Unemployment Business Prospering as Seetec Boss Rakes it in and Expands Empire

https://i1.wp.com/s3.mirror.co.uk/mirror/ampp3d/December-14/11/how-workfare-affects-your-chances.jpg

SEETEC has offices in Ipswich, running the Work programme, and (until George Osborne pulled the plug on that nice little earner) and the Help to Work Workfare programme.  Many of our readers are all too familiar with this company which lives off public money.

It now runs one of the newly privatised probation services in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Private Eye this week (No 1411)  reports that this arm of Seetec  is already in  “trouble”. An audit completed before Christmas found “problems” with Seetc and South Yorkshire CRC, run – no you could not make this up – by French catering and cleaning firm, Sodexo.

Private Eye notes that this bunch of chancers had a turnover of £1.4 million; today this stands at more than £80 million, largely by profiteering from state money.

The report states that Seetec was part the national Help to Work – that is Workfare schemes, work for no pay –  only got 4.7% of participants into work.

Seetec, the articles notes, had a “mixed” performance. People round here know just how “mixed up” this scheme was.

Private Eye says that Seetec’s owner-boss Peter Cooper got £1.6 million in dividends alone last year.

Here is their latest scheme to expand their empire and rake in more income from the public purse:

Seetec launches new Skills Academies

Over 40 guests attended the launch of the Seetec Skills Academies at Essex County Cricket Club on Wednesday 25th November with guest of honour Graham Gooch OBE.

Seetec, an Essex based skills and employment specialist which has been supporting people back to work and improving their skills for over 30 years, was delighted Graham Gooch could attend the launch of its exciting new skills provision and celebrate the new partnership with Essex County Cricket Club.

This is their own puff:

Seetec has over 29 years experience as one of the UK’s leading employment and skills training providers, supporting over 100,000 customers per annum to move into sustained employment.   Seetec delivers large scale national contracts such as the Department for Work and Pensions’ Work Programme across 3 regions as well as various ESF programmes through the Skills Funding Agency and Apprenticeships.

Seetec also delivers a range of contracts designed for specific customer groups such as our Work Choice contract for disabled customers and local programmes for lone parents, young people and NEETs, ex-offenders and graduates.

Seetec.

Last we forget another gang running the Unemployment Business here is a report from earlier this month.

Scandal-hit welfare-to-work agency A4E sees its profits quadruple

A4E, the welfare-to-work agency rocked by fraud allegations which led to the resignation of its founder and chairwoman Emma Harrison in 2012, saw turnover fall but profits quadruple last year.

The firm, which is a key partner to government schemes, said the number of UK jobseekers referred to it was falling due to the economic recovery, but that it was seeing an increase in its Australian operation.

In the last set of accounts before it was bought by rival Staffline Group, A4E recorded turnover of £166million in the year to March 2015, down from £189million, and profits of £9.2million, up from £2.3million, due mainly to a fall in operating expenses.

Harrison, who has appeared in TV’s Secret Millionaire, set up A4E in 1991 but resigned after six staff were jailed and four received suspended sentences for falsifying the number of people helped back into work.

Harrison, who stepped down as David Cameron’s families tsar, was also criticised for taking an £8.6million dividend from A4E on top of her £365,000-a-year salary.

Staffline has said that after a full audit by the Department for Work and Pensions, systems were now in place to prevent any recurrence at the Sheffield-based company.

Sure…..

DWP Under Fire for new Universal Credit Delay and Sanctions Regime.

DWP still not Ready. 

DWP being evasive over universal credit delays, MPs claim.

Reports the Guardian today.

Iain Duncan Smith’s department accused of blocking efforts to find out cause of delays to flagship welfare scheme.

MPs have accused the Department for Work and Pensions of using “evasive” measures to prevent parliament from finding out why there have been yet more delays to the universal credit scheme.

The government’s flagship welfare programme will not be implemented before the autumn of 2021, four years after its completion date, a report by the committee has disclosed.

But Iain Duncan Smith’s department has been accused of blocking MPs as they tried to discover the cause of the delays, how many people they will affect, and how long they will persist.

Meg Hillier, chair of the public accounts committee (PAC), condemned the department for evading MPs’ queries. “The lack of transparency surrounding a programme with such wide-reaching implications for so many people is completely unacceptable,” he said.

The new welfare system, which rolls six existing benefits into one, is being introduced gradually, with about 500,000 people on the new scheme by April. But the full rollout date has been pushed back several times as ministers grapple with a complex IT system.

The estimated completion date for the rollout of the digital service is six months later compared to when the PAC examined the programme last year, the report found. It will be fully operational in March 2021 but the Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast a further six-month delay, according to MPs.

The PAC is concerned such delays will “postpone” the programme and create “uncertainty for claimants, advisers, and local authorities, and makes it difficult for parliament and taxpayers to hold the department to account”.

Delays there are then.

Computing states,

DWP’s Universal Credit programme delayed by six more months

By Sooraj Shah
The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) much-criticised roll-out of its Universal Credit programme is to be delayed yet again, meaning that it now expects the end date for moving all benefits claimants onto the system to be March 2021.
The revelation comes as MPs on the Public Accounts Committee examine the progress of Universal Credit one year after labelling the project a £700m flop that had managed only “very little progress”.
Shah concludes,

The scheme, designed to merge six different types of benefit into a single monthly payment, has had problems since its inception, with various delays and at least £130m in taxpayer money being written off.

It’s hardly the first time the Department for Work and Pensions project has been criticised, with a former DWP employee slamming the scheme in an exclusive interview with Computing in November 2013.

Meanwhile Boycott Workfare informs us ,

Sanctions centre plus: open all hours?

February 3rd, 2016

Roll up! Roll up! The first oral evidence session for the Works and Pensions Committee inquiry on ‘in-work progression in Universal Credit’ began on 3 February. This is all about ‘in-work conditionality’, where low-earning workers receiving top-up benefits such as Working Tax Credit and Housing Benefit will be subject to the tender attentions currently enjoyed by unemployed claimants. We previously covered this in Workfare: Don’t Think a Job Means You’re Safe and Suggestions, They Want? Now, with Universal Credit due to be ‘rolled out’ in more areas, we can enjoy another round of parliamentary mumbling.

Despite the limited terms of reference, Boycott Workfare made a written submission to this inquiry. Given that we campaign against sanctions imposed on unemployed people, we naturally oppose sanctions against working claimants. Extending conditionality – which will include sanctions – to working claimants extends these harms to a wider population and will only punish people on the receiving end of the UK’s low-pay no-pay precarious labour market. Small rises in the national minimum wage will not make these concerns go away: with the imposition of conditionality for workers, a higher minimum wage will simply mean a higher conditionality threshold and the use of the minimum wage as a stick to hit workers who are not earning ‘enough’.

More via link above.

