Work and Health Programme: Will it Treat the Unemployed as “ill”?

Is this what the DWP Plans? 

The Mirror raises issues about the new scheme that is to replace the failed Work Programme, notably Mandatory Work Activity and Community Work Placements.

The new one is called, The Work and Health Programme.

Its aim is to help long-term sick people find a job, but a DWP spokesman could not confirm whether it will involve forced labour because the details have not yet been drawn up.

Ms Long (of Boycott Workfare)  said: “We’re concerned about any trend towards making unemployment look as if it is a symptom of mental illness rather than a symptom of the economy.

“It does seem quite sinister that they’re shifting towards health interventions.”

Iain Duncan Smith said in a statement: “Our welfare reforms are fundamentally about delivering greater opportunity through life change: supporting everyone who is able to work to do so, while at the same time maintaining the valuable safety net for those that need it.

“This government has made remarkable progress but there’s more to do.”

Now we are well aware of schemes to treat the unemployed as “ill”.

The Mirror report indicates that the long-term sick will be on the same programme as everybody else.

What exactly is the ‘Health’ part of the scheme for those who are healthy?

What is this “life change” Iain Duncan Smith mentions?

Boycott Workfare raises a good point which refers, without doubt, to this:

June 26th this year:  Mental health workers protest at move to integrate clinic with jobcentre.

Mental health workers and their clients marched on a jobcentre in south-west London in protest at a scheme they say frames unemployment as a psychological disorder.

The Department for Work and Pensions announced in March that Streatham’s jobcentre would be the first to have therapists giving mental health support to help unemployed people back into work.

The DWP has now said that announcement was a mistake. But by coincidence, next week Lambeth council will open a £1.9m mental health clinic in the same building.

Mental health workers and service users, furious at what they see as an attempt to embed psychological treatment in a back-to-work agenda, were to go ahead with their demonstration anyway.

This is the crucial bit,

Anger has been growing since the March budget announced a scheme to bring counsellors into jobcentres to offer “integrated employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions”.

Under the plan, therapists from the NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme would support jobcentre staff to assess and treat claimants, who may be referred to online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) courses.

According to a recent DWP reply to a Freedom of Information request, the therapists would provide “Nice [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence]-approved and evidence-based psychological therapies to treat people with depression and anxiety disorders”.

And more here:  Counsellors in Jobcentres or Agents of Social Control ?

It’s time to make a stand, I am not the only therapist who is concerned that individuals who are claiming benefits may be forced to undergo therapy or be sanctioned.

The government announced in March’s budget an, “Integrated employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions”.

This “initiative” will see therapists from the NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT),) “co-locate” to more than 350 jobcentres.

As anxiety about the Work and Health Programme grows (no doubt abated by the Little Book of Calm and aromatherapy), we need to know the details.


Workfare Abandoned: Even the Cats and Mice of Ipswich Jump for Joy!



Even the cats and mice of Ipswich are jumping for joy!

In a major victory for campaigners, two of the main workfare programmes are to be abandoned the DWP has quietly announced today.  Private sector contracts to run Community Work Placements and Mandatory Work Activity will not be renewed says the department in their response to George Osborne’s spending review.

Reports the Void – amongst jubilation from the masses.

“The Spending Review and Autumn Statement delivers on the government’s priority to provide security to working people at every stage of their lives. It sets out a 4 year plan to fix the public finances, return the country to surplus and run a healthy economy that starts to pay down the debt. By ensuring Britain’s long term economic security, the government is able to spend £4 trillion on its priorities over the next 4 years.


For the Department for Work and Pensions this means:

  • continued roll-out of Universal Credit, extending job search conditionality to a further 1.3 million claimants per year by 2020-21
  • a real terms increase in funding to help those with disabilities and health conditions return to, and remain in, work
  • a new Work and Health Programme replacing the Work Programme and Work Choice which will provide specialist support for the long-term unemployed and claimants with health conditions and disabilities
  • investment to enable DWP to become a smaller, more efficient department spending 22% less on administration in real terms, 34% less in real terms on technology and occupying 20% less estate.


But our friends point out:

This is not the complete end of workfare, with some claimants still facing forced work on the Work Programme, at least for now.  The ever growing number of  unpaid work experience schemes such as Traineeships – which are officially voluntary but often coerced in practice – are also not likely to be abandoned yet.  And of course we may yet see mandatory unpaid work return under another name, whilst this news doesn’t help those currently serving workfare sentences or those who may be referred before the schemes are wound down.


Ominously the DWP are also announcing a new Work and Health Programme aimed at the long term unemployed along with sick and disabled people.  The fight is far from over, but the scrapping of the two key workfare programmes shows the power of collective action to frustrate and even destroy the Government’s mass workfare ambitions.

Indications from our own experience may indicate that this will mean schemes that are “in house” from the DWP.

The chancers or “providers” (companies offering the present programmes) milking the present system for their own profit may become the victims of ….cuts.



Osborne to “Dismantle Welfare State Brick by Brick”.

George Osborne Sneering at the Less Well Off.

This confirms what a lot of us have thought for some time: the Tories want to take away the social rights of millions, make poverty the spur to accepting low pay and poor conditions, and let their chancer friends make as much money as possible out of the corpse of the Welfare State.

Background in the Telegraph.

Spending Review: IFS warns of deepest cuts in history

The state will be radically different by the time George Osborne has finished cutting public spending, Institute for Fiscal Studies says, ahead of the Spending Review and Autumn Statement on November 25.

In the article we see this,

Mr Osborne is now legally required to cap welfare spending each year, meaning he has little room for manoeuvre in easing the cuts.

George Osborne ‘Wants To Dismantle The Welfare State Brick By Brick’

George Osborne is seeking nothing less than the complete dismantling of the welfare state, says John McDonnell.

Britain’s poorest households are bracing themselves for some of deepest cuts we have ever seen, with Labour warning that George Osborne is seeking nothing less than the complete dismantling of the welfare state.

The Chancellor is said to be preparing a devastating myriad of cuts to benefits and vital services for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society, which he will unveil in the Autumn Spending Review later this week.

Osborne is reported to have reached a deal with the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to safeguard the Universal Credit budget in return for cuts in other areas of welfare spending.

Iain Duncan Smith reportedly threatened to resign if Osborne raided Universal Credit to soften the blow of tax credits cuts.

The move would have meant that the taper rate for Universal Credit would rise from 65p to 75p, meaning that working people would lose 75 pence for every pound earned over the earnings threshold – removing “work incentives”, say opponents.

It is believed that cuts to tax credits will continue to go ahead, be it in a slightly diluted form, despite opposition from a growing number of Tory MPs and recent defeats in the House of Lords.

The exact scale of those changes is as yet unknown, but it is believed that Osborne is seeking reductions in housing benefit to “mitigate”, or slow down, the pace of cuts to tax credits.

It has also been reported that Osborne will push for far-reaching cuts to council services, including reductions in social care spending for the elderly.

Sickness and disability benefits may also be targeted for further cuts.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says Tory austerity cuts are ideologically driven, and more about shrinking the state than tackling the nation’s deficit.

George Osborne will use “smoke and mirrors” to cut spending on social security, he said.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the deficit – the gap between what the government spends and takes in – grew by 16% in the year from October 2014 to £8.2bn, significantly higher than the £6bn forecast by economists.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast that this could reach a staggering £69.5bn in the fiscal year to April 2016.

The damning figures have exposed Osborne to claims that his austerity agenda simply isn’t working, and also that the government is failing to balance the books.

However, John McDonnell says George Osborne’s cuts aren’t about tackling the deficit.

“If he really wanted to do that, he wouldn’t have cut inheritance tax, or corporation tax or sold off some of the things that were making profits.

“That’s why I think it’s about more than that. It’s ideological. He wants to dismantle the welfare state brick by brick.”

It is worth reading this in full: Welfare Weekly. 

So Iain Duncan Smith has saved something of his pet project, at the expense of other people on benefits.

What a surprise…

The BBC reports,

George Osborne’s plan to raise more money than he needs to spend is “unacceptable” when he is cutting benefits, according to John Swinney.

Scotland’s deputy first minister has written to the chancellor ahead of his Autumn Statement.

Mr Osborne has argued a surplus is needed while the economy is growing.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has also sent a letter to him warning of the “devastating consequences” of his cuts to tax credits.

In his letter, Mr Swinney said the tax credit cuts would deprive a quarter of a million households, many living on low pay and raising children, of an average £1,500.

See also: The Observer view on the autumn statement. 

Suicides Linked to DWP Work Assessments.

Almost 600 Suicides Could Be Related To DWP Work Assessments, Claims New Research

This was  announced in September:

More than 2,650 people died within six weeks of being found “fit for work”, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed.

Figures released today show that between December 2011 to February 2014, 2,650 people died after being told they should find work following a “Work Capability Assessment”.

Huffington Post

Now the same Post announces this,

Almost 600 “additional” suicides could be related to the Government’s Work Capability Assessments, according to research published today.

A study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health claims the areas of England with the greatest use of the assessments has also seen the sharpest rise in reported suicides, mental health issues, and antidepressant prescribing.

The report says the assessments may be having “serious adverse consequences for mental health” and even suggested doctors involved in the process could face “ethical issues” in continuing with the tests.

You can read the report, free access,

This is the DWP reaction.

The Department for Work and Pensions, which operates the policy, described the report as “wholly misleading” and pointed out even the authors recognised no conclusions can be drawn about the assessments and the suicide rates.
The Post says,

The report, which was led by Dr Benjamin Barr from the Department of Public Health and Policy, from the University of Liverpool, reads: “Our study provides evidence that the policy in England of reassessing the eligibility of [disability] benefit recipients using the WCA (Work Capability Assessment) may have unintended but serious consequences for population mental health, and there is a danger that these adverse effects outweigh any benefits that may or may not arise from moving people off disability benefits.

“Although the explicit aim of welfare reform in the UK is to reduce ‘dependency,’ it is likely that targeting the people living in the most vulnerable conditions with policies that are harmful to health, will further marginalise already excluded groups, reducing, rather than increasing, their independence.”

The report claims that after taking into account the socio-economic background of different parts of the country, as well as long-term trends in mental health, a total of 590 additional suicides could be related to the assessments between 2010 and 2013.

There were also an additional 279,000 extra cases of mental ill health and 725,000 more prescriptions for antidepressants.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, said there were concerns people with mental illness undertaking the assessments may feel “threatened and afraid.”

She said: “An assessment is made as a snap judgement by someone who does not know the claimant’s history, with little knowledge of the fluctuating nature of many mental illnesses. Nor do they realise how long-term and debilitating some conditions can be.

“The pressure imposed by being told you are ‘fit for work’ and no longer eligible for benefits can reinforce feelings of despair, in some cases leading to people taking their own lives.”

The Guardian adds,

Tom Pollard, the policy and campaigns manager at the mental health charity Mind, said: “This worrying study shines a light on the damaging impact the work capability assessments can have on people’s mental health. We’ve long been calling on the government to overhaul their current fit-to-work tests.

“We know that people with mental health problems often find these assessments hugely stressful and, since they don’t accurately assess the extent to which a mental health problem can affect someone’s ability to work, many individuals get the wrong outcome. This could mean they are required to look for work before they are ready, or have to go through a lengthy and stressful appeals process to challenge the decision, all of which can impact further on their mental health.

“This research provides further evidence that this process can be seriously harmful, yet thousands of unwell individuals still have to endure it every week.”

Anita Bellows, of campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said: “It comes as no surprise for DPAC and confirms anecdotal evidence that we have been receiving on a daily basis of people being placed under intolerable stress, misery and hardship by the work capability assessment.

“With people hounded by the Department for Work and Pensions and subjected to endless reassessments, people consistently tell us that their conditions are worsened by this inhuman regime, especially people with mental health issues, while those with physical impairments also find their conditions worsen due to the intolerable stress.

“We have repeatedly called for the scrapping of the WCA, and the results of this survey make this even more urgent. Too many lives have already been damaged or lost.”

And the DWP?


A DWP spokesman said: “This report is wholly misleading, and the authors themselves caution that no conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

“In addition, it is concerning that they provide no evidence that the people with mental health problems highlighted in the report even underwent a work capability assessment.”

 But the Independent leads with..

Iain Duncan Smith’s tougher fit-to-work tests ‘coincide with 590 additional suicides’

Academic researchers also find 279,000 cases of mental ill health and 725,000 more prescriptions for antidepressants.

Benefit Sanctions and Mental Health.

Began Last Year and has got worse since…

Anybody with eyes and ears knows that there are a lot of people with mental health issues around.

Those who’ve been on the Work programme and the rest of the dreamt-up courses and schemes for the unemployed are probably aware that people with these difficulties are often shoved onto them, with no real consideration of what it means for them.

It seems that with many have been pushed off various benefits like Employment and Support Allowance (ESA ) onto JSA and all that means in terms of the above.

Anybody with an ounce of common sense can see that people with clinical depression, even just thoroughly down in the dumps, is likely to have a hard slog of it fulfilling all the criteria the out-of-work are meant to do.

Places like public libraries, not to mention the streets, are home to individuals either receiving some kind of treatment, or, with cuts in services, increasingly no help whatsoever.

Round here there’s been the endless saga of the ramshackle Suffolk and Norfolk Mental Health Trust.

This dates from June,

Revealed: Damning contents of staff report into problems within Norfolk and Suffolk’s mental health trust

Mental health staff told of feeling ‘helpless’, ‘disempowered’ and described their department as being ‘in chaos’ in a damning report, which raised serious concerns about the safety of patients they treat.

Now we have this (Thursday):

Mental health cuts ‘put lives at risk’

Cuts to adult mental health services in England have started damaging the quality of care given to patients, a report suggests.

The review by the King’s Fund think tank found there was now “widespread evidence of poor quality care”.

Researchers linked this to the use of unproven, cheaper services in a bid to balance the books.

One mental health charity says “disappearing” services are putting lives at risk.

But the government said the amount of money being made available for mental health had been increased overall.

The review also pointed to growing evidence that there was inadequate support for those with severe problems.

It said only 14% of patients had reported receiving appropriate care in a crisis, while hospital bed occupancy rates were routinely exceeding recommended levels – leading to patients being sent to units many miles away from their home.

On the same day we learnt this:

Benefit sanctions against people with mental health problems up by 600 per cent

Reports the Independent.

The number of benefit sanctions imposed on people with mental health problems has increased by over 600 per cent over the last four years, Department for Work and Pensions statistics show.

A joint analysis of the figures by the Independent and the mental health charity Mind found that 19,259 people with such conditions had their benefits stopped under sanction in 2014-15 compared to just 2,507 in 2011-12 – a 668 per cent rise.

The finding comes weeks after ministers rejected a call to investigate whether such sanctions – which involve stopping a person’s disability benefit income for weeks at a time to enforce compliance – are damaging to mental health.

The ramping up of the policy goes against the advice of mental health charities, who have previously warned that its aggressive approach worsens mental health problems and makes it harder for people to return to work.

Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said the dramatic rise was “alarming” and that the Government was refusing to listen to criticism of the sanctions’ impact.

“Stopping somebody’s benefits, or threatening to stop them, is completely the wrong approach to help people with mental health problems find work – it’s actually counterproductive. Pressurising someone to engage in often inappropriate activities under the threat of losing their benefit causes a huge deal of additional anxiety, often making people more unwell and less able to work,” he told the Independent.

Are these two articles related?


New Government Experiments with Ill and Disabled People.

Work Coachy.

People who’ve completed the Work Programme are now being made to attend one hour sessions at Job centres, on, you guessed it, CV writing, applying for jobs, and interviews.

One thing struck me during my first, I admit, well organised, lesson.

The chap talking said that the reason that Coachie is called a Work Coach (by, er, like, nobody except the DWP), is that the helpful person at the Job Centre who does your “Jobsearch Review” (not a critics gathering, what they now call signing on) is meant to be like a trainer for athletes.

They help get us fit for the race, and then it’s up to us to run it to grab the job.

I can think of plenty of things wrong, even troubling, with this image.

It suggests that applying for a post stacking shelves in Poundland is similar to competing in the Olympics.

Gasp, gasp, one last push, elbow out the others, pant pant, kick the competition down, gasp gasp, final hurdle. Crowd applauds. Gold Medal pinned to your breast….

Or that we might, like in the Tour de France, and, it seems just every athletic event, be tempted to pump ourselves up with illegal substances to win the prize.

But I let that pass – waiting for the DWP to offer me some…..

What really struck me is just how much this kind of cod-psychology – pushing people with barely disguised threats – is the rule in the ‘free market’ world of the DWP and Iain Duncan Smith.

So it’s no surprise that this latest madcap and thoroughly unpleasant has come up.

Revealed: Social Experiments To ‘Nudge’ Sick And Disabled Into Work. Welfare Weekly.

Thanks Enigma.

The Government’s ‘Nudge Unit’ team is currently working with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health, to trial social experiments aimed at finding ways of keeping or pushing sick and disabled people into work.

“These include GPs prescribing a work coach, and a health and work passport to collate employment and health information. These emerged from research with people on ESA, and are now being tested with local teams of Jobcentres, GPs and employers.”

This is a crass state intrusion on the private and confidential patient-doctor relationship, which ought to be about addressing medical health problems and supporting people who are ill. Not about creating yet another space for an over-extension of the coercive arm of the state to “help”people into work.

Of course the government haven’t announced this latest “intervention” in the lives of disabled people. I found out about it quite by accident, because I read Matthew Hancock’s recent conference speech: The Future of Public Services.

Hancock is the appointed Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, and was previously the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise. He headed David Cameron’s “earn or learn” taskforce which aims to have every young person earning or “learning” from April 2017.

He announced that 18- to 21-year-olds who can’t find work would be required to do work experience (free labour for Tory business donors), as well as looking for jobs or face losing their benefits. But then Hancock is keen to commodify everyone and everything – including public data.

This is the same (now part,or wholly – who knows, the chancers are always out to pocket another load of dosh), privatised, Nudge Unit which in May 2013 did this, (Huffington Post)

It attracted controversy earlier this week after it was revealed that one of its psychometric tests given to jobseekers gave the same results no matter how the applicant answered.

It was accused of being “patronising” by one charity, who said that young people will see through such manipulation, and that it will backfire on the DWP.

Charles Drew, the chief executive of Amber group, a charity which helps disadvantaged unemployed young people to gain the motivation and skills they need to get a job, told the Huffington Post UK: “They are dealing with unemployed young people who already know their failings. You can’t simply fool people into building self esteem. If young people know they are unsociable and answer truthfully, they will see through it.

Included are statements such as “I never go out of my way to visit museums,” “I have taken frequent stands in the face of strong opposition” and “I have not created anything of beauty in the last year.”

The test, first piloted in an Essex job centre before being rolled out to Middlesbrough, came under scrutiny after one blogger noticed it gave him the same ‘personality’ whatever he answered.

Here is another answer, from the Welfare Weekly piece: The Tory welfare “reforms” are a big business profiteering opportunity

Ian Duncan Smith “to Quit”….if……

That’s Enough, I Give Up? 

Iain Duncan Smith ‘threatens to quit’ if George Osborne raids universal credit.

Thanks enigma.

Iain Duncan Smith has reportedly threatened to quit as Work and Pensions Secretary if George Osborne takes funds from his flagship universal credit programme.

