Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

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  1. This is slightly off subject, but what do readers think of the Working Links “Customer Portal” facility?


    February 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm

  2. With many references to workfare appearing on these pages, it might be in order to point out the distinction between the term “forced or compulsory labour” and the term “unpaid labour” when further considering the subject of workfare.

    For example, a “Work Trial”, is an unpaid, temporary employment scheme; a Work Trial could be described as workfare – working for your benefits – but note that participation in a Work Trial is voluntary and the participant can decline to commence or subsequently withdraw at any time without the menace of a penalty in the form of severe benefit sanctions.

    A Work Trial is entirely different to “Work Experience”. The latter scheme is mandatory from the start and it carries Draconian benefit sanctions for non-compliance!


    February 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    • Have Jobcentre Plus re-introduced the work trial scheme? They scrapped it a year back or so.

      So “work trial” could be a generic term (where “employers” are concerned) to mean work placement… which could be workfare.

      Furthermore, A “work trial” is where a job exists, workfare is when one doesn’t.

      A “work trial” isn’t a work placement that converts to a job… its formally part of the recruitment process, sandwiched between the job interview and offer of an employment contract.

      Work Trials are pretty much outdated – all compulsory volunteering (New Deal VSO, community service, workfare etc) has given volunteering a bad name to employers – so unpaid work experience holds little value to (external) employers – and employers typically pay wages/salary monthly now, so can have up to a month before they need to pay out anyway.

      This is on top of a probation period (period of time where either party can terminate the contract i.e. the employer let the employee go) included in virtually every contractual offer (be it written, verbal or implied) which most employers (i.e. that will employ such person) prefer as is more productive with greater efficiency and for motivational reasons, than outside an employment contract.

      In such sense, even with threats of benefit sanctions, the unpaid worker in forced work still can be unreliable etc. by means of securing work with another employer or simply signing off.

      Work Programme

      February 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      • Good morning Work Programme


        Thank you for your interst in my post about “Work Trials” and “Work Experience”.

        Have a look at the following link to a very recent report dated 11 February 2012 which has already been posted on the Ipswich Unemployed Action website:


        You will clearly read that Sainsbury’s are still adhering to what they call a “Work Trial”! That is why I posted my own commentary.

        Although a VOLUNTARY Work Trial is very much the lesser of two evils (when compared with the MANDATORY Work Experience scheme), it is still “evil” all the same – for the simple reasons that it can do nothing to solve long-term unemployment given that it is in itself a short term palliative, plus, if too many people are dumped into this kind of temporary work scheme (operating by whatever name), then no one ends up with any net advantage by way of an “enhanced” CV with apparent experience of work written on it! (Employers are only interested in real experience of proper gainful employment in the real world).

        The same could be said for all these mickey-mouse “training” courses churning out ubiquitous certificates in computing and food hygiene etc! All these dubious schemes have got nothing to do with job creation, so when people have completed their courses and schemes they go back to square one as far as the competition for real jobs with other job-seekers in the real world goes.

        Finally, true voluntary work is not illegal. On the other hand, mandatory voluntary work, which really is conscription, is forced labour; the latter IS illegal!

        By the way, no one has thus far answered my query about the Working Links Customer Portal facility.


        February 13, 2012 at 9:46 am

      • There is much talk these days about UNPAID labour.

        It is interesting to observe that the word “unpaid” does not enter into the International Labour Organisation’s definition of “Forced or Compulsory Labour” stated as follows:

        “All work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”.

        The two principal ingredients necessary to define forced or compulsory labour are:

        1) the menace of a penalty (benefit sanctions)

        2) the person is not a volunteer

        The fact that the work is unpaid does not matter at all when establishing the forced or compulsory nature of the relevant labour.

        From that, it is extremely important for any unemployed person nowadays to make certain that that they declare themselves to be NON-VOLUNTEERS – be especially wary when you are asked if you are prepared to do voluntary work!

        Remember the old military adage: NEVER VOLUNTEER!


        February 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      • Good afternoon Work Programme

        Have I got news for you!

        According to a local Jobcentre in Scotland this very day, Monday, 13 February, Work Trials are still in operation!

        Perhaps you can contact your own “local” Jobcentre and see what they say!

        It will be interesting to say the least if we have a geographical difference of opinion on this subject with conflicting answers coming in via Jobcentres from here, there and everywhere!


