Welfare-To-Work Firms call for more Unemployed to have Benefits Sanctioned.
Cut Your Benefits So I Can Keep This.
As Emma Harrison (still owner of A4E) and other Welfare-to-Work millionaires rake in profits, and get around 3,5% of their clients jobs, they demand the government take benefits away from the unemployed, the Observer reports,
Private firms awarded multimillion-pound contracts to run the Work Programme have advised that there should be many more cases where claimants have their benefits stripped as punishment for failing to seek work.
As part of its crackdown on welfare dependency, David Cameron’s government has more than tripled the number of punishments enforced against failing jobseekers across all its schemes. The number of cases has risen from 139,000 benefit cuts under Labour in 2009 to more than 500,000 in 2011.
Corporate Watch, publishing in tandem with the Observer, has the details behind the figures,
Sanctioning – stopping someone’s benefits after a perceived infringement of the terms of their claim for between one week and six months – was a favourite policy of the previous government but figures revealed by Corporate Watch and the Observer today show the coalition, together with sub-contracted private ‘provider’ companies, has massively increased the amount of sanctions imposed.
To download as a pdf click here.
Read a personal experience of being sanctioned here.
139,000 sanctions were handed out to Jobseeker’s Allowance* claimants in 2009 but this more than tripled to 508,000 in 2011, the coalition’s first full calendar year in government.** There was little change in the number of people signing on in this period, meaning a much higher proportion of people have had their benefits cut.*** In February 2011 for example, 1.44 million people were claiming JSA compared to 1.42 million in 2009. 51,000 sanctions were imposed in the former month, compared to 9,000 in the latter.
Many of these sanctions are initially suggested, or ‘referred’, to the Department of Work and Pensions by the private companies the government has sub-contracted to run many of its welfare schemes, such as the flagship Work Programme, for people who have been signing on for a year or more. DWP statistics, obtained by a Corporate Watch freedom of information request (download the disclosure here), show companies such as Serco, Seetec, Working Links and A4E have been even more eager to sanction people than the government.
The article notes,
A spokesperson for claimants’ group Ipswich Unemployed Action said: “This shows that the Government is using the DWP to punish unemployed people instead of helping them get jobs.”
This is our (Work Programme’s) original investigation New Deal Sanctions Exposed.
Worth noting are some of the companies baying for punishing the out-of-work.
The public-private partnership giant, Working Links, which boasts a turn-over of £123m and whose shareholders include Capgemini, referred the most cases for sanctions (11,910) between June 2011 and January this year. The jobcentres accepted the argument for cuts in 6,210 of those cases.
A4e, which paid its former chairman Emma Harrison an £8.6m dividend in 2010, referred the second largest number of cases for punishment. The firm, which has been at the centre of a series of fraud allegations, requested sanctions in 10,120 cases. Jobcentres agreed to withhold benefits in 3,000 of those cases.
Other large contract holders leading the way in demanding punishment for benefit claimants included Serco, which has an annual turnover of £4bn a year. The outsourcing giant recommended punishment in 9,090 benefit claimant cases, but only 2,230 were approved.
Who are these people? Wikipedia is a good place to start.
Working LinksIn May 2011 a former auditor of Working Links claimed that the level of fraud at Working Links escalated to “a farcical situation” and was “endemic” but that he faced a “stonewall” from managers. Mr Hutchinson said he had encountered “a multi-billion-pound scandal”, after working for Working Links and A4e in the welfare-to-work industry. Working Links said: “We firmly reject any assertion of widespread fraud within our business.”
A4E needs no introduction.
SERCO is indeed a giant living of the public purse. Amongst its many activities are:
- Detention: Serco supplies electronic tagging devices for offenders and asylum seekers. In Britain, Serco runs four prisons, a Young Offenders Institution and a Secure Training Centre. It also operates two Immigration Removal Centres. Serco is also responsible for the contracted-out court escort services in the south-east area (formerly a role undertaken by HM Prison Service). In addition, Serco runs partly privatised Hünfeld Prison in Hesse, Germany. In Australia Serco runs Acacia Prison in Western Australia and Borallon Correctional Facility in Queensland as well as the national contract for immigration detention centres, including Christmas Island and the Villawood detention centre in Sydney. In Auckland, New Zealand Serco runs the Mt Eden remand prison  and in March 2012 was awarded the contract to build an operate a 960 bed prison at Wiri.
- Defence: Serco holds defence contracts worldwide including the UK Government’s first modern outsourced contract for the maintenance of the UK Ballistic Missile Early Warning System at RAF Fylingdales; contracts are also held for the operation and maintenance of RAF Brize Norton,RAF Halton and RAF Northolt in the UK and RAF Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic. Serco also provides support services to garrisons in Australia. Serco also manages many aspects of operations at the Defence College of Management and Technology in Shrivenham. Serco is one of three partners in the consortium which manages the Atomic Weapons Establishment. Serco also has a 15 year contract worth £400 million to provide facilities management services to Dstl.