol, drugs, or stolen goods. Punishment for violations escalate to include loss of housing benefit, council tax benefit, electricity and gas connections, and for the fourth offence, death.
- During the Placement, No Claimant shall be allowed to work for pay, or to plant corn, peas, tobacco, hemp, or rice; or to keep hogs, cattle, or horses; or to own or operate a boat, car, mountain bike, metal scooter; to watch flat screen television; or to wear clothes finer than ‘Scrounger cloth’
Boycott Workfare announces,
Community Work Placements are the workfare part of the ‘Help to Work’ scheme. This was announced by George Osborne in September, and will begin in April next year. The other parts are daily attendance at job centres (for 35 hours per week) and compulsory training.
This means that once again we’re seeing ads for workfare subcontractors that target the Community & Voluntary Sector. While some charities (e.g. YMCA, Salvation Army, The Conservation Volunteers &Groundwork) are dedicated workfare exploiters, many others say they do not support workfare, but still end up helping to deliver it. The supply chain is so (deliberately) complex, it can disguise what’s going on.
The government’s Information Pack for Delivery Partners contains these details,
From April 2014, Community Work Placements will be one of the three intensive options available through Help to Work support for Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants (JSA) returning from the Work
Programme. This will be available alongside the Mandatory Intervention Regime, an intensive offer of adviser support currently operating in Jobcentre Plus, and daily signing.
Six months on a work placement will provide the opportunity for claimants to develop their vocational and employability skills, to add significant experience to their CV, and to demonstrate their capabilities
to employers. The associated jobsearch will help them use these skills and experience to secure paid employment as soon as possible.
We have evidence that the placements will help claimants: evaluation of a trailblazer run in 2012 found that taking part in Community Work Placements had a positive impact on jobseekers’ confidence and workrelated ambition, and led to them spending fewer days on benefit than a control group.
The evaluation also found that job satisfaction and the work routine of placements resulted in increased motivation to work, even among participants initially opposed to the idea of a work placement.
These are the criminal exploiters who are eligible to bid for forced labour in the East of England, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire; Cambridge, and Suffolk; Essex; Norfolk.
Atos IT Services UK Ltd
Avanta Enterprise Ltd
Ingeus Deloitte Ltd
Learndirect Ltd (formerly JHP Group Ltd)
Maximus Employment and Training Ltd
Reed in Partnership Ltd
Seetec Business Technology Centre
The Corporation of Newcastle College
Sally Chesworth on File on 4 Up to the Job? (repeated last night), reported on the Work Programme.
The Work Programme is the Government’s flagship scheme designed to help the long term unemployed off benefits and into lasting jobs. But how well is it working – both for those at whom it is aimed and for the private companies who are paid to deliver it?
Official figures paint a patchy picture and some companies have already been sanctioned for not meeting targets. Their record has been particularly poor for claimants whose illness or disability makes it hard to find a job.
The broadcast covered this item.
A key investor is selling its stake in the government’s flagship Work Programme.
Deloitte, the corporate finance and consultancy firm, owns a 50% share in Ingeus, one of the private companies operating the scheme.
Deloitte’s decision to sell its share has prompted claims the government has failed to create a viable market in the welfare-to-work industry.
Most of us would be more interested in the stories about the Work Programme actually operates.
It began with some government propaganda by a woman with a Mockney accent about how fings turned out well for her with the Work Programme.
But then we learnt of how it fails people. How only 5.8% of those on the scheme got jobs. How the disabled were poorly treated, How each ‘adviser’ had such a massive case-load that little was done for those on the programme. How the long-term unemployed were shunted to the back of the queue.
And how “welfare to work” was an industry.
That is “Employment Minister Esther McVey said that the government had created “a marketplace that never existed before”.
“We have brought people into this market place,” she said.”
A chap from Rocket Science, Alistair Grimes said that the Work Programme was an “epsnsive way of achivieng very little.”
He has added on their site,
The fundamental point is that the WP is failing to be the transformative programme promised and predicted by David Freud and IDS. It is just achieving the minimum standard set by DWP (itself an improvement on the early stages) but it is failing to deliver consistently and it is failing the most vulnerable groups it was designed to help.
There are several reasons for this. The state of the economy and the nature of the recovery are hard obstacles to overcome in a programme designed for a more benign climate. The selection process was deeply flawed and gave too much weight to (frankly) implausible prices, which were deeply discounted. The consequence of this has been high case loads, poorer quality provision and parking. This will get worse as the (often) backloaded discounts now kick in. DWP bear some responsibility here, but so do bidders, who connived with the view that WP could be cheaper than previous programmes. This shows itself in the ridiculous caseloads being carried by front line staff as costs are cut. One such person said to me off the record, “If I hear ‘more for less’ one more time I will punch someone”.
If WP is failing customers, it is also failing Prime Contractors. I would be very interested to see who is making money out of the WP and whether the ‘market’ created by DWP is sustainable, given that all the indications are, indeed, ‘more for less’ in WP2. The Deloitte/Ingeus relationship is not an aberration, it is the rational response of an organisation whose core business isn’t welfare to work and who could invest its resources more profitably elsewhere.
Some people will be able to get out, because WP is not their core business, but others, who have employability as their core business will be increasingly trapped into providing a service that runs counter to the values that brought them into being.
To repeat, this is not a programme that will transform long-term unemployment amongst the most disadvantaged, it will leave it untouched or make it worse. If this depresses you, don’t read on, because the final bit of bad news is that those hoping a change of government will put the clock back and restore investment in long-term unemployed people (as opposed to punishment) are deluding themselves. The first pronouncement of Labour’s spokesperson, Rachel Reeves, on the matter was to promise to be tougher. Time limited benefits and food stamps anyone?
We would add that the basic principle of the Work Programme is faulty.
It is meant to equip people to compete on the market place.
If they don’t comply with what they want they get sanctioned.
Can you force the unemployed to become entrepreneurs ‘selling’ themselves?
What if the market for jobs is pretty ropey?
The answer seems to be that most of the powerful and wealthy ‘welfare to work’ industry does very nicely out of the system.
Even if Deloitte feels it should pull out.
But not that many other people.
Yesterday the media had many reports about Sanctions.
The BBC said,
More than 400,000 people have lost Jobseeker’s Allowance under new government sanctions aimed at ensuring they actively seek work.
Some 580,000 sanctions were handed down between October 2012 and June 2013, a 6% rise on the same period a year earlier, before rules were toughened.
Work Minister Esther McVey said,
The people who get sanctions are wilfully rejecting support for no good reason and if there were a reason … there is something known as ‘good cause’, so if that seemed true and genuine you’d have good cause there to not have a sanction, plus there is a process in place just to ensure we are getting it right.”
The BBC also reported,
Peter Jones avoided a serious brain injury when he fell at work in November last year. But while he escaped with his health, his good fortune ended there – he was told not to come back to work and went to sign on.
This was a month after new rules for those out of work were introduced and he was about to find out all about them.
“I’d worked all my life,” he says. “But they treated me as if I was cheating the system from day one. They didn’t even know me.”
eter, who says he was applying for “five to six jobs a day”, felt this was just what he was doing.
Designed to help
He had moved from Llandudno to be near his seriously ill mother in Stafford who was in and out of hospital with brain tumours.
But when he wanted to move back to Wales and look for work there, he says job centre officials 100 miles away in Stafford deemed this an “inappropriate search”.
He was sanctioned and did not have any income for the whole of December. He got into debt and, aged 30, moved back in with his parents.
“I didn’t know what to do or how to get out of it,” he says.
When he moved and signed on in Wales, he was sanctioned again for not attending a meeting with an adviser back in Stafford.
Peter found a job as soon as he returned to Wales but, because of the sanctions, he had only received two JSA payments in the three months he was out of work.
“I’m scared of ever being in that situation again,” he says.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary, of the PCS union which represents Job centre staff, said:
“Today’s sanctions statistics show a shocking rise in the numbers being penalised, resulting in severe and dehumanising hardship for claimants and their families. The new sanctions regime damages the relationship between Jobcentre advisers and claimants, and is entirely counterproductive in helping people to find work.
“Our members joined to help people back into work, not to trip them up and police an increasingly unreasonable system. The government’s perverse and punitive approach is a collective punishment on the unemployed and the disabled for its own failure to create sufficient jobs.”
Boycott Workfare, the respected campaign group says,
Boycott Workfare have called on the Public and Commercial Services union, the union for job centre staff, to ballot their members on a boycott of workfare and sanctions.
Boycott Workfare have called for a UK-wide Week of Action Against Sanctions and Workfare from 2nd to 8th December.
Public meeting of Suffolk People’s Assembly.
As part of the Bonfire of Austerity on November the 5th there were protests across the country against ATOS and Workfare.
in Ipswich at Silent Street, amongst our other activities, there was a vigil outside the ATOS office and Job Centre.
This was an important demonstration in the town against the hated ATOS and Liberal-Tory Workfare plans
Around thirty people came, in the drizzle.
They heard an impassioned speech by a representative of Suffolk Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).
We demand the Coalition Government:
· Scraps the Work Capability Assessment
· Scraps the wasteful and punitive Work Programme which also pays millions to private companies.
· Stops unpaid work for benefit claimants – if work needs doing, people should be paid for doing it. Unpaid work takes away work from workers and undermines wages.
· Stops unjustified, deliberate sanctioning of benefit claimants.
· Stops further cuts in benefits.
· Benefit claimants did not cause the financial crisis or the public spending deficit.
Radio Suffolk interviewed Martin.
It was intensely moving.
There’s Money to be made out of Workfare!
This week people signing-on will have received (at least we did in Ipswich) a little note telling us that “restructuring” of these arrangements will be soon under way.
That we will be “required” to attend an “information” meeting on the changes.
“6 month Community Workfare: Commercial competition opens for business.”
As the Void says, “This new scheme represents 780 hours unpaid work, over two and a half times higher than the maximum community service penalty that can be handed out by the courts. And this is just for the crime of being unable to find a job.”
Last night on BBC Four this was on ,
In The Report this week Simon Cox finds out why the Department for Work and Pensions has struggled to create an IT system that can deliver Universal Credit.
The government announced in 2010 that it planned to create a single payment – combining six of the current benefits available for those struggling financially. The plan for Universal Credit was developed in Opposition by Iain Duncan Smith, now Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
It was envisioned that there would be a pilot in April 2013, with the system rolled out to all new out-of-work claimants by October 2013. By 2017 all those in receipt of benefits should be claiming Universal Credit.
However, it was announced earlier this year that the pilot would only include a very small number of new claimants – the most simple to process. The national roll-out has now been scaled back. And in September this year the National Audit Office produced a damning report, saying the project had been beset with problems.
That is a pretty mild summary.
On the programme we learnt that the on-line service in the Pilot areas is barely functioning.
There is no facility to “save” so that if you are caught out half-way completed (On a public terminal) all your information is lost.
Any ‘change in circumstances’ has to be done by a (paying) telephone line – the system cannot cope with any on-line information.
They have already spent over £3000,000 million in wasted – discarded – software.
There are complaints about the “lack of control” of spending as private companies involved make a cushy living out of their own failures.
Official estimates are that a mere 1% of claimants will be in the system by next April.
That is only for the JSA people (the unemployed – us) they are trying the poorly working system out on.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has already said that this situation ahs been allwoed to spiral out of control.