From Written Submission:

Written evidence from Boycott Workfare (IWP0020) Boycott Workfare campaigns against forced unpaid labour and against sanctions. Our website can be found here: http://www.boycottworkfare.org From Frank Field’s comments it appears that this hearing is a mere rubber-stamping exercise, approving policy that is still highly questionable. The government is attempting to normalise a concept that had been rightly regarded as ridiculous at best, if not furthering the destruction already wrought by sanctions and compulsion that targets the unemployed.

Full text here.

Provider Forms: “Not a mandatory requirement for claimants to fill in or sign any provider forms or documents when participating in a provider led mandatory activity or programme.” Freedom of Information response from the DWP.

This is important: Hat-Tip:  jj.joop.

We signal that we are only publishing the response, and this cannot be taken as in itself guidance for any form of action by claimants whatsoever.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Central Freedom of Information Team

[DWP request email]

Our reference: VTR FOI 152

Date:
 28 January 2015

HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request ‘Signing Provider Documentation‘ (see Here)

Dear Mr Allen 
 
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request received on 14 January 2016. You asked

Please provide me with any recorded data held by the DWP stating it is a  mandatory requirement for claimants to fill in or sign any provider forms or documents when participating in a provider led mandatory activity or programme.

Also please provide me with any recorded data held by the DWP detailing exactly what action the DWP or a provider can take against a claimant who has agreed to participate in a provider led mandatory activity or programme but who has also declined to fill or sign any provider forms or documents. By forms and documents, I mean: Health and safety checklist, claimant code
of practice, action plans, timesheets, induction checklist sheets, data protection waivers, and so on.

It is not a mandatory requirement for claimants to fill in or sign any provider  forms or    documents when participating in a provider led mandatory activity or programme.

Because it is not mandatory, there is no recorded data held detailing any action DWP or a provider can take against those who have declined to sign
said forms or documents.

Participants are required to do all they reasonably can to give themselves the best chance of finding work.

Should a participant decline to sign the provider’s forms, this does not mean that they do not have to participate in the programme.

The referral letter given to a participant by Jobcentre Plus details the potential consequences for failing to participate as required.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

How to make a freedom of information (FOI) request.

Charges for Freedom of Information requests are being considered b.y commission reviewing laws

Body tasked with proposing changes to FoI laws could propose people pay a fee for requests, it has emerged as call for evidence issued.

Telegraph. October 2015. 

stop-foia-restrictionsThe government has set up a Commission to examine the Freedom of Information Act and consider what further restrictions should be imposed on the right to know.

In a letter co-ordinated by the Campaign, over 140 media bodies, campaign groups and others wrote to the Prime Minister in September 2015, expressing concern about the Commission’s composition and terms of reference.

Belatedly, the Commission issued a consultation paper which suggested it is considering sweeping restrictions to the legislation, including:

  • imposing charges for requests
  • making it easier to refuse requests on cost grounds
  • making it more difficult to obtain public authorities’ internal discussions, or excluding some from access altogether
  • strengthening ministers’ powers to veto disclosures
  • changing the way the Act is enforced.

The Campaign together with ARTICLE 19 held a briefing meeting on October 21 2015 for organisations proposing to respond to the consultation. The meeting was attended by nearly 60 organisations. The slides from the meeting are available here.

Low Wage, High Welfare, Ipswich, Low Wage, ‘Low’ Welfare.

Almost half of the UK’s biggest cities have low-wage, high-welfare economies, according to a healthcheck on urban Britain that underscores the challenges for the government’s benefit-cutting agenda.

George Osborne used his first budget of the Conservative government last summer to advocate a “higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country”. But a report published on Monday warns that his vision will take several parliaments to create, given current shortfalls in education, a housing crisis and inefficient jobs programmes.

The Centre for Cities study also highlights a stark north-south divide between conurbations and urges the chancellor to deliver on promises to rebalance Britain’s economy with projects like the “northern powerhouse”.

The independent thinktank’s annual Cities Outlook, covering the UK’s 63 largest cities, classifies 29 as having low-wage, high-welfare economies. Nine of the worst performing city economies on the wages and welfare measure are in the north of England and Midlands, including Hull, Blackburn and Telford.

Guardian. 25th of January.

You will

Weekly pay in Norwich and Ipswich was among the lowest of 62 cities and large towns studied by the think-tank Centre for Cities.

Its 2016 outlook came in the wake of a vow by chancellor George Osborne to build a higher wage, low-welfare economy last year.

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre of Cities said that while both Norwich and Ipswich had seen strong jobs growth in recent years, and had also had lower than average welfare spending, average wages had decreased significantly since 2010, so the challenge for both cities is to strengthen their local economies.

Weekly pay in Norwich and Ipswich was among the lowest of 62 cities and large towns studied by the think-tank Centre for Cities.

Its 2016 outlook came in the wake of a vow by chancellor George Osborne to build a higher wage, low-welfare economy last year.

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre of Cities said that while both Norwich and Ipswich had seen strong jobs growth in recent years, and had also had lower than average welfare spending, average wages had decreased significantly since 2010, so the challenge for both cities is to strengthen their local economies.

Eastern Daily Press. 26th of January.

notice that Ipswich is a Low Wage, Low Welfare area.

This means that poverty is rife, and despite the “low welfare” label one can guarantee that many of the people on low wages round here are receive benefits of one kind of another.

In June 2015 this appeared,

Public health report shows there are worrying levels of poverty and deprivation in Ipswich

That is the verdict of a new report which has revealed Ipswich is lagging behind the national average when it comes to child poverty, GCSE achievement, deprivation and violent crimes.

Public Health England yesterday released a health profile of all local authority areas in the country, providing a snapshot of the health of those areas.

Ipswich’s performance was labelled as “varied” when compared to the national average, with Suffolk as a whole being described as “generally better” than the average.

According to the data, 5,500 children are living in poverty in Ipswich and 250 Year 6 pupils have been classified as obese. Life expectancy at birth for both men and women is similar to the average, at 79.2 years and 83.3 years respectively.

In fact anybody walking round the streets here can see this every day.

For this reason this is important to us (Daily Mirror 25th January):

Tory plot to scrap child poverty targets dealt whopping defeat in the House of Lords

Iain Duncan Smith has been dealt a whopping defeat in the House of Lords over his plot to scrap child poverty targets.

Campaigners were celebrating tonight as peers voted 290 to 198 to force the Work and Pensions Secretary to keep the measures.

Mr Duncan Smith announced plans last summer to drop the official figures , which count the proportion of children in homes with less than 60% of median average income.

Instead the Tories wanted to define poverty by measuring the number of workless households and children’s performance at school.

But after Labour and a bishop teamed up for tonight’s vote, he will now be forced to file annual reports using the traditional measure to the Houses of Parliament.

It is another crushing defeat for the government in the Lords just weeks after peers’ opposition forced George Osborne to drop his plan to cut tax credits.

Iain Duncan Smith Takes Time off from Grinding the Faces of the Poor to Campaign against Europe.

There is a theory that Iain Duncan Smith owes his long office in the  post as Work and Pensions Secretary to his role as a licensed bully.

That people will loathe him so much that they will forget that when it comes down to it, he’s just a barking pooch for David Cameron.