        February 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm

  3. Why economic inequality leads to collapse

    The lesson of the Great Crash was that unequal enrichment provokes asset bubbles, excessive demand for debt and, finally, economic failure. Now we are painfully learning that again

    During the past 30 years, a growing share of the global economic pie has been taken by the world’s wealthiest people. In the UK and the US, the share of national income going to the top 1% has doubled, setting workforces adrift from economic progress. Today, the world’s 1,200 billionaires hold economic firepower that is equivalent to a third of the size of the American economy.

    It is this concentration of income – at levels not seen since the 1920s – that is the real cause of the present crisis.

    In the UK, the upward transfer of income from wage earners to business and the mega-wealthy amounts to the equivalent of 7% of the economy. UK wage-earners have around £100bn – roughly equivalent to the size of the nation’s health budget – less in their pockets today than if the cake were shared as it was in the late 1970s.

    In the US, the sum stands at £500bn. There a typical worker would be more than £3,000 better off if the distribution of output between wages and profits had been held at its 1979 level. In the UK, they would earn almost £2,000 more.

    The effect of this consolidation of economic power is that the two most effective routes out of the crisis have been closed. First, consumer demand – the oxygen that makes economies work – has been choked off. Rich economies have lost billions of pounds of spending power. Secondly, the slump in demand might be less damaging if the winners from the process of upward redistribution – big business and the top 1% – were playing a more productive role in helping recovery. They are not.

    Britain’s richest 1,000 have accumulated fortunes that are collectively worth £250bn more than a decade ago. The biggest global corporations are also sitting on near-record levels of cash. In the UK, such corporate surpluses stand at over £60bn, around 5% of the size of the economy. This money could be used to kickstart growth. Yet it is mostly standing idle. The result is paralysis.

    The economic orthodoxy of the past 30 years holds that a stiff dose of inequality brings more efficient and faster-growing economies. It was a theory that captured the New Labour leadership – as long as tackling poverty was made a priority, then the rich should be allowed to flourish.

    So have the architects of market capitalism been proved right? The evidence says no. The wealth gap has soared, but without wider economic progress. Since 1980, UK growth and productivity rates have been a third lower and unemployment five times higher than in the postwar era of “regulated capitalism”. The three post-1980 recessions have been deeper and longer than those of the 1950s and 1960s, culminating in the crisis of the last four years.

    The main outcome of the post-1980 experiment has been an economy that is much more polarised and much more prone to crisis. History shows a clear link between inequality and instability. The two most damaging crises of the last century – the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Crash of 2008 – were both preceded by sharp rises in inequality.

    The factor linking excessive levels of inequality and economic crisis is to be found in the relationship between wages and productivity. For the two-and-a-half decades from 1945, wages and productivity moved broadly in line across richer nations, with the proceeds of rising prosperity evenly shared. This was also a period of sustained economic stability.

    Then there have been two periods when wages have seriously lagged behind productivity – in the 1920s and the post-1980s. Both of them culminating in prolonged slumps. Between 1990 and 2007, real wages in the UK rose more slowly than productivity, and at a worsening rate. In the US, the decoupling started earlier and has led to an even larger gap.

    The significance of a growing “wage-productivity gap” is that it upsets the natural mechanisms necessary to achieve economic balance. Purchasing power shrinks and consumer societies suddenly lack the capacity to consume.

    In both the 1920s and the post-1980s, to prevent economies seizing up, the demand gap was filled by an explosion of private debt. But pumping in debt didn’t prevent recession: it merely delayed it.

    Concentrating the proceeds of growth in the hands of a small global financial elite not only brings mass deflation – it also leads to asset bubbles. In 1920s America, a rapid process of enrichment at the top merely fed years of speculative activity in property and the stock market. In the build-up to 2008, rising corporate surpluses and burgeoning personal wealth led to a giant mountain of footloose global capital. The cash sums held by the world’s rich (those with cash of more than $1m) doubled in the decade to 2008 to a massive $39 trillion.

    Only a tiny proportion of this sum ended up in productive investment. In the decade to 2007, bank lending for property development and takeover activity surged while the share going to UK manufacturing shrank. While the contribution to the economy made by financial services more than doubled over this period, manufacturing fell by a quarter.

    Far from creating new wealth, a tsunami of “hot money” raced around the world in search of faster and faster returns, creating bubbles – in property, commodities and business – lowering economic resilience and amplifying the risk of financial breakdown.

    New Labour’s leaders were right in arguing that the left needed to have a more coherent policy for wealth creation. That is the route to wider prosperity for all. But the central lesson of the last 30 years is that a widening income gap and a more productive economy do not go hand in hand.