Iain Duncan Smith is responsible for trying to implement this hugely complicated project too fast. But the department is responsible for not telling him to hold. As a result, the department seems to have embarked on this crucial project, expected to cost the taxpayer some £2.4bn, with little idea as to how it was actually going to work.”
On the BBC some staff were said to be “waiting” for the system to “implode.”
In the meantime more ‘Pilots’ are under way, list here,
Universal Credit is said to be going to be fully implemented by 2017.
The Mirror adds,
DEBT charity Citizens Advice Bureau is warning of big problems ahead with Universal Credit as families struggle to budget their finances and fail to operate the new online system.
Tameside CAB in Greater Manchester, one of the first Universal Credit pilot areas, has reported that last month 78% of its clients could not complete the online application forms without assistance.
CAB also found many families that are about to be moved on to the new benefit are already struggling and will need emergency financial support to help pay for basics.
Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits and is paid as a monthly lump sum.
It has been introduced in four pilot areas and will be rolled out nationwide gradually.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Ministers must listen to evidence which shows we need clarity about what support will be put in place to help people with children or ill health deal with Universal Credit.
“The difficulties reported from Tameside are a warning that people will need strong local support.
“Ministers must allow people to request fortnightly payments to help them deal with the transition to monthly payments or even more people may need to seek emergency financial support.”
Esther McVey, Tory MP, will take over from Mark Hoban as employment minister at the Department for Work and Pensions. Hoban returns to the backbenches.
Hoban is best known to the unemployed for saying this (Telegraph March 2013)
When you’ve been out of work for months it can be easy to lose motivation and be sucked into a long spell without a job. Gaining some extra experience and keeping – or discovering – the habit of work is vital.
That’s why we run several schemes where unemployed people are required to carry out a period of work on a project which benefits the community and gives a real boost to their job prospects. If they refuse that help without good reason, then they will lose their benefits for a period.
Followed by this,
Far from being slavery or punishment, these schemes are designed with the sole motive of helping people get back into work – giving them the vital workplace skills and experience which may be holding them back from getting a job. Indeed, as the Court of Appeal recently concluded in a judicial review, we are completely within our rights to expect people to attend these schemes.
There’s more Hoban Hate out there,. This is one case, “…we also know there are some out there who don’t want to roll up their sleeves, and who think they can play the system. Well I’ve got news for them – they can’t. That is why, from tomorrow, there will be tougher penalties for people on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) who don’t play by the rules.”
Unfortunately Esther McVery is of the same stamp.
This is what she’s said this year, in her capacity as Minister for cracking from on disabled people.
The benefit changes this government has introduced this month will make work pay while protecting the most vulnerable
This month we are seeing a number of key changes to the welfare state that are in line with the government’s promise to help hard-working people….
Anybody who can be bothered to read the rest of her ill-informed right-wing rant can see it here.
Perhaps these Ministers, like their immediate Boss of Bosses, Ian Duncan Smith, will end up like this right-winger,
SILVIO Berlusconi (77), one of Italy’s richest men, may soon be scrubbing lavatories, working with drug addicts or helping the homeless, after opting to serve his sentence for tax fraud doing community service.
We can but hope.
While the so-called conditionality week appears to have been scaled down, across the UK jobcentre staff are still being asked to take part in events including quizzes using offensive anagrams, offering financial rewards for staff and there are dedicated sessions looking at how to impose tougher sanctions on claimants.
We are outraged by the DWP decision to run such a week, ‘celebrating how far we have come since the introduction of tougher sanction levels last year’, according to the department’s headline news page.
At best, this is poor taste, at worst these are cynical actions intended to pressurise staff to make sanction referrals and to normalise the impact that sanctioning has on claimants and their families.
We are shocked that the DWP would think the concept of a celebratory conditionality week is acceptable, especially given media reports of the rise in the number of families using foodbanks and in some cases claimants self-harming because sanctioning. We are also very concerned that even harsher changes to welfare programmes are being announced at the Conservative party conference this week.
Real routes out of poverty
We believe the government needs to invest in more staff to deliver a more holistic public employment service. PCS has long campaigned for a welfare system that gives people the support they are entitled to and offers real routes out of poverty.
What’s your experience?
We would like to hear your experience of benefit sanctions, either on the receiving end or having to impose them.
Email – anonymously if you prefer – what you have witnessed or experienced to email@example.com
Thousands of unemployed benefit claimants will be forced to turn up at job centres for 35 hours a week to prove they are looking for work.
Iain Duncan Smith wants to make sure people claiming jobless benefits are not ‘cheating the system; by secretly working cash-in-hand.
The Work and Pensions Secretary warned that people who fail to turn up to special classrooms in job centres without good reason will lose their benefits. Daily Mail.
Ian Duncan Smith, who’s never done an honest day’s work in his life says,
“Prior to the Work Programme we are going to pilot a Mandatory Attendance Centre where selected individuals will receive expert support and supervision while they search and apply for jobs – that is 9 o’clock to 5 o’clock – 35 hours a week – for up to six months, simulating the working day.
“These pilots will be targeted at claimants who will benefit from the intensive support – one pilot before the Work Programme and one for after the Work Programme.
“Alongside the Mandatory Work Programme and our tough sanctions regime, this marks the end of the something for nothing culture.”
Except that is for those getting the work of gang mastering the unemployed, and the companies and charities running the ‘something for nothing’ free labour they will be able to use the “Help to Work” scheme.
The Daily Mirror leads with this story today,
Forced labour: Conservative party to force the jobless to work for nothing or lose their dole
The long-term unemployed are to be sent out to cook for OAPs or pick up litter in the meanest welfare shake-up ever.
Now we know what the “shake up” cited on this Blog is.
“Under tough new conditions attached to welfare payments, hundreds of thousands of claimants will be required to carry out community work such as collecting litter, cooking meals for the elderly or cleaning graffiti.
Announcing the US-style Help to Work scheme in his keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester today, Mr Osborne will say the change will end the “something-for-nothing culture”.
Claimants who have been out of work for three years and fail to find a job through the Coalition’s flagship Work Programme will be required either to do 30 hours a week of community work, report to a job centre daily, or undergo intensive treatment to tackle problems such as illiteracy or mental illness, he will say.
Those who break the rules, for example by failing to turn up for duties without a good reason, could lose their benefit for four weeks. A second offence would see them lose out for three months.
The Chancellor rejected critics’ claims that the Government is exploiting or punishing the long-term unemployed, insisting that the new schemes will help them develop the skills and attitudes they need to find paid employment.
He told ITV1′s Daybreak: “We are saying there is no option of doing nothing for your benefits, no something for nothing any more. People are going to have to do things to get their dole and that is going to help them into work.
“That’s the crucial point. This is all activity that is going to help them get ready for the real world of work.
“In order to make sure that people are ready for jobs, they have got to have the right skills and the right work talents, the right work attitudes, and this programme is going to deliver that. It is going to create a culture where people are ready for work.”
Potentially, around 200,000 long-term Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants could be eligible for the new initiative, which comes into force in April next year.”
We note (see previous post),
Statistics released by the DWP today show that the performance of the Work Programme – which was already achieving less than doing nothing at all – is steadily getting worse.
By June 2013 a lower percentage of people who had been on the scheme for one full year had found a job which lasted at least 6 months – known as a sustained job outcome – than in the previous two months. In April 2013 14% of claimants who had been on the scheme for one year had found sustained jobs, by June this had dropped to 13%.
Boycott Workfare says,
Unemployed people and campaigners have condemned George Osborne’s announcement that long-term unemployed people will be forced to work unpaid or face losing their social security as a criminalisation of unemployed people.
The maximum community sentence that a judge can hand out is for 300 hours, but claimants on six-month workfare schemes are already being forced to work without pay for 780 hours. The four-week Mandatory Work Activity scheme is already the equivalent of a medium level community service order that a person might receive if they were found guilty of drink driving or assault.
When a similar scheme was introduced in the US, thousands of jobs in the Parks Department were lost in New York alone – to be replaced with forced unpaid workers. Similar case studies have emerged in the UK, where workfare placements are already taking place in hospitals, council offices, charities and businesses.
What is the record previous workfare schemes?
A pilot has already been tried,
Boycott Workfare commented on the results,
The preliminary results are from the trailblazer pilot, which tested CAP along with Ongoing Case Management (OCM) – “a more intensive a more intensive offer of flexible and personalised adviser-based support, as well as a set of mandatory activities, delivered by Jobcentre Plus through increased adviser interventions for six months”. These two schemes were tested with a control group continuing on standard job centre plus, and participants randomly assigned to the schemes.
Fifteen to 18 per cent in each programme strand had entered paid employment, become self-employed or were waiting to start work at the time of the survey, six to seven months after starting on the trailblazer. These job outcomes did not vary significantly between programme strands, nor did the types of jobs entered, take-home pay and hours worked.
For participants on OCM, those who reported receiving more personalised support to their individual needs were significantly more likely to be in work at the end of the programme. However, for CAP participants, neither attending a placement nor receiving jobsearch support were significantly associated with a job outcome around the end of the programme.
The majority of participants reported being in receipt of JSA at the time of the survey. DWP statistics published alongside this report found statistically significantly lower levels of benefit receipt for both CAP and OCM participants compared to the control group about six months after starting the programme.
The Crown Prosecution Service announces,
Sue Patten, Head of Fraud at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Following an investigation by the Thames Valley Police Economic Crime Unit, the CPS has authorised charges against six women and three men in connection with alleged fraudulent activity at Action 4 Employment (A4E), a social purpose company contracted by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to deliver the ‘Inspire to Aspire’ employment and training scheme.
“It is alleged that between February 2009 and February 2013 nine A4E employees including one contract manager, seven recruiters and an administrator, employed across three A4E offices in the South East of England, committed numerous offences of fraud. It is alleged that they forged documentation to support fraudulent claims to the DWP for reward payments which, under the terms of the contract, were paid out when the scheme successfully placed individuals in employment. It is alleged that many of the reward payments related either to people who never attended A4E or to clients whom A4E had not successfully placed in employment. The contract was to deliver motivation and training and to assist people to find employment.
“The nine individuals are charged with a total of 60 offences, including conspiracy to defraud, multiple counts of forgery, and making and possessing articles for use in fraud.
“This decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.
“All individuals will appear before Slough Magistrates’ Court on 14 October 2013.
“All individuals are now the subject of criminal proceedings and have the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”
When will they get round to Emma? we ask.
Meanwhile the Work Programme is disarray.
The government has put a brave face on its failures by saying,
More than 168,000 jobseekers have escaped long-term unemployment and found lasting work – normally at least 6 months – through the Work Programme, an increase of 37,000 in three months, new figures show.
Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said: “Previous schemes didn’t provide the right support for the long-term unemployed and offered poor value for money for the taxpayer. We launched the Work Programme to tackle this so people got the help they needed to find a job and, crucially, given support to stay in work.”
Johnny Void says,
Statistics released by the DWP today show that the performance of the Work Programme – which was already achieving less than doing nothing at all – is steadily getting worse.
By June 2013 a lower percentage of people who had been on the scheme for one full year had found a job which lasted at least 6 months – known as a sustained job outcome – than in the previous two months. In April 2013 14% of claimants who had been on the scheme for one year had found sustained jobs, by June this had dropped to 13%.