Another view is that he’s a punching-bag: somebody out there to take the blows for kind ‘n’ caring Cameron.

The picture above (from Another Angry Voice) suggests that he is “compensatory narcissist”.

I’m not clear about his “behavioural traits” but I like the idea that he, like the rest of us, is judged in terms of a psychometric test.

Whatever.

IDS has been busy recently.

His favourite target over Christmas has been the sick and the disabled.

Anguish of mum and son betrayed by Tories and left to rot by Iain Duncan Smith. Daily Mirror. 21st January.

Iain Duncan Smith has already slashed support for the disabled. Now he wants to cut it further. Daily Mirror. 21st January.

‘Cruel And Incompetent’: Iain Duncan Smith Forced To Admit Christmas ‘Benefits Bonus’ Blunder. Welfare Weekly. 20th January.

Labour’s shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Owen Smith MP, has accused the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of being “cruel and incompetent”, after at least 327,379 sick and disabled people were left without a £10 “Christmas Bonus”.

Then there’s this,

Revealed: The true cost of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms. 18th of January. Politics Co.UK.

For the thousands of people who have been hit by Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms, the findings of a new report published today will come as little surprise.

The audit, which was carried out by the Labour MP and chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee Frank Field, who has been a supporter of some of Duncan Smith’s key welfare reforms, examines the extent to which each measure contributes to the government’s stated aim of mending ‘broken Britain’.

The findings are damning. While it recognises that more people are in work and congratulates the government on reducing the benefit bill, it suggests those successes have come at a high cost to some of society’s most vulnerable people. So let’s go through the record and see how the government have fared.

Yet the Great Man, not content with wrecking the lives of people on benefits – we could continue to his role in Sanctions, the Unemployment ‘Business’ and the way we all have to pay Council Tax (a way of cutting our benefits without appearing to do so) –  has found time for this:

Iain Duncan Smith is to campaign independently for Britain to leave the European Union, spurning the rival campaigns seeking to act as the main group pushing to quit in the EU referendum.

I Million Hits for Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Tossed by the Waves We Will Not Sink: We Stand Together By Our Banner.

I Million Hits for Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Today we have reached a watershed: 1,000,097 hits (16.15 Tuesday).

Ipswich Unemployed Action was founded in 2009.

The Site was created by two people, myself, and a young chap from Ipswich.

The intention was to describe what it’s like being unemployed, and to criticise the various “schemes” put in place to to deal with us.

The aim was to let out of work people say what they think about the way officials and the ‘unemployment business’ treat us – not what we’re told to say.

A bit like the alternative community newspapers of the 1970s,

We have always considered the comments to be the most important part of the Ipswich Unemployed Action site.

We also link to numerous Blogs, notably the always essential reading, the Void.

And a range of people on Twitter, such as I’m a JSA claimant @imajsaclaimant

Welfare Weekly has become important as well.

Apart from the fact that many posts come from people writing here – as well as from people I know in Ipswich – it’s the kind of open and up front things people come out with, the information we exchange with each other, that have given this site its special flavour.

Ipswich Unemployed Action has featured in Private Eye, the Sunday Times, and on Radio Suffolk.

We  have been asked by countless other news organisations for information.

My mate from one of the Ipswich estates – produced some of the best posts ever.

But we think that it’s our readers and commentators who matter most.

We have participated in the protests organised by groups such as the  DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), and more recently UNITE Community.

I urge everybody to join UNITE Community – it’s there for the unemployed, for all of us.

This was an important one (2014): Iain Duncan Smith Greeted with Shouts of ‘Murderer’ as he visits Ipswich.

We support the great Boycott Workfare campaign.

Always with strong links to the Unemployed Workers’ Centres we have attended national meetings at the TUC – the most recent being in 2015, the TUC Welfare Conference: Action on Sanctions and Workfare!

We back this:

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.

This what we said on our founding (May 2009)

Who is sticking up for the Unemployed? Not many. Who is the best placed to do so? Those out of work.  Ipswich Unemployed Action is a group of out-of-work local people determined to stand up for our rights.

What are we up against?

  • The abuses of the ‘New Deal’ scheme. Those who sign-on here know that the YMCA is getting paid to lock up over 150  people in a shed – ‘Dencora House’, doing ‘job search’ all day. They know the conditions they have to endure – treated like children, no proper facilities (computers, even enough toilets).  There are no placements. If they complain they are threatened with being ‘exited’ – losing all benefits.
  • The coming ‘Flexible New Deal’ will be even worse. We intended to expose the company who’s won the local contract A4e – its links with shady senior politicians (step forward David Blunkett), and its record of abusing New Deal participants.
  • Workfare will be a con – forced labour for our dole with private contractors coining it in.

What do we want?

  • We want the minimum wage for any ‘voluntary’ work they make us do.
  • There should be an independent appeal and monitoring system – open to all – for anyone on the ‘New Deal’. Not the present shambles,
  • We want real training, not the YMCA etc sham.
  • Above all we want to be treated as human beings – not things the DWP and Government Ministers can claim rights over. We should have rights, and we want them now!
  • And now, we want the Dencora House  detention centre closed down!

Any suggestions? Join us. All welcome.

This what happened in June 2009: Banned For Blog: YMCA Suppresses Dissent.

WARNING: THIS BLOG IS DANGEROUS!

This morning I went to Dencora House, Ipswich. For my ‘New Deal’ induction at YMCA Training. A little while in and I was summoned. YMCA manager and colleague. Copies of this Blog, and the Ipswich Unemployed Action’s, on the table. Nervous type. Points to print-out. Picture of medieval Bastille. Legend, “Storm Dencora House“. Liked he it not. Or calling it a “detention centre”. Oh dear. Next, famous (hundreds of viewings), New Deal: YMCA Training, A Major Scandal.

Finally, their account of  this,

“I have placed this website as the Home Page on all computers at Dencora House today. Hopefully some of my fellow detainees here will read it. There has also been print outs of your articles left around the centre. The staff have been going round ripping them off the walls. They then get put up again.

People who merely found this site as the home page have been undertaking these actions on their own. Hopefully more people will involve themselves in such sabotage. If we make it too much hassle for them to treat us like this then they will be forced to stop!”

The upshot is I face being suspended from all benefits for exercising my (see YMCA Induction Pack), “freedom of conscience”. Apparently human rights do not apply to the out-of-work on the New Deal. Still no doubt they’ll find some way of justifying themselves. YMCA Mission Statement, “Motivated by its Christian faith, YMCA Training’s mission is to inspire individuals to develop their talents and potential and so transform the communities in which they live and work.” Needs some creative re-writing.

Oh yes, one of our many invisible supporters  tells us that they’ve blocked their computers’ access to our Blog.

I was reinstated pretty quickly and the YMCA ended up treating me decently.

You wonder what would happen today with the rules they have brought in.

Indeed little did I realise that the YMCA turned out to be sweeties compared to what has happened since.

Particularly after the Liberal-Tory Coalition.

Iain Duncan Smith has stalked the land seeking out poor people to oppress, unelashing the DWP ‘sanction regime’.