The Times reports that Mr Duncan Smith is “fiercely resisting” Treasury demands to cut universal credit.

After the House of Lords delayed tax credits reductions for three years, the Chancellor is now considering other areas so that he can press ahead with his planned welfare cuts in time for the Autumn budget which takes place in just under three weeks.

Mr Osborne reportedly estimates making changes to universal credit would save the treasury £2billion per year.

Currently under universal credit, a taper rate is applied which means universal credit allowance reduces as earnings from employment increase.

Currently, the taper rate is 65 per cent, meaning for every pound earned over the work allowance the claimant can keep 35 pence.

However Mr Osborne allegedly wants to increase the taper rate to 75 per cent, meaning the claimant will lose more money — which Mr Duncan Smith reportedly believes will lessen the incentive to work under the scheme.

Background (Guardian).

George Osborne is at loggerheads with the work and pensions secretary over proposals to cut spending on universal credit by more than £1bn a year. The chancellor is considering the move – which Iain Duncan Smith fears could drastically undermine the effectiveness of universal credit – as a means of partially funding his anticipated U-turn on tax credits.

The savings would be achieved by changing the taper rate that applies to the new benefit. Currently it is set at 65% – meaning that for every extra £1 claimants earn above a threshold, they lose 65p – but Osborne is looking at a proposal to increase this to 75%.

According to a source familiar with the dispute, the Osborne proposal could save the Treasury around £1.5bn a year, which would help fund the remedial measures being planned to alleviate the impact of the £4.4bn tax credit cuts.

More (Financial Times).

Meanwhile serious strains are re-emerging between Mr Duncan Smith and Mr Osborne, as the two try to find money to soften the impact of tax credit cuts on poor families.

Mr Duncan Smith is vehemently opposing any Treasury raid on his cherished Universal Credit policy and his allies are urging the chancellor to scale back his search for extra welfare savings in other areas.

Philippa Stroud, a former aide to Mr Duncan Smith and now a Tory peer, urged Mr Osborne to eat into his planned surplus for the end of the parliament to support those on low pay.

Baroness Stroud, chief executive of influential think-tank the Centre for Social Justice, said: “Why have a surplus if we can’t protect those on the lowest pay, doing the right thing by taking work?”

“The Chancellor can protect these workers and have a surplus by 2020. This government is set to achieve its historic aim to make sure work always pays more than welfare, we shouldn’t put that at risk.”

If Duncan Smith resigns…..there will be dancing in the streets, grog shops will run out of super-strength lager and white cider, supermarkets will sell out of crisps and baked beans, and the very dogs, cats and slugs with yell with joy.

Opposition to Welfare Reform Bill Grows as Million Mask March Approaches.

Welfare Reform Bill Will Make Poor People Even Poorer, Say Churches

Iain Duncan Smith makes more Friends as People with Mental Health Problems 3 times more Likely to be Sanctioned.

“A Claimant is Just a Friend I have yet to Meet.”

Iain Duncan Smith makes a splash again:

Here’s the full spectacle of Iain Duncan Smith’s DWP horror show. With a UN investigation on the way, I wonder if he feels proud

Harriet Williamson Independent.

Obviously it’s better to stick a few DWP staff in food banks than to address the policies that have left people needing emergency food in the first place.
Yet again, the Department of Work and Pensions has been revealed as an organ of monstrous bureaucratic cruelty this week, with a report from the charity Mind showing that the DWP is three times more likely to sanction someone with mental health problems than to help them find work. The report states that 250,000 people with mental health issues are receiving Employment and Support Allowance, and of these, 19,259 were sanctioned last year while only 6,340 were helped into work in the same time frame.
Benefit Tales takes up this story,
Data from Mind today reveal the scale of sanctions imposed on people with mental health problems being supported by out-of-work disability benefits. Figures obtained by the mental health charity under the Freedom of Information Act show that there were up to three times more benefit sanctions issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to people with mental health problems last year than there were people supported into work.


There were almost 20,000 benefits sanctions received by people who were out of work because of their mental health last year[1], while only 6340[2] of this group were successfully supported into a job during the same period.
There are approximately 250,000 people receiving the benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) who need this support primarily because of their mental health. People can be sanctioned – have their benefits cut – if they fail to participate in work-related activity, including missing appointments or being late for meetings or CV writing workshops. However, many people with mental health problems find it difficult to participate in these activities due to the nature of their health problem and the types of activities they’re asked to do, which are often inappropriate.
These revelations follow the DWP’s refusal last week to commission an independent review of the use of conditionality and sanctions in the benefits system, despite being recommended by the Work and Pensions Select Committee, a cross-party committee of MPs. There is currently very little evidence to support the idea that threatening to cut someone’s benefits helps them to move into work.
Responding to the new figures, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
“It is perverse that people with mental health problems are more likely to have their benefits stopped than they are to be supported into employment. We have long been warning the Government that a punitive approach towards people who are out of work because of their health or disability is not only ineffective but is causing a great deal of distress.
“These data provide further evidence that the DWP should have accepted the suggestion of a cross-party committee of MPs to commission an independent review of how sanctions are used. By continuing to refuse to listen to the numerous expert voices calling for a fundamental rethink of the use of sanctions, the Government is not only undermining its ambition of helping a million more disabled people into work, but is also failing its duty of care for the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems.
“We already know that the Work Programme has helped fewer than 1 in 10 people with mental health problems into employment. In fact, it’s counterproductive, as the pressure people are being put under, and the anxiety caused by the threat of sanctions, is making people more unwell and less able to work. 83 per cent[3] of our survey respondents said that being on the Work Programme made their mental health worse or much worse.Even the threat of stopping someone’s financial support is enough to cause a great deal of undue stress and anxiety for people with mental health problems.”
Then this:

The figures came as the United Nations Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) announced it will be investigating the Government’s benefit cuts.

The probe will look at whether the reforms have had a disproportional impact on single parents, children and the disabled and whether the tax credit cuts will leave people without an adequate standard of living.

The Committee will also investigate what steps are being done to cut the number using food banks and whether mental health services are adequate in the light of the cuts.


Odd isn’t it?

People with mental health problems, forced to comply with the 35 Hour a week job search, all the paper work, all the other Hoops to Jump Through, what could possibly go wrong?

Work Coaches to Be Present at Food Banks to Advise Sanctioned and Penniless.

Job advice to be offered at food banks, Iain Duncan Smith tells MPs. Guardian.

From here:

And here,

Work and pensions secretary says advisers will be posted in food banks in trial to be rolled out across the UK if successful.

Job advisers have been posted in a food bank as part of a trial that is set to be rolled out across the UK, the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has announced.

People who turn to charities for help when they cannot afford to eat will be given advice on claiming benefits and finding work while they pick up emergency food parcels, Duncan Smith told the work and pensions select committee.

“I am trialling at the moment a job adviser situating themselves in the food bank for the time that the food bank is open, and we are already getting very strong feedback about that,” he said.

This is sad,

Sister Rita, a nun at the Lalley Welcome Centre in Collyhurst, north-east Manchester, said it was her idea to invite advisers from the DWP to help the food bank clients.

She said: “I wrote to the minister and the prime minister and received very nice letters from them both, but it was Iain Duncan Smith who said we could have a meeting with him in London.”

Asked whether she met Duncan Smith or one of his associates, the nun said: “We saw the minister. I wouldn’t settle for anything less!”

She said the meeting happened around three months ago and that the DWP advisers started coming in about three weeks ago. They are able to help clients who are having benefits problems, for example if they have been sanctioned, she said.

“I think it’s a brilliant, brilliant thing that the government’s doing,” she said.

The BBC adds,

Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has told MPs.

Mr Duncan Smith said he would like to see a trial scheme in Manchester rolled out nationwide after it was given “very strong feedback”.

Campaigners say food bank usage has passed 900,000 people per year in the UK.

Mr Duncan Smith was giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

“I am trialling at the moment a job adviser situating themselves in the food bank for the time that the food bank is open and we are already getting very strong feedback about that,” he said.

Robert Devereux, the most senior civil servant in the Department for Work and Pensions, told the MPs staff were in the food bank one day a week with phonelines available at other times.

Claimants are given advice on how to receive welfare payments as well as finding work, he added.

No doubt those people sanctioned will welcome the presence of ‘Coachy’ telling them how to find work.

Perhaps on how to get their money back……

No, you couldn’t make it up.



Community Work Placements: SEETEC , “Estate maintenance and local renovation, groundswork, horticulture, recycling as well as administration, customer service and sales, warehousing, distribution and cleaning services.”

Faceless People Sent on Community Work Placements.

We posted on this subject some time back.

Recently there’s discussion on the comments about the CWP.

This is what they said to “providers” (chancers put to profit from the scheme) “Community Work Placements (CWP) is aimed at those claimants whose primary barrier to work is a lack of work experience or motivation, and who may have spent a great deal of time away from a structured work environment. CWP aims to equip jobseekers with a valuable period of experience in a work-based environment, enabling them to develop the disciplines and skills associated with sustained employment, as well as to move them into employment.”

Or they put it for us,

This is for claimants whose lack of work experience may be holding them back from finding a job. Their work coach may ask them to take part in a work placement that will also benefit the local community. The purpose is to give the claimant skills and experience within the work place.
The placements will be for up to six months for 30 hours a week. The claimant will also receive at least four hours’job searching support from their work coach each week to help turn the experience into full time employment.
Claimants who complete their three months of Daily Work Search Review/six months Community Work Placement and who still have not found work will be referred to the Mandatory Intervention Regime for the remainder of their claim.
Claimants who do not take part in the Help to Work scheme when asked to by their work coach could lose their benefits for a period of time


This lot are still at it and we’d be interested in finding more details.

“Seetec holds Community Work Placements contracts in five areas:

CPA 1: East of England: Beds & Herts; Cambridge and Suffolk; Essex; Norfolk
CPA 7: North West 2:  Greater Manchester Central, Greater Manchester East and West, Cheshire and Warrington
CPA 10: South East 2: Kent; Surrey and Sussex
CPA 12: South West 2: Gloucester, Wiltshire and Swindon; West of England
CPA 14: West Midlands 1:  Birmingham and Solihull; Black Country

This two year contract part of the government’s Help to Work scheme designed to reach out to the ‘hardest to help’ jobseekers to help them find employment and break the cycle of benefit dependency. Beneficiaries of this programme will undertake work placement opportunities of up to 30 hours a week lasting up to 26 weeks and will be further supported with up to ten hours of job search activity per week.

We are keen to identify opportunities for local projects or work placements which currently exist or could be created in order to improve the local community as well as the confidence and employability prospects of individuals who take part. Placements could be within group projects or in the form of single placements and must all be of community benefit.

We are interested in approaches from all organisations which feel may be able to offer project or placement opportunities. We have expert supervisors in place to manage and run projects but we are also happy to discuss existing projects which have supervisors already in place.

Of particular interest are opportunities which exist within Local councils and Housing Providers to increase numbers on existing projects or to create new projects of benefit to their residents and the local area they serve.

Examples of such projects include estate maintenance and local renovation, groundswork, horticulture, recycling as well as administration, customer service and sales, warehousing, distribution and cleaning services. The list of potential projects is almost endless.

If you are interested in working with Seetec to develop innovative and engaging ideas for the delivery of CWP please e-mail in the first instance to: or call Peter Walkerley, Business Development and Partnership Manager on: 01702 201070 Ext. 8262.

Alternatively, if you would like to offer support in the form of venues, projects or placements please call Seetec on freephone: 0800 65 25 414.ӣ

Any information from people doing this work-for-nothing fraud?

This is of interest:

How CWP is sold to voluntary organisations!


Benefit Sanctions: Two Weeks Warning Introduced as System Begins to Crack.

Benefit sanction warning period to be introduced, Iain Duncan Smith announces.

Reports, just now,  the Independent. (Thanks Will).

The benefit sanctions system will be made less aggressive in response to criticism of it from a parliamentary committee, Iain Duncan Smith has announced.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said people subjected to sanctions would from now on initially be given a “yellow card” or warning when the sanction –a benefit deduction – was triggered.

Claimants would then be given a 14 day period to provide evidence of why a sanction was not deserved before the monetary penalty was applied.

Under current rules, such a sanction would be applied immediately. The Work and Pensions Secretary said the new approach would be introduced on a trial basis.

“During this time, claimants will have another opportunity to provide further evidence to explain their non-compliance,” Mr Duncan Smith said in a letter to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

“We will then review this information before deciding whether a sanction remains appropriate. We expect that this will strike the right balance between enforcing the claimant commitment and fairness.”

The change may soften some of the hardship caused by the sanctions because in practice a very high proportion of benefit sanctions taken to independent appeal are overturned.

In 2014 the DWP released figures which showed that 58 per cent of people seeking to overturn sanctions were successful – up from 20 per cent before 2010.

Sanctions are supposed to be applied to benefit claimants when a person does not comply with the conditions put on them by the DWP.

Claimants can have their social security payments stopped for reasons including missing jobcentre appointments or failing to look for work.

In practice, however, many sanction decisions are perceived to be unfair.

Widely-criticised decisions include people being sanctioned for missing jobcentre appointments because they had to attend a job interview, or people sanctioned for not looking for work because they had already secured a job due to start in a week’s time.

In one case a man with heart problems was sanctioned because he had a heart attack during a disability benefits assessment and thus failed to complete the assessment.

The Work and Pensions Committee in March called for an independent inquiry into the way the sanctions operated, for the second time in a year.

The MPs’ report warned that the sanctions regime appeared to be “purely punitive”.

In August the DWP was caught making up quotes from supposed “benefit claimants” saying that sanctions had actually helped them.


We note that Smith also says,

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said in a written statement that sanctions were a “necessary part of the system“, which were kept under review.

Express and Star.

Abolish the whole present sanctions regime!

Work Programme a Resounding Failure for 70% of Claimants, Work and Pensions Select Committee Reports.

Work Programme ‘fails to find work for 70% of claimants’.

Reports the BBC

Nearly 70% of people who go through the government’s main welfare-to-work scheme fail to find sustained employment, a committee of MPs says.

The Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee said the £5bn Work Programme – launched in 2011 – was “not working well” for people with complex problems.

But the MPs also said the programme was “at least as good” as its predecessors, at a much lower cost to the taxpayer.

The government said the Work Programme was “a real success”.

  • Follow the latest updates on the day’s political developments on Politics Live

The programme, which replaced a number of different schemes in operation under the last Labour government, is aimed at helping the long-term unemployed find a job.

It is run by providers who offer support and training to people on jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) and employment and support allowance (ESA). The providers are paid on the basis of the number of people finding and staying in work.

‘Deserves credit’ (er……)

The committee said nearly 70% of people who had completed their two-year attachment to the scheme, which applies in England, Scotland and Wales, had failed to find sustained employment.

The MPs recommended a series of changes to the “complicated and less than effective” payments model when the current contracts expire in April 2017.

People with drug and alcohol addiction, illiteracy and innumeracy and the homeless should be better served, the committee said.

A separate, specialist scheme for people with “substantial disabilities” would also help the government meet its goal to halve the employment rate gap between disabled people and non-disabled people, the MPs added.

Committee chairman Frank Field said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “deserves credit for implementing a programme which, in general, produces results at least as good as before, for a greatly reduced cost per participant”.

But the Labour MP added: “We must not forget that nearly 70% of participants are completing the Work Programme without finding sustained employment. We must do much better.”

‘Value for money’ (more ers….)

The Employment Related Services Association, which represents the programme’s contractors, welcomed the “hugely positive” report and said the next round of contracts had to “build on success“.

(Note: they would wouldn’t they..)

“However, the sector is working with jobseekers with ever greater barriers to work and thus the government has to ensure the next round of programmes also has the right financing in place,” said its chief executive Kirsty McHugh.

The body called for earlier referral of jobseekers, rather than allowing them to stay on benefits without specialist support, and moving to an assessment process based on the needs of jobseekers rather than the benefits they received.

A DWP spokesman said it would respond to the committee’s recommendations “in due course” but pointed out that almost half a million of the hardest-to-help claimants have been supported into employment through the Work Programme.

“That’s a real success, and we welcome the committee’s finding that the programme is better value for money to the taxpayer than any previous scheme.

“The programme helps people to overcome barriers to finding a job, including those with drug and alcohol problems and the long-term unemployed, and further intensive support is offered through Help to Work for those who complete the Work Programme without finding a job.”

This is what the parasites and chancers of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) said in detail.

ERSA has today welcomed the latest Work and Pensions Committee report on back to work programmes, which has for the first time recognised that the Work Programme has produced results at least as good as previous programmes, but at greatly reduced cost. However, it has called on Government to make sure that future provision builds on this success and that the future financial settlement recognises the costs of supporting jobseekers with ever more complex needs.

The report, the second under the leadership of Committee Chair, Frank Field, comes at a critical time for the sector, with decision making about the shape and financing of future back to work programmes expected in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The report echoes many of the points within ERSA’s own blueprint for future services, Evolution not Revolution’including the need for additional government expenditure on jobseekers who are furthest from the labour market. In addition, ERSA backs calls from the Committee for earlier referral of jobseekers, rather than allowing them to stay on benefits without specialist support, and moving to an assessment process based on real jobseeker need rather than benefit type.

Other points supported by ERSA include:

  • The need to integrate employment services with wider services, including health and skills, required by jobseekers
  • Enabling more specialist providers, particularly of disability services, to play their part
  • The introduction of an ‘innovation fund’ used to test and develop new approach to supporting jobseekers

Speaking in response to the report, Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive, ERSA, said:

“This report comes at a critical time.  It’s hugely positive that the Committee has recognised the great work of the sector in helping the long term unemployed into work. However, the sector is working with jobseekers with ever greater barriers to work and thus the government has to ensure the next round of programmes not only builds on success, but also has the right financing in place.’

The Report is here:

This is the summary,

The Work Programme has streamlined the procurement of welfare-to-work, created a stable, GB-wide welfare-to-work infrastructure, and now produces a similar level of job outcomes for mainstream participants as previous programmes. DWP deserves credit for implementing a programme which, in general, produces results at least as good as before for a greatly reduced cost per participant.

Yet too many long-term unemployed people remain out of work after two years on the programme. It must not be forgotten that nearly 70% of participants are completing the Work Programme without finding sustained employment. In particular, the Work Programme is not working well for people with more complex or multiple barriers to employment who need more intensive help. We have a duty to the 70% to do much better.

The focus for the next set of contracts must be to identify claimants who require more personalised and intensive support to address complex barriers to working, and refer them to appropriate help more quickly. To achieve this DWP needs to:

  • Develop and introduce a new, standardised, characteristic-based assessment of claimants’ barriers to work, for use across the employment support sector;
  • Replace the Work Programme’s complicated and less than effective differential payment model with a much simpler payment model with clearer (and generally earlier) referral points, and which more directly incentivises providers to invest resources in supporting people with complex needs;
  • Ensure that all participants receive an acceptable level of service, by introducing a single set of measurable minimum standards; and
  • Maintain, and ideally expand, a separate employment programme for disabled people, while also addressing key flaws in the current Work Choice programme.

Improved assessment and triage, alterations to contracts and more effective payment models will help, but are only part of the answer. The Government will also need to encourage, facilitate and invest in:

  • More effective integration of employment support with related, locally-run services, including health, education and skills, and housing; and
  • Creating the conditions for genuine innovation, learning and dissemination of best practice across the employment support sector.