Following intervention by the UK Statistics Agency, the latest Work Programme figures now focus on the numbers of people finding work after spending one year on the scheme. This change has been introduced to reflect that the longer someone has been on the two year Work Programme, the more likely they are to find a job. This means that the number of job outcome payments, paid to welfare-to-work companies when someone has been in work for six months (or 3 months for the ‘hardest to help’), will rise over time. This has nothing to do with the Work Programme becoming more successful – it simply means that as more people are referred onto the programme, and more people have been on the scheme longer, then there will be more job outcomes.
The Morning Star points out that this is no success,
Employment Minister Mark Hoban can manipulate his figures for as long as he wants to portray his Work Programme as a glowing success, but he’s wasting his and our time.
A programme that delivers a proper job to a measly 4 per cent of participants after a year on the scheme is a failure and does not merit ministerial praise as “significantly improving.”
The Work Programme has in year two of the scheme found sustained employment for just 17 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds even though the Department for Work and Pensions estimated that, left to their own devices, 30 per cent would be able to do so.
Similar negative results apply for workers aged 25 and over, those coming off employment support allowance and, worst of all, disabled workers.
The cruel, short-sighted policy of shutting down Remploy factories – imposed by both Con-Dem and new Labour governments – has prevented growing numbers of disabled people from earning their own living.
Further, the disproportionate effect of the bedroom tax on the disabled exposes the bogus claims made during last year’s successful Paralympic games in London.
By any standards, the government’s flagship employment policy is a failure in terms of finding people proper jobs.
In the meantime people coming off the Work Programme are beginning to be shunted onto yet more ‘schemes’ run by the usual ‘providers’.
A little birdie tells us that a “big shake up” in planned for us at the start of December.
This does not sound promising.
A4E, and SERCO are important players in the ‘welfare-to-work’ business.
A4E’s finger in the Work Programme and other pies is well-known.
SERCO runs the Work Programme in Coventry and Warwickshire, Staffordshire and The Marches; and South Yorkshire.
SERCO also runs a host of dodgy outfits, including the immigration detention centre at Yarl’s Wood.
Apparently they are up to get slice of the Probation Service as well.
First we have A4E (Guardian today),
The training company A4e has been found guilty of racial discrimination and been ordered to pay out £50,000 in compensation, the Guardian has learned. Employment tribunal judges found that the company, paid £345m by the Department for Work and Pensions for its back-to-work employment services since 2010, racially discriminated against Rohim Ullah when it unlawfully dismissed him from its Bradford office in 2011.
Two other white managers who were facing almost identical allegations of failing to follow proper procedures – one of whom was also accused of commenting that an Iraqi customer should “fuck off back to his own country” – were not subject to a similar standard of investigation, tribunal judges found.
Ullah, from Yorkshire, who was “very pleased” at winning the two-year battle, said he was picked on by the company because of the colour of his skin.”I believe the reason why they discriminated against me was they had to find a scapegoat [for failures in the office] … and they thought, we’ll get this black person here.”
In their judgment, the tribunal said it could not understand why A4e, which is appealing against the ruling, chose to proceed with allegations of serious misconduct against only Ullah and ignored the similar allegations made against two white members of staff which were “swept under the carpet or treated as minor misconduct [issues]“.
“The other managers were not even questioned regarding these allegations, but every comment that was made against me, they took it [their investigations] to the extreme limit,” Ullah said.
Giving their verdict, the judges said that 40-year-old Ullah was “the subject of unlawful detriment in facing disciplinary proceedings leading to his dismissal and that he was unlawfully dismissed as an act of race discrimination”.
In a statement, A4e said it was proud to have a diverse community of people within its organisation and that it had in place robust policies to protect their rights and to ensure that all staff were treated with dignity and respect.
Then we see this about one of SERCO’s lucrative wings (Observer yesterday),
Three more women have come forward to corroborate allegations of inappropriate sexual contact between inmates and staff at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, including claims that such behaviour is still going on.
Their accounts support allegations made by a former detainee in theObserver on Septhember 15 and challenge the assertion made by Serco, the private-sector company that runs Yarl’s Wood, that alleged sexual contact between women and staff is not widespread.
You wonder exactly how they treat their welfare clients as well.
But he has for the first time assured his Labour counterpart, Sadiq Khan, that no new contracts will be awarded to either company until a series of official “forensic audits” has given them a clean bill of health.
The official publication of invitations to bid for the privatisation of the bulk of the probation service is due soon. Both companies are leading contenders for the payment-by-results contracts under which 235,000 offenders are to be supervised each year. City analysts see few other large-scale players able or willing to bid for the work if Serco and G4S are excluded. Guardian.
It’s worth noting that the gang running SERCO delivers two Work Programme contracts on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions in:
- Coventry and Warwickshire, Staffordshire and The Marches; and
- South Yorkshire.
The chancers running G4S supply security staff for Job Centres.
These are the people now delivering ‘public’ services.
Owen Jones needs no introduction to many of the unemployed.
Apart from the fact that he is a columnist for the paper a lot of us buy, the ‘I’ (cost 20 pence), he has been of the few who has stood up against ‘welfare reform’ and benefit cuts.
Here is a sample of his writing (on the last episode of Shameless),
Most people in poverty are in working households. One in six workers have claimed jobseeker’s allowance in the past couple of years, most for just a few weeks. The desperation for work is so intense that there are now 45 people chasing every low-skilled job. Charities report parents skipping meals to make sure their kids are fed. Studies show that it is middle-class people – not the poorest – who consume the most alcohol, and are more likely to suffer from obesity. You would never know this from our TV screens and newspapers. The reality is airbrushed out of existence in favour of the extreme and the grotesque.
There are people in this country who can’t be bothered to work, who’d prefer to scrape by on the measly benefits that exist, who run amok on booze and drugs. The point is they are the exception, not the norm. But they are constantly hunted down by ratings-hungry TV producers and cynical journalists.
Shameless has had a good run. But what our TV screens need is a new wave of drama showing the reality of British life in an enjoyable way. It would mean working-class writers and producers who can break into the middle-class closed shop of the media. A challenge, to say the least. But one, I hope, that will be taken up.
Tonight Tuesday the 17th of August) Owen Jones is speaking in Ipswich.
It’s at a meeting called by Suffolk People’s Assembly,.
7 pm Co-op Education Centre.
Fore Street Ipswich (a few doors from the Spread Eagle Pub).
Suffolk People’s Assembly say No to Austerity!
Defend the NHS, Defend Education, For a Living Wage
• Owen Jones, Journalist, Broadcaster and Author of “Chavs”
• David Ellesmere, Leader Ipswich Council – Labour Group
• Graham White, Suffolk County Secretary NUT
• Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary UNITE the Union
Everybody on JSA has to use the Web for Job search.
I use it nearly every day.
This week, beginning on Monday, Suffolk libraries comptuers have been refusing to recognise my card number to log in.
I have complained.
The library has sent an E-Mail (then more E-Mails) to the IT (providers CSD Limited) about this.
The problem did not go away.
Nothing has changed.
I have a new number.
Friday nothing has changed.
I am told that the ID department, CSD, do not consider this “a priority”.
Job seekers are not much of a priority I suppose.
I am not the only person affected by this.
To add to it, other IT problems are cropping up all the time.
Suffolk Job seekers: Watch Out if you are planning to use the library computers!
Another day, another loony-bins right-wing idea about the unemployed.
Unemployed people should be made to commute for up to 90 minutes – just to sign on, according to David Cameron’s favourite think tank.
The Policy Exchange, which has close links with the Conservative Party, said the controversial proposal, aimed at people without children, would “boost their confidence of commuting”.
The idea comes in a report, Cultures of Dependency: Fact, fiction, solutions.
The bright young chap who wrote it has never done a proper job in his life,
Matthew Tinsley joined Policy Exchange as a Research Fellow in the Economic and Social Policy Unit in September 2011. He has researched on a range of economic issues, focussing on UK labour market and social policy issues. Prior to joining Policy Exchange Matthew gained a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Bristol with a focus on the labour market, policy analysis and econometrics.
We note with concern that Mr MA in loony-bins says this, “The author would also like to thank Jobcentre Plus and, in particular, Stuart Bennett and offices in Hounslow, Leicester and Stockport. Without their help the surveying of benefit claimants that underpins much of our work would not have been possible. “
His basic idea is that “Individual cities rather than central government should be in charge of helping local people into work.”
This is the recommendation that made the headlines,
Commute to Sign: Currently, jobseekers tend to be assigned to JCP offices near where they live. In areas of relatively few job opportunities, this could reinforce beliefs around the lack of work. To give some single childless claimants a broader knowledge of potential opportunities in a wider area, break down perceived barriers around commuting and boost confidence with navigating public transport, some claimants should be required to sign-on in JCP offices which are located in areas where more opportunities exist (e.g. town centres). This should be within the accepted travel to work time (legislation stipulates that jobseekers should be prepared to travel for up to 90 minutes for work) and JCP would be required to pay associated travel costs until the individual found work (for instance through the flexible support fund).
There is also this,
Family signing: Given the influence that families exert on individuals, both in terms of attitudes and opinions and directly in terms of barriers to work like childcare and caring arrangements, when barriers to work are seen to be driven by family circumstances JCP should pilot family signing. Where appropriate,105 this would involve all members of a family claiming benefits coming in to sign-on and engage with employment support together.
Discussions could involve guidance and support for how childcare is managed across the family and sign-posting to existing family-based support.
Work Groups: Once Universal Credit is rolled out, it is likely that some employed groups will be required to attend JCP to sign-on.106 We believe that these individuals could provide a positive influence on jobseekers by
extending their networks and giving them access to potential opportunities with employers. They could also break down any norms around a lack of employment opportunities or worries about work. For this reason, JCP
should pilot group employment support activities which bring together jobseekers and those in-work laimants required to sign-on.
Tinsley, Candidate Phd in Advanced Nutterism says (wisely),
Each of these areas of flexibility would likely only apply to a relatively small number of benefit claimants
I say wisely, because this is highly unlikely to happen: it would cost money and involve a lot of futile effort.
There is one major concern however.
This, “The government should go further to devolve control over employment support and skills funding, as well as sharing the rewards of any benefit reduction that they cause. This can create innovation, join up the different branches of support more effectively and reward the most successful programmes.”
Does this mean people will get unequal treatment across the country?
Is it a step towards “decentralising” benefits – that it, cutting money for those in some areas?
The Daily Mail reports,
Families become so poor they are forced to turn to food banks because of their own ‘decisions’, Michael Gove has claimed.
The Education Secretary argued that people who find themselves unable to buy essentials, including food and school uniforms have themselves to blame for being unable ‘to manage their finances’.
Amongst the many comments is this:
Gove was also accused of hypocrisy, as campaigners pointed to his own inability to manage his finances during the expenses scandal.
In 2009, Gove was forced to pay back £7,000 he had claimed to pay for luxury furnishings including a £750 Loire table.
Gove’s chaotic living arrangements also came under attack from another unlikely source. His wife Sarah Vine wrote in her first column for the Daily Mail today that having her husband “hanging around the house all summer” had been a “total nightmare”.