The Cameron government has lost no opportunity to let their mates in the ‘unemployment business’  pick the pockets of the state and make the lives of the unemployed a misery.

These are some of more recent best viewed posts:

Is it Compulsory to Register with Universal Jobmatch? What Evidence of Jobsearch do we have to provide? 2015.

35 Hours JobSearch: We Publish the Mad DWP Guidelines. 2014.

Universal Jobmatch – List of fake ’employers’ (Part 1)  2014.

This video shows what we stand for:  we stand together, we never give up!

 

Benefit Sanctions have Failed: David Webster, LSE.

Will this Continue to Blight Lives? 

This important study confirms the critics’ opposition to the Benefit Sanction Regime.

Benefit sanctions have failed: a Comprehensive Review is needed  January 5th, 2016

(Hat-Tip: JSA Claimant).

Since the election of the Coalition in 2010, there has been a massive campaign of sanctions – punitive stoppage of benefits – against unemployed people. Indeed, the rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) penalties doubled. Yet there is very little evidence to support the sanctions approach in the UK and, aside from whether they return to work or not, the economic literature is missing any consideration of the overall effects on the people who are penalised, both positive and negative. In light of this,David Webster argues that a Comprehensive Review of the whole approach is needed. 

Despite the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) often-repeated claims that sanctions ‘are only ever used as a last resort for a very small minority’, over the five years to March 2014 about one quarter of all JSA claimants had their benefits stopped for a range of alleged ‘failures’, usually trivial. An example, unusual only in being fully documented, is of a 53-year old man with four children, who lost his benefits for at least four weeks for being ten minutes late for a CV-writing course. He was hard of hearing and had misheard the date of the appointment.

Remember that: one Quarter...

The full article is here.

The conclusion is important.

A system which gives a state bureaucracy the power to subject poor people to severe penalties (in this case loss of their only means of subsistence for extended periods), without the safeguards which centuries of experience have shown are essential to the judicial system, is bound to be abused. Whether that abuse comes without authorisation, from junior officials, or (as appears to be the case in the current British sanctions campaign) as a matter of policy from the highest levels of government, makes no essential difference. There is no excuse for economists to sidestep the fundamental issues of jurisprudence which are involved in the whole concept of a compulsory ‘active labour market policy’.

There has been some falling-off of sanctions in the last year or so. This may have something to do with the many criticisms made by the Oakley Review. Since then, the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has produced an even more strongly critical report, which points out the absence of evidence to justify many features of the system, and repeats its call for a comprehensive, independent review. To date, the government has refused to concede this, or to carry out any of the studies asked for by the committee which would test the assumptions of the system. A comprehensive review is clearly now what is needed.

These words ring in the ears, ” subject poor people to severe penalties.”

Yesterday I was talking to a woman who’d started her working life in the (as was) ‘Social Security’ offices of the DHSS  in Wood Green back in the 70s.

This resonated with me because it was also the very place (people still called one part of it the ‘Labour Exchange’) where I first got my National Insurance number from and was sent from to one of my first jobs, working in a plastic bag factory in North London.

Later my sister also got sent from there to work in a fruit gum factory in Tottenham (Maynards).

The person I was talking to in Ipswich said that one day she saw a poor woman making a scene that had deeply affected her.

She had no money, nothing, and was demanding some help.

She was chased out and round the car park by the local rozzers.

The person said that this made her decide to become a social worker to defend the rights of the poor against this kind of treatment.

That was in the 1970s.

Today we see this kind of abuse all the time.

This is Iain Duncan Smith’s legacy.

Welfare Reforms, Council Tax set Precedent for More Postcode Lottery Benefits to come.

https://i1.wp.com/ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/660/cpsprodpb/A58D/production/_87618324_shop_spl.jpg

‘Postcode lottery’ in emergency welfare claims (BBC)

I have just paid the last installment of my year’s Council Tax.

Now in Ipswich this is relatively low – though an unwelcome extra deduction from our JSA.

When they introduced this new system, which means even the poorest in the land have to pay Council Tax, the ‘benefit’ reduction was ‘localised’ so it depends on where you live as to how much you pay.

So somebody with the same amount of JSA in say, Tendering Essex, will pay about double, if not more than somebody in Ipswich.

The Void reported the results back in 2014.

Court Cases, Chaos and Soaring Debt As Council Tax Reform Unravels

The shambolic postcode lottery which has emerged after reforms to Council Tax Benefit is creating chaos for Local Authorities and driving some people into desperate poverty.

In August last year we saw this (Guardian),

Council use of bailiffs to chase debts jumps 16% in two years, charity reports

The most common reason to use bailiffs was council tax arrears, followed by parking fines. They were also used to get benefit overpayments reimbursed and to collect business rates and commercial rates.

And this (Independent, also August 2015)

Bailiffs visit 12,000 of London’s poorest households over council tax arrears

Over 122,000 people in the city have fallen into arrears on their council tax

Now we face the propsect of this kind of break up of help being extended a lot more.

Handing responsibility for emergency welfare support to local authorities risks turning the welfare system into a “postcode lottery”, an influential group of MPs have warned.

Reports the ever excellent Welfare News: full story here.

A new report published by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee raises concerns about the pressures on families caused by welfare reforms, and the “coverage and adequacy” of localised welfare safety nets to fill the gaps – particularly in England.

The Committee examined three locally-run discretionary schemes: Council Tax support, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) and local welfare assistance schemes.

The cross-party group of MPs say the Government “must act” to protect vulnerable groups from national welfare reforms such as the Benefit Cap and Bedroom Tax, otherwise known as ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’.

The Committee has also urged central Government and local councils to do more to prevent vulnerable people from being plunged into severe hardship and destitution.

Key findings from the report include:

– Localisation risks blurring the lines of national and local responsibility, leading to confusion among vulnerable people about where to turn in a financial crisis:  closer joint-working and sharing of national and local data must be prioritised.

– Time-limited Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are clearly inadequate protection for some groups of people the Government did not intend its welfare reforms to affect, but who cannot reasonably be expected to take steps to mitigate the effects. Such groups should be exempted.

– The DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) should strengthen and put onto a statutory footing its guidance in relation to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) for disabled people.

– Central and local government should agree and implement an effective local government funding system which can cope with future economic downturns and protect services, including crisis welfare, in more deprived areas.

– The recently announced DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) review of local Council Tax support schemes should investigate, and if necessary recommend eradicating local authorities issuing court summonses, and instructing bailiffs, as a method of raising revenue.

Rest of story continues here.

DWP Bureaucracy: The Circumlocution Office.

DWP Template: The Circumlocution Office (Dickens, Little Dorrit)

People who sign off often get into trap with their first job because the tax system means they get huge deductions.

In the old days you went down to the Tax Office to get the money…you have earned.

Now you have to go through a call centre, which takes for ever, and more.

Which means that you spent half your time trying to sort the tax out.

People who work under a certain number of hours still have to sign on to get Housing Benefit.