    An economic model that allows the richest members of society to accumulate a larger and larger share of the cake will eventually self-destruct. It is a lesson that is yet to be learned.

    Why economic inequality leads to collapse

    The Guardian

    February 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm

  4. America’s homeless resort to tent cities

    Panorama’s Hilary Andersson comes face to face with the reality of poverty in America and finds that, for some, the last resort has become life in a tented encampment.

    Just off the side of a motorway on the fringes of the picturesque town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, a mismatched collection of 30 tents tucked in the woods has become home – home to those who are either unemployed, or whose wages are so low that they can no longer afford to pay rent.

    Conditions are unhygienic. There are no toilets and electricity is only available in the one communal tent where the campers huddle around a wood stove for warmth in the heart of winter.

    Ice weighs down the roofs of tents, and rain regularly drips onto the sleeping campers’ faces.

    Tent cities have sprung up in and around at least 55 American cities – they represent the bleak reality of America’s poverty crisis.

    Black mould

    According to census data, 47 million Americans now live below the poverty line – the most in half a century – fuelled by several years of high unemployment.

    One of the largest tented camps is in Florida and is now home to around 300 people. Others have sprung up in New Jersey and Portland.

    In the Ann Arbor camp, Alana Gehringer, 23, has had a hacking cough for the last four months.

    “The black mould – it was on our pillows, it was on our blankets, we were literally rubbing our faces in it sleeping every night,” she said of wintering in a tent.

    The camp is run by the residents themselves, with the help of a local charity group. Calls have come in from the hospital emergency room, the local police and the local homeless shelter to see if they can send in more.

    “Last night, for example, we got a call saying they had six that couldn’t make it into the shelter and… they were hoping that we could place them… So we usually get calls, around nine or 10 a night,” said Brian Durance, a camp organiser.

    Michigan’s Republican-controlled state government has been locked into a programme of severe budget cuts in an attempt to balance its books.

    The cuts have included benefits for many of the state’s poorest residents.

    Between the cuts and the economic conditions pinching, there is increased pressure on homeless shelters.

    Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor, Brian Calley, was asked about the reality of public agencies in his state suggesting the homeless live in tents.

    “That is absolutely not acceptable, and we have to take steps and policies in order to make sure that those people have the skills they need to be independent, and it won’t happen overnight,” he said.

    Depression-type poverty

    There are an estimated 5,000 people living in the dozens of camps that have sprung up across America.

    The largest camp, Pinella’s Hope in central Florida – a region better known for the glamour of Disneyworld – is made up of neat rows of tents spread out across a 13-acre plot.

    The Catholic charity that runs it has made laundry available, as well as computers and phones.

    Many of the camps are organised and hold regular meetings to divide up camp chores and agree on community rules. They have become semi-permanent homes for some residents, who see little prospect of getting jobs soon.

    These tent cities – and this level of poverty – are images that many Americans associate with the Great Depression.

    Unemployment in America today has not reached the astronomical levels of the 1930s, but barring a short spike in 1982, it has not been this high since the Depression era.

    There are now 13 million unemployed Americans, which is three million more than when President Barack Obama was first elected.

    The stark reality is that many of them are people who very recently lived comfortable middle-class lives.

    For them, the economic downturn came too fast and many have been forced to trade their middle-class homes for lives in shelters, motels and at the far extreme, tented encampments.

    Panorama: Poor America, BBC One, Monday, 13 February at 20:30 GMT then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.

    Article + clip here .

    The BBC

    February 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    • What struck me the most on the Panorma programme was the Americans who thought it was quite right that somebody without health insurance, who fell in a coma in front of them, should be left untreated – to die.

      Apparently this was ‘freedom of choice’ – not to be insured.

      What a country!

      Andrew Coates

      February 14, 2012 at 11:47 am

  5. i am on the work programme and my cv was sent to an gmail address by a bully claiming to be from a charity.i complained this at the time,unsurprisingly he was unconcerned.

    the work programme appears to have dubious individuals in its circles,particular attention should be paid to those with a disability,tonight my printer has been busy printing off sections of the equality act and its apparent breaches’.

    the tone of this individual is aggressive,as much so as i consider it to be harassment,also the expectations of of traveling long distances with no guarantees there isn’t another bus journey after an hour and a half,this is beyond the scope of a a person who is a protected characteristic under this act.

    further it appears that no disability appears to be taken into account and acknowledged, an apparently as if “there is nothing wrong” and expected to jump hoops’this person is going to be reminded of his obligations at the next meeting.

    job centre plus now have my disability on the front of the signing documents,i suspect this may well apply to others too.nasty surprises and those not afraid to quote them appear to breach the equality act in a severe context.