DWP should establish an Employment Support Innovation Fund, set at 2–3% of the total budget for the next mainstream programme, which should be used to test and develop innovative and effective approaches to employment support for groups which have been poorly served to date. The Cabinet Office should bring labour market policy into the remit of a What Works Centre, so that employment programmes can continue to evolve based on robust evidence of what is most likely to be effective for different types of people in different localities.

These changes would create an employment support system which is set up better to address the challenges of the contemporary labour market, and equipped to help into work people who have been distant from the labour market, and inadequately supported, for far too long.

This is straw that the welfare-business chancers clutch at,

8.DWP deserves credit for implementing a programme which, in general, produces results at least as good as previous programmes for a greatly reduced cost per participant. It has also established a stable GB-wide welfare-to-work infrastructure and brought about efficiencies in DWP’s procurement and contract-management. It is vital that the Government continues to encourage, facilitate and invest in new and more effective approaches; it must not be forgotten that, notwithstanding the relative successes, nearly 70% of Work Programme participants are still not achieving the desired outcome of sustained employment. We owe it to the 70% to do much better. We intend to keep a watching brief on DWP’s efforts to support this group and we may return to this issue later in this Parliament. (Paragraph 87).

We note that no organisation campaigning for the unemployed gave evidence. These are the people who did.

Sam Hanes, Principal Adviser and Head, Labour Market and Economic Growth, The Behavioural Insights Team, Tom Gash, Director of Research, Institute for Government, Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive, Employment Related Services Association, and Dave Simmonds, Chief Executive, Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion


Steve Hawkins, Chief Executive, Pluss, Liz Armstrong, Director of Health and Wellbeing & Integrated Services, APM UK, Dan Jones, Director of Innovation Lab, Nesta, and Christine Chang, Investment Director, Big Society Capital


Monday 14 September 2015

Robyn Fairman, Strategic Lead, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark Pathways to Employment Programme, Mat Ainsworth, Greater Manchester Lead for Employment Initiatives, Public Service Reform Team, New Economy, Dr David Halpern, What Works National Adviser, Cabinet Office, Kris Krasnowski, Director, Central London Forward, and Theresa Grant, Greater Manchester Chief Executive Lead for Employment and Skills.


Rt Hon Priti Patel, Minister for Employment, Matt Thurstan, Director, Senior Management and Business Management Team, Contracted Employment Provision Directorate, and Iain Walsh, Director, Labour Market and international Affairs, Department for Work and Pensions.

There is nothing about how claimants feel about the Work Programme, or  about workfare, and the effects of sanctions.

Nothing about the abuses of the system by the ‘contractors’, and the exploitation of claimants on Mandatory Work Activity and other scams.

Meanwhile in the real world we learn that all long-term unemployed will now attend an hour’s special courses every time they sign on – delivered by the Job Centres. 

DWP Fake Work Case Studies: if it is not PR Companies *who* is Responsible and will they be Sanctioned? ?

CIPR closes investigation into DWP fake case studies

Sarah’s story: Turned out to be fiction rather than fact

The CIPR has closed its investigation into the Department for Work and Pensions’ use of comments and images from fake benefits claimants in a leaflet designed to demonstrate the positive impact of a controversial government policy.

The investigation was launched on 19 August, after a Freedom of Information request disclosed that a number of individuals depicted in the leaflet  were stock photos, and their stories were fictional, albeit “based on conversations our staff have had with claimants”, the DWP said at the time. The institute investigated this case of ‘astroturfing’ – falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support – on the grounds that such practices contravene its Code of Conduct due to a lack of honesty and integrity, and that they bring the profession into disrepute.

In early September, the CIPR agreed to suspend its investigation following confirmation that the DWP was conducting its own investigation.

In a statement published on Friday, the CIPR said it had now been confirmed by the DWP that no members of the institute were involved in or responsible for the leaflet. The CIPR’s investigation has therefore been closed.

The CIPR said it had been told by the Government Communications Service that government comms professionals “continue to be advised of expected standards of best practice in line with the Civil Service Code”.

Sarah Pinch, president of the CIPR, said: “Honest regard for the public interest; delivering reliable and accurate information; and a commitment to never knowingly mislead are vital components of proper professional practice – and I am pleased that in this case, the DWP and GCS have confirmed that no members of the institute were involved.

“This is an opportunity to remind members of the CIPR that they are publicly accountable for the standard of their professional conduct, and the conduct of those under their management. This accountability is a valuable asset not just to members themselves, but also to the public, to clients and to those who employ them.”

The DWP was not immediately able to confirm the progress of its internal investigation.

Ipswich Unemployed Action comments:

If members of the CIPR were not involved, who were?

They must have worked for the DWP, in some fashion, to produce the material.

Were they DWP employees or some kind of outsourced company?

Who were they responsible to – the person/people with the ultimate authority in this affair?

We know one thing the DWP have not done.

To put it simply: they have not responded in any effective way when found out fabricating stories.

That is to sanction those in a position of ultimate responsibility for  making up ‘facts’.

Nobody has – yet – been held accountable.

We therefore have no guarantee that these practices will not be repeated.

Background. CIPR.

On Wednesday 19 August, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) launched an investigation into the actions of communications professionals at the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). This followed the publication of a response to a Freedom of Information request which revealed that the DWP had published leaflets about benefits sanctions that included comments attributed to named individuals who did not exist.

The Institute sought to investigate this case of ‘astroturfing’ – falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support – as such practices contravene the CIPR’s Code of Conduct by:

  • not maintaining an expected standard of professional integrity and personal conduct
  • failing to deal honestly and fairly in business with the public
  • bringing the public relations profession into disrepute.

After agreeing to suspend its own investigation following confirmation that an internal investigation would be led by the DWP, it has now been confirmed to the CIPR that no members of the Institute were directly involved – or responsible for overseeing the delivery of this work. As a result, the Institute has formally closed any processes to take a complaint forward.

In addition, the Government Communications Service (GCS) has also informed the Institute that communications professionals across central government continue to be advised of expected standards of best practice in line with the Civil Service Code. This code is also supported by the required professional, ethical and moral standards as set out through any individual membership of other relevant professional bodies and trade associations.

As the chartered body for public relations we have a mandate to speak out and investigate the actions of public relations professionals for the public benefit, and we will continue to challenge any behaviour which falls short of the professional standards we represent.

Honest regard for the public interest; delivering reliable and accurate information; and a commitment to never knowingly mislead are vital components of proper professional practice – and I am pleased that in this case, the DWP and GCS have confirmed that no members of the Institute were involved.

This is an opportunity to remind members of the CIPR that they are publicly accountable for the standard of their professional conduct, and the conduct of those under their management. This accountability is a valuable asset not just to members themselves, but also to the public, to clients and to those who employ them.

Sarah Pinch FCIPR, CIPR President 2015
Notes to editors

The original story.

DWP admits inventing quotes from fake ‘benefits claimants’ for sanctions leaflet.

A leaflet produced by the Department of Work and Pensions has been hastily withdrawn after it emerged that it contained fabricated quotations from fictitious people supposedly taking about their positive experiences of the welfare system.

The leaflet included pictures of “Sarah” and “Zac”, who were presented as sickness benefits claimants who had their some of their benefits withdrawn or had been threatened with benefit removal.

“Sarah” was quoted as saying that she had lost some of her benefit because she had initially failed to produce a CV. “I didn’t think a CV would help me but my work coach told me that all employers need one. I didn’t have a good reason for not doing it and I was told I’d lose some of my payment,” she said.

When she completed her CV, her payments were restored, the leaflet said. “My benefit is back to normal now, and I’m really pleased with how my CV looks. It’s going to help me when I’m ready to go back to work,” she was quoted as saying.

According to the leaflet, Zac said he had managed to change an appointment with his “work coach” without losing any of his benefit because he had a hospital appointment. “I had a good reason for not going to the meeting and proof of the appointment. My benefit payment hasn’t changed and we booked another meeting I could get to.”

Universal Credit: as Ipswich prepares for the new System the Mess continues.


As Suffolk to goes Universal Credit we are directly affected by Iain Duncan Smith’s failing plans.

In Ipswich this is the latest,

Universal Credit is being introduced gradually and the roll out should be complete by April 2017. In the Borough of Ipswich, Universal Credit will start from 16 November 2015, it will replace the following:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit

More information from Ipswich Borough Council here.


Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship Universal Credit roll-out is actually slowing.

The scheme has been plagued by problems and delays since its launch

The take-up rate of the Government’s flagship Universal Credit welfare reform is actually slowing, the latest official figures suggest.

The benefits programme, which has been plagued by delays and criticised by successive spending watchdogs, was reset last year and is still being implemented four years after its initial launch.

Now statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions show that far from gathering steam, the rate of new claims for Universal Credit has actually fallen 11 per cent since peak take-up in the summer.

New claims fells from their July peak of 6,841 a week to 6,055 a week in the latest stats, which refer to mid-September.

125,877 people in total are now claiming the benefit as of 10 September 2015, and the Government needs a sharp increase in its take-up rate to meet its own expectations of 500,000 people by next May.

The take-up rate is actually going in the opposite direction, however.

The Government missed its aim for 100,000 people to be moved on to the benefit’s caseload by May of this year, with a repeat miss next year looking increasingly likely.

The DWP’s statistics says the fall in claims “may be due to seasonal effects” of the summer – though the effect notably did not occur last summer and has continued into September, with a fall recorded in the latest week.

In 2013 the DWP was forced to write off £34m of IT work on the project after problems and serious criticism, from the National Audit Office, who criticised its “weak management, ineffective control and poor governance”.

The whole roll-out was originally due to be complete by 2015/16 but has now shifted back to 2020.

Workers at the Universal Credit Service Centres in Bolton and Glasgow walked out on strike in July of this year over what the PCS trade union described as “a lack of resources, an oppressive management culture, inadequate training, hard to reach targets and staff shortages”.

Some elements of the scheme have even been cut by the Chancellor George Osborne before they have even been implemented – notably freezing the “work allowances” that were trumpeted as an incentive for people to work.

Another key plank, the payment of housing benefit directly to tenants rather than landlords, has also been quietly amended – with some problem tenants now expected to receive an exemption. The DWP says it has always been clear that alternative payment arrangements would be put in place.

A DWP Spokesman said: “Universal Credit is successfully rolling out across the country and today’s figures show that there has been a 70 per cent increase in Universal Credit caseload over the last four months. Already jobseekers on the new benefit are finding work faster and staying in jobs for longer.

“The number of people making new benefit claims each month will depend on the number of jobseekers there are. With employment at a record high, and more than 700,000 vacancies available at any one time, it is to be expected that this number will fluctuate.”


This why the workers in Bolton and Glasgow went on strike,

PCS members at the Universal Credit Service Centres in Bolton and Glasgow are taking strike action today (Monday 20 July) and tomorrow (21 July) after recent talks with management broke down.
The government’s flagship social security programme has been dogged by delays and allegations of money squandered on IT.
Staff have complained about a lack of resources, an oppressive management culture, inadequate training, hard to reach targets and staff shortages.
New conditions have been imposed on the workforce, including predetermined start and finish times and restrictions on flexible working.
Computer World was explicit about the IT aspect:
The employees’ demands include “proper investment in IT and training”, an end to the “excessive target culture” and a “fundamental rethink of the new ways of working”. Staff at the contact centres are responsible for taking calls from claimants, answering online enquires and processing claims.
Reports coming to us indicate that people already have problems with getting in touch with “contact centres”.
Expect this to worsen.

John Bird, Big Issue, ‘Entrepreneur’, Foe of the Idle Poor, Enters the House of Lords.


His Birdship’s Latest Book.

John Bird, the founder of the Big Issue, is to join the House of Lords as one of four new non-party-political peers. The homelessness campaigner was among those selected by the House of Lords Appointments Commission to sit crossbench.

Bird, who set up the street magazine in 1991 as a way for the homeless to earn money, said he hoped to inject some new ideas into policy making.

“Mine will be a voice in the legislative process for the thousands of people the Big Issue has helped over the past 24 years and continues to help today through our philosophy of social entrepreneurialism based on self-help,” he said.

“I believe that one of the complexities of modern policy is that sometimes the best thinkers, like the Big Issue, are left outside the box. Yet if we are to have social opportunity and social justice for all, the thinking within the box needs to change.”


Here are some of the new ideas Lord Birdship – as we will have to get used to calling him –  has promoted in recent years:


In December 2007, Bird agreed with Westminster Council who declared that they were opposed to the presence of soup kitchens on the streets of London. He said:

“We have to stop supplying people with the means of being emergency refugees on the streets… no one has ever got off the streets simply because they’ve been fed a good bowl of soup.”


Then this:

Big Issue founder Bird under fire for proposing benefit cuts 2010.

An outspoken social campaigner who founded a magazine sold by homeless people has called on the Prime Minister to cut state benefits.

John Bird, founder of homeless charity The Big Issue, urged David Cameron to reform Britain’s benefits system which he believes traps the worst-off in poverty while fuelling addictions.

Bird believes that before they receive benefits the unemployed should be involved in community work, and that this would help them back into work

However his idea that people must work before they can receive benefits was condemned by Citizens Advice Scotland, the umbrella body supporting Scottish citizens advice bureaux, as “beset with flaws.”

And the Poverty Alliance, the anti-poverty network in Scotland which unites, among others, charities and community groups, said the assumption that people living on low incomes did not want to work was “simply discrimination” .

Bird maintained society had made it possible for too many to live on benefits without helping themselves gain the experience and confidence needed to find work

‘”That’s not only damaging to individuals, it’s damaging to society.”

He added: “The drug crime industry would be lost without the support of the welfare state.

”The drinks industry and fast food outlets such as Macdonalds would be hard hit without the government pounds being placed in their tills by benefit claimants.”

As would “existing government structures that misguidedly make life easier for the poor entrench poverty, exclusion and hopelessness.”

And this,

People who are unemployed are to be allowed to sell the Big Issue on the streets alongside the homeless for the first time.

As public sector cuts and the economic downturn fuel job losses, the co-founder of the magazine, John Bird, told Society Guardian he wanted those who find themselves out of work, and the long-term unemployed, to have the chance to earn an income rather than get stuck on benefits.

He predicted “the most unlikely people”, including well-paid professionals would become potential Big Issue sellers in the coming years.

Guardian 2011.

On the programme Benefits Street. February 2014.

Benefits Street has rocked the benefits boat. More than any single TV programme I can remember, it shows a dark, dirty and destructive underside of benefit.


It’s a free system, given freely, replacing people’s need to look after their own means of making a living. The state, using our money, buys the time of benefit recipients, and then stands back and watches as some go down the tube.

The benefit system needs to change. It cannot be an endless alternative to work. It has to come with strings attached. People on benefit must help people in the community who need our help – the old, the disabled and the needy.

Benefit needs to be of benefit to the beneficiary. It must help them get prepared for an independent life. Training, job preparation and volunteering are keys to changing people’s lives so they can get out.

More on his Birdship’s ennoblement in the Big Issue.


John Bird said: “Mine will be a voice in the legislative process for the thousands of people The Big Issue has helped over the past 24 years and continues to help today through our philosophy of social entrepreneurialism based on self-help.

“I believe that one of the complexities of modern policy is that sometimes the best thinkers, like The Big Issue, are left outside the box. Yet if we are to have social opportunity and social justice for all, the thinking within the box needs to change.”

John Bird founded The Big Issue in 1991 as a street magazine to be sold by the homeless with half the proceeds of every sale going to the vendors, thus giving them the opportunity of earning money through their own efforts rather than depending on handouts.

Since then the magazine has put over £100 million directly into the pockets of homeless individuals, sold almost 200 million copies and has helped thousands of homeless people move themselves away from poverty.

In 1995 John Bird launched the Big Issue Foundation, a charity that supports Big Issue vendors in dealing with the issues that have caused their homelessness or have developed as a result of their living on the street.

He continues to serve on the Board of Directors for The Big Issue. In 2001, with The Big Issue chairman Nigel Kershaw, he launched Big Issue Invest the social investment arm of the Big Issue which provides finance to help develop social enterprises and charities.

John Bird continues to serve on the Board of Directors *for The Big Issue and is a global speaker on motivational and social issues.

Baroness Morris of Yardley, who along with Baron Alton of Liverpool, nominated John Bird, said: “I’m delighted that John Bird has been appointed as a cross-bench member of the House of Lords. His work with members of our community who face considerable challenges and his successful track record in helping people to overcome them means that he will bring great experience and knowledge to the Lords.

“More than that, he has the determination and the tenacity to argue for what he believes to be the right way forward in key areas of social policy.”

Bird was a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party.

But, “Bird revealed in 2010 “My guilty secret is that I’m really a working class Tory. There, I’ve said it. I’d love to be a liberal because they’re the nice people but it’s really hard work – I can’t swallow their gullibility and I think their ideas are stupid. I’d love to be someone who wanders around in a kind of Utopian paradise seeing only the good in everybody but I just can’t. I support capital punishment for a start. I know this will destroy my reputation among middle-class liberals but I’m 64 now and I should be able to breathe a bit. Wearing the corsetry of liberalism means that every now and then you have to take it off.”


* It would be interesting to know for what trifling emolument he graces the Big Issue Board,  and what his Birdship earns from his toil as an “entrepreneur”, hard at the coalface of after-dinner speaking, blessing the poor and admonishing others less entrepreneurial than his self. 

Work Experience Week: Give Workfare a Warm Welcome!

Work Experience Week 2015

This year’s Work Experience Week will take place from 12th-16th October. Register here to be kept up to date!

What is Work Experience Week?

A week dedicated to raising awareness of the benefits of high quality work experience. Work Experience Week aims to get all parties involved in work experience to celebrate its full potential. It’s a chance for employers, learning providers and young people to showcase the positive work they are doing and encourage more organisations to realise the benefits of work experience.

Currently only 1 in 4 employers offer work experience and we don’t think that’s good enough. Work Experience Week aims to increase the quantity and quality of work experience programmes, including Traineeships, Apprenticeships and Internships.

The Void comments, in a moderate tone in our opinion,

The vile welfare-to-work sector are teaming up with a DWP controlled front organisation this week to hold a celebration of all the money they are making out of unpaid work.

The inaptly named Fair Train are funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, a government body under the control of both the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and Iain Duncan Smith himself.  Despite their name, this so-called charity exists to promote unpaid Work Experience schemes, by flogging off dubious Quality Standard awards to workfare exploiters.  In 2013 they were paid a whopping £283,000 of tax payer’s money to promote unpaid work schemes.

Week Experience Week is part of this gushing celebration of exploitation, so it is no suprise to see ERSA, the trade body established to lie on behalf on the welfare-to-work sector, joining in the festivities.  Fair Trade say that want others to get involved with Work Experience Week, with aim of encouraging as many companies as possible to stop paying wages and start using workfare.  You can let the bastards know what you think on twitter using the hashtag #WEWeek2015.

You might care to sponsor this event:

Sponsor packages.

Work Experience Week headline sponsor –£10,000.