More details (Wikipedia),
Michael Gove claimed £7,000 for furnishing a London property before reportedly ‘flipping’ his designated second home, a property for which he claimed around £13,000 to cover stamp duty. Gove also claimed for a cot mattress, despite children’s items being banned under the Commons rule. Gove said he would repay the claim for the cot mattress, but maintained that his other claims were “below the acceptable threshold costs for furniture” and that moving house was necessary “to effectively discharge my parliamentary duties”. While he was moving between homes, on one occasion he stayed at the Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa following a constituency engagement, charging the taxpayer more than £500 per night’s stay.
Somebody who can get £500 paid for a night’s stay in a hotel may not notice this, but food prices have risen enormously.
The cost of basics like pasta, bread and potatoes has gone up faster than people like him imagine.
More widely there is this (28th June):
Living costs have risen 25% in the past five years and placed an “unprecedented” financial burden on the poor, a report has found.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said rising childcare and energy costs, coupled with stagnating wages and benefit cuts, widened the poverty gap.
Benefits have not increased by 25% in the last five years.
New figures have revealed an “alarming” 400% increase in the number of people enquiring about emergency food supplies during the past six months,, reports the East Anglian Daily Times.
The figures, based on enquiries made at Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) branches in England and Wales between February and the end of June, revealed a four-fold rise in enquiries about foodbanks across the eastern region.
Volunteers at foodbanks in Suffolk, and staff at the county’s CABs including Stowmarket, Sudbury, Ipswich and Felixstowe, also confirmed the spike in requests, blaming changes to benefits, low wages and local job losses for the increase.
CAB national chief executive Gillian Guy described the rise as “alarming” and said that “a perfect storm of pressures” was increasing demand.
The charity has also warned that despite encouraging news about employment levels nationally, its bureaux are increasingly dealing with people who are in work but need emergency food supplies to get them through to pay day.
Hazel, a volunteer at Stowmarket Foodbank which opened last September, said the number of people using the facility had gone up significantly this month with the school holidays.
She said: “We see people from all over the mid Suffolk area who have come to us via 17 different referral agencies including the Job Centre, the local children’s centre and the CAB. We see people of all ages and from all different walks of life, not just families, who are struggling to feed themselves.
“During the holidays, children do not get a free school dinner which puts an added pressure on parents.
“The benefit changes are also starting to take effect in this area so that will make a big difference.
One thing few people seem to be commenting on is that people on benefits now have to pay a percentage of Council Tax.
In effect this is a cut in the money we get.
Added to the failure to align benefits with inflation these will mean that next year our already miserable incomes will be even less.
More queues at the Food Banks!
Universal Credit, “Slight Delay” as Report Dams “Weak Management, Ineffective Control and Poor Governance.”
On the BBC this morning this was a major story.
“Universal credit: Flagship welfare reform ‘poor value’ says watchdog.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith, dismissed this report.
He bravely admitted that he had “taken the right decision” and put the programme on track for its “Autumn Roll-out”.
Any problems had been fixed.
There would, however, be a “slight delay” in introducing Universal Credit nationwide.
The National Audit Office says,
The National Audit Office has concluded that the Department for Work and Pensions has not achieved value for money in its early implementation of Universal Credit. The Department is not yet able to assess the value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop and has been forced to delay the national roll-out of the programme to claimants.
Today’s report concludes that the Department was overly ambitious in both the timetable and scope of the programme. The Department took risks to try to meet the short timescale and used a new project management approach which it had never before used on a programme of this size and complexity. It was unable to explain how it originally decided on its ambitious plans or evaluated their feasibility.
Given the tight timescale, unfamiliar project management approach and lack of a detailed plan, it was critical that the Department should have good progress information and effective controls. In practice the Department did not have any adequate measures of progress.
The spending watchdog found that the Department took some action at the end of 2012 to resolve problems, but was unable to address the underlying issues effectively. The source of many problems has been the absence of a detailed view of how Universal Credit is meant to work. In addition, poor control and decision-making undermined confidence in the programme and contributed to a lack of progress. The Department has particularly lacked IT expertise and senior leadership, with frequent changes in senior management.
Key points from the official summary of the Report to begin with,
12. The Department started a limited pilot scheme (a ‘pathﬁnder’) in April 2013.
By the end of July, the Department had expanded the pathﬁnder to four sites and had
taken around 1,000 new claims. The scope of the pathﬁnder is narrower than originally
planned, covers only the simplest new claims and includes limited IT functionality. Some
processes require intervention by staff, limiting the scalability of the pathﬁnder model
without further IT investment. The Department believes that the pathﬁnder is testing
claimant behaviour. Early indications suggest that over 90 per cent of new claims are
started on-line (paragraphs 2.7 to 2.9 and 2.16)
13 The Department has delayed rolling out Universal Credit nationally. The
Department will not introduce Universal Credit for all new out-of-work claims nationally
from October 2013 as planned. Instead it will add a further six pathﬁnder sites from
October 2013. It will also apply the claimant commitment to all Jobseeker’s Allowance
claimants by April 2014 but this will not depend on introducing Universal Credit
payments. The Department is now reconsidering the timing of full roll-out. To keep to
the 2017 completion date, the Department would have to migrate a large volume of
claimants within a short time frame (paragraphs 2.11 to 2.14).
14 The Department does not yet know to what extent its new IT systems will
support national roll-out. Universal Credit pathﬁnder systems have limited function
and do not allow claimants to change details of their circumstances online as originally
intended. The Department does not yet have an agreed plan for national roll-out and
has been unclear about how far it will build on pathﬁnder systems or replace them.
In May 2013, the Department identiﬁed the need to write off £34 million (17 per cent) of
its new IT assets. The Department will undertake a further impairment review when it
has conﬁrmed its plans for the future of the programme. The current senior responsible
owner took over in May 2013 and is revising plans (paragraphs 2.16 to 2.20).
15 The Department will have to scale back its original delivery ambition and is
reassessing what it must do to roll-out Universal Credit to claimants. The current
programme team is developing new plans for Universal Credit. Our experience of major
programmes supported by IT suggests that the Department will need to revise the
programme’s timing and scope, particularly around online transactions and automation.
It is unlikely that Universal Credit will be as simple or cheap to administer as originally
intended. Delays to roll-out.
23 At this early stage of the Universal Credit programme the Department has not
achieved value for money. The Department has delayed rolling out Universal Credit to
claimants, has had weak control of the programme, and has been unable to assess the
value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop. These problems represent a
signiﬁcant setback to Universal Credit and raise wider concerns about the Department’s
ability to deal with weak programme management, over-optimistic time-scales, and a
lack of openness about progress.
This ends with recommendations which will have to examined in detail.
They involve some substantial changes.
Like the military man that he is Ian Duncan Smith is still prepared to send his troops over the trench tops, regardless…
Force claimants to work for benefits, government urged
The BBC reports today.
A US-style “work for the dole” scheme could save £3.5bn a year in welfare costs, a campaign group has said.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) said only the “extreme sanction” of stopping claimants who refused to do 30 hours’ activity a week from receiving benefits would force them to find work.
In the absence of such a reform, the government’s flagship universal credit would have “limited effect”, it added.
But opponents of the idea have labelled it “unrealistic” and “demeaning”.
The TPA, which campaigns for lower taxes, said individuals claiming the new universal credit should have their payments automatically suspended if they declined to take part in prescribed activities.
Comment: Leaving aside everything else this is guff.
The scheme would cost an enormous amount, in overseers and the type of chancers prepared to run the scheme, to begin with,
Already a failure
For most claimants, that would mean 30 hours a week of community service, charity work, approved training, work experience or “meaningful” job hunting with officials.
Comment: ‘Community Service’ – exactly the same as those sentenced by the Courts as a punishment.
As said, the cash needed to fund those supervising forced labour, “training” and the rest, would be very great.
What would it ‘save’ – only those further punished by having benefits withdrawn. The rest would be engaged in work which would only make a profit for those assigned to the gang-masters running the show.
Unless, of course, the Tax Payers Alliance means that unpaid labour should replace public, salaried, employees.
Parents of those under four-year-olds, those caring for someone with a severe disability, and pensioners would be exempt.
Those claiming incapacity benefit or employment support allowance would be expected to take part in “activity that they are physically able to do”.
TPA chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: “The government is improving the incentive to work, but they need to go further and remove the option of sitting at home and claiming benefits entirely.
“Taxpayers rightly expect something back for the enormous amount they pay for out-of-work benefits, at the very least a real commitment to find a job as soon as possible.”
What exactly would they ‘get back’? A horde of resentful bonded labourers either engaged in ‘make work’ schemes, or replacing paid jobs – which would make the dole queue grow!
Mad Frankie Returns.
Former Labour welfare minister Frank Field – who proposed a similar idea in 2009 – urged his party to “seriously look again” at the idea.
“The next Labour government must ensure that claimants are not simply left drawing benefit rather than having an offer of work,” he said.
Few doubt that all governments have ‘looked seriously’ at the idea.
Ian Duncan Smith and his friends were initially overjoyed at plans to solve the servant problem.
James Purnell (Labour – just about – at one time) would like us to sweat as well.
But they all have peered, pored and the perspired over Workfare and found the idea a vast waste of money and unworkable.
Already a Failure.
But one group which campaigns against forcing those looking for a job to work for free said the idea had been tried and had not worked.
“These schemes are already in place and that’s why we can say they’re already a failure,” Joanna Long from Boycott Workfare told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Study after study comes out from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) showing that these schemes have zero effect on helping people find work.”
Reply to Tax Payers Alliance Boycott Workfare: Workfare is Already Here.
As the Void aptly says, Jamie Oliver is the biggest prat on the British telly – a prize for which there is stiff competition.
He has just had a big whinge about people who buy “”The ready meals, the convenience foods” and said this,
He said he wanted to “hug” them and “teleport them to the Sicilian street cleaner who has 25 mussels, 10 cherry tomatoes, and a packet of spaghetti for 60 pence, and knocks out the most amazing pasta”
We would indeed love such a meal – for sixty pence.
In Liddle pasta alone costs 49 pence – Sainsbury’s costs (same product) 95 pence.
Jamie wants people to go to markets.
There is a market in Ipswich and it sells some very good cheap veg and fruit.
But it costs the poor nearly four quid to come from the suburbs by bus – and back -to shop there.
The mussels cost well over two quid a small portion – good stuff no doubt but out of our price range.
Jamie supports his mate Jimmy, who runs a farm just outside Ipswich.
It sells organic this, and organic that, and no doubt organic whatyoumecall it.
It is to say the least not cheap.
Mind you I hear they did some Shakespeare play, The Taming of the Shrew, there a few weeks back.
Jimmy’s Pre-Theatre Dinner, Drinks and Hampers.
Theatre in the Forest Pre-Theatre Dinner Menu
Dinner will be served at 6.15pm prompt
£17.50 per head for 2 Courses
£9.50 for Children
Battered Haddock and Shoe String Fried, served with home-made Tartare sauce
Slow Roasted Shoulder of Pork, served with garlic roasted new potatoes and braised fennel
Farm Hands Salad; a melée of feta, beetroot, couscous and roasted vegetables
Summer Berry Eton Mess
Lemon Posset and Homemade Shortbread
£17.50 – well that’s a hefty chunk out of our JSA.
That’s before you pay for the Theatre ticket.