Which means you have to spend time showing the DWP – your ‘Work Coach’ – your Jobsearch.

Not to mention if anything complicated happens you will have to deal with another set of call centres to sort out your Housing Benefit

Then there is now this (November):

Cuts to housing benefit could make claimants £570 a year worse off

Institute for Public Policy research says alternative to tax credits cuts could save £2.4bn but would hit 4.8 million households

And so it goes.

I am talking about people I know in these traps.

Iain Duncan Smith will be remembered as the man who condemned millions to a life of struggling through a bureaucratic labyrinth, and as the pious Christian who put people out to live in the streets, and queue up to beg for tins of food.

And there is this:

The following Guardian article, signaled by Ken,  really struck home.

The DWP – a bureaucracy of outstanding brutality

The Department for Work and Pensions prides itself on embracing diversity and promoting equality of opportunity. And indeed, when it comes to pulling the plug on benefits there is no sign of discrimination – everybody is treated equally harshly.

It is not only those who are too sick to work but are informed they are well enough to do so; nor just those who have failed to adhere to some tiny sliver of bureaucracy. This also applies to people who don’t even realise they have sinned but are left suddenly and brutally penniless.

Hawa (not her real name) falls into that category. She was brought up as a slave by her adopted family in west Africa. As a young child she was forced to work for long hours, thrown scraps of leftover food like a stray dog and still has fine scars down one side of her face and right leg, a legacy of the times her “owners” threw heavy objects at her. She was denied education and, at the age of 15, was sold to a trafficker who brought her to the UK.

In London, Hawa was locked in a house and repeatedly raped by men who paid her trafficker to do so. She escaped when she was five months pregnant from one of the rapes; she claimed asylum and was granted refugee status. The Home Office accepted that her life would be in danger if she was forcibly returned home.

Life in England was a struggle. Unable to read, write, or speak much English, she found that the system presented many challenges. But throughout it all burned a fierce love for her baby.

“He is my mother, my father, my sister, my brother,” she said. “Before him I had no family but now I have everything.” She later gave birth to a daughter. Hawa longs to study English, get a job and walk away from life on benefits as soon as her daughter starts school.

At the age of 22 Hawa has endured more than most people do in a lifetime. She is a loving mother and her children’s stability and security is her priority. She struggles to buy essentials such as shoes for them, but was just about managing. Then the DWP informed her that it was axeing both her housing benefit and income support because she had failed to show them a document. Bewildered, she said she had never been asked to produce any document.

Two calls to DWP helplines followed, which took two and a half hours. During a wait of more than 30 minutes to speak to someone, a recorded message said there was a charge for the call. But when the human adviser finally came on the line, he was unable to say how much the calls cost – presumably more than a person left without benefits could afford.

Read the rest of the article here.

 

Tory Shame as Benefit cuts hit.

The Tories relentless assault on welfare benefits could plunge millions of more people into poverty, according to a left-leaning think tank.

An analysis of Tory welfare cuts by the Resolution Foundation and Landman Economics found that an extra 3.6 million people could be pushed below the breadline by Christmas 2030, including 1.9 million children.

Reports Welfare Weekly.

I am also struck by this ad on the same page:

Now I am not going to be told by anybody, anytime, anywhere, what I should or should not eat.

More Christmas Cheer for the Sanctioned.

Jobcentre Work Coach. 

Jobless and disabled people could have benefits stopped on Christmas Eve under ‘tough new sanctions regime’.

The Independent reports.

Jobless and disabled people could be stripped of their benefits this Christmas under a strict new sanctions regime for the festive period, it has been claimed.

In an apparent hardening of the Government’s attitude to welfare, those who miss a job centre appointment, interview or work capability assessment in the immediate run-up to the holidays could now be told the news on Christmas Eve itself.

The Independent had previously reported the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) would be running a “business as usual” approach to Christmas this year, and was accused of taking a “Scrooge-like approach” to the season.

In new claims denied by the DWP, the SNP say this will be only the second year the approach has been taken, after a series of unwritten “special operations” were scrapped that previously protected claimants from having their Christmases ruined.

The party said concerns were raised by DWP staff themselves, who told the SNP they were made to call people up with bad news on Christmas Eve for the first time last year, and were unhappy they had to implement the alleged change in policy.

https://i1.wp.com/static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/story_medium/public/thumbnails/image/2015/12/21/13/snp-dwp-letter.jpg

 

And there’s this from Wolverhampton Express and Star.

Homeless at Christmas: We’re a community on the streets – but it’s hard

‘Sometimes the police move me on saying I can’t beg but I’m not on benefits so how am I supposed to get money?

“They won’t give me benefits because I don’t have a home address so it’s a catch 22. If I had a roof over my head I would be alright.”

Scotty Parkin is one of the rising number of people who will find themselves living rough this Christmas.

An Express & Star investigation has discovered that there are almost 2,500 people recorded as being homeless in the Black Country and South Staffordshire – a rise of 13 per cent over the last five years.

Many are forced to sleep rough, including Scott who has been on the streets for a year.

The BBC is going to show a new programme on Boxing Day, mashing together around 3o of Dickens’ characters called Dickensian.

As somebody who’s read his London printer granddad’s complete set of Dickens I am not looking forward to what I will doubtless call a “period soap”.

In case to watch the world of Dickens I only have to walk around the streets of Ipswich and I bet I’ll see some of these sanctioned people.

Bedroom Tax: Bad News Government Tried to Bury on last Parliamentary Day of Year and…more bad news.

https://i0.wp.com/politicalscrapbook.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/ids-bedroom-dining-room.jpg

God Rest You Merry Gentlemen!

Christmas Cheer: reports Enigma.

Government accused of ‘Scrooge-like’ attitude to Christmas as jobseekers could face benefit sanctions for missing appointments on Christmas Eve

The DWP will continue implementing George Osborne’s austerity measures with a ‘business-as-usual’ approach over Christmas, despite MP’s objections.
Wednesday. Independent.

Newshound Enigma found this as well,

Labour says universal credit will take 495 years to roll out as costs rise £3bn

Cost of Iain Duncan Smith’s troubled plan for benefits rises to £15.8bn as Major Projects Authority report reveals HS2 also among schemes at high risk of failing.

The overall cost of Iain Duncan Smith’s key welfare scheme appears to have risen by £3bn to £15.8bn in two years, according to an official report that shows several other significant government programmes are also in danger of collapsing.

Universal credit, the troubled programme that plans to roll six welfare benefits into one payment, has also suffered a further year’s delay and will not be fully implemented until 2020.

The figures are disclosed in a Major Projects Authority report. It also shows that more than half of all of the government’s leading projects, including HS2, are in danger of failing.

A majority of seven million benefit claimants were supposed to be on the new welfare scheme by 2019, according to a statement from Duncan Smith last year.

According to the report, the “total budgeted whole-life costs” of universal credit will be £15.84bn and will be completed in April 2020.

In 2012, the estimated cost for universal credit was £12.85bn. No figures were available in 2013 because Duncan Smith was forced to reset the entire scheme.