There a lot to celebrate during the bean-feast:

Themes for the week

This year’s Work Experience Week will focus on the different types of work experience available to learners. By highlighting the different types of work experience we aim to inspire and educate more organisations to offer high quality placements. Here’s what we’ve got planned:

Monday – Traineeships
Tuesday – Interns
Wednesday – Volunteering
Thursday – Apprenticeships
Friday – Work experience at school or college
Get involved using #WEWeek2015 and don’t forget to submit your plans by completing our editable plan in our toolkit for a chance to be featured in our newsletter.

Work Experience Week Champions.

Sarah Hewson – Presenter, the Trusted and Reliable Sky News

I’m a passionate supporter of Work Experience Week because I wouldn’t be where I am today without work experience. It was a placement at Sky News that led to my first job there 13 years ago and work experience at a local newspaper aged 15 that convinced me journalism was the career path I wanted to pursue.

I’m now proud to be an ambassador for Sky Academy which aims to give opportunities to a million young people by 2020.

Don Hayes – Trustee, Fair Train Unpaid Work schemes.

When it comes to improving the employability of young people and long term unemployed adults, nothing can make a bigger difference than good quality work experience. I know this is true because I have seen it over many years, with a whole range of different groups, with both young people having just left school and adults who have been out of the workplace for a while.

Work experience provides something positive for the CV, enables individuals to regain or learn the habits and attitudes of work but most of all it really builds self-esteem and confidence.

Suggestions for twitter welcome.

Cameron’s Plans Mean Poverty Assaults More People.


David Cameron has vowed to devote much of his time in office to “an all-out assault on poverty”, in his speech to the Conservative Party conference.

The prime minister, who will stand down before the next election, said he wanted to tackle “deep social problems” and boost social mobility.

He also announced “dramatic” planning reforms to increase home ownership.

Reports the BBC. 

David Cameron’s assault on poverty doesn’t extend to the homeless.

13,850 households were accepted as homeless between April and June of this year.

Ryan Maynes.

It should be no surprise to anyone that the escalating issue of homelessness was barely mentioned during four days of rhetoric and self-congratulation at the Conservative party conference.

With the Tories having overseen the most savage cuts to the poorest in society in a generation, it was inevitable that homelessness would indeed be on the rise in Britain, and off the agenda of the Conservative Conference 2015.


The number of people sleeping rough in Britain has risen 55 per cent since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, with London seeing the highest increase.


Factor in the cuts to housing benefits for 18 to 21-year-olds, and the lack of a plan to tackle this crisis, and it may be a foregone conclusion that this increase is going to continue. Many more people will be sleeping rough in the capital and elsewhere over the course of this parliament.

Homelessness is clearly not high on the Conservative party’s agenda, and their attacks on welfare and housing have only confirmed this. Yesterday David Cameron promised an, ‘all out assault on poverty’, but his track record so far suggests that homelessness does not come under this remit.

Instead, Cameron launched his proposal to build 200,000 new starter homes, intended to ease the housing crisis. While this will help – insofar as there will be more homes in the country – it will have no impact on those in poverty.

The homelessness charity Shelter has suggested that only those households earning over £50,000, or £70,000 in London, will stand a chance of buying these houses. And of those on the new living wage in poorer areas? Only 2 per cent will find these new homes affordable.

Walking around Ipswich many people are struck by the number of people begging, saying they are homeless.

It is the same in many cities and towns, though I doubt if it’s the case in Cameron’s Constituency, Witney, Oxfordshire:

Tory conference: Cameron’s ‘assault on poverty’ pledge belied by new figures.

David Cameron’s promise during his address to the Conservative party conference that “an all-out assault on poverty” would be at the centre of his second term is undermined by a report that reveals planned welfare cuts will lead to an increase of 200,000 working households living in poverty by 2020.

The findings, published on Thursday by the Resolution Foundation, appear to contradict the prime minister’s vow to devote the second five years of his premiership to creating a “Greater Britain” marked by social reform, real equality and less racial discrimination.

In a speech that was clearly designed to respond to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, Cameron sought to position his party as the dominant force on the centre ground of politics. The prime minister argued the best way to tackle the deep roots of poverty lay in getting people into better paid work.

The Conservatives, Cameron said, must live up to their great traditions of social reform and be the right party “for those who work hard, want to get on and want more money at the end of the month”. Insisting Britain was on the brink of something special, he claimed “hope is returning and we are moving into the light”, allowing the Conservatives to be seen as the “party of the fair chance, the party of the equal shot”.

But the new research by the Resolution Foundation – now chaired by former Conservative minister David Willetts – suggests the government’s welfare cuts introduced in the budget in a bid to cut the deficit will drive at least 200,000 working households into poverty under a definition that the government is abolishing.

These are the key points:

A further 200,000 children (predominantly from working households) will fall into poverty in 2016 simply as a result of the tax and benefit measures announced at the summer budget, including the increases in the national minimum wage.

The total number of working households in poverty will have reached 2 million in 2020.

The summer budget measures will lead to income falls of more than 4% in the bottom fifth of earners, contrasting with income rises of 4% for the top third.

The number of children in poverty in working and non-working households is estimated to reach up to 3.9 million by 2020. This is 1.2 million higher than the 2016-17 baseline and 600,000 higher than was projected for 2020 prior to the budget.

As the writer indicates:

Cameron made no direct mention of George Osborne’s controversial plans to cut tax credits, which will mean a loss of £1,000 for 3 million of the lowest-paid workers.

As for Iain Duncan Smith’s plans to get the disabled into work this is in the news today……

Too fat to work’ man has ‘collapsed with mini-stroke’ weeks after starting first job in four years.


A man who claimed he was ‘too fat to work’ has collapsed just weeks after starting his first job in years, it has been claimed

Stephen Beer, who has high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, has suffered a mini stroke and is in hospital, according to The Sun.

Wife Michelle, 43, said he was “not well, but improving”.


After Michael O’Sullivan’s Death, Iain Duncan Smith Makes Obscene Claim that his Mission is to “restore people’s lives”.

Pleased as Punch: IDS Sneers  at those Suffering Welfare Reform.

At the Conservative Conference the present Secretary of State for Work and Pensions poured scorn on people who have suffered, including those who have died, under the impact of his Welfare ‘reforms’.

Iain Duncan Smith has insisted the government must “rededicate itself” to its shake-up of welfare, saying its mission is to “restore people’s lives”.

The work and pensions secretary told the Tory conference the party was tackling the “something for nothing” benefit culture inherited from Labour.

He warned “the job was not done” and vowed to ensure to make work pay and reduce numbers on sickness benefits.

He also denounced the “bile” of protesters outside the conference.

Addressing Conservative activists, many of whom have said they have been subject to personal abuse from anti-austerity protesters as they entered the Manchester venue, Mr Duncan Smith said his party would “not be moved” and challenged Jeremy Corbyn and other senior Labour figures to disassociate themselves from such behaviour.

“You’ve had to come through the line up outside of the bile and hatred of what is now the Labour Party,” he said. “That is who they really are. That is what they represent.”


The same day the Guardian has published this:

Iain Duncan Smith will today have the chance to give his personal response to a case that has placed the darkest of clouds over his programme of welfare reforms, when he addresses the Conservative conference.


The discovery that a coroner had directly attributed a man’s suicide to his being found “fit for work” was a significant moment in the work capability assessment (WCA) scandal. It appeared to be the first time that a coroner had blamed the WCA process – designed and overseen by Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions – for directly causing a death.

“The anxiety and depression were long-term problems,” said Mary Hassell, the north London coroner, in her verdict on the death of Michael O’Sullivan. “But the intense anxiety that triggered his suicide was caused by his recent assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions (benefits agency) as being fit for work, and his view of the likely consequences of that.” Hassell felt so strongly that something had gone badly wrong that she completed a Prevention of Future Deaths report, because she believed there was “a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken”.

But the significance of the coroner’s conclusion – and the report – would have been far less clear if it weren’t for a heart wrenching ITV News interview with Michael O’Sullivan’s daughter, Anne-Marie. “If they continue to assess people the way they assessed dad,” she said, “we will continue to lose lives. Vulnerable people need support and need help and we should be able to give them that support. We shouldn’t just let them fall by the wayside.”

Guardian. 6th of October.

Iain Duncan Smith did not respond directly to this tragedy.

He did however state,

Conservative welfare philosophy, he told his audience, was “rooted in human nature, not utopianism nor empty pity” and its reforms,such as the cap on household benefits, the introduction of Universal Credit and the national living wage..

Only to claim, that his attacks on people

were driven by the objective of “ending poverty, not entrenching it and restoring lives, not parking them”.

The brazen Welfare Minister continued,

Fairness must be at the heart of the welfare state, he insisted, not just for the most vulnerable but for the taxpayer as well.

The party, he said, did not regard those unable to work as “victims”, insisting that many of the long-term sick and those with disabilities wanted to return to employment and the government would help them to “work their way out of poverty”.

“We have to raise the value of work – but not as Labour tried to do with the taxpayer subsidising wages through tax credits,” he said.

“As Conservatives we don’t want people to work just for tax receipts. We want people to work because it’s best for them, their family and their communities… all our reforms have a simple principle at the heart of them: to restore lives.”

He added: “Surely, we want to know that what we do in government rebuilds and restores the least of us. That is our purpose, not to rejoice at victory, no matter how hard won but to re-commit, even re-dedicate ourselves to this simple yet vital task.”

During his speech Iain Duncan Smith mocked the dead and the victims of his sanctions schemes by attacking those who dared to protest at his cuts.

The work and pensions secretary began his speech with an off-script attack on Labour and anti-cuts protests that have dominated this year’s conference.

Mr Duncan Smith mocked the ‘tears’ of 60,000 activists who massed on Sunday to protest against cuts to child tax credit and disability benefit

He said he would reform welfare – but “not by tears and entreaties or slogans and protest so beloved of the hard left now running Labour.

“Rather by the simple, yet difficult act of helping to restore their lives to be the best they can be through determination and not dependency – that is genuine compassion.”

During this hysterical rant the Conservative Minister went  still lower.

The Mirror notes,

At one point he even descended into a monologue about his war hero dad – saying he’d taught him a sense of fairness.

So fair, indeed, to Michael O’Sullivan.

Iain Duncan Smith in Stout Denial on Failure of his Welfare ‘reforms’.

Anything Wrong? Not my Fault Says Iain Duncan Smith.

The Guardian publishes a long interview with Iain Duncan Smith today,

This is worth noting,

Duncan Smith said that Britain’s welfare system – in particular the way in which the pay packets of the low-paid are topped up through tax credits – worsened the problem of dependency by reducing incentives to work. His grand idea, worked on in opposition at his Centre for Social Justice thinktank, and introduced when he came to power, was to encourage people into work by merging out-of-work benefits and in-work support into one monthly payment, known as universal credit. The new system is meant to encourage the low-paid to work longer hours by slowing the pace at which benefits are withdrawn, known as tapering, so that people will receive more of the extra money they earn.

Transferred from the seminar rooms of thinktanks to the reality of Whitehall, universal credit has been subject to numerous delays and criticised by various select committees, although it is now in operation in 54% of jobcentres and will be in 100% of them by next spring. But Duncan Smith is unapologetic about his mission. “What I have tried to set out, from universal credit right the way through, is have a look at the problem, figure out what the problem is, and try to get a system – which, after all, is on a huge scale – at least able to cope with individuals and people, and have the scope to be able to rectify issues and problems. There will always be problems and issues.”

As he prepares to travel to Manchester for the Conservative party conference, Duncan Smith is opening a new front on welfare reform as he outlines reforms to the WCAs. These were blamed by Mary Hassell, the coroner who conducted the inquest into the death of O’Sullivan, for acting as the “trigger” for his suicide.

There follows a lengthy defence of the changes to the  out-of-work employment support allowance (ESA) and the new “fit for work”  programme, and the DLA tests.

For those unwilling to go through this the Guardian also states in a handy form the main points of Iain Duncan Smith’s self-justification in the following key areas.


He used the interview to defend:

  • work capability assessment (WCA), the much-criticised gateway to the main out-of-work disability benefit, the employment support allowance (ESA), which is claimed by 2.5 million people. The five-year-old WCA has been plagued by backlogs, lengthy appeals and, according to Duncan Smith, is too binary in deciding whether someone is fit or not fit for work.
  • Defend the planned removal of an income measure from the child poverty target, saying it is better to measure and target the underlying causes of poverty such as educational attainment and family stability.
  • Reject criticisms of his department’s benefit sanctions system, saying he did not know of any jobcentre staff “flinging around sanctions”. He said: “There are a bunch of Labour MPs who hate sanctions and they don’t want them at all. I can understand that. I don’t agree with it because I think our system is predicated on this idea that there is a deal taking place.”The number of jobseeker allowance (JSA) sanctions has gone down by 380,000 over the past year to 507,000.

It would be interesting to know the details about these claims, particularly of the sanction figures. You can look up the latter yourself, but it’s hard going to try to work out the neat total Iain Duncan Smith offers: Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance sanctions: decisions made to March 2015. It is clearly the case that the massive expansion of sanctions has ended. But are they back to former levels? Are they reasonable?


Why is there such a massive variation in numbers?

Are there simply 380,000 thousand people fewer who are now obedient and eager to fulfil their ‘obligations’?

This shows something fundamentally wrong with the sanction system.

And anybody who thinks that making 507,000 people suffer extreme poverty is a success has something wrong with them.

The Guardian was too tactful – or too ill-informed – to bother to ask IDS about his failing Work Programme and Workfare plans. Or the kind of the fraud and failure they are wrapped up in.

This, by contrast, is without doubt a true observation:

Duncan Smith can expect to be cheered to the rafters at the Conservative conference for sounding tough on welfare. There will no doubt be an appetite for his decision earlier in the summer to scrap the government’s child poverty target and to replace it with a new duty to report worklessness, addiction and educational attainment.

Coming soon: criminal sentences for the long-term unemployed?

Andrew Coates:

To start our coverage of the Tory Conference and the latest madcap antics of Iain Duncan Smith, this takes some beating. We shall naturally be giving more detailed reports. Tommorow in Ipswich will be helping at a Welfare Rights stall by Giles Corner, promoting the Welfare Charter (see previous posts). All welcome, from 11.00 am to 13.00.

Originally posted on Vox Political:

Jobless criminal: Proposals by the Tory Free Enterprise group would put the clock back to the 16th century, when joblessness was a criminal offence.

According to the Telegraph, that outstanding group of backwards-thinking Tories, the Free Enterprise group, has come up with a new way of turning back time to the Middle Ages.

The group, some of whose luminaries were responsible for the stain on literature known as Britannia Unchained, believe those out of work for more than a year should have their benefits docked by 20 per cent.

Anyone unemployed for more than six months should do 30 hours’ community service and lose 10 per cent of their benefits, they reckon.

Britannia Unchained, you will recall, wrongly suggests that workers in the UK are among the laziest in the world.

Magistrates regularly dish out community service orders to people who have been convicted of criminal offences…

View original 503 more words

Iain Duncan Smith’s New Twitter Account Gears up as Tory Conference Nears.

This may possibly be a piss-take.

Iain Duncan Smith MP


Chin chin old bean. Parodia Spucatum tauri.

Meanwhile, The Manchester Evening News reports:

Ring of steel set to go up as Manchester prepares for Conservative Party conference.

The infamous ‘ring of steel’ will soon go up around Manchester Central for The Conservative Party conference as thousands of politicians – and protesters – descend upon the city centre.

Scores of Tories will flood into Manchester next Sunday (October 4) for the party’s annual conference.

Around 80,000 activists and protesters are expected to crash the party, as demonstrations are held against the government’s austerity drive.

The event is expected to attract 12,000 delegates and exhibitors and generate an economic boost for the city of £29m.

It will be the fourth time the Conservatives have held their conference in Manchester since 2009.

The usual ‘ring of steel’ around the conference venue will be erected next week, with road closures in place throughout the event from Sunday, October 4, to Wednesday, October 7.


Labour and Welfare: Plans to Make Iain Duncan Smith’s “not worth living”


The Charter Labour Needs.

Ipswich Unemployed Action will be taking a keen interest in Labour’s policies on welfare.

As the Conference begins we hear this:

Newly appointed shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith says he plans to make welfare boss Iain Duncan Smith’s life “not worth living” as he harries him.

The Mirror reports.

Labour will challenge the Tories “at every turn” in a fresh assault over Bedroom Tax .

And new shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith threatens he will make welfare boss Iain Duncan Smith’s life “not worth living”.

He said: “I will harry him at every turn so he won’t know which way he’s facing. We shall keep campaigning, and we will keep pressing for changes.”

We remain open-minded about Owen Smith.

He has made less encouraging statements such as this:

Owen Smith, Shadow Welfare Secretary, has called for a debate within the Labour party over benefits cap.

The Government is planning to reduce the benefits back from £26,000 to £23,000 – a plan that Labour oppose. In an interview on Newsnight, Smith said that Labour’s current policy is to oppose the cuts to the individual benefits cap.

But he noted that Labour need to review their position “right across the whole debate”.

He went on to say that the party is “”in favour of an overall reduction in the amount of money we spend on benefits in this country and in favour of limits on what individual families can draw down”. However he said that there needs to be a review of the party’s position to the cap in general.

Labour List.

There is also this report (BBC September the 15th),

Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to oppose the benefits cap have been undermined by members of his own shadow cabinet, as he prepares to face David Cameron in prime minister’s questions for the first time.

Speaking to the Trades Union Congress conference in Brighton on Tuesday, Corbyn said the benefits cap introduced by the coalition created “social cleansing” and that the party would oppose it all together.

But speaking hours later on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, the shadow work and pensions secretary, Owen Smith, said the party was only opposing government plans to reduce the cap.

The shadow equalities minister, Kate Green, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, said the Labour party’s present policy position was to support the principle of the benefit cap and that there was some evidence it had helped people into work.

She argued that policy was created collectively by the party, implying that Corbyn could not change Labour’s position unilaterally.

In the last parliament, the coalition introduced a cap of £26,000 on the amount of state benefits a family can receive. The Conservative government has pledged to cut the cap to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside London.

Speaking to the TUC conference in his first major speech as leader of the opposition, Corbyn said: “As I’m concerned the amendments we’re putting forward are to remove the whole idea of the benefit cap altogether. We’ll bring down the welfare bill in Britain by controlling rents and boosting wages, not by impoverishing families and the most vulnerable people.”

He added: “We oppose the benefit cap. We oppose social cleansing.”

What we are interested in is this:

The Welfare Charter.

We should have…

1. A political commitment to full employment achieved with decent jobs
People are entitled to decent, stable and secure jobs that provide regular, guaranteed hours that allows them to also meet any caring responsibilities; not zero hours contracts in precarious jobs.

2. A wage you can live on for all and a social security system that works to end poverty
We need a National Living Wage that people can live on, not just survive on, that applies to all.

3. No work conscription – keep volunteering voluntary
Forcing people to work for free on pain of losing benefits is simply providing free labour to organisations that should be paying workers proper wages.

4. Representation for unemployed workers
Everyone should have access to an advocate to help them navigate the social security system and appeal adverse decisions.

5. Appoint an Ombudsman for claimants
A Claimants Ombudsman should be appointed to arbitrate on unresolved complaints, to ensure claimants are treated with respect and dignity.

6. Equality in the labour market and workplace; equality in access to benefits.
We need a labour market where structural inequalities are overturned and a benefit system that is accessible to people.