Just when he’d offended the poor for eating er, poorly, Jamie Oliver now insults another group.
The celebrity chef said British youngsters were “wet” in comparison to their European counterparts, who were “stronger” and “tougher”.
His comments come just a day after he was criticised for remarks he made about the working class diet, citing families who bought large televisions instead of healthy food.
Boycott Workfare said in July,
The government appears to have abandoned their previous plans for compulsory 6 month workfare placements for everyone finishing the 2 years on the Work Programme. There was no mention of it when they announced their post-Work Programme plans yesterday, which is a victory for all anti-workfare campaigns. By us all putting pressure on workfare providers there are no longer enough companies and charities who are willing to be involved to make such a huge scheme possible.
This was the government’s plan.
Work Programme leavers targeted by specialist advisers as part of a tough approach to get them into a job.
Gov UK Press Release. 3rd June.
Work Programme leavers will be targeted by a hit squad of specialist advisers as part of a tough approach to get them into a job.
Up to 5 specialist advisers will be based in individual Jobcentres dedicated to working with people not in sustained work after 2 years on the Work Programme.
Claimants will be given an end-of-term report from their Work Programme provider assessing what progress they have made and their ongoing needs, to inform their new adviser before facing the toughest Jobcentre regime to help them find work. At their first appointment they will have to agree a binding back-to-work plan laying out what they are required to do.
Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said:
The Work Programme is getting some of the hardest to help claimants into work despite a tough economic climate.
We always knew that there would be some who would require further support after the Work Programme, which is why we’re introducing this intensive and uncompromising regime.
We’ll be stepping up the pressure on claimants, who will be expected to attend the Jobcentre more frequently, with rigorous monitoring to ensure they are doing everything they can to find work.
Claimants will be expected to be on a training scheme, Mandatory Work Activity placement or intensive work preparation within days of finishing on the Work Programme – losing their benefit if they fail to comply. An extra £30m will be available to pay for extra training and specialist help to prepare them for work, for instance counselling for people dependent on drug and alcohol.
Claimants will also have to attend the Jobcentre far more frequently than other jobseekers, with weekly signing on being routine and some people being required to meet their adviser every day.
Every Work Programme returner will also be required to register with Universal Jobmatch to aid work search and job matching. This will allow their adviser to check their work search activity online should the claimant give permission.
The tough sanctions regime will see anyone failing to comply with mandatory activity lose benefit for 4 weeks for a first failure, with penalties of up to 3 years for serial offenders.
The intensive support will last for 6 months, and will be used for all Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants returning from the Work Programme who need more intensive support.
What We are Concerned about.
Universal Credit will be based on four ‘work-related’ criteria for unemployed claimants.
What are the work-related requirements?
There are four work-related requirements (From Citizen’s Advice):
- the work-focused interview requirement
- the work preparation requirement
- the work search requirement
- the work availability requirement.
Your claimant commitment may include one or more of these requirements, depending on your circumstances. You will be told at your interview which requirements you’ll be expected to meet.
If you have to meet the work search requirement, it means you have to take all reasonable steps to find paid work.
If you’re already working, it means you have to take all reasonable steps to find better paid work or work more hours.
You may have to do any of these things as part of your work search requirement:
- spend a certain amount of time looking for work
- apply for jobs
- create and maintain an online profile. For example, you may have to put details of your skills, qualifications and experience on a website such as Universal Jobmatch
- register with an employment agency
- get references.
Jobcentre Plus can also tell you to take specific steps to help you find work or to help you find more or better paid work, such as applying for a specific job. They can decide how long you must spend taking these steps.
If you’re required to apply for a specific job, you get an interview but you fail to take part in it, you won’t meet your work search requirement.
How much time do you have to spend looking for work?
You normally have to spend 35 hours a week doing the things in your work search requirement. Some people with caring responsibilities or who have a physical or mental disability don’t have to spend as long as this.
You must usually spend 35 hours a week looking for work. This time is known as your expected number of hours. The time you spend only counts if it gives you the best chances of getting work. If you use it in a way that doesn’t give you the best chances of getting work, it won’t count towards your expected number of hours.
Your expected number of hours may be less than 35 hours a week if you’ve got caring responsibilities or a physical or mental disability.
In some circumstances, you may not have to spend as long as your expected number of hours a week looking for work. This may apply to you if:
- you’ve got a physical or mental disability
- you’ve spent time doing paid work as well as looking for work
- you’ve spent time doing voluntary work as well as looking for work
- you’ve spent time meeting the work preparation requirement or doing voluntary work preparation
- a temporary change in your situation affects the time you can spend looking for work
- Jobcentre Plus is satisfied you’ve taken all reasonable action to get work, even though you’ve spent less than your expected number of hours doing this.
35 Hours a week doing what exactly?
What kind of sick joke is that?
The Guardian reports on a major speech to be given today by Liam Byrne, their Shadow Minister ,
“The coalition’s benefit cuts have descended into “chaos” that will cost an extra £1.4bn because of delays, extra claimants, waste and complaints,Labour claims.”
This is the bit that concerns us lot most,
Labour said the biggest cost would come from the government’s probable failure to meet its targets on the youth contract, which pays employers to hire young people. The government is projected to miss its aim of subsidising jobs by 92%, meaning 147,940 more young people on the dole at a cost of £9m a week in 2014.
The party said another large extra cost was caused by universal credit, a scheme to make sure people get all their benefits in one lump sum. Labour said this would need £300m in 2015 as the project had been hit by delays and IT problems.
“Universal credit was once a flagship, now a sinking ship,” Byrne will say. “If we don’t fix this mess, millions of families’ tax credits will be put at risk – along with billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.”
Labour also pointed to fraud and error costing £140m, the £119m cost of extra benefits caused by an under-performing welfare-to-work programme, and an additional £102m to implement the bedroom tax – cuts to housing benefit for households with spare rooms. It said tribunals related to people challenging cuts to their disability benefit would cost £290m.
Byrne will also call on ministers to impose a deadline on the healthcare company Atos to “turn things around or lose its contract” …
The BBC has just reported the speech Liam Bryne actually made,
He said Labour backed Universal Credit, which is due to replace the majority of out-of-work benefits by 2017, “in principle” but “the implementation is a disaster,” with extra costs likely to add up to £300m to implement by 2016-17. Mr Byrne says he has written to the DWP to call for cross-party talks “to see exactly how bad things are” with universal credit and “what’s needed to fix them”.
Labour would bring “social security spending” under control and “tackle these delivery problems head on”, he said.
The BBC’s Political Correspondent, Vicki Young comments,
A closer look at Mr Byrne’s speech reveals that his criticism is directed at the delivery of the programme rather than the principle.
He actually backs work capability tests for the disabled but believes another company should get the contract.
On Universal Credit, he says it’s a good idea, but needs to be implemented more efficiently – even the DWP admits it hasn’t been a smooth path.
As the Guardian noted,
“ Miliband has said the coalition’s welfare cuts will be a “starting point” that cannot be reversed without savings elsewhere, but promised an approach to benefits that will restore the “dignity of work”.”
Need we be reminded that it James Purnell, as Work and Pensions Secretary under Gordon Brown, who first put forward the idea of cutting welfare?
The final nail in social security’s coffin came with the demise of the Department of Social Security in 2001 and its replacement by the Department for Work and Pensions. The significance was underlined by James Purnell when he became secretary of state seven years later. He called it “an ideological break with the past” and dismissed the very notion of social security: “Security as something handed down; welfare as bureaucratic transfer; people as recipients of funds.”
Liam Byrne also has form on this kind of thing,
Extracts from Liam Byrne’s speeches of the past.
1. In 2011, Byrne told Labour conference: “Many people on the doorstep at the last election felt that too often we were for shirkers not workers.”
2. He told LSE a year ago: “Labour is the party of hard workers not free-riders. The clue is in the name. We are the Labour party. The party that said that idleness is an evil. The party of workers, not shirkers.”
3. An ally of Liam Byrne told the Mail on Sunday in Dec 2011: “Decent Labour voters see their neighbours lie about all day and get benefits while they are working their socks off, and say, ‘Why should I vote Labour when they let this happen?’”
Channel Four’s Shame: Benefits Britain.
So Benefits Britain screened last night.
Three volunteers confronted the benefits system of 1949. This operated (according to the Independent) on the rule that it would provide “help to those who were prepared to help themselves”. Their 2013 allowance was replaced by what they would have got (accounting for inflation) in 1949 money. The programme makers claim, “ the welfare system it resurrects is anything but a soft touch for any of the claimants, which include single parents, the disabled, the elderly and the sick.”
Everybody immediately confronted the insurance basis of the post-war Welfare system.
You only got something out on the basis of having paid in – through the National Insurance system.
It was made clear that any additional help, through National Assistance, was considered such a stigma that people were very reluctant to even try to use it.
Melvyn, a widower and a pensioner, saw his income of £100 a week drop to £5.49 a day; Karen, who had worked for 22 years presently on sickness benefit, also saw her money fall drastically, and Craig, confined to a wheelchair who had spina bifida from birth, had not NI contributions. He only got some income when he agreed to go on a training course.
Melvyn barely had enough food to live on, and found it impossible to pay his utility bills. he ended up pawning his grandfather’s watch to pay for them.
He often broke into tears recalling his beloved wife.
It was harrowing for him, and harrowing for us to watch, though no doubt good television in the producers eyes.
Karen was obliged to defend her eligibility for any benefits – her illnesses were largely invisible. She quickly became very stroppy about this and rightly so.
But then she was just a mixed-race working class women, fresh for Channel Four viewing.
Craig was very happy – as he deserved to be – at being offered a job after his course.
His dignity did not make us forget the earlier degrading scenes.
The “Welfare Enforcement Officers” (apparently a Channel Four title they just invented), Colin Goldsack and Ann Townsend clearly enjoyed themselves snooping around and policing people’s lives. They had form – both had worked for civil service departments now part of the DWP.
The producers seemed to think that intense surveillance of claimants’ lives was something of the past.
They had obviously not signed on recently.
Townsened thought that we should perhaps “consider” asking the same kind of tough 1948 questions to claimants today.
It might also be suggested that she has spent the last few years on holiday on the planet Mars.
The Indy’s telly critic, ARIFA AKBAR says,
The premise of this show seemed irresponsible and ill-thought-out. It was a bit like devising a show that put today’s mentally ill – those with bipolar, schizophrenics, anorexics and bulimics – into 19th-century’s Bedlam to see how they would fair in a pre-Freudian, pre-RD Laing era.
I was reminded of some post-War virtues Channel Four has forgotten,
The term ‘Reithianism’ describes certain principles of broadcasting associated with Lord Reith. These include an equal consideration of all viewpoints, probity, universality and a commitment to public service. It can be distinguished from the free-market approach to broadcasting, where programming aims to attract the largest audiences or advertising revenues, ahead of – and, in practice, often contrary to – any artistic merit, impartiality, educative or entertainment values, that a programme may have. Wikipedia.
Benefits Britain was cheap.
The participants were unpaid, to preserve their benefits, and the rest of the production must have cost a shoestring.
It was unable to consider the viewpoint that the system was just being created yet was an advance on what had existed before.
Other aspects of welfare, like its universality (regardless of contribution) were introduced because the insurance system did not work.
This was equally left unconsidered.