The scheme, championed by Duncan Smith with David Cameron’s support, received royal assent in 2012 with initial plans for a full roll-out by the 2015 general election.

A pilot scheme has been introduced in selected areas, but only 65,000 people in the UK are currently claiming universal credit, according to government data.

Stephen Timms, the acting shadow work and pensions secretary, called for the government’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, to review the management of the scheme.

“These new figures have shown how wrong Iain Duncan Smith is to claim universal credit is ‘on time and on budget’. It will take 495 years to fully roll out universal credit at the current rate,” he said.

Today we have this (first spotted in the unemployed’s favourite daily, the ‘I‘)

Bedroom tax

A report ordered by the Government on the effects of the so-called bedroom tax was quietly released on Thursday.

It found that the removal of the spare room subsidy – otherwise known as the bedroom tax – has increased hardship among those affected, with nearly half reporting that they had to cut back on food spending to cope, a Government-ordered study has revealed.

Three quarters of people affected by the changes regularly run out of money by the end of the week or the month, the study found.

It also reveals that only a third of people affected who applied for emergency support to pay the rent received any help.

The Guardian gives more details.

Three-quarters of people affected by the bedroom tax say they have had to cut back on food, an independent evaluation published by the Department for Work and Pensions has found.

The research found that 46% said they had cut back on heating, 33% on travel and 42% on leisure. Among a control group of tenants unaffected by the bedroom tax, far fewer – 56% – said they were cutting back on food because of benefit changes.

The findings by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research and Ipsos Mori were slipped out by the government on the last day of parliament before the winter break, along with a deluge of more than 380 other documents.

Its study found landlords were very concerned that some tenants were “in severe poverty and unable to pay the shortfall”. The report said 78% of claimants who were still affected by the bedroom tax after two years of the policy were regularly running out of money by the end of the week or month. They tended to pay the rent by using up savings, borrowing from family or friends or accruing debt.

It found that the effects of cutting back “had an impact on some claimants’ health and emotional wellbeing, with the most vulnerable reporting experiences of stress and worry”.

Claimants were able to use savings and borrowings in the first year of the bedroom tax but by the time of the second wave of qualitative research, in autumn 2014, claimants “who had been using their savings for the first year had depleted these and so were having to make greater cutbacks in their household budgets”.

The report found that only one in nine claimants escaped the bedroom tax by moving to a different property, and the vast majority of those affected were still affected nine months later.

Only 5% of those affected by the policy had been successful in finding extra work, of which half said they were then no longer affected by the bedroom tax.

A very merry Christmas looms….

Homeless Growth Boosted by Dole Sanctions.

Jo the Street Urchin Has Returned to London.

One of the striking things about modern Britain is the growing number of people living on the streets.

You can see them every day in Ipswich.

According to friends parts of central London have seen an explosion in people with no permanent roof over their head.

A ‘friend’ mentions that on Saturday he saw people clearly in desperate need huddled in little groups on the pavements, from Charing Cross Road to Kings Cross. One very ill looking chap, clutching a huge blanket, was roving round Cambridge Circus in a very unhappy state.

He was only metres away from the St Gilles area, a great “rookery” of slum dwellings in Dicken’s times, where the poor and homeless gathered and where Jo the Street Sweeper found temporary sanctuary at TomAllAlone’s.

If anybody doubts Dicken’s genius and the depth of his outrage at homelessness they should read Bleak House and this letter from the same period,

THE EDITUR OF THE TIMES PAPER

Sur, — May we beg and beseech your proteckshion and power. We are Sur, as it may be, livin in a Wilderniss, so far as the rest of London knows anything of us, or as the rich and great people care about. We live in muck and filth. We aint got no priviz, no dust bins, no drains, no water-splies, and no drain or suer in the hole place. The Suer Company, in Greek St., Soho Square, all great, rich and powerfool men, take no notice watsomdever of our complaints. The Stenche of a Gully-hole is disgustin. We all of us suffer, and numbers are ill, and if the Colera comes Lord help us.

Something really bad is happening around those very streets, now.

In most places it’s the same story, it comes up simply when you mention it – though perhaps not in Iain Duncan Smith’s Chingford or in Cameron’s bijou Witney

Many more are in shelters and temporary accommodation.

In Ipswich many of them spend time in the public library.

So this report out today comes as no surprise.

The number of people on the brink of homelessness who have been helped by local councils has risen sharply over five years, says the charity Shelter.

Councils in England stepped in to help 205,100 households facing homelessness in the year to March, suggests Shelter’s analysis of government data.

In 2009-10, the figure was 140,900, indicating a rise of almost 46%, according to the charity.

The government said it had spent more than £1bn on homelessness since 2010.

But Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb called the research “truly devastating”.

The charity says its own helpline took 450,000 calls over the past year, and a quarter were from people threatened with losing their homes within a month.

The figure for the previous year was 408,927. So there were 47,773 more calls this year – a rise of 12%, says the charity.

Mr Robb said too many cases involved families with children “teetering on the brink of homelessness”.

He added the charity’s own figures suggested 100,000 children would be “waking up homeless and in unstable temporary accommodation on Christmas morning”.

“Sadly, the combination of our affordable housing shortage and cuts to welfare means that more and more parents are finding themselves struggling to keep a stable roof over their children’s heads,” said Mr Robb.

The charity says children in temporary accommodation can find it hard to cope at school.

One mother, Francesca, said her daughter became very tired because living in one room in a hostel meant she was disturbed by younger siblings at night.

“It was an incredibly difficult time for us,” she said.

“My daughter’s grades suffered because the baby would keep her up all night.

“It was also hard for her to keep her friendships going, because she couldn’t bring any of them over to play.”

BBC.

A few days ago Welfare Weekly published this,

Benefit Sanctions Leaving Vulnerable People Hungry And Homeless.

The government’s controversial benefit sanctions regime is leaving vulnerable people hungry and at risk of homelessness, a leading charity has warned.

Research conducted by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, on behalf of the homeless charity Crisis, warns that benefit sanctions are hitting vulnerable people hardest, with many pushed into poverty and destitution.

The resulting report draws on a survey of more than 1000 people from homeless hostels and day centres, as well as 42 in-depth interviews.

Researchers uncovered shocking stories of people being forced to sleep on the street and having to cope without food or heating.

Of those respondents to the survey who had been sanctioned over the last year:

  • 21% reported becoming homeless as a result;
  • 16% said they had been forced to sleep rough as a result;
  • 77% had gone hungry or skipped meals;
  • 75% said it negatively affected their mental health;
  • 64% had gone without heating;
  • 60% found it harder to look for work

In Work “Conditionality” – a Hurdle for the Poor to Jump Through.

Doug and Dinsdale Piranha: ‘In-work’ Services for Universal Credit. 

Welfare Weekly signals new barriers for claimants, and a potential growth area for “sanctions”.

MPs are to examine Iain Duncan Smith’s plans for “in work conditionality” within the Universal Credit system, it has been announced today.