7. An end to the sanctions regime and current Work Capability Assessment – full maintenance for the unemployed and underemployed.
We need a non-means tested, non-discriminatory benefit payable to all, with housing costs met. This must be allied with the wide provision of low cost housing.

8. State provision of high quality information, advice and guidance on employment, training and careers
There must be a supportive and independent careers and job-broking service, not linked to conditionality or benefits, offering face to face advice.

Download here: 710X_WelfareCharter_A5_3


The Salvation Army is now Back in the Workfare Business.

Hat-Tips and Bravo to Tobanem for finding this.

Note 2015 dates above.

Note “Work Placement”.


Salvation Army. March 2014.

We feel that a 26-week work experience placement is too long and would not be beneficial.  If someone has not found employment within two years, the lack of work experience is clearly not their only barrier to employment.  Our concern is that the underlying issues need to be dealt with holistically and work experience is a part of the support needed. As such, we will not be taking part in the Community Work Placement programme.

News Centre

All the latest news from The Salvation Arm.

Boycott Workfare March 2014.


In an important success even before the workfare week of action starts on 29th March, the Salvation Army have said they will play no part in the upcoming Community Work Placement scheme. Last year the charity was praised by the DWP for ‘holding the line’ on workfare. This recent loss of nerve can only be a direct result of repeated action taken to challenge the Salvation Army’s support for forced work.  The inspiring recent direct action from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, widespread public criticism and constantpressure online has shown what the public think of charities that claim to help unemployed people and then force them to work for free.




Stop Changes to Access to Work.

Hat-Tip: The Void.


(LINK here)

Dear David Cameron, Justin Tomlinson & Iain Duncan Smith MP

Changes to Access to Work mean that Deaf, Deaf blind and hard of hearing and disabled people are being restricted to unrealistic budgets for support that does not meet their needs. The budgets are insufficient to fund qualified interpreters and personal assistants and prevent personal choice or control, placing jobs at risk.

The introduction of arbitrary rules has changed the relationship between Access to Work and the individuals it supports. Deaf and disabled people are no longer being acknowledged as the experts in their own access needs and issues and problems they raise are being ignored.

Please stop the changes to Access to Work support for BSL users and disabled people.

Thank you.

Why is this important?

Access to Work isn’t a benefit and doesn’t incur a cost to government – in fact it brings money into the treasury, yet Deaf and disabled people are having their support allowance capped or cuts made (meaning they can no longer afford to use qualified interpreters or the support they need). This places jobs at risk and has already resulted in job losses and demotions. People currently in work are potentially being forced out of work and onto benefits, which goes against everything the government is telling us they are trying to achieve.

Deaf and disabled people bring a vast amount of skill and talent to our workforce that we can’t afford to lose. We want to ensure that full support is provided, and people are enabled to gain, maintain and progress in their chosen careers.

Personal choice and control needs to be handed back to the experts on Deaf and disabled access needs in the workplace – the individual Deaf and disabled people who use the scheme

We want to ensure Deaf and disabled people are not subjected to a glass ceiling due to lack of support.

How it will be delivered

On 26th September Stop Changes To Access To Work along with our friends from DPAC, Unite the Union and NUBSLI will be handing in our petition to 10 Downing Street. Please join us. We will be meeting at Old Palace Yard at 12pm and marching to Downing Street at 1pm.

Please share our petition with friends, family and work colleagues one last time for our final push!

Thank you for your continued support!


Meanwhile Iain Duncan Smith continues, as Enigma reminds us, to create misery:

Iain Duncan Smith’s team made fatal error when they stopped Michael O’Sullivan’s benefits. Mirror. 

Depressed Michael O’Sullivan’s death after he was wrongly passed fit for work shames Iain Duncan Smith’s department.

Removing his disability benefits was clearly a terrible mistake when a coroner concluded the 60-year-old father killed himself as a direct result of the flawed ruling.

People with severe mental illnesses deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and, above all, understanding.

The system failed Mr O’Sullivan. For the sake of others, please let people be treated as humans instead of claimants erased to hit benefit targets.

The experiences of JSA from former ESA claimants.

The experiences of JSA from former ESA claimants

Hello, I am a Master’s student undertaking a research project of the experiences of JSA from former ESA claimants. What follows is a short survey open questions aimed at understanding people’s experiences of JSA now that they are no longer eligible for ESA. You can answer as much or as little as you like. There is a chance that recounting experiences may cause emotional upset. You can withdraw at any time and you can skip any questions you do not wish to answer. All responses will be treated with confidentiality. At the end, there is an option to leave your contact details for further queries if you wish to do so.

For any questions or queries, I can be contacted at:

Many thanks for taking the time to participate!

Link here.

We wish Rose well in her valuable project.


John McDonnell: we have a True Friend in the New Shadow Chancellor.

McDonnell: A Working Class Hero is something he is.

Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled what he called a “unifying” new shadow cabinet, naming his left-wing ally John McDonnell as shadow chancellor.

A short while ago….

John McDonnell speech: MP says he would ‘swim through vomit’ to oppose ‘sickening’ welfare bill.

Comrade McDonnell is simply the best.

Coming Soon: The Welfare Charter- a Sneak Preview.

Unemployed centres, trade unions (PCS and UNITE Community), London Unemployment Strategies, and Trades Councils are due to launch a Welfare Charter soon.

Ipswich Unemployed Action has a sneak preview of this document, which sets out the basis for decent treatment of claimants and a real way of dealing with unemployment.

The Charter promotes a “social security system that enables everyone to have a safe warm home, good food, propery clothing and being able to participate in society.

The Charter promotes:

  • A Political commitment to full employment achieved with decent jobs..
  • A wage you can live on for all and a social security system that works to end poverty.
  • No work conscription – keep volunteering voluntary.
  • Representation for unemployed workers.
  • Appoint an Ombudsman for claimants.
  • Equality in the labour market and workplace; equality in access to benefits.
  • And end to the sanctions regime and current Work Capability Assessment – full maintenance for the unemployment and underemployed.
  • State provision of high quality information, advice and guidance on employment, training and careers.

These demands together should form the basis for our fight for a decent life.

One for all and all for one!


Facebook : The Welfare Charter.

Twitter: @welfarecharter



Out of Work Face Sharply Declining Living Standards as Tories Punish Unemployed.

Single Unemployed to only Get 35% of what they Need by 2020.

Jobseekers ‘face dip in living standards’ reports the BBC.

Before beginning this we note that the JSA benefit, with Employment and Support Allowance, some types of Housing Benefit, and Child Benefit is now frozen for four years.

This means that everybody on the main benefits for the out of work will suffer a declining living standard: the biggest cut in their incomes comes from the need to pay a percentage of Council Tax (the amount varies across the country), sharply rising public transport fares, the hikes in energy costs by the private monopolies, and the slow accumulation of debts that arise from having to pay for essentials (clothes to start with, household goods) that are not covered by  the miserly levels of benefits.

Today sees the publication of this report: Will the 2015 Summer Budget improve living standards in 2020?

“Donald Hirsch from Loughborough University, uses JRF’s Minimum Income Standard (MIS) to track how the living standards of low-income households will change by 2020. The report is based on what the public say is necessary for a minimum socially acceptable standard of living.”

Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

One thing stands out to Ipswich Unemployed Action: it is acknowledged that the future looks even bleaker for the single unemployed:

A single person who claims out-of work benefits will get 35 per cent of what they need in 2020. This will mean they are £118 short per week, compared to £107 short in 2010 (41%) and £110 short (40%) today

That is without taking into account the impact of sanctions which affects hundreds of thousands of people (900,000 in 2014).

The BBC presents the report:

Out-of-work couples with children face “a decade of sharply declining living standards” owing to changes made to benefits, anti-poverty campaigners say.

A jobless couple with two children will be £221 short of what would be needed for an acceptable standard of living every week by 2020, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

Pensioners, in contrast, will have £15 more a week than the minimum level.

The calculations are based on JRF’s estimate of an acceptable income level.

Research for the Foundation suggested that families with two parents in full-time employment, workers without children, and pensioners would typically become better off over the next five years owing to the changes made in Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget in July.

Lone parents and families with more than two children would see their living standards stagnate or fall, it claimed.

Major Budget announcements including the introduction of a National Living Wage and cuts to benefits such as tax credits would affect people’s finances over the coming years, it said.

“The summer Budget has transformed the relationship between pay, benefits and work incentives. The National Living Wage is a game changer for some on low incomes as the new, higher rate will make work pay for more people,” said Julia Unwin, the JRF’s chief executive.

“But the wage rise comes hand in hand with changes to in and out of work benefits. Families will only be able to make ends meet if they have two parents in full-time work, but those who are able to find extra work will face a difficult juggling act as they try and make longer hours fit around family life.

“Lone parents, even those working full time, and people who are searching for work face a decade of sharply declining living standards.”

Immediately after the Budget, the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that 13 million UK families would lose £260 a year on average owing to the Budget’s tax and benefits changes.

The Guardian’s angle on the same story begins with the latter,

Single parents on low incomes face declining living standards over the next five years even if they work full time, as benefits cuts announced in the budget more than offset the introduction of George Osborne’s “national living wage”, according to new research.


Separate TUC research, also published on Monday, underlines the fact that despite the minimum wage rise, the biggest winners from the budget package will be the richest 10% of households, who it finds will be £780 a year better off by 2020, as a result of changes including inheritance tax cuts.

The TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “We need a recovery that works for everyone, not just those at the top. But by cutting support for low paid families, despite a growing economy, the government is shutting them out of the recovery. And worse than that, it’s also giving rich households a tax break by taking support away from the low paid.”

More of the Guardian story here.

Sanctions Have Not Gone Away and Appeals System Snarling Up.

Deaf Benefit Claimant Wrongly Sanctioned After Arriving 10 Minutes Late For Training.

Says Welfare Weekly. 

A deaf benefit claimant was wrongly sanctioned after turning up to a training course just ten minutes late, the Upper Tribunal has ruled.

Despite the sanction being imposed in November 2013, he had to wait until 14 August 2015 to have his appeal heard by the Upper Tribunal.

The unnamed 53 year-old benefit claimant has hearing difficulties and wears a hearing aid in his right ear. He was told to attend a CV writing course and given a “Jobseeker’s Direction” letter to confirm the time and date of the course, reports Disability Rights UK.

The story,

While the sanction was imposed in November 2013 it took until 14 August 2015 for his appeal to be successfully heard.

The claimant was a 53 year old man who had difficulty hearing and so wore a hearing aid in his right ear.

He was told that he was required to attend and complete a CV writing course from 11.15 am to 12.15 pm. He was given a “Jobseeker’s Direction” letter to confirm the time and date of the course.

However, he arrived at the course ten minutes late and was told that he had missed his appointment. A decision was made that he did not have good reason for failing to carry out his Jobseeker’s Direction and a four weeks sanction was imposed.

In his notice of appeal the claimant stated that he had misheard the date of the appointment as 11.50 am as this was the time he usually signed on.

He was not wearing his hearing aid as it was faulty and did not think to check the time of his appointment by looking at the letter he had been given as he thought it was the same time as the previous two appointments he had been given. He had reported to the Jobcentre straight away and rebooked and completed the CV course the very next day.

In upholding the claimant’s appeal, Upper Tribunal Judge Knowles decides that there was no refusal or failure by him to carry out the Jobseeker’s Direction:

Benefit sanctions and what to do about them


Appealing benefit sanctions

Nearly Half of all Sanctions against claimants on Job Seeker’s Allowance and Employment Support Allowance are overturned on appeal: Welfare Weekly.

But we have the impression that the appeal process if becoming slower and slower.

Benefit Cuts Don’t Create Employment: Amazing Revelation!

IDS: Still in Comfort Zone Denying Facts. 

Benefit Cuts Don’t Encourage The Unemployed Into Work – Research

Welfare Weekly.

Controversial and hard-hitting reforms to the benefits system are failing in their objective of encouraging the unemployed into work, according to new research.

A report published by the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee has found “little support for the view that welfare reform is having important and positive impacts on the labour market in Scotland”.

The reforms are estimated to take £1.5bn out of the Scottish economy, equivalent to £440 a year for every adult of working age, as evidenced in previous research for the Committee.

The  site of the Scottish Parliament says,

Welfare Reforms Not Boosting Employment.

Controversial and hard-hitting reforms to the benefits system are failing in their objective of encouraging the unemployed into work, according to new research.

A report published by the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee has found “little support for the view that welfare reform is having important and positive impacts on the labour market in Scotland”. The reforms are estimated to take £1.5bn out of the Scottish economy, equivalent to £440 a year for every adult of working age, as evidenced in previous research for the Committee.

The research was conducted for the Committee by Christina Beatty and Steve Forthergill of Sheffield Hallam University and Donald Houston of the University of Glasgow. It sets out detailed analysis of the link between employment figures and the various welfare reforms.

Michael McMahon MSP, Convener of the Welfare Reform Committee, commented:

“This research presents firm evidence that welfare reforms are not working. Thousands of people in Scotland have faced upheaval in their lives as a result of these changes, yet they are not leading to more people entering the job market.

“Just as our Committee has already heard from witnesses, the report also shows that people are fighting on several fronts to make ends meet as they are hit by cuts to multiple benefits. This tallies with research we published earlier this year that concluded that parents and people with disabilities were being hit hardest by welfare reform.”

The report also argues that it is economic recovery, in the form of improved consumer spending and higher borrowing, that has contributed to higher employment levels (and reduced numbers of unemployed people in Scotland), rather than welfare reform. Larger than average reductions in unemployment in the places hit hardest by welfare reform also happened in previous economic upturns.  This makes it impossible to attribute recent trends to welfare reform.

Mr McMahon continued:

“The most deprived areas of the country are contributing the most savings to the welfare budget. Yet rather than this shining a spotlight on the success of welfare reform it only serves to highlight that these areas are losing out financially against other, better-off parts of the country.”

Evidence was based on the impact of reforms introduced before 2015, however the report considers the likely impact of the £12bn of further welfare cuts recently announced by Chancellor, George Osbourne MP. It concludes that it is hard to see this new round of reductions having any greater impact on the labour market.  Given that reductions to tax credits account for around half the additional planned saving, and that a large proportion of these cuts falls on in-work claimants, a reduction in the numbers on out-of-work benefits seems even less likely as a result of the new round of welfare reforms.

Professor Fothergill said:

“This research delivers a severe blow to the Westminster government claims about the positive impact of welfare reforms on the labour market, not just in Scotland but potentially across the rest of the UK as well.”


One of the report’s authors, Professor Steve Fothergill of the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University, will appear before the Committee on Tuesday 8 September.

This is the conclusion of the Report:

93. On balance, the evidence in this report provides little support for the view that welfare reform is having important and positive impacts on the labour market in Scotland.

94. The out-of-work benefit claimant rate, and more particularly the JSA claimant rate, has fallen faster in the parts of Scotland where the welfare reforms have resulted in the largest financial losses. Superficially, this might be interpreted as evidence that welfare reform is working in the way the Westminster government intended. Closer examination, however, shows that similar falls in unemployment in these places have been a feature of previous upturns. Recent trends cannot therefore be attributed simply to welfare reform.

95. Looking ahead, the Conservative government in Westminster has announced a further £12bn a year of welfare cuts to be implemented over the next few years. These include reductions in tax credits, a lower household benefit cap, lower ESA payment rates and a four-year freeze in the value of most working-age benefits, including Housing Benefit in the private-rented sector. In the light of the evidence on the impact of the pre-2015 welfare reforms it is hard to see this new round of reductions having any greater labour market impact. Indeed, given that reductions to tax credits account for around half the additional planned saving, and that a large proportion of these cuts falls on in-work claimants, a reduction in the numbers on out-of-work benefits seems even less likely as a result of the new round of welfare reforms.

96. The analysis presented here remains exploratory. A final word on the labour market impact of welfare reform would require a substantially larger and more wide-ranging exercise, beyond the scope of the present project. Nevertheless, there is sufficient evidence in the present report to cast doubt on one of the central claims used to justify welfare reform. Welfare reform does reduce public expenditure and thereby the budget deficit but it does not, it would seem, lead to higher employment or lower unemployment.

The Mirror already sums up this research:

Benefit cuts DON’T force people into work – despite what Iain Duncan Smith says.


A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman insisted: “Our welfare reforms are transforming the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities while making the system fair for those who pay for it.”

DWP Publishes Death Statistics: 80 Average a Month Die After Being Declared “Fit for Work”.

Iain Duncan Smith, still “Fit for DWP Work”.

The Department for Work and Pensions has admitted defeat in its attempt to hide the number of people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits since November 2011 – and has announced that the number who died between January that year and February 2014 is a shocking 91,740.

This represents an increase to an average of 99 deaths per day or 692 per week, between the start of December 2011 and the end of February 2014 – compared with 32 deaths per day/222 per week between January and November 2011.

The DWP has strenuously asserted that “any causal effect between benefits and mortality cannot be assumed from these statistics”.

Read more on Vox Political.

The Guardian reports:

Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show

Campaigners demand welfare overhaul after statistics reveal 2,380 people died between 2011 and 2014 shortly after being declared able to work.

More than 80 people a month are dying shortly after being declared “fit for work” according to new data, prompting campaigners to call for an overhaul of the government’s controversial welfare regime.

Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions on Thursday show that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were able to work.

The administration of the WCA by officials has been widely criticised as crude and inaccurate by campaigners. There have been hundreds of thousands of appeals of fit-for-work decisions over the last few years, about four in 10 of which have succeeded.

But there was widespread acceptance that the data should be treated with caution. Because the cause of death was not recorded, it is impossible to show whether a death was linked to an incorrect assessment.

Of this number, 2,380 – or 4% – had received a decision that they were fit for work, meaning that they were at risk of losing their ESA benefit.

Of the 50,580, 7,200 claimants had died after being awarded ESA and being placed in the work-related activity group – a category which aims to identify claimants who are unfit to work but may be able to return to work in the future.

Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind, said: “We’re not able to comment on these specific statistics as they only tell us the number of people who have died while on employment and support allowance [ESA], not the circumstances or details of these deaths.

“Nevertheless, we do have serious concerns about the benefit system, particularly for those with mental health problems currently being supported by ESA.

“The assessment used to decide who is eligible for ESA does not properly take account of the impact having a mental health problem can have on someone’s ability to work. As a result, many people don’t get the outcome that’s right for them, and have to go through a lengthy and stressful appeals process.

“We desperately need to see an overhaul of the system, with more tailored specialised support for people with mental health problems and less focus on pressuring people into work and stopping their benefits.”


Official Files:   Mortality Statistics:  Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance.

Additional information on those who have died after claiming Employment and Support Allowance(ESA), Incapacity Benefit (IB) or Severe
Disablement Allowance (SDA).

You can read the report: here.

DWP Becomes Expert in “Suicide Guidance.”

DWP Now Experts in Suicidal Benefit Claimants. 

This is beyond foul: what kind of a benefits system have we now got?


Frontline staff at the Department for Work and Pensions have been given guidance on how to deal with suicidal benefit claimants, it has been reported.

Says the Independent.

The Sunday Herald newspaper says workers have been handed a six-point plan on how to deal with people denied benefits who appear to be suicidal.

Staff at call centres have been instructed to allow rejected claimants for Universal Credit to talk about their intention to kill themselves.