The gruelling scenes watching the poor chap Melvyn lacked all probity.
It was not universal, since nobody could imagine a sloppier comparison with the general experience of welfare today..
It breathed a dislike of public service – the present day welfare system.
It was simply aimed “to attract the largest audiences or advertising revenues.”
Benefits Britain 1949
Monday Channel Four,
Benefits claimants volunteer to live by the rules of the first year of the welfare state, to examine how our safety net should work.
Everyone’s got an opinion about the welfare state, whether we’re bemoaning ‘scroungers’ or pointing out how it’s failed the vulnerable, but there’s no consensus on how it can be fixed.
In this bold piece of living history, current benefits claimants volunteer to live for a week by the rules of 1949 to explore how our safety net should work.
Craig, who’s 24, finds that being born with spina bifida doesn’t entitle him to any benefits under the 1949 rules. But the post-war welfare state has another solution: it offers him training and work experience, and it has the power to force employers to take on workers with disabilities.
Craig has applied for hundreds of jobs in the past four years without success. Will his 1949 work experience at a call centre be a turning point?
Melvyn, who’s 71, hands over his 2013 pension, only to find that in 1949 he receives just £38.48 (the precise sum he’d have got then, adjusted for inflation). From this, he has to cover his food, bills and transport for the week.
Initially he appears to be coping well, but is soon plunged into debt and is forced to pawn his grandfather’s watch. What would the 1949 system have done with a pensioner who was failing to cope?
Karen, who’s 54, is on sickness benefit. Having worked all her life, she feels she should be entitled to greater support, rather than the government trying to take away more of her benefits.
2013 has judged her eligible for state aid, but will 1949 take as sympathetic a view of her conditions?
It is hard to find a more irrelevant comparison than between welfare in 2013 and 1949.
Have we just fought a world war?
Is rationing still around?
Has Britain recently been “bankrupt” (as it was described in 1946)
Has Britain just had to negotiate a massive loan with the US ?
What will we learn?
Here’s some guesses.
The welfare state in 1949 had not managed to completely abolish all the hard conditions for benefits set down during the 1920s and 1930s.
There was plenty of moralising around.
People were generally much poorer, worse fed, and very many were poorly housed – not to mention bombed out.
They did not get a great deal of help, beyond the minimum.
No doubt some viewers will thrill to see the out-of-work and other claimants get treated strictly.
There will be gleeful remarks about “they ought to bring back some of those rules!”
This programme looks like another feast of poverty porn - joining the worthless We All Pay Your Benefits and the John Humprys on the Future of Welfare.
Shame on Channel Four!
Probably the biggest hot debate topic in Ipswich right now is Ipswich Borough Council’s decision to virtually evict Snobs Coffee from the Town Hall.
At Snobs Coffee our aim is to create the highest quality espresso in the county. No fuss, no extras-just milk and beans. We are currently taking residence inside the Ipswich Town Hall and when we can, we are seen at events and festivals throughout Suffolk.
People need coffee: from students studying for exams to those people needing a hit to give them the urge and reason to go to work after a long weekend. For festivals, for daily pleasure or for no reason at all, Snobs Coffee is there to give you flavour, the hit, the joy and the passion.
Suffolk has always been a county of producers, so why look elsewhere for our ingredients? At Snobs Coffee we grind only locally roasted coffee and steam only locally farmed milk, bringing you an exceptional coffee from this side of the border. This means we can work closely with other small businesses to bring you the highest quality coffee in Suffolk.
Never leave a cup half empty. Always leave satisfied.
Snobs Coffee is the public cafe based in Gallery One at the Town Hall (up the steps; straight forward) created by an Princes Trust enterprise started by local entrepreneurs Abigail Curtis and Stephanie Larkin.
It didn’t seem that long ago since this temporary pop-up cafe was made permanent due to the sustainable success it created from pretty much an unloved little-used public space right in the heart of the town centre. Read more…
Last night on Channel Four there was a programme,
Channel 4 News has uncovered evidence that this growth is fuelled in part by computer hacking, with cyber criminals breaking into websites and using viruses to stoke a massive black market in Facebook likes.
It’s hard not to think of this when reading the latest news about Universal JobMatch in the Independent,
Vacancies for lap dancers in a club that offers “topless to fully nude dances” have been advertised on a government website, despite the fact that such adverts were banned from appearing in job centres over three years ago.
The Coalition’s Universal Jobmatch website was last night advertising six jobs for dancers, table-top dancers, and entertainment dancers, in an American style lap-dancing club in Norwich. People claiming jobseeker’s allowance are required to use the one-year-old site to look for work or can risk losing their benefit.
The venue hiring is the Sugar & Spice American table dancing club, which describes itself on its website as offering its customers a “unique experience” that is “compared to the out-dated traditional gentlemen’s or strip club”.
On a recent post on this site ‘Universal Jobmatch‘ (Not his real name I suspect) commented on the employment appearing on the Government’s contracted out site.
Check out the list of most common employers on Universal Jobmatch right now … http://www.dugjobs.com/employers.php
CV Library (Job Warehouse Only) Database of agencies (most fake)
Agency Central Limited (Job Warehouse) Agency
Technojobs Job Warehouse Only Shady – genuine site, but over inflated jobs on there
Strike Jobs “strike-jobs.co.uk” fake job board in the style of mobile app
CareerBuilder (Job Warehouse) CareerBuilder one of the dead job boards, now in the top 10 UJM employers but no where to be seen on directgov job search?! A job warehouse site, where mass jobs are imported without checks…. like strike jobs and most of the other job board sites, its just to build traffic to their websites whilst it fills up UJM for the government
Salian Group – a company with thousands of jobs, yet only 12 likes ( https://www.facebook.com/TheSalianGroup?ref=stream ) not much of a “group” company … the logo suggests its a Kleeneze affiliate … p.s. you can buy “likes” rather easily
Pieroth Ltd – a Wine company … with so many jobs? One job “Area Sales Representative” in EVERY town… its a sales commission self-employed position – more of an advert than anything else
Kleeneze – self-employed jobs … no real vacancies exist, as such
Monster (Job Warehouse) – Monster ….
One Recruitment Agency
Infocus Group – a directgov job search parasite legend… major scammer
Vision Focus Group – all self-employed sales jobs … not a real job
Staffworks (uk) Limited Agency
Vicomte Bernard De Romanet Ltd – A direct clone of the Pieroth Ltd jobs … same company? a competitor perhaps? We are a nation of alcoholics, but there is not that much demand for a sales agent in each town for each wine company… we have places called Tescos, Waitrose, Sainsburys etc. to buy booze from
EPCRS LTD – self employed jobs… catalogues!!! Betterware this time.
Tjgrecruitment – Agency
MechanicsRus Ltd – appears to be a legit recruitment business for the motor trade, but who knows
Aberdeenshire Council – council on an employment drive?!
Maid2Clean – cleaning agency (a bit obvious, you guess that right? lol)
Sporting Dreams – teaching agency
PK Prospekts – more self-employed sales jobs … cannot spell “prospects” correctly or perhaps an internal job
Harper Construction Recruitment – Agency
Hunkindistribution – sales agents for more catalogues!
UK Local Recruitment – worrying customer service and sales positions… job adverts have specific pages on their website to apply for all jobs except the traditional link with a job identifier ID. Seems a one web form to steal your data… would avoid like the plague
LogicMelon (Job Warehouse) – agency with mass import feature
Anglian Home Improvements – sales
The Best Connection – agency
XL Group – thousands of “Retail Sales Team” positions – more self-employed catalogue delivery and collection – assume like the others, the reason for this is to get a scan of your driving licence perhaps?
Private Eye Service Ltd – disappointment… is another catalogue collection self-employed positions
Jobsgopublic (Job Warehouse Only) – agency (with mass import) – many council jobs on their books… by the name it seems its a public sector agency… might just be re-advertising openly available public jobs as available on local government websites
Eteach Uk Limited – agency for teaching – niche – but also do motor trade and various other positions… very illogical, if they do indeed have real clients, many of which might not have real jobs going
Hays – Agency
Excuse my language, but Universal Jobmatch is fucking shit. The top 30 or so, consist of one public employer and potentially a few probably-safe agencies. The rest is littered with agencies, many of which are recession agencies, wine sales people, self-employed jobs galore and catalogue collection businesses.
Catalogues… Argos, you have to collect from a store. Next is delivered by home delivery(renamed yodel now?). Betterware, Kleeneze and AVON etc are delivered by own agents. What can these catalogue companies really be? Obviously a scam. Thousands are falling for this.
Recession or not, there aren’t that many jobs going. So how come so many agencies with thousands of jobs, yet employment levels not rocketing by half a million in the next quarter or so?! They are FAKE. Universal Jobmatch is full of scams, fake agencies and even job affiliate sites posting jobs found elsewhere to get traffic, that includes jobsball.com and the like.
A job.. A job is where you work for an employer for a wage or salary, through the books as PAYE. Self-employed is where you are your own boss, doing your own business as a sole trader. Why is 80% of the “jobs” on Universal Jobmatch, actually self-employed? The fact of the matter is, many jobseekers do not get the self-employed (record keeping, filing tax returns etc.) thing, otherwise they would set up their own business (indeed some do), they are relying on jobs… where the employer deals with paying their tax through a PAYE scheme.
As for self-employed positions that actually exist that should be a job… these will increase over the next 5+ years, as the government makes pensions contributions mandatory.
It has at least 10,000 agencies… only around 50 are even serious agencies, such as the large ones like Hays, Adecco etc
The rest are recession agencies (i.e. unemployment = money; do a business in recruitment) – most have little if any actual clients.
I think around a third of which are part-time second jobs, operated evenings and weekends – you know, they think the industry has the money but not brave enough to jack their job in to do it full time.
I get the sense many are just “testing the water”. The problem with this, it messes around, and obtain a lot of data from jobseekers.
We can see all too clearly this at work now.
Hat-tip UK Civil Disobedience.
The DWP, following the Home Office’s “go home” illegals vans, launches a new campaign to bring their message to the public.
Universal Credit is due soon….
Universal Credit is already a success, according to Lord Freud speaking at Warrington where a trial has begun,
We haven’t had anything like the problems that some people have been predicting,” he added. “Some people have asked for advances but it is a minority.
“One of the benefits is it gives many people the chance to get out of the poverty problem of having bits and pieces paid here and there.
“You can never collect enough money to make vital bigger purchases.
“The new system means they can budget more successfully.”
2nd of August, Warrington Guardian.
Meanwhile staff at the DWP tell a different story,
People have been talkling about “RESIDENTIAL TRAINING COLLEGES FOR THE DISABLED AND THE UNEMPLOYED.”
Back in the 1970s, the old DHSS (Department of Health and Social Security) ran what were called “Re-establishment Centres” for the long-term unemployed.
One was located in Newcastle, and another one near Glasgow inside an “open” prison! No doubt, other Re-establishment Centres” existed elsewhere. I suppose you could easily have called them “Residential” centres – given that the inmates had to be transported away from their homes to serve their “sentence”.
“Candidates” had to spend several months away from home while they were transformed by the State from workshy idlers into something more productive.
Don’t underestimate how easy it would be to create modern “Work Camps” for the unemployed in this country today.
I recall one person in Coventry who I knew around that time who was long-term out-of-work.