The Work and Pensions Committee has opened an inquiry into controversial government proposals, which would see Universal Credit claimants on low earnings required to increase their pay or hours to continue receiving benefits.

(Note: the word “required” – no the low paid will not be free to decide how much they work, but they will be “required” to undertake).

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) intends to begin “in-work progression” pilots in 2015/16, where benefit payments may be stopped if claimants fail to take action as required by the DWP.

(Note: has their ever been a “pilot” which the DWP has not deemed a “success?).

A range of pilot schemes will test different approaches to in-work conditionality within Universal Credit, but the Work and Pensions Committee says there is very little detail available about the schemes.

MPs will also look at which organisations are best-placed to deliver the in-work service, including JobCentre Plus and providers from the private, public or voluntary sectors.

(Note: our heart sank when we saw this: it means the Iain Duncan Smith has the intention of letting the bunch of private chancers already ready to leap at the opportunity to exploit the benefit system to their own advantage, in on this little wheeze).

The Committee’s inquiry will ask which claimants should be included in the pilot schemes and which should be exempt, as well as asking under what circumstances it be appropriate to sanction a Universal Credit claimant who is in work.

(Note: the word “sanction” – a fine threat for somebody working in a low paid job).

Most importantly, MPs will investigate whether any international evidence exists on effective ways of encouraging in-work progression, and whether employers can be encouraged to help workers increase their hours.

The Committee is calling for individuals and organisations to submit evidence addressing the following issues:

  • DWP’s plans for in-work progression pilots in 2015/16, and how they should be evaluated
  • Which organisations are best-placed to deliver the in-work service for DWP e.g. Jobcentre Plus/other providers from the private, public or voluntary sectors?
  • What should in-work progression support entail and how should it be delivered (e.g. regularity and nature of contact with claimants)?
  • Which groups of claimants should be included and which should be exempt?
  • How should employers be encouraged to facilitate progression?
  • In what circumstances would it be appropriate to sanction a Universal Credit claimant who is in work?
  • Is there any UK or international evidence on effective ways of encouraging in-work progression?

Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “The welfare-to-work strategy of successive governments has begun to crack the dependency on out-of-work benefits that had appeared to be an almost intractable problem.

“Efforts now also need to be focused on a welfare-to-work strategy that not only moves claimants off out-of-work benefit, but more importantly helps them move up the pay ladder and out of poverty.

“Too many people on low benefit incomes have been encouraged into low-paid jobs whose rewards are only brought up to a more acceptable income level by tax credits and other in-work benefits.

“I hope our Committee therefore will examine the available evidence and carefully develop an approach to in-work support which is effective, and which people accept as fair.”

In other words Field considers that, “dependency” having been cracked – cruel but fair methods have to be found to ‘encourage’ people to fit into a “more acceptable” (acceptable to Field no doubt – there is little evidence that the people concerned are going to decide on the acceptability of the government’s plans).

Field and Iain Duncan Smith, the Piranha Brothers.

Food Banks Gear up for Christmas.

Food Banks are an emotional subject.

There is no doubt that people use them out of necessity.

There is little doubt that those running them have good intentions and work hard at what they do.

But having to ask for what is not a benefit of right, but what is ultimately a favour, is not an easy thing to do.

Nor is the prospect of having to live on the basics they offer appealing.

The ‘umble classes, and this Blog, like something “tasty” from time to time.

Whether that includes a bacon sarnie, wagon-wheels, Cornish ice-cream, a massive pizza, or wild boar cooked in truffles with a bottle of SaintÉmilion (our own choice) should be up to us, not to a Food Bank.

The government’s idea of ‘Food bank jobcentres‘ is even less attractive.

Some Food Banks (see below) also have a religious element.

This seems to be the current state of play:

Trussell Trust Warns Of Record Levels Of Food Bank Demand This Christmas

Reports Welfare Weekly.

The UK’s largest foodbank charity is warning of record levels of demand over Christmas, with struggling families facing stark choices between eating and heating.

Referrals to Trussell Trust foodbanks were 53% higher in December 2014 than the average across other months, with more than 130,000 food parcels given to families and individuals in desperate need.

The charity warns that this December could see even more people forced to turn to foodbanks, as figures show that demand has increased by 14,000.

Trussell Trust handed out 506,369 food parcels between April and September 2015, compared to 492,641 over the same period in the previous year.

Each food parcel contains the equivalent of three-days worth of food and can only be received following a referral from a frontline professional, such as housing associations and children’s centres.

Trussell Trust food bank charity lands Christmas Big Lottery Fund boost but warns of record demand levels’

East Anglian Daily Times. 8th December.

The Trussell Trust has received almost £750,000 in extra funding from the Big Lottery Fund to cope with the strain, but it is concerned that its service will still be under pressure from growing numbers of people on low incomes who will face deciding between eating and heating.

The money will contribute towards services provided by its More Than Food programme, including debt advice, money management, welfare and housing advice, courses in cooking on a budget and other training, as well as emergency food.

There are three Trussell Trust food banks in the county – East Suffolk Foodbank in Lowestoft, Haverhill Foodbank and Lakenheath Foodbank.

David McAuley, chief executive of The Trussell Trust, said: “Winter is the hardest time of year for people living on the breadline; many will face stark choices between eating and heating.

“Every year we meet families who are worried about having anything to eat on Christmas Day, who have been living and sleeping in one room to keep heating costs to the absolute minimum

“Food bank use is likely to rise significantly over the winter months and we’re anticipating that it could peak at the highest level yet this Christmas.

“Increasingly, Trussell Trust food banks are able to provide additional support services to help resolve some the underlying causes of food bank use, and this will be especially impactful over the winter months.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for their generous support in enabling food banks to help families and individuals at the point of crisis to get back onto their feet more quickly. The funding couldn’t come at a better time.”

Nationally, between April and September this year, Trussell food banks gave out 506,369 emergency three-day food supplies, compared to 492,641 in the same period last year. December 2014 in particular saw an average increase of more than 50% in referrals to food banks compared with other months.

Food Banks  in East Suffolk. and  Ipswich (FIND is a Christian-based registered charity that was founded in 1990 to provide emergency assistance to families or individuals affected by poverty or dispossession.)

In our view too many people who should be supported by our social security system are being let down by it – with delays in benefit payments, debt, unfair benefits sanctions and the bedroom tax pushing people to the doors of food banks.

Charity is no substitute for benefits: depending on the good will of people to help is not the same as having a right to a basic minimum standard of living.

Above all, food. 

Funding Cut for Providers Of Work Programme – Despite Having “Done Fantastically”.

Kirsty McHugh: Work Programme Providers have done “Fantastically”.

Last Week Boycott Workfare stated,

What might come next in relation to the Work and Health Programme?  Whatever form the scheme takes,it’s likely to ‘segment jobseekers by their characteristics, not by the benefits which they receive’. It can’t be coincidental that in a recent report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Matthew Oakley suggested: ‘a segmentation tool should be introduced to identify the relative difficulty a given individual might have in finding work because of the barriers they face’. DWP pilots involved telephoning claimants and combining that information with data already held by the department. And lengthy interviews with claimants to determine their attitudes to work. The DWP have tried this kind of thing before. It’s always invasive and it can lead to people with the ‘wrong’ attitude to work being penalised.