In fact the detailed story is worse than you could possibly imagine:

The guidance is meant to help staff dealing with unsuccessful applicants for Universal Credit who are threatening to self-harm or take their own life.

A manager is then meant to rush over to listen in to the call and workers – who insist they have had no formal training in the procedure – must “make some assessment on the degree of risk” by asking a series of questions.

One section of the six-point plan, titled “gather information”, demands that staff allow claimants to talk about their intention to commit suicide.

The call-centre workers, who earn between £15,000 and £17,000 a year, must “find out specifically what is planned, when it is planned for, and whether the customer has the means-to-hand”, according to the guidance seen by the Sunday Herald.

Staff are also warned in the plan that they may have “thoughts and feelings” about the situation afterwards and offered reassurance that “this is all part of the process of coping with the experience and is normal”.

Glasgow-based call-centre workers have accused the DWP of asking them to carry out the job of a psychologist or social worker.


The Independent continues,

A DWP spokesman did not deny that the guidance had been handed out, and said: “Our frontline Jobcentre staff work hard every day supporting people to find jobs and it is only right we provide a range of training and guidance to assist them in their work.”

The guidance may be a reaction to suggestions that welfare changes and decisions are increasingly being linked to suicides.

A damning report by MPs released in March of this year found that severe financial hardship caused by benefit cuts was driving people to kill themselves.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee said 40 people had taken their own lives since 2012 because of problems with welfare payments.

Disability campaign group Black Triangle later estimated that as many as 80 suicide cases were directly to benefit cuts.

“If it was a medical trial, it would have been abandoned long ago. So many have died as a direct result of the withdrawal of benefits, as confirmed by numerous coroner’s inquests,” John McArdle, co-founder of the group said at the time.

Enough is enough!

Can anybody imagine the scene: a Work Coach talking to somebody who wants to end it all?

A  manager dashing over…..

The Call Centre at the ready…

The very idea of the DWP acting as amateur psychologists – to deal with the problems that they  have created –  has gone beyond a joke.

It is an obscenity.

Iain Duncan Smith Resign Now!

Iain Duncan Smith Announces Plans for more Misery for Claimants as Mental Health Targeted.

IDS: Having as a Laugh at Claimants’ Expense. 

Iain Duncan Smith is planning a shake-up of the rules on sickness benefit to encourage more people into work.

Announces the BBC.

The work and pensions secretary will argue in a speech that the current system is too “binary” – with claimants deemed either fit or unfit for work.

Instead, claimants should be made to take up any work they can, even if it is just a few hours, he will say.

Labour says cutting benefits for people who are not able to work is punishing the disabled for government failures.

But Mr Duncan Smith insists that the “most vulnerable people in our society” will be protected under his latest reforms.

‘Mental Health’. 

His speech, in London, will not contain any policy announcements but aims instead to start a “conversation” about the next phase of welfare reform, according to DWP officials.

Mr Duncan Smith will be focusing on the Employment Support Allowance, which is paid to those unable to work on health grounds. Those who receive the payment have their fitness to work tested under the Work Capability Assessment.

He believes those assessments should be more personalised, so if someone is able to work for a few hours they are helped to do so.

“It is right that we look at how the system supports people who are sick,” he will say.

Mr Duncan Smith argues that instead of an “either or” assessment, what is needed is “a system focused on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need, and not just on what they can’t.”

He will add: “Nearly 11 million adults in the UK have a common mental health condition and people are much more likely to fall out of work if they do.

“We also know that being out of work for four weeks or more can actually effect people’s mental health, even if the original reason for ill health was a physical one.”

These, the Independent observes, are 7 ways Iain Duncan Smith has “helped” the disabled so far.

  • Closing Remploy factories
  • Scrapping the Independent Living Fund
  • Cut payments for the disabled Access To Work scheme
  • Cut Employment and Support Allowance
  • Risk homelessness with a sharp increase disability benefit sanctions
  • Sending sick people to work because of broken fitness to work tests
  • The bedroom tax

Iain Duncan Smith Should Resign as Work and Pensions Secretary,

Demand Iain Duncan Smith resign over lying to public in DWP sanctions leaflets

Demand Iain Duncan Smith resign over lying to public in DWP sanctions leaflets

Petition here.

This is the least we can demand of them:

Thousands of people have signed a petition demanding Iain Duncan Smith resign as Work and Pensions Secretary, it has been revealed.

Reports Welfare Weekly.

The news comes as Labour MP Debbie Abrahams branded the use of ‘fake quotes’ in a DWP sanctions leaflet a “disgrace”, and joined the growing chorus of people calling on Iain Duncan Smith to step down.

Debbie Abrahams said: “This is yet another example of not only his incompetence, but what can only be described as very shady and unscrupulous behaviour not befitting a Member of Parliament let alone a Secretary of State leading a Government Department.

“Once again Duncan Smith is caught trying to paint a particular picture of social security claimants. He is a disgrace and should do the honourable thing and resign.”

Welfare Weekly revealed earlier this week how the DWP had misled the public, by using fabricated quotes in a benefit sanctions information leaflet from claimants that don’t exist.

Now, nearly 22,000 people (correct at the time of publication) have signed a petition, claiming “the Government has lied to the British public” and branding the leaflet “pure lies” and “fantasy”.

The petition, written by Beth G, says: “Stopping people’s benefits such as job seeker’s allowance, known as sanctioning, is driving people to suicide. People are resorting to stealing food in order to not starve.

“Sanctions do not encourage people to get jobs. Sanctions are known to be given to people for extremely minor reasons such as being five minutes late for an appointment.

“If someone has a heart-attack or has to attend a family members’ funeral and misses an appointment – they could be sanctioned and lose their benefits.

It adds: “Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, is ultimitely [sic] responsible for the actions of those in his department, who produced the propaganda leaflet containing lies, presenting a fantasy of positive stories about sanctions. This distorts the truth, which is that people are dying due to sanctions.

“In addition to being responsible for the terrible effects of sanctions on hundreds of thousands of people’s lives, the Department for Work and Pensions lying to the public in this way is not acceptable.”

DWP: Benefits Cuts Fine with Us Say Sanctioned Claimants.

All credit to Welfare Weekly who broke this story:

Exclusive: DWP Admits Using Fake Claimant’s Comments In Benefit Sanctions Leaflet.

Government officials have admitted that claimant’s comments used in an official benefit sanctions information leaflet were “for illustrative purposes only”.

The revelation comes in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from Welfare Weekly, in which we questioned whether the comments used in the leaflet were of a genuine or fake nature.

Welfare Weekly asked the DWP to provide any evidence or information to prove that the comments used in the publication were from “genuine” claimants.

Within days of submitting our request to the DWP, the original information leaflet suddenly disappeared from the government’s website without explanation.

However, we had already downloaded a copy of the leaflet (pdf) in anticipation of the response to our FOI request.

The story is now all across the media.

METRO FRONT PAGE: 'Department for Work and Invention' #skypapers

The Guardian reports,

The DWP was asked by the specialist website Welfare Weekly whether the comments used were from benefit claimants. Following their query, which was made under the Freedom of Information Act, the original leaflet was taken down from the DWP’s site and replaced with one that illustrated Zac and Sarah only in silhouette.

That was accompanied by a clarifying note that said: “The people in this factsheet aren’t real. We’ve used these stories to show how sanctions can work in practice.” However, that second leaflet was also deleted on Tuesday evening.

Responding to Welfare Weekly’s FoI request, the DWP conceded that: “The photos used are stock photos and along with the names do not belong to real claimants. The stories are for illustrative purposes only.

“We want to help people understand when sanctions can be applied and how they can avoid them by taking certain actions. Using practical examples can help us achieve this.

Labour leadership candidates condemned the department for producing the leaflet , with Andy Burnham saying the DWP had been “caught red-handed”, and Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall calling on the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to apologise.
Jeremy Corbyn said: “The fact that the DWP has to make up quotes from benefit claimants saying sanctions are helping them, presumably because they can’t find anyone who says they are, not only shows how out of touch the Tories are, but also the effects their ideologically driven policies are having on people’s lives.”

Iain Duncan Smith stayed in his comfort zone.

A DWP source said that Duncan Smith would not have had any knowledge of the leaflet before it was published.

The DWP remained in denial.

A DWP spokesman said: “The case studies were used for illustrative purposes to help people understand how the benefit system works. They’re based on conversations our staff have had with claimants. They have now been removed to avoid confusion.”

Others were not so smug.

Advertising Standards Authority rules state that “marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so”. The regulator’s rules also say that marketers “must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it”.

The Public Commercial Services Union said that it planned to write to the DWP to complain that it was irresponsible of the government to invent the stories to “illustrate the contentious belief that sanctions are welcomed by claimants”.

The union’s general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said: “It is disgraceful and sinister that the DWP has been trying to trick people into believing claimants are happy to have their benefits stopped or threatened. Sanctions are unnecessarily punitive and counterproductive, and should be scrapped.”

Unite’s assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, said: “This is a shameful attempt by Iain Duncan Smith to bend the truth and gloss over the human misery of his cruel sanctions regime.

The wits of the Internet were not slow in reacting either:

‘Boot’ – Camps for Young Unemployed.

‘Work Coach’ for Young People. 

I am beginning to think that some of the contributors to this site are right to make comparisons with the 1930’s forced labour schemes.

Unemployed young people will be sent to work boot camp, says minister

Reports the Guardian today

Matt Hancock says plan for jobseekers between 18 and 21 to be placed on intensive activity programme is not a form of punishment.

“We are penalising nobody because nobody who does the right thing and plays by the rules will lose their benefits,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday. “In fact this is about giving more support to young people.”

The senior Conservative, who heads David Cameron’s earn or learn taskforce, will set out plans for jobseekers aged between 18 and 21 to be placed on an intensive activity programme within the first three weeks of submitting a claim.

The new requirements, outlined on Monday, will be in place by April 2017 as part of a wider policy, first announced by Cameron before the election, that jobless 18- to 21-year-olds would be required to do work experience as well as looking for jobs or face losing their benefits.

Children’s charity Barnardo’s criticised the plans, saying that young people needed to feel supported, not punished.

In a challenge to Labour, Hancock has now written to all four leadership candidates urging them to get behind the government’s plans.

…the leftwing frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has explicitly said he would oppose the government’s move to take housing benefit away from 18- to 21-year-olds, while Andy Burnham has also been critical of the policy.

Responding to the announcement, a spokesman for the Corbyn campaign said: “This is another punitive turn by this Conservative government that is failing young people. They have cut further education places, driven a punitive welfare regime that has failed to reduce youth unemployment, and are raising university fees and taking away grants.

“As it takes away opportunities for young people to earn or learn, this government is blaming young people rather than addressing the real problems. It proposes more free labour from the young with fewer rights, and will be resisted by young people and Labour MPs.”

Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have said welfare cuts need to be approached in a fairer, more Labour way.

Setting out his plans, Hancock suggested some young people were part of a “welfare culture that is embedded in some of Britain’s most vulnerable communities”.

He said: “By working across government to make sure that every young person is in work or training, by opening up three million more apprenticeships, expanding traineeships, and making sure that a life on benefits is simply not an option, we want to end rolling welfare dependency for good, so welfare dependency is no longer passed down the generations.

“We are absolutely committed to ending long-term youth unemployment and building a country for workers, where nobody is defined by birth and everyone can achieve their potential.”

The idea of boot camps for young people without jobs is not a new one. The Conservative party previously suggested it in 2008, when the then shadow welfare spokesman Chris Grayling announced that the party wanted to “abolish benefit payments for any able-bodied person under 21 who is out of work for more than three months”.

The Independent yesterday carried the initial floating of this plan.

Jobless young people will be made to attend “boot camps” in return for benefits as part of a new Conservative drive to bring a “no excuses” culture to youth employment.

Under the plan, anyone under 21 who is out of work and on benefits will have to take part in a three-week intensive course to help them find employment or training.

They will have to sign up to the programme within a month of claiming benefits – or see those benefits stopped.

The course, which ministers are provocatively describing as a “boot camp”, includes practising job applications and interview techniques. It is expected to take 71 hours to complete and benefits will be dependent on attendance.


The Americanism (or cultural cringe to the US) ‘boot camp’ apparently means:

 boot camp


  1. a military training camp for new recruits, with very harsh discipline.
    • a prison for young offenders, run on military lines.
    • a short, intensive, and rigorous course of training.
      “a gruelling, late-summer boot camp for would-be football players”

But in fact the language the government and its toady Hancock use has a different origin: it  smells of the ‘get yer hair cut’ 1960s.

Or the kind of pervy old men who like ‘punishing’ youngsters.

We can say one thing for sure: the companies who’ll be running these ‘boot camps’ are some of the biggest chancers and failures in the country – as the evidence from successive New Deals, Work Programmes and all the rest indicates.

What will happen after this bogus ‘training’?

Will there be more forced ‘boot camps’?

Will young people be made to do workfare?

As said above, it looks like our contributors are onto something when they suggest that forced labour,  Zwangsarbeit, is not far off. 

You can vote on this via the ITV site: HERE.

Is it fair to send unemployed youngsters to work ‘boot camps’?
Yes – more needs to be done to get them into workNo – it’s a step too far
 Yes 71.32%  


No – it’s a step too far 28.68%  

Call for Safeguards for People with Mental Illness on Benefits.

Do not attack the Vulnerable.

This letter, reproduced by Welfare Weekly, should be followed widely.

What is happening in Rochdale is happening all over the country.

Every day I see people with serious mental health issues in the public library – many doing ‘Jobsearch. I would guess that amongst those begging in the streets of Ipswich a high proportion have these problems as well.

On courses for the Work Programme I have been with people who have extreme psychological problems.

In one case, an individual, well known in Ipswich, with numerous restraining orders on him, was on one of these so-called courses designed to make people ’employable’.

With tightening rules for Job Seekers, and  the pressure on everybody, the most vulnerable are bound to be hit.

Even the cheeriest of us have days when we don’t want to follow the so-called 35 hours rule: we knuckle down….

Anybody with depression will be simply incapable of doing this, let alone those suffering from other types of disorder.

 This is a monstrous injustice.

They have ‘freed’ people from confinement, and serious treatment, and now expect them to conform to their ‘Panoptican’ (all-seeing) surveillance.

Dear Elected Representative [s],

Could we the undersigned please take this opportunity to thank you for the excellent ongoing support you have given to people with mental health issues in the past.

Today we would like to draw your attention, if we may, to two pressing issues relating to people with mental health issues in Rochdale, Middleton & Heywood in the hope that you can both pledge your continued support to members of our mental health Service Users community, many of whom face great distress and anxiety over some elements of the governments Welfare Reform process.


Foremost in our minds is our growing concern that the proposed £31 MILLION pounds in cuts to Public Services at Rochdale Council which will without doubt impact disproportionately on vulnerable people with mental health issues, as well as many others within the wider community, that such cuts will have a massive direct impact upon.

Secondly we are deeply concerned that 100 people a day with mental health problems are having their Welfare benefits sanctioned – stopped for periods of time – by the Department of Work & Pensions [DWP]. These sanctions have a massive impact on people already struggling with periods of unemployment. But as I am sure you will all be very aware the impact on people already struggling with mental health issues can be catastrophic.

We’d like to draw your attention to latest report from New Economy that records the latest DWP sanctions figures made available for the period 22 October until the 31 December 2013. These statistics lists Rochdale Job Centre, Fleece Street as having the third highest rate for sanctioning benefit claimants in the whole of Greater Manchester. Of the 4,078 people being sanctioned at Rochdale Job Centre 40% were sanctioned without being told why these sanctioned were imposed by Claimant Advisers.

Locally the figures break down at:

  • Rochdale Job Centre Plus, Fleece Street – 4,078
  • Middleton Jobcentre Plus – 1,484
  • Heywood Job Centre Plus, Taylor Street – 972

A total of 6534 in all. Across the Greater Manchester, the Manchester East & West area had 24,072 “adverse” sanctions. Of these the majority by far were in the 18-24 year age group totalling 246, 592 individuals. With 91,603 in the 25-29 year old age group.

Most worryingly across the whole of the United Kingdom there were 49,827 disabled people who were sanctioned by the DWP.

We are also firmly of the belief that:

Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping“, as well as being deeply worried at the latest DWP proposals to class Sanctioned Jobseekers with mental health issues as NOT “vulnerable” unless they have an accompanying physical health problem, as [reported] by Welfare Weekly,

RelatedSanctioned Job Seekers with Mental Health Problems are not vulnerable says DWP

Currently people suffering the most severe mental illnesses are likely to receive Employment and Support Allowance [ESA] and it is estimated that 23% of JSA claimants have a mental health condition.

Related: Mind ‘Extremely Concerned’ Over Benefits Sanctions Revelation

Could we urge you to make public representations on our behalf to Rochdale Council, to express our profound concerns at the proposed levels of cuts to services as well as to please ask the Department of Works & Pensions directly what guidelines they have in place to safeguard claimants with mental health issues, and the exact definition they use to identify those local claimants with mental health issues.

Your help with this would be very much appreciated by all of us. We would also very much welcome the opportunity to send a delegation of our newly relaunched Mental Health Campaign Group members to meet with you personally at your earliest convenience that suits you to discuss these serious issues of concern to us. Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

  • RACHEL GINNELLY – CEO, Rochdale Borough Users Forum Chief Executive Office
  • MICK AYTON – Voice Programme Coordinator
  • RYAN COWAN – Chair, RBUF Board of Trustees
  • MIKE JONES – Vice Chair RBUF Board of Trustees
  • DANIEL – RBUF Technical Assistant
  • NISBA – Project Assistant for RBUF
  • ALAN TICE – RBUF Member
  • STEVE TOMLINSON – RBUF Office Volunteer
  • PETER WILDMAN – RBUF Mental Health Trainer / RBUF Rep
  • SARAH HARPER – RBUF Office Volunteer
  • Larissa Marshall – RBUF Service User
  • ANDREW WASTLING – Chair, Mental Health Campaigns Group
  • YASMIN KENYON – RBUF Housing & Homeless Rep
  • PETER WILDMAN – RBUF Mental Health Trainer / RBUF Rep
  • RASHIDA JORDAN – RBUF Service User / Volunteer
  • DONNA HOMES – RBUF Service User / Blue Pits Band
  • RICHARD OUTRAM – Policy & Research Adviser Liberal Democrat Group
  • NATASHA KIRBY – Rochdale Solutions – OL16
  • KATHTYN RENNIE -Rochdale Possibilities
  • TONY GILL – OL16 5QJ
  • SUSAN TURNER – REAG/ Cornerstone – OL2 7PY
  • JOHN CALLAGHAN – RBUF Service User

Eu Migrant Plans to Hit Unemployed Young People as well as Working EU Citizens.

Young People Again the Target of Tory Discrimination.

EU migrant benefit plan ‘could hit thousands of young Britons’.

Reports the BBC.

Thousands of young Britons could lose the right to claim some benefits for four years as part of government plans to tighten the rules for EU migrants.

Introducing a four-year residency test for migrants is a key part of the UK’s negotiations of its EU membership.

But lawyers say applying such a test to migrants alone would breach EU laws, and the government is now considering extending the rule to all UK benefit applicants, from the age of 18.

Ministers would not discuss the plans.

This is the crunch:

Why are Britons affected?