He was sent off to a camp, where they made doll houses.
However I think that Lucy is right to say that there is no talk today of compulsion and that in some cases we may (I say may) be referring to real training for disabled people.
Apart from anything else anything like this today will be expensive to run, what with all the palms of private contractors to grease, and legal challenges.
But Tobanem has already mentioned the 1930s.
Here is some detail.
As unemployment nudges closer to two million, the government is being forced to re-evaluate ways of helping those out of work to get jobs.
But as the recession deepens, the concern is about how to maintain the skills of those thrown out of work.
BBC Scotland’s Social Affairs Correspondent, Reevel Alderson, looks at the way the problem was tackled in the Great Depression 80 years ago.
It may seem incredible to us now, but it was Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government which introduced work camps – officially called “Instructional Centres.”
A network was established throughout the UK with a number in Scotland. They were at Carstairs in Lanarkshire, Glenbranter near Strachur in Argyll and Glentress near Peebles.
Ministers were concerned that many men who had been unemployed for long periods were no longer fit for work.
An official at the Ministry of Labour wrote of “the younger men who, through prolonged unemployment, have become so soft and temporarily demoralised” that they required to be “hardened” or “reconditioned.”
Those attending the camps came from the depressed industrial areas of Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Glasgow. They stayed away from home for up to 12 weeks – and if they refused to go, their dole money was stopped.
But many were in such poor physical shape when they arrived, they needed decent food before they could carry out the work.
Professor John Field of Stirling University’s Department of Lifelong Learning, who has studied the work camps, said: “They were certainly successful in getting people up to a better standard of physical fitness.
“There were medical reports which showed that people had put on quite a bit of weight, for example. We’re not talking about obesity, we’re talking about muscle.
“They were doing very hard heavy manual labour in the hills and in the forests.”
Typically the men worked for 10 to 12 hours from 6am, living in dormitories in wooden nissen huts, and they were supervised in military-style discipline by former police officers or sergeant majors.
They received part of their unemployment benefit, with the remaining nine shillings being sent to their families.
And they were provided with suitable clothing for their work, including corduroy trousers and waterproof boots.
In total about 200,000 men were sent to the camps, which continued in operation until 1939.
But it is estimated that fewer than 10% of those who had been trained there were able to get work when they went back home.
The camps were reviled by the Left. The Daily Herald called them “concentration camps,” but Prof Field dismisses that notion.
“It certainly wasn’t forced labour in that people could walk out at any time,” he said. “And certainly after 1932 when the Labour Government fell, it was only on a voluntary basis.
“That said, it was obviously not the best experience; it would have been far better to get a job, and most people would have preferred to get a job.
“And one of the reasons for not coming here that people gave was that they were more likely to get a job if they stayed at home and hung around and waited for their uncle or their cousin or their friend to tell them of an opportunity, and they were right.”
The BBC is naturally not to be wholly trusted about the political details (or, since the judgement on The Future State Of Welfare, written and presented by Radio 4′s John Humphrys, about anything to do with the unemployed).
Here is the real, more complicated, political background (from
During the prolonged unemployment of the 1920s the British government proposed a scheme for transferring labour from the worse effected areas to training schemes in the South of England. For this purpose an Industrial Transference Board was set up in 1928 to monitor and control the transfer of labour form unemployment black-spots. The ITB soon brought to the attention of the Ministry of Labour a ‘class’ of men not easily fitted into the broader scheme, men deemed ‘soft and temporarily demoralised through prolonged unemployment’. These men were considered a danger to the morale of the other men and were considered unfit for transfer until they had been ‘hardened’.
The scheme for ‘hardening’ in Labour Camps (on penalty of loss of the dole) was devised by Baldwin’s Tory government, but was carried through with Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Government and expanded by the 1931 National Government. They were supported by the TUC as well as the Labour Party, and were opposed and exposed only by the National Unemployed Workers Movement, in which the Communist Party was the leading influence.
Between 1929 and 1939 25 secret concentration camps were built in the most remote areas of Britain and more than 200,000 unemployed men were sent to these camps. The Labour Camps were conducted under military discipline and men were interned in the centres for three-month periods, working for up to nine hours a day breaking rocks, building roads and cutting down trees. In August 1939, in preparation for the war against Germany, the Ministry of Labour issued instructions that the managerial records of its own concentration camps should be weeded out, and much of the documentation was destroyed.
Hat-Tip: Boycott Workfare for bringing this excellent leaflet by ReClaim to people’s attention on Facebook.
This is the story that’s caught people’s attention – from the Independent.
In an announcement that throws the Coalition’s privatisation drive into disarray, the Serious Fraud Office was called in to investigate G4S, the world’s largest security company, over contracts dating back over a decade.
Serco, one of Britain’s largest companies, also faces an inquiry by auditors over its charges for operating tagging schemes.
The firms supply an array of services to the public sector from running courts, prisons and immigration removal centres to managing welfare-to-work schemes and the Atomic Weapons Establishment.
Between them the two companies receive around £1.5bn a year from the taxpayer, but their contracts are worth billions of pounds because the vast majority run for several years.
We have been waiting for more news on this.
But it’s worth noting (as Private Eye has) that SERCO, under investigation for fraud with G4s, is a leading Work Programme provider.
- Coventry and Warwickshire, Staffordshire and The Marches; and
- South Yorkshire.
There is of course no need to worry about SERCO’s involvement with the Work Programme.
Lord Freud himself has said so,
Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud visited the Inspire to Independence (i2i) site in Coventry in March, to find out more about Serco, our network of providers and our involvement in the Governments’ Work Programme.
The Minister conveyed how pleased he was with i2i and Serco’s Work Programme involvement and positive impact in supporting people into work.
It is well-known that not a single Work Programme provider (er hum,. except……) has ever been accused of fraudulent practices.
Especially Stupid Sanctions.
System not doing its job.
Being sanctioned – losing your benefits over an apparent misdemeanour – is commonplace.
I’ve had many letters from people trapped in a Kafka-esque nightmare – pushed to food banks, loan sharks, hunger and sometimes homelessness by a “computer says no” system.
Some sanctions can last months.
So, thanks to Birmingham Against The Cuts for producing A Selection of Especially Stupid Sanctions.
All of the below are true stories and are fully sourced at www.birminghamagainstthecuts.wordpress.com.
1. You attend a work programme interview, so you miss your job centre appointment – SANCTION
2. You apply for more jobs than required in your agreement but forgot to put down that you checked the local paper – SANCTION
3. It’s Christmas Day. You don’t do any job search, because it’s Christmas Day – SANCTION
4. You get an interview, but it’s on the day of your nan’s funeral. You have three interviews the day before and you try to rearrange the interview, but the company reports you to the job centre – SANCTION
5. You get given the wrong forms and fill them in – SANCTION
6. You have a job interview that overruns, so you arrive at your job centre appointment nine minutes late – SANCTION
7. You retire on the grounds of ill health and claim Employment and Support Allowance. You go to your assessment and during it have a heart attack, so the nurse says she has to stop the test – SANCTION
8. You get a job, isn’t that great? The job doesn’t start for two weeks, so you don’t look for work in those two weeks – SANCTION
Join in the fight
Have you or your family been affected by the cuts? Or have you been shocked by how your area has been hit? I want to reveal what’s really happening around the country every week.
POST: Real Britain, Daily Mirror, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP
CALL: 020 7293 3000 and ask for the Real Britain desk.
Many comments here, and on other Blogs by the unemployed, take up Universal Jobmatch.
Having to register with this site, as a condition of receiving JSA, was and is, a big issue.
As is whether or not DWP advisers should have to right to be able to look directly on people’s own accounts.
But more recently people have concentrated, more and more, on the faults of this site.
Here are a few.
- You have to Log in with a identity in numbers. Most web stuff, like E-Mail, uses a combination of easy to remember name and a couple of numbers. With all the lists of numbers you already have (Debit card, phone and so on), another one is hard to recall. I suspect most of us have to write this one down and keep it – something you don’t always have to hand.
- You regularly sent a list of Job alerts. The jobs on them are practically never relevant. When they are they could be in addresses that could range (for Ipswich) from London, Southampton to Lincoln. This is clearly an automatically generated system that probably rakes in some money for the American owners of the site, Monster, but is of no help for us.
- When you do a job search yourself on the site you nearly always tumble on a demand to go through another up-loading CV process, or a long and elaborate form-filling. Most people, that is those using public computer terminals, simply physically cannot do this. Suffolk libraries for example, do not permit uploading from memory sticks, or allow the time to fill in a complicated form.
- I have yet to hear from somebody who has got a simple register that you have made a Job Application from an employer.
- I have yet to hear of anybody who got a job through Universal Jobmatch. Not that there aren’t any – there must be. But amongst the unemployed forced to use the scheme its reputation is simple: you have to use it and show you’ve done so, when you give your fortnightly ‘essay’ on your job search.
I bet there’s plenty more to say!
In today’s Ipswich Star (print only) the headline is that there are 7,500 children (it says ‘kids’ – not a word used for the offspring of the wealthy I imagine) are in jobless families.
Inside there is an article about the Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford programme. We All Pay Your Benefits.
We learn that ace reporter Paul Geater got the above figure through the hard work of looking at the borough council’s own State of Ipswich report.
Geater says that the programme was “widely praised” (by whom?).
He also alleges with the mind-reading ability that can only come from his daily walk from his office in Lower Brook Street to Upper Brook Street that the “programme went down well in Ipswich.”
Labour Ipswich Borough Council leader, David Ellesmere is less impressed.
He is cited saying that there are “major difficulties” for people looking for work. “There are many more people who are looking for jobs than there are jobs available…”
However Ipswich Tory MP Ben Gummer says that the first episode of the programme “We Pay Your Benefits” was “very fair”.
Citing opinions that can be found, with ease, in the Daily Mail, he talks of people’s “Genuine irritation” (as opposed, we suppose, to fake irritation) at the poor who sit at home and “live off benefits”.
He says that changes in the benefit system will not make people worse off if they work.
Who would have thought that working could make you better off than getting the dole!
He praises (the Star generously giving him three times the space of Labour’s David Ellesmere) a drop in local youth unemployment, from 1,320 in February 20123 to today – 900.
We wait with interest the figures after this year’s school leavers join the queue for jobs.
With the wisdom that can only come from Gummer’s expensive public school education he adds, that we need the creation of “genuine jobs”.
The Independent reported a few weeks back,
David Cameron today signalled the end of “compassionate Conservatism” with plans for a crackdown on welfare spending for the young, the jobless and those with large families.
Then we learnt that the millionaire Cabinet has decided (amongst other policies).
* Greater use of contraception to reduce “repeat abortions” and propose diluting the rights of workers in small businesses;
* Deducting from child benefit payments any fines imposed on the parents of truants.
We suppose they will supervise contraception for young women.
And put special supervision in place for parents on benefits with children in school.
Today (BBC) we hear of a further ‘cap’ on benefits.
Chancellor George Osborne is considering lowering the maximum amount families can claim in benefits to £20,000 a year, Treasury sources say.
A £26,000 cap on the total amount of benefits that non-working people aged 16 to 64 can receive, is coming into force in England, Scotland and Wales.
Critics say the changes will not tackle underlying problems of worklessness.
But Treasury sources say the cap could be lowered in future if it is shown to work.