Signs of restructuring are coming in.

This was published yesterday.

Providers have been warned that government funding to help long-term unemployed people back into work was likely to be dramatically cut by 2020, FE Week can reveal.

The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) director for contracted employment provision Matt Thurstan last month sent a letter, seen by FE Week, to providers advising on what will happen after current Work Programme contracts end in April 2017.

The scheme, launched in June 2011, involves private, public and voluntary organisations helping to find jobs for people who have normally been unemployed for at least 12 months, although shorter-term unemployed people can also be referred by local Job Centres.

Total funding to providers through the payment-by-results scheme was around £2,001m up to June — which worked out at just over £500m a-year.

But Mr Thurstan said in the letter that the department now recognised “the number of those requiring this support is reducing” — so “core funding” could be cut to just £130m-a-year by 2020/21 for a replacement scheme expected to be launched from May 2017.

“Our new provision will support long-term unemployed claimants reaching the 24-month point in their claim, as well as targeted referrals of claimants with health and disabilities issues,” he added.

Funding cut for back-to-work support The DWP currently has contracts with 15 providers for 18 regions across the country.

The only FE college group contractor is NCG, which currently covers Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country.

The DWP terminated NCG’s contract for the North East Yorkshire and the Humber last March, replacing it with Devon-based Maximus.

The DWP told FE Week at the time that this was because it was the “lowest performing [contract] assessed against a range of measures”.

No-one from NCG was available to comment, but Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) chief executive Kirsty McHugh (pictured above), which represents employment support providers, said: “The programme has done fantastically at moving the long term unemployed into work, but it’s no surprise that the new contracts from April 2017 will focus far more strongly on jobseekers with disabilities and health conditions.

“Our understanding is that the funding mentioned in the letter is the minimum available for the new work and health programme.”

A spokesperson for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said: “The number of people who have been out of work for over a year has fallen by a quarter in the last 12 months, so providers had anticipated that a replacement programme would be on a smaller scale.”

Our hearts bleed over the fate of the poor “providers” who’ve “done fantastically”.

This choice of words that suggests an “informal” use of the word “fantastically”.

The 6 other, principal meanings are: 1 conceived or appearing as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination; odd and remarkable; bizarre; grotesque: 2. fanciful or capricious, as persons or their ideas or actions: 3.imaginary or groundless in not being based on reality; foolish or irrational: 4 extravagantly fanciful; marvellous.5. incredibly great or extreme; exorbitant: and 6.highly unrealistic or impractical; outlandish.

But what is being cooked up in the DWP and Iain Duncan Smith’s minds?

We have yet to know.

Meanwhile remember this, as Boycott Workfare points out,

….as @refuted has pointed out, the 35 hours per week of ‘work preparation activity’ that claimants have to do under Universal Credit can include workfare. It means, potentially, that workfare can continue without the need for a named scheme.

Council Tax: New Threat for the Unemployed Looms.

Council Tax is a burden for anybody on benefits.

A system in which we got full relief has been replaced by an unjust scheme which means that we pay (with no rise on benefits) widely different rates according to which council area we live in.

This has been the result:

Half a million more people summoned to court over unpaid council tax, after benefits scrapped

Half a million more people were summoned to court last year over unpaid council tax, after benefits protecting low-income families from paying it were scrapped.

Almost three million people in England were taken to court by local authorities in 2013-14 because they had not paid council tax. This was an increase of more than 25 per cent on the previous tax year, according to the figures obtained via Freedom of Information by False Economy, which is brought to you by local campaigners about the cuts and their effects.

Everybody on the dole who has to pay this particular tax knows it’s low on their priorities.

So non-payment, and court cases, are rife.

Many who do pay deeply resent having what is effectively a cut in the meage income imposed in the name of ‘localism’.

Now we learn  that this chancer, Eric OBE Ollerenshaw is in charge of a “review”.

An “independent” review is to examine how local Council Tax Support (LCTS) schemes are helping low-income families across the country, it has been announced today.

Reports Welfare Weekly.

The review will be led by Eric Ollerenshaw OBE, a former council leader and Member of Parliament, who has been tasked to examine the effectiveness, fairness and transparency of newly created Council Tax Reduction schemes.

Mr Ollenshaw served as the Conservative MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood between 2010 to 2015, before losing his seat to Cat Smith of the Labour Party in the last General Election.

Before moving into politics, Mr Ollerenshaw was a full-time teacher of History and spent 30 years teaching in three comprehensive schools.

The Tory-led coalition government scrapped Council Tax Benefit in April 2013, handing local authorities the power to develop and administer their own schemes for local residents.

It’s abolition was supported by Mr Ollenshaw, which may lead to some people questioning just how “independent” the review of Council Tax Support schemes can be.

He has also consistently voted in favour of other welfare cuts and changes, including ‘Bedroom Tax’ and the controversial benefit cap.

Indeed.

His Parliamentary record shows his hard right politics:

  • Consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices Show votes
  • Consistently voted for greater restrictions on campaigning by third parties, such as charities, during elections Show votes
  • Consistently voted for increasing the rate of VAT Show votes
  • Consistently voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system Show votes
  • Consistently voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits

We can only speculate that cuts in this benefit, reducing us further into poverty, will be on the agenda.

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.

Now.

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.

DWP

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.

And,

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.

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/d3d245ff31000c4ff8c11cd3741ce454d58a0302/0_187_4256_2553/master/4256.jpg?w=620&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&s=8fe301289d0cf1c7e0a15c180ce25ca5

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?

Again:

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?

Yes.

New Government Experiments with Ill and Disabled People.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/N9pye-3Pu5Y/maxresdefault.jpg

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.

And,

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.

Mirror.

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.”

 

https://assets.digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/image_data/file/25401/help-to-work_960x640.jpg

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: bizdev@seetec.co.uk 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.

However…

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

Q1-57

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

Q58-98

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.

Q99-135

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.

But…..

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.”

Independent.

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.

WhyDrawingCoverv2digi

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.”

Guardian

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

2009.

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.”

Wikipedia. 

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.”

Wikipedia

* 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

WEWeek2015
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
@skynewssarah

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.
@Don_Enable

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.

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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.

Mirror. 

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.”

BBC

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’.

https://i1.wp.com/blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/files/2014/02/ids1.jpg

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?

No.

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?

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.

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 post 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

@IDS_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.

 

 

y

Stop Changes to Access to Work.

Hat-Tip: The Void.

TO: DAVID CAMERON, JUSTIN TOMLINSON & IAIN DUNCAN SMITH MP

(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!

SIGN:  LINK 

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.

https://i1.wp.com/leftfootforward.org/images/2015/02/Save-EMA-protests2.jpg

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: rose.t9233@gmail.com

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.

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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.

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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

and,

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.”

Background

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.

But…..

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”.

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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.

Herald.

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!

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