One option is to implement a four-year residency rule for all benefit claimants. This could mean Britons, even if they had lived in the UK all their lives, from their 18th birthday would be ineligible for the benefits for four years until they reach 22.

The changes would affect working tax credits and housing benefits. About 50,000 UK citizens under the age of 22 receive tax credits. Most of them have children. The proposal is currently being discussed by ministers and senior officials.

The Mirror adds,

Thousands of young people could be blocked from claiming tax credits and housing benefit so the Tories doesn’t have to pay them to EU migrants.

The Government wants to stop people coming to the UK claiming benefits until they’ve lived in the country for four years.

But EU rules prevent governments from discriminating against migrants, so ministers are considering extending the restrictions to British workers between 18 and 22.

It’s thought as many as 50,000 British workers will be affected – many of them young parents.

Labour warned most people would find the restrictions unacceptable.

Shadow work and pensions minister Stephen Timms said the Government should consider adopting the Opposition’s plan to restrict access to benefits for new migrants for two years rather than four years.

He said this would affect fewer people if a lack of treaty change during the renegotiation of the UK’s EU membership meant the restrictions also had to apply to Britons.

According to the BBC, without treaty change – which British officials have previously confirmed may not be in place by the time of the in/out referendum promised by the end of 2017 – the Government has had to consider plans which would extend the ban to Britons to prevent “direct discrimination”.

This is an example of what happens when you start on the path of discriminating between groups of people.

It is worth noting that migrants will be hit when working.

It is unacceptable that one group of workers will get less money than another.

And that’s before we see the knock-on effect on the young.

Sanctioned Jobless with Mental Health Problems not “Vulnerable” says DWP.

Sanctioned Jobseekers with mental health problems are not classed as ‘vulnerable’ unless they have an accompanying physical health problem, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Reports Welfare Weekly.

Use of the controversial sanctions regime, which sees claimants money cut or stopped for up to three years, has rocketed since stricter rules were introduced by the government.

In 2013-14 record numbers of sanctions were imposed, with nearly one in six jobseekers affected, and many fear those with mental health problems are often the hardest hit.

When a claimant has their Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) reduced or stopped they can apply for a hardship payment – up to 60% of their JSA. This can go some way to cover the cost of food and bills while they have no other means of support. Those classed as ‘vulnerable’ can normally claim this vital support immediately, but others may have to wait at least two weeks.

However, those JSA claimants with even the most serious mental health illnesses are not considered vulnerable by DWP; they have to instead wait and go through what could become a lengthy application process.

DWP guidance on hardship payments states: “Requests for hardship payments may be made by people who say they have a mental condition. A person will only be a member of a vulnerable group if the condition causes limitation in functional capacity because of a physical impairment.”

It continues: “It is extremely rare for a mental condition to produce a physical impairment that limits or restricts functional capacity but it can happen.”

For decision makers in any doubt, the guidance goes on to clarify all mental illnesses “without physical impairment”:

  • Affective disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Affective disorder
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Depression
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Nervous Debility
  • Neurasthenia
  • Neurosis
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Phobias
  • Phobic anxiety
  • Psychoneurosis
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia

Welfare Weekly cites statistics showing that 23% of JSA claimants have a mental health condition.

“While those suffering from the most severe mental illnesses are likely to receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), it is estimated that 23% of JSA claimants have a mental health condition.”

This should be put in full context: the same statistical source estimates that 16% of the General Population has a mental health condition (Page 3. Mental Health and Employment.)

It is also important to look at the rise in sanctions.

These are the figures available in January this year: (ITV News)

And this: Claimants with mental health issues are being ‘punished’ for being late and missing appointments while claiming benefits.

There has been no sudden rise in the numbers of people with these difficulties.

We can conclude that people with these problems are particularly hit.

In other words, the effect of sanctions regime is to punish the vulnerable.

The benefit sanctions regime should be scrapped !

Housing Benefit Removal: Young People Face Uncertain Futures.

Government Set to Swell Young Rough Sleeper Numbers.

YMCA report predicts more homeless young with housing benefit cuts.

‘Uncertain Futures’ is a new report that seeks to challenge some of the assumptions underpinning the argument that many young people are choosing a life on benefits and draw out the types of young people who may be adversely affected by these reforms when they are introduced in April 2017.
By removing automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds, the Government could be in danger of inadvertently taking away support from the young people who need it the most, and in doing so, exposing many more vulnerable people to the risk of becoming homeless and therefore damaging their prospects of finding work in the future.
YMCA agrees that action is needed to address youth unemployment but, without protections, thousands of vulnerable, young people will face uncertain futures, not knowing if they will have anywhere they can call home and leaving them less able to find work.
In changing entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds, YMCA believes that detailed measures should be put in place to ensure the most vulnerable young people in the country continue to receive protection and support during their time of need.
As such, as a minimum, protection should be put in place for young people who are:

  • Pregnant or have dependent children
  • Care leavers or former children in need
  • Homeless or have a history of homelessness
  • Estranged from their parents.

Amongst other points Uncertain Futures notes:

Many of the young people claiming are doing so because they have no other option 2,100 18 to 21 year olds claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit have at least one dependent  child to look after.

7,200 young care leavers between 19 and 21 years old in England are currently out of work and would  potentially be eligible to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit.

Between 5,800 and 6,400 18 to 21 year olds were identified as homeless and in priority need last year.

Nearly 1,400 18 to 21 year olds currently living in YMCA supported accommodation claim Jobseeker’s  Allowance and Housing Benefit.

For the young people claiming benefits, it is far from an attractive lifestyle choice.

Most young people are entitled to £57.90 a week in Jobseeker’s Allowance.

44% of 18 to 21 year olds claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit get less than £75 a week in help towards their housing costs.

It states,

” this report demonstrates, to believe that removing entitlement to Housing Benefit will drive all young people to ‘earn or learn’ is to misunderstand many of those that rely upon this part of the social security system.

It is also to underestimate how important having a stable and safe home is in enabling these vulnerable young  people to find training and employment.

By removing automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21 year olds the Government could be in  danger of inadvertently taking away support from the young people who need it most, and in doing so, exposing many more vulnerable young people to the risk of becoming homeless and therefore damaging their prospects of finding work in the future.

Action is needed to address youth unemployment, but without protections thousands of vulnerable young  people will face uncertain futures, not knowing if they will have anywhere they can call home and leaving them less able to find work.

The Guardian writes,

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “This report is deliberately misleading since we have been very clear that vulnerable young people including care-leavers and people with children will be exempt from this policy.

“We want to make sure young people get the support they need to move into work and do not slip straight into a life on benefits.”

The government is likely to exempt care-leavers, those with dependent children, disabled youngsters who are unable to work, and young people who have been working for six months before claiming.

YMCA says that before exemptions 19,000 young people currently claim job seeker’s allowance (JSA) and housing benefit, equivalent to less than 1% of all housing benefit claimants.

It rejects the idea that this group is pursuing a “lifestyle choice”, pointing out that nearly three-quarters of this cohort claim for less than six months, suggesting it is a short-term safety net. JSA is £57.90 a week, while average housing benefit payments are less than £75.

The charity points out out that the numbers of 18- to 21-year-olds claiming both entitlements has halved in the last two years and is falling faster than any other age group. Over two-thirds of 18-21-year-olds live at home with parents, a proportion that has risen over the past decade.

Accept help to lose weight, or lose your benefits. Official.

Dole to Tell you to Cut down on Visits to Chippie.

Cameron: Accept help to lose weight, or lose your benefits

Posts Conservative Home, apparently the Home of Conservatism.

‘Obese people who refuse medical treatment to help them lose weight could have their benefits cut, the Prime Minister will announce today. David Cameron will launch a review to work out the cost to taxpayers and the economy of ‘preventable’ conditions such as obesity and drug and alcohol addiction. He has asked a government health adviser to examine plans to force people with health problems to undertake treatment when claiming benefits.’ – Daily Mail

  • This is about protecting taxpayers – The Sun Says (you have to pay to read this)
  • Britain is the fat man of Europe – The Times Leader (you have to pay to read this as well).

The Telegraph registers some of the changes about to be introduced.

‘Fat taxes’ and benefit cuts

David Cameron is expected to announce shortly that overweight people could have benefits worth around £100 a week reduced or ended altogether if they refuse to lose weight.

This has led to speculation that extra taxes could be levied on overweight working people too. Another option on the table is to tax food to make unhealthy items more expensive and to subsidise healthy food.

Experts have previously said that “fat taxes” would have to increase the price of unhealthy food and drinks by as much as 20pc in order to cut consumption by enough to reduce obesity and other diet-related diseases. For a family spending £100 a week on food, £50 of which is spent on “unhealthy food”, this would add £520 a year, or £10 a week, to their shopping bill.

But, standing up for differently weighted people (for reasons which coast near the bleedin’ obvious), they state,

Fat taxes? Overweight people already pay more

Obesity is a growing financial burden for Britain. But being overweight could also affect your personal finances.

We can all guess the kind of person who talks about “personal finances” without screwing their lips together, hard.

The Guardian takes a different angle on these latest proposals to tell people how to live their lives:

Obese people and drug users who refuse treatment could have benefits cut

David Cameron launches review by Dame Carol Black of welfare for those with drug, alcohol or obesity problems.

So it’s not just those visits to Iceland for a stack of cheap burgers and a tub of ice-cream (breakfast), it’s our two litres of White Cider (lunch), and a spliff of skunk (tea) that they’re after.

The lives of those who like a drink, a bag of chips and some blow, are to be reformed.

One wonders what kind of record of our eating, drinking, and ingesting habits we’ll have to present to Coachey when we sign on,

This comment seems appropriate, “A Newfangled Nanny State? U.K. Government to Force Fat People to Lose Weight by .

Except that I, like just about everybody here, has never had a nanny and am not clear what they do.

Even Iain Duncan Smith’s Advisers Call for Review of Benefit Sanctions.

Cause for Review of Sanctions?

Review of benefit sanctions urged amid concern over regime’s effectiveness.

Reports today’s Guardian.

NOTE: this is buried in a dry-as-dust report  SSAC Occasional Paper 15: Universal Credit: priorities for action  (SEE Below for more details*). In the Conclusions and Recommendations: they call for “ an urgent review of the operation of the sanctions regime ensuring that existing rules are thoroughly evaluated and greater testing with incentives rather than penalties is explored.

Advisers to Iain Duncan Smith say there is no hard evidence that stopping payments to claimants is helping people get jobs.

Official advisers to Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, have called for an urgent and robust review of the government’s controversial benefit sanctions regime amid concerns that it is failing to help jobless claimants.

The independent social security advisory committee says the policy of stopping claimants’ dole payments for alleged breaches of benefit rules should be put on hold until “a firm evidence base” has been established.

Sanctions, under which claimants lose benefit payments for between four weeks and three years, have come under fire for being unfair, punitive, failing to increase job prospects, and causing hunger, debt and ill-health among jobseekers.

Although ministers say monetary penalties are effective in helping people into jobs by changing their attitudes to work, the committee says there is no hard evidence for this and urges ministers to consider trialling non-financial sanctions.

It states in its report to ministers: “[The committee], among others, has raised concerns about the increased use of sanctions, not because we believe that they are necessarily ineffective, but because we do not know for certain that they are effective, at least in terms of getting people into good quality jobs.

“We believe that the sanctions regime needs to be tested.”

The 13-strong committee, chaired by former Department for work and pensions (DWP) permanent secretary Paul Gray, is appointed by the work and pensions secretary to provide independent scrutiny of welfare policy decisions. Its members include economist Matthew Oakley, who authored a DWP-commissioned evaluation of sanctions published last year, as well as academics and business professionals.

The committee’s report also flags up concerns to ministers over “highly sensitive” plans to impose conditions on recipients of universal credit who are in work. They face the possibility of financial sanctions if they fail to respond positively to job centre encouragement to increase their hours or move to a higher paying job.

It says guidance must be issued urgently to DWP staff on how to deal sensitively with working claimants and their employers. “An over-zealous drive to get claimants into full-time or better sustainable work without regard for, or full recognition of, the demands of their everyday life would not only jeopardise the relationship but damage the potential for giving people the support they need.”

In a statement, a DWP spokesman said: “Benefit sanctions are a longstanding part of the benefit system and encourage people to engage with the support on offer.

“We’re working closely with social security advisory committee and other groups as we head into the next phase of delivery, to ensure that claimants continue to benefit from the better work incentives and simplicity of universal credit.”

The committee also warns the DWP against an over-strict approach to the issuing of sanctions. It says frontline officials should be allowed to exercise discretion over whether to impose a penalties, especially where very vulnerable claimants are involved, such as those with mental health problems or a learning disability.

The report says: “There are suggestions that the department’s default position may have been to apply a sanction sooner rather than later whenever a failure in compliance has been identified… But there have been many voices raised to say that this is inappropriate and that sanctions ought to be a last resort.”

Initial findings from a major five-year academic research study led by the University of York into the effectiveness of sanctions presented to MPs earlier this month [14 July] reported that despite widespread political support for increased welfare conditionality “the key issue of its effectiveness in changing and sustaining behaviour remains largely unanswered”.

The social security advisory committee’s advice echoes the conclusions of a cross-party MPs reportin March, which called for a review of the sanctions regime after concluding it was unfair, punitive and ineffective at helping people into work.

MPs heard evidence from the PCS union that job centre staff were threatened with performance reviews if they did not instigate sufficient sanctions on claimants, and that managers drew up sanctions targets for staff, a claim the DWP denied.

Separate evidence from former job centre employees claimed staff were encourged to “agitate and inconvenience” claimants so they fell foul of the rules, enabling their benefits to be stopped. One ex-official said unscrupulous staff would target vulnerable claimants, such as those with a learning disability, for sanctions.

Although successive governments have tightened benefit conditionality over the past 10 years, ministers dramatically escalated the use of sanctions under new rules introduced in 2012. Annual sanctions numbers, which were about 500,000 in 2010, soared to over 1m within 12 months of the new rules coming on stream.

Latest figures for December 2014 show job seeker allowance sanctions numbers fell to 700,000, as job market conditions improved, though rates, expressed as a percentage of claimants, fell only marginally.


*Reference in Report:  “More generally, SSAC has recommended that conditionality and sanctions should be discussed at the point at which a claim for Universal Credit is made so that claimants understand fully what is expected of them at the outset.

The possible outcome for a claimant who fails to comply with those requirements, along with the requirements themselves, should form an essential element of the Claimant Commitment.

We have previously made clear our view that the conditions in the Claimant Commitment must be reasonable, clear, unambiguous, achievable, demonstrable and tailored to each claimant’s circumstances and abilities.

In our report on Universal Credit and Conditionality we highlighted a number of lessons drawn from various studies. Those lessons, which are worth repeating because of their continuing relevance, call upon the Department to:

• recognise the importance of being sensitive to the personal circumstances of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable claimants, recognising that conditions must be personally tailored;

• take account of the fact that the ability of claimants with chaotic lifestyles to understand the sanctions regime and comply with it may be compromised by their circumstances;

• encourage early identification of claimants who are especially vulnerable, such as those with mental health problems or a learning disability, and most at risk of sanctions and enable advisers to ensure that appropriate support is made available to them at the earliest opportunity: this could be reflected in the Claimant Commitment; and

• allow discretion in applying a sanction as a vital component in an effective sanctions regime which seeks to change behaviour. There are suggestions that the Department’s default position may have been to apply a sanction sooner rather than later whenever a failure in compliance has been identified. The onus would then shift to the claimant to show that the sanction should not be applied or should be mitigated in some way, for example, by demonstrating good cause. But there have been many voices raised to say that this is inappropriate and that sanctions ought to be a last resort.

The thing we’d like to know is: what on earth do they mean by “testing” sanctions?

It’s a bit like,  ‘testing‘ a blow to the head.

A ‘test’ on what happens when hit a stomach.

But that’s overshadowed by the rubbish the DWP comes out with:

” “Benefit sanctions are a longstanding part of the benefit system and encourage people to engage with the support on offer.”

Like, er “”engage”, like, er, “hey guys”…

And…why not….




Benefit Claimants Forced To Live In Fear. Publish the Death Toll!

Government ‘Nudge’ to Help Claimants ‘Start Smiling Again’. 

Enigma points out that the government is using ‘nudge’ theory to guide how they work (BBC Politicians learn power of using nudge technique).

“A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not.”

One of Nudges’ most frequently cited examples is the etching of the image of a housefly into the men’s room urinals at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which is intended to ‘improve the aim’” (Wikipedia).

Personal commitment devices in Jobcentres. 

BIT is working with Jobcenters in a trial involving cutting down the process, personalising job advice and includes the introduction of commitment devices, which require the jobseeker to make commitments to the job advisor about what they are going to do in the next week. They write their commitments down in front of the job advisor, who then follows up whether they were successful. The job seekers are encouraged to make the commitments unambiguous by specifying when and where they are going to perform the action. The early results from the trial has showed a significant increase in those off benefits at 13 weeks.”

I can’t help feeling that the only ‘nudge’ I can see at work at the moment is claimants being shoved towards destitution and – in some tragic cases – death. 

In Ipswich we see people every day in the street in a terrible state, asking for money: how have we come to this?

This is happening everywhere.

As in this: 

We all know that without any form of income via wages, benefits or savings that the inevitable outcome is almost certainly homelessness, hunger and poverty – even crime.

Comments Lesley Roberts on Welfare Weekly. 

Common sense tells us this. So why do we believe that a person with a serious and recognised illness, who we know cannot work, should be put into the position of living in fear of this happening to them? Why are we pushing people into the position of feeling that the only way out is to take their own life?

Even the excuses used by the “I’m alright Jack” crowd will find it difficult to give a decent reason to ignore or hide what is happening. Even giving a dismissive comment will become an embarrassment; how many people have to end up on the Iain Duncan Smith’s death list before there is a public outcry?

The Mirror reported on the death of Glenn Harris on the 21 July 2015, who was so afraid his benefits would be stopped he ended his own life.

He is sadly not alone. There is a Facebook page, “National Remembrance for the DWP/ATOS Dead”, dedicated to those who have died due to welfare cuts. Anyone can google and find name after name, news report after news report, to find out about Britain’s very own ‘Schindler’s List’.

Something that strangely seems to be missing is the actual official statistics; a bit like child poverty being non-existent because the Tories want to redefine its definition.

More here.

Publish the death toll!

Chancellor Calls for Labour Backing for Welfare ‘Reform’ and Making Young Parents look for Work.

Osborne with his children, who attend expensive Private School, St Pauls, in London.

Welfare Weekly reports.

George Osborne has urged progressive MPs in the Labour party to back his welfare changes in a critical Commons vote on Monday night, saying they should recognise that the proposals not only chime with the public but build on mainstream Labour thinking.

Writing in the Guardian, the chancellor calls on Labour to stop blaming the public for its defeat and recognise that welfare requires public consent.

Labour has plunged into a deep, week-long split over how to respond to Osborne’s welfare plans, with at least three of the leadership candidates, including Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, rejecting the interim Labour leader Harriet Harman’s plea for the party to abstain and back a lower welfare cap. Harman also said Labour should not oppose the restriction of tax credits to a claimant’s first two children.