Now this sounds like a lot of money.
But everyone gets the same basic rate of JSA etc.
The money is for housing.
That is, it goes to landlords not claimants.
What will happen is that people living in high-cost areas, like London, will be forced to move.
On Channel Four last night a woman single parent who lives in North London (Enfield) and is on benefits is being told that with the ‘cap’ she will have to move – possibly to somewhere near Birmingham.
We also hear,
Child benefit, income support or tax credits could be withheld from families who have a third child under the plan, Mr Shapps told the Daily Mail.
The minister also suggested unemployed people aged under 25 should be denied housing benefit so they continued to live with their parents for longer.
The Liberals and Tories are truly a Coalition of nosey-parkers telling people where and how they can live.
Outside Silent Street Job Centre: so near but so Far!
‘Nick and Margaret’ did a programme based in Ipswich last night.
It was called We all Pay Your Benefits.
The I (newspaper of choice for the unemployed, 20 pence a throw) said most of what you need to know in its preview.
“You don’t have to Marxist to feel slightly uneasy about the class politics of billeting the low-paid, tax-paying employed with the long-term unemployed with an exercise top see whether the latter really are lording it on benefits, as some would have us believe
It smacks of divide-and-rule between the deserving and undeserving poor. – especially with the current and former judges on The Apprentice, Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford, as Olympian overseers.”
We were contacted about this programme.
‘Nick’ (I think, I had no idea of who he was since I’ve never watched the Apprentice) ) phoned me.
He described what it involved: groups of the in-work talking to the out-of-the-work about what they think benefits should be.
I declined to be involved.
How right that decision was!
The whole think smacked of people telling other people how they should live their lives.
It began with the statement that this pair, Nick and Margaret, had worked all their lives.
Everyone should be like me!
It was soon worse than that, a really nosey-parker festival.
I soon flipped back to Frost on my fifty metre telly and went back to me tin of caviare and bottle of Bolly.
Apparently this was only the first episode.
We expect the BBC to commission Jeremy Clarkson for a future show.
The hard-right Daily Telegraph said a few days ago,
Foreigners claiming benefits will be forced to attend English classes or they will lose the right to state support. The unemployed will have to start looking for work, and wait at least a week, before being able to receive handouts.
Mothers with young children will also have to begin preparing to return to work earlier under the plans, which will cut payouts by almost £2 billion by 2018.
The bulk of the upfront savings, about £400 million, will be ploughed back in immediately to pay for the new system in a signal that the Government has sacrificed short-term savings to try to solve Britain’s unemployment problem in the long term.
Anybody who writes a paragraph calling state benefits ‘hand outs’ should take English classes themselves.
But I let that pass.
How is making some person who doesn’t speak the Daily Telegraph’s Her Majesty’s Tongue learn it is going to solve Britain’s unemployment problem may also take some explaining.
What you need to know when you go to your 1st appointment at the Jobcentre after your Work Programme
From Obi Wan Kenobi .
This valuable contribution should be closely read.
I have correlated FOI request and a DWP release, you will need this when you go to your 1st appointment at the Jobcentre after your Work Progamme finishes as you may be lied to by your Jobcentre Adviser, with this you will be able to put them straight, copy this if you want to. You may have tidy it up with Microsoft Word.
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team.
Universal Jobmatch Toolkit: 22.03.13.
Chapter 03 – Using Universal Jobmatch. (UJ)
Issuing a Jobseeker’s Direction to mandate JSA claimants to
create a profile and public CV in Universal Jobmatch:
51. Where you have explained the benefits to claimants of creating a profile and public CV in Universal Jobmatch and they will not do so willingly, they can be mandated to create a profile and public CV.
52. However, for legal reasons, you cannot issue a Jobseeker’s Direction to mandate a claimant to create a profile and public CV unless a DWP IAD service is reasonably available to them should they need to use one – for example, because they do not want to accept cookies and therefore need to have access to a device on which cookies have already been accepted.
53. You also cannot issue a Jobseeker’s Direction to mandate a claimant to give us access to their account – this is their decision not ours.
Actively Seeking Employment:
82. We cannot specify to a JSA claimant how they provide us with records of their jobsearch activity and Universal Jobmatch will not change this.
Press release Government announces details of post Work Programme support.
Organisation: Department for Work & Pensions.
Updated: 3 June 2013.
Policy: Helping people to find and stay in work.
Every Work Programme returner will also be required to register with Universal Jobmatch to aid work search and job matching. This will allow their adviser to check their work search activity online – should the claimant give permission.
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team.
Our Ref: VTR 2437
12th June 2013.
Dear XXXX XXXXXX
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.
It is not mandatory for a person claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance to supply Jobcentre Plus with an email address and home telephone number. There are currently no plans for any third parties to be given direct access to accounts on Universal Jobmatch.
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.
DWP Universal Jobmatch Team
Solomon Hughes writes in the Morning Star today,
This week the Times had a gripping report about Deloitte, the accountants who are supposed to get everybody following the rules, apparently twisting the rules to stop people getting compensation.
Lloyds TSB tricked people into buying useless payment protection insurance on its loans. This is a vast scandal, with the bank cheating customers out of cash on an industrial scale.
So far Lloyds has paid £4.3 billion to 1.3 million customers it conned.
Lloyds hired Deloitte to run one of its PPI claims offices, processing letters from people who were tricked by the bank into buying useless insurance.
Deloitte added insult to injury by obstructing their compensation claims.
This was good journalism by Times journalist James Dean. But it has a wider significance because Deloitte doesn’t just bamboozle bank customers.
This is available from their own site,
Ingeus Deloitte joint venture
The Work Programme
From June 2011 the Department for Work and Pensions’ flagship Work Programme will replace many of the welfare-to-work programmes currently being delivered across the UK.
The Work Programme, based on a partnership between government and providers from across the public, private and third sectors, seeks to bring a new dynamic to welfare-to-work in the UK and aims to support more people to move from benefits into lasting employment.
A joint venture between leading welfare-to-work provider, Ingeus UK Limited, and professional services firm, Deloitte, has been selected as a ‘preferred supplier’ under the DWP’s Framework for the Provision of Employment Related Support Services. The joint venture has submitted tenders to deliver the Work Programme as a prime provider in seven regions across the UK.
The Ingeus and Deloitte joint venture is also developing services in other areas, such as education, skills and training, and health and wellbeing.
The joint venture combines Ingeus’ strong track record of delivering high-quality employability services with Deloitte’s expertise and capability in public service delivery, particularly with regard to supply chain management and large-scale programme implementation.
Solomon Hughes continues,
eloitte helps to run Iain Duncan Smith’s programme for the unemployed in partnership with an Australian company, trading as Ingeus.
Its Work Programme contracts are worth a staggering £773 million.
When the first Work Programme performance figures were published last November, every one of Deloitte’s benefit-busting contracts failed to meet “minimum performance levels.”
It couldn’t get 5 per cent of its unemployed clients into work.
The Department for Work and Pensions estimated that 5 per cent would find work without their help, so Deloitte’s Ingeus were literally worse than nothing.
This is no surprise. Deloitte’s Ingeus also got loads of work on benefit-busting contracts from the last Labour government.
They were inspected by Ofsted, which found “inadequate” outcomes in five out of six schemes.
Ofsted’s description of the schemes sounds a little like Dean’s description of the PPI sweatshop.
Ofsted said: “The delivery of information is over-reliant on trainer-led presentations and is often uninspiring.”
The jobless had “insufficient access to computers, which they regularly require for jobsearch activities. They often have to wait for long periods to access them.”
Staff were especially bad at helping unemployed folk with health problems.
Deloitte’s benefit-busters have responded to its Work Programme failure by punishing the unemployed. It has high rates of “sanctioning” – that is, it keeps telling the DWP to stop the benefits of claimants on its scheme.
So money flows from the taxpayer to Deloitte via Ingeus without ever helping the unemployed, who often lose benefits in the process.
Deloitte’s reliance on taxpayer cash is especially galling as it advises big corporations on how to avoid tax.
So how does Deloitte, a firm that seems to twist the rules it is supposed to uphold, thrive?
The answer is the same as for all the Unemployment Business.
In part it’s because it likes to give money to influential people. To widespread disgust, it gave former Revenue and Customs boss Dave Hartnett a job as an adviser.
Deloitte likes boasting about capturing politicians and officials. In 2009 it announced “the appointment of Lord Warner as a strategic adviser to its public-sector practice,” with particular focus on “health and social care.”
Norman Warner was a Labour health minister. Deloitte said: “Lord Warner’s wealth of experience in formulating and delivering successful health and social care policies will be invaluable to our clients.”
Under Warner, the Labour government mortgaged many hospitals under PFI schemes. This was disastrous for the NHS, but made millions for accountants like Deloitte.
Deloitte boasted that hiring Warner “follows a series of high-profile business appointments.”
They included hiring Nick Prior, the head of the Ministry of Defence private finance unit, where he too organised many accountant-enriching but poorly performing PFI contracts.
Deloitte also made friends by giving the Conservatives around £430,000 worth of staff help since 2009. This included a member of staff in Chris Grayling’s office when he helped to draw up the plans for the Work Programme.
You get the message…
This is the measure of the failure that the Government is going to have to deal with for those ending the Work Programme.
Long-term unemployment rose by 11,000 between February and April in the UK on the quarter before amid criticism that the government’s flagship welfare-to-work scheme, the Work Programme, is failing.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows there are now 898,000 people who have been out-of-work for more than a year.
The unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.8% on the quarter, though the level fell 5,000 to 2.51 million. Employment sunk 0.1% to a rate of 71.5%, though the level lifted by 24,000 in the three month period to 29.76 million.
Job Seeker’s Allowance claimants dropped 8,600 on the month in May, to 1.51 million. On the year it had fallen by 87,600.
Then there is this,
The Work Programme uses private contractors to help lift the long-term unemployed – those out of a job for more than a year – into sustained employment.
These providers are then paid by performance, but the first set of data to emerge from the Work Programme showed a lower success rate than the government had predicted should the scheme not even have existed in the first place.
It helped just 3.6% of its participants off benefits and into work during its first 14 months.
The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) target was 5.5%.
MPs on the Public Accounts Committee labelled the scheme “extremely poor” and that it was failing the hardest-to-help in particular, such as the disabled, accusing providers of side-lining them in favour of easier cases because the cash incentives built into the system were not working.
“While we recognised that it is early days for the Work Programme, such poor performance undermines the confidence in its long-term success,” said the PAC, which has taken evidence from ministers and service providers.
“The DWP needs a better understanding of the factors that led to early performance being well below expectations in order to assess whether the longer term targets for the Work Programme are still achievable.”
A separate group of MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) backed up the PAC’s findings in their own report.
“It is clear that the differential pricing structure is not a panacea for tackling creaming and parking,” said Dame Anne Begg MP, WPC chairwoman.
“The Government must do more to ensure that the Work Programme provides effective support for all jobseekers, not just the ones who are easiest to help.”
The WPC also found that caseworkers were being overloaded and struggled to keep up, with some having been given caseloads of between 120 to 180 each.
“This ratio is simply far too high for an effective service and must be brought down,” said the WPC report.
So what exactly is going to happen to us after our period on the Work Programme?
That is those not in the magnificent 3,6%.
How are they going to deal with their miserable performance?