She said the party needed to recognise that the electorate had sent Labour a message on welfare and it had to show it was listening. But she has now been forced into a partial retreat, and the party has instead tabled an amendment rejecting the bill. Some Labour MPs still believe the new compromise does not go far enough and will vote against the bill on Monday, not just support a dissenting amendment.

Osborne sprung a surprise in the budget by proposing cuts to the level of tax credits, but balanced these in part by a rise in the minimum wage to more than £9 an hour by 2020 for those over 25. Osborne argues that the responsibility for ensuring decent living standards should be rebalanced from the state handing out subsidies towards employers providing decent wages.

He writes: “Three in four people – and a majority of Labour voters – think that Britain spends too much on welfare. For our social contract to work, we need to retain the consent of the taxpayer, not just the welfare recipient. For those that can work, I believe it is better to earn a higher income from your work than receive a higher income from welfare.

“I thought British politics had taken a step forward when Labour’s acting leader Harriet Harman indicated that she would support at least some of our reforms. She recognised that oppositions only advance when they stop blaming the public for their defeat and recognise that some of the arguments made by political opponents should be listened to – just as a previous Conservative opposition realised 15 years ago when it accepted the case for a minimum wage.

“Depressingly, the Labour leader has been forced to retreat from her sensible position after Len McCluskey accused her of ‘running up the white flag’ and leadership candidates Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper joined Jeremy Corbyn in undermining her. With the vote coming on Monday, I urge moderate Labour MPs not to make the same mistake as in the last parliament, when they refused to support each and every welfare reform we proposed. I say: vote with us.”

This is another key feature of the “reforms” (Daily Telegraph).

Single mothers will be forced to seek work for their benefits

Single parents on benefits will be forced to look for work when their youngest child reaches the age of three, or face losing their state hand-outs, under new welfare laws.

At present, parents – including lone mothers and fathers – are entitled to receive benefits without conditions being attached until their children start school aged five.

However, welfare reforms to be debated in Parliament for the first time on Monday, will lower this age limit, meaning claimants whose youngest child is three or older will be required to look for work as a condition of continuing to receive the payments.

The move is expected to save £55 million from the welfare bill between 2017 and 2020 as parents lose their benefits or move into jobs.

The new rules will also mean that parents claiming benefits will have to “prepare for work” when their youngest child turns two, before actively seeking employment a year later.

Ministers have decided that the reform is fair because it will coincide with a major expansion in free childcare, designed to make it easier for parents to go to work.

From September 2017, all three and four year-olds in England will be entitled to up to 30 hours per week of free day-care.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, believes this will make sure that work pays for parents, who have faced high childcare costs that have deterred many from returning to their jobs after having children in the past.

We wonder if the Telegraph’s journalists – who  live on ‘hand outs’ from the rich, that is their owners the Barclay Brothers live in tax-exile at a Castle on the island of Brecqhou – have thought through the proposed ‘free child care’ arrangements.

They cover 30 hours a week.

Not 40.

This involve taking children to and from the nursery.

Not all parents, and not all children, will be so simply ‘fitted into’ these compulsory regime.

It’s hard enough already being a single mother.

Most importantly, will there be jobs for all those young parents?

Or will they have to spend 35 hours a week ‘job-seeking’?

How will this be monitored?

Will they get sanctioned if they have to take time for an ill child?

Indeed if they get sanctioned (there are so many reasons for this to happen….) who will feed and clothe the children.

Or will they have to go on more fruitless ‘schemes’ run by those reliant on ‘hand outs’ from the state: the Welfare-to-Work Industry.

And risk more sanctions?


Wikipedia tells us of Osborne’s own personal life:

Osborne married The HonFrances Victoria Howell (b. 18 February 1969), author and elder daughter of the Conservative politician and Government Minister Lord Howell of Guildford, on 4 April 1998.[5] The couple have two children, Luke Benedict, born at Westminster on 15 June 2001, and Liberty Kate, born at Westminster, London, on 27 June 2003.[2] He has an estimated personal fortune of around £4 million, as the beneficiary of a trust fund that owns a 15 per cent stake in Osborne & Little, the wallpaper-and-fabrics company co-founded by his father, Sir Peter Osborne, Bt.

Just the man to order single parents reliant on benefits about!

Call for DWP Death Statistics will Not Go Away with ‘Start Smiling Again’.

DWP Funded Answer to People with Mental Health Problems.

Release the Death Statistics on Benefit Cuts to Show Their Full Impact

Mark Sivier. Huffington Post.

Following last week’s budget announcement of £12billion in benefit cuts, how many people will die as a result? Dramatic as it may sound, there is already solid evidence that deaths directly correlate to the harsh family benefits caps like those the government plans to introduce. But that evidence is being hushed up. And you can help it become public by signing the petition I’ve set up on, which appeals for its release.

I’m asking Iain Duncan Smith to stop blocking the publication of these death statistics from the past four years, which reveal how many people have died within six weeks of their benefits being stopped.

Between January and November 2011, 10,600 people died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance. Some, of course, would have sadly died anyway because they were ill or because – put bluntly – people die. Analysis showed that 1,300 of those deaths were in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ – those expected to be well enough to return to work within a year. It’s false to say – as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has – that the link between deaths and benefit cuts is tenuous.

The DWP has thought of all sorts of reasons not to release the post-2011 death statistics. Initially, they claimed the request would create an undue burden on its time and resources. This was later disproven when it admitted it could indeed provide some of the information within the Freedom of Information request cost limit of £600. Then, they said they were planning to publish the information at an unspecified time in the future – and only recently revealed that this was not true – the information to be released would show the deaths as a ratio, not the actual number of deaths that have occurred.

(see link above for full story).

Perhaps this is part of their response:

A Wales-based company is partnering with the Department for Work and Pensions to roll out an initiative in South Wales job centres. to get people with mental health problems back into work.

The ‘Press Pause to Play’ programme was piloted in Swansea towards the end of last year, helping people with anxiety and depression through a combination of psychology, physiology and neuroscience.

Run by a specialist stress and anxiety management company, the programme reportedly saw 50% of participants successfully run to work.

By partnering with the Department for Work and Pensions, the company – ‘Start Smiling Again’ hope to achieve similar results across Wales by rolling the programme out to a number of job centres in South Wales.

This is the Start Smiling Company.….


Hi, I’m David Rahman, Harley Street Therapist, founder of Start Smiling Again and creator of the revolutionary Blueprint Therapy & Coaching. By visiting this website today, you have already taken that first important step towards regaining health, happiness and the confidence to live the life you deserve.

Anyone can suffer debilitating stress, anxiety and depression at any time. Nobody chooses to experience these illnesses, but when it happens to you, it can seem that there will never be a light at the end of the tunnel; that you will always feel the way you do right now. You may have unsuccessfully undergone therapy before; you may have read self-help books or seen GPs and specialists only still to be left misunderstood and without the help you need.

This is the kind of stuff the DWP is now funding (from David Rahman’s Facebook page Believe in yourself – – it’s not made up):

Fail. Then Win.

Hi, David!

How’s it goin’ Dude!

Hi, bloody Hi!

Strike over Universal Credit Staff Facing “Increasingly Oppressive” Working conditions.

IDS Faces Strike over ‘Pisspoor’ IT.

Thanks to: Gaia. 

Universal Credit staff go on strike in protest against ‘oppressive’ culture under Tory welfare reforms. reports the Mirror.

Call centre staff in charge of helping people through the Tories’ welfare reforms are going on strike in a protest against their ‘increasingly oppressive’ working culture.

Nearly 1,500 Universal Credit workers are walking out after complaining of staff shortages, poor training and money ‘squandered’ on IT that wasn’t used.

They claim they’re being given unrealistic targets as the government’s flagship reform is rolled out across Britain – over its original deadline and budget.

Bolton and Glasgow staff will walk out for 48 hours next Monday and Tuesday after 84% of Public and Commercial Services Union members voted for a strike.

The turnout was 56%.

The strike could spread to other Universal Credit service centres in Bangor, Basildon, Dundee, Makerfield and Middlesbrough, union bosses say.

The union, the PCS, says,

Universal credit staff to strike for two days over oppressive working conditions

13 July 2015

Universal credit staff will strike for two days next week over increasingly oppressive working conditions, the Public and Commercial Services union announces.

The government’s flagship social security programme has been dogged by delays and allegations of money squandered on IT.

Staff have complained about a lack of resources, an oppressive management culture, inadequate training, hard to reach targets and staff shortages.

Almost 1,500 workers at the two original service centres in Bolton and Glasgow, where more than half of all universal credit staff are employed, will strike for two days next Monday (20) and Tuesday (21).

The union represents around 80% of staff at the centres that process claims to universal credit and take enquiries from claimants by telephone and online.

The dispute is over the imposition of new conditions, including predetermined start and finish times and severe restrictions on flexible working.

In a recent ballot, 84% voted for strikes and 90% voted for other forms of industrial action on a 56% turnout. The two-day strike will be followed by industrial action short of a strike until mid-August.

The union has not ruled out balloting its members at the other universal credit sites in Bangor, Basildon, Dundee, Makerfield and Middlesbrough.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The introduction of universal credit has been a textbook example of how not to reform essential public services, and the DWP’s handling of every aspect of it has been disastrous.

“These harsher working conditions must be withdrawn, they simply heap more pressure on staff who have battled against poor IT, inadequate training and a lack of resources.”

The Register, specialising in IT stories, adds,

Universal Credit staff will strike for two days next week over “increasingly oppressive” working conditions and unusable IT, the Public and Commercial Services trade union has confirmed, following a vote late week.

The union’s members voted to down tools at the Glasgow and Bolton centres last week, where more than half (1,500) of all Universal Credit staff are employed.

The PCS union is also considering balloting its members at the other Universal Credit sites in Bangor, Basildon, Dundee, Makerfield and Middlesbrough.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “The introduction of Universal Credit has been a textbook example of how not to reform essential public services, and the DWP’s handling of every aspect of it has been disastrous.”

“These harsher working conditions must be withdrawn,” he continued, saying “they simply heap more pressure on staff who have battled against poor IT, inadequate training and a lack of resources.”

Last year, the DWP splashed £323.8m on the project. However, the National Audit Office has said just £34m of the project’s IT investment could potentially be reusable. So far, just 65,000 of nine million eligible people are on the system.

Originally the project – started in 2011 – was supposed to be complete by 2015/16, but the date has since been shifted to 2020.

The strike will begin on Monday 20 July. ®


Young People – especially the Out-of-Work – are Being Hammered as Welfare Privatisation Looms.

Iain Duncan Smith Hammers Young as he Plans to Let more Private Firms Make Money from Welfare.

UK ‘failing its young’ as gulf grows between generations reports the Observer this morning.

I cannot help feeling that this is one of the worst things you could say about any government and society

The prospects for young Britons have deteriorated sharply since the Tories entered government in 2010 as money and resources have been targeted at the older generation, according to a devastating new report by economists.

The latest findings of the Intergenerational Foundation, to be published this week, highlight a sharply widening gap on its “fairness index” between people under 30 and those over 60.

The report illustrates how the younger generation is increasingly paying the price for supporting those already in, or approaching, older age as the cost of funding their pensions and healthcare rises.

Since 2010, the report shows, there has been a 10% decline in young people’s prospects across a range of measures including housing, education, health, income and debt. It comes amid a growing backlash from young people against George Osborne’s budget last week in which he announced welfare cuts that will hit many young families, ended automatic entitlement to housing benefit for those aged 18 to 21, and replaced maintenance grants for students with a loan system. Osborne also unveiled plans for a new “national living wage” that will rise to £9 an hour by 2020, giving millions of people a pay rise. But it will not apply to those under 25.

After the budget we noted this,

The tone of the chancellor’s strict carrot-and-stick approach was established by his planned “youth obligation” for 18 to 21-year-olds on universal credit, which he said would provide them with “an intensive regime of support from day one of their benefit claim”, from April 2017. At the same time, Osborne said housing benefit would no longer be automatically available for 18 to 21-year-olds.

Is there worse to come?

Yes: in the end this for all of us (Welfare Weekly)

Iain Duncan Smith has hinted that the future of Britain’s welfare system could rest in the arms of private insurance schemes.

Speaking to the Telegraph, the Work and Pensions Secretary says young people should be encouraged to save into flexible accounts, from which they can then draw out money at times of sickness or unemployment.

The model is very similar to unemployment insurance schemes in the United States, but would work more like systems that exist in the far East – such as ‘Fortune Accounts’ in Singapore.

“We need to support the kind of products that allow people through their lives to dip in and out when they need the money for sickness or care or unemployment”, said Iain Duncan Smith.

He added: “We need to encourage people to save from day one, but they need to know that they can get some of the money out when their circumstances change.

Iain Duncan Smith said that although this is not yet official government policy, he is “keen to look at it, as a long-term way forward for the 21st century.”

What the Budget Means for the Unemployed.

Osborne: I don’t Care, My Family’s Doing Quite Nicely Thank You.

Some effects of the Budget on the out of work. (Guardian)

Single, no children. Unemployed

Base income: £3,801 2015-16 Jobseeker’s allowance rose to £73.10 (£57.90 if aged 16-24) in April, an increase of 70p a week or £36.40 a year compared with 2014-15. Housing benefit eligibility will depend on his property size and, if he rents, where he lives.

2016-17 His benefits are frozen, meaning his overall income neither increases nor decreases.

Except that with the price of basics unlikely to stay still until 2017 this means a cut in benefits.

A single person aged 24 with no children. He previously worked but is now receiving sickness benefits. He rents a housing association flat in Manchester for £70 per week

Base income: £8,952 2015-16 He receives £5,312 in employment and support allowance and housing benefit of £3,640. This gives a total income of £8,952.

2016-17 The 1% reduction in social housing rents means he now has to pay rent of £69.30. Housing benefit reduces to cover this amount. Other benefits are frozen meaning that he is no better or worse off.

Couple, both unemployed, three children, renting in Bristol £800pcm

Base income: £26,000 2015-16 They get combined total benefits of £26,000 – made up of jobseeker’s allowance, child tax credit, housing and child benefit. They would get £26,502 but this is over the maximum benefit cap of £26,000. In the case that one child is disabled, they get £32,507 and are unaffected by the cap.

2016-17 Lowering the maximum benefit cap means their benefits are limited to £20,000. Overall they will be £6,000 worse off. Where one of the children is disabled they are neither better or worse off due to the freeze in benefit rates.

18-21-year-olds to lose jobless benefits under ‘earn or learn’ scheme.

This is a real blow to the young unemployed: either do workfare or “learn” .

This does not mean going to college, unless you take out a loan:

University maintenance grants for lower income students in England and Wales are to be scrapped from September 2016, Chancellor George Osborne has said.

In his budget, Mr Osborne said the grants had become “unaffordable”. Mr Osborne also said tuition fees could rise with inflation, above £9,000, for those institutions which offer high-quality teaching from 2017-18. BBC.

As the Guardian says,

The tone of the chancellor’s strict carrot-and-stick approach was established by his planned “youth obligation” for 18 to 21-year-olds on universal credit, which he said would provide them with “an intensive regime of support from day one of their benefit claim”, from April 2017. At the same time, Osborne said housing benefit would no longer be automatically available for 18 to 21-year-olds.

There is also this:

The upmarket wallpaper firm Osborne & Little is claimed to have linked up with a corporation in the British Virgin Islands to turn its former headquarters in an expensive south London district into flats and houses. Once they had received planning permission for the site, Osborne & Little sold the site to its foreigner partner for £6,088,000. The deal was signed by Sir Peter Osborne, the Chancellor’s father. Details of the agreement, which emerged on the eve of the Budget, were disclosed in documents obtained by Channel 4 News. There is no suggestion that the Chancellor, or the family firm, avoided tax as a result of the deal. Independent. 

Sanctions Regime Under Fire Again.



As the Budget looms and the  government prepares to take an axe to benefits – above all for the working poor – the issue of sanctions  has been out of the headlines.

But there are voices who continue protesting:

A group of churches and charities have called on the UK government to hold an urgent independent review into the benefit sanctions regime.

Welfare Weekly. (3rd of July)

The group argue that the government has failed to heed the recommendation of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, who called for a full independent review of the benefit sanctions system earlier this year.

Dame Anne Begg, who chaired the Committee’s investigation, said: “The implementation of the present sanction regime is controversial with the government claiming it is effective in helping people into work while many others say sanctions are causing real distress to families and are actually acting as a barrier to participation.”

Why are so many people still facing multiple sanctions?

“As there are so many questions about the effects on people who have been sanctioned, it is time the government implemented the recommendation of my Select Committee in the last Parliament to carry out a full, independent review of the whole sanction regime.

“Many believe that sanctions are being applied to the wrong people for often trivial reasons and are the cause of the increased use of foodbanks. Only an independent review can get to the truth of what is actually happening so that government policy can be based on evidence and not seen as merely punitive.”

In a 100 day period last year, 346,256 people who were on Jobseeker’s Allowance and 35,554 people on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) were referred for sanctions. These resulted in 175,177 sanctions for Jobseekers and 11,129 for sick and disabled people claiming ESA. 92,558 were blamed on a bureaucratic error.

The call for a review is supported by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Church in Wales, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and by charities Church Action on Poverty, Gingerbread and Mind.

Another report here:

Kirk calls for benefits sanction review

The UK Government has been urged to bring forward an independent review of the benefit sanctions system.

The call was made by the Church of Scotland yesterday which said Conservative ministers had failed to indicate whether they would back a review suggested by Westminster’s work and pensions select committee.

Kirk officials say that more than 15,000 Scots on job seekers allowance (JSA) were sanctioned over a 100 day period last year.

The Rev Dr Richard Frazer, vice-convener of the church and society council, said: “The impact and effect of sanctions on individuals, families and communities across Scotland have been devastating.

“Far from encouraging people back to work, they impose punitive and indiscriminate financial hardship on thousands of people who need help.”

Dame Anne Begg, who was MP for Aberdeen South between 1997 to 2015 and chaired the select committee, said: “Many believe that sanctions are being applied to the wrong people for often trivial reasons and are the cause of the increased use of foodbanks.

“Only an independent review can get to the truth of what is actually happening so that government policy can be based on evidence and not seen as merely punitive.”

Aberdeen Central SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said: “Westminster’s unfair and punitive sanctions regime is causing misery in communities across Scotland and hitting those who need help most, from single mothers to people with disabilities.

“Organisations like the Church of Scotland see the impact of the unfair sanctions first-hand in communities across the country – they join a growing number of voices calling for an immediate review of the policy and it is time for the Department for Work and Pensions to sit up and take notice.

“The SNP has already been clear that there should be an immediate review of the UK Government’s conditionality and sanctions regime – and the DWP should not be allowed to impose any more unfair sanctions on vulnerable people while the review is ongoing.”

But a spokeswoman for the UK Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said JSA sanctions had fallen from 84,200 in 2013 to 55,864 in 2014 as more claimants fulfil their commitments to look for work.

She claimed sanctions were only used as a last resort for the “tiny minority” who refuse to take up the support offered.

The spokeswoman said it spent around £94billion a year on working age benefits to ensure a “strong safety net” was in place to support people who are unemployed or on low incomes.

“Every day, Jobcentre Plus advisers are helping people into work – we’ve seen employment in Scotland increase by 53,000 and unemployment fall by 19,000 in the last year,” she added.

The department is currently considering the contents of the committee report.