    February 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    • We have long known in Ipswich that bullying is rife on the Work Progrmame.

      We have put this at the forefront of our concerns – demanding that there should be a way to get an independent appeal against bullies in chage of people’s lives.

      Not something the government or its wealthy contractors in the Work Programme care about – they seem well pleased with the practice.

      Andrew Coates

      February 14, 2012 at 11:51 am

      • “We have long known in Ipswich that bullying is rife on the Work Progrmame.”

        I overheard an advisor the other day bragging about how many people they have made cry.

        Average Joe

        February 15, 2012 at 11:04 am

    • Ken have you a formal written complaint ?


      February 14, 2012 at 11:22 pm

  6. job centre adverts are misdescribed this one


    Vacancy from Jobcentre Plus
    Job No:


    SOC Code:





    Date posted

    09 February 2012
    Pension details

    No details held

    Key responsibilities for this role include the taking in of deliveries, making sure the warehouse and office areas are kept in a clean and tidy condition. Other responsibilities will include the picking and packing of orders once fully trained.
    How to apply

    You can apply for this job by visiting jobs@fun-collectables.co.uk and following the instructions on the webpage.

    Fun Collectables

    this wrong as when the page is visited there isnt a jobs tab


    the problem with these adverts is people will quickly learn that the link does not work,some will walk away at this point leaving themselves open to a doubt has arisen letter later and a no doubt sanction.you would expect to find a recruitment page there is not one (if you searched).

    only an address with the gmail account.


    they claim to established ten years,yet the advert the job centre posted is totally inaccurate.


    February 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    • Yeah its an email address not a website link! You cannot visit an email link.

      (The company behind it appears to be trading for 10 years – although a poor advert it might be genuine)

      Talking of bad adverts, these days they are almost like “Employee needed” and “apply by cv nigel@kldfgjdoi.com” – why can’t employers be bothered to write anything anymore? That is assuming they are employers.

      Work Programme

      February 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

  7. Sorry, Ken, meant to put “made” between have…………..you


    February 14, 2012 at 11:25 pm

  8. “Postal applications must always be preferred as you know who will receive your application/CV – with email you never know.”


    Your email client will tell you within a few minutes if your email has been unsuccessfully sent.
    Once it’s be successfully sent it’s not your problem anymore


    February 15, 2012 at 11:21 am

    • No, No, No

      You missed the point entirely… its not about email itself. Its about criminals taking advantage of jobseekers. (Of course like email, post can be intercepted… but that not what I am focusing on)

      Let me explain.

      I am Dave, a scammer. I will impersonate Tesco.

      I will register erm… tescocareers.com (yeah dont laugh) and stick the whois registrant information as Tesco HQ. I will steal the Tesco logo and design of their main website… steal the text off their job pages. Link the site back to various tesco websites.

      I will then stick a job advert or few on at Jobcentre Plus requiring a CV to be sent to .apply@tescocareers.com – which will be hosted with a free or cheap provider or through gmail etc.

      MOST people will see that as :
      a) Jobcentre Plus has allowed it
      b) That it says its from Tesco
      c) that its the same design

      .. it must be genuine.

      Some people will check the domain to see if its owned by Tesco… oh, so it is… (although not registered by them – it otherwise says it is. Although Dave has control legally Tesco would own the domain)

      The personal information is emailed over by thousands of jobseekers. Probably for up to a week… Jobcentre normally takes this long, but possibly for a few days… pull the domain (cancel it so it never cost Dave anything) and end the scam before Tesco gets aware of the scam and sends a press release out about it.

      A clever way would be by going to Tesco website and looking for a link to the website, but this is never always the case. of course you know its a scam because apart from Chemists etc. Tesco don’t employ people… they use workfare!!

      Work Programme

      February 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    • Quite a few jobs nowadays take E-Mail applications with an upload of your CV only.

      Andrew Coates

      February 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

  9. Also if you want to go the extra mile and see if your email application has been read
    Outlook > New Mail > Options > Tick Request a Delivery Receipt/ Request a Read Receipt
    Although this not strictly necessary as you will be told automatically if you email fails to be sent


    February 15, 2012 at 11:33 am

  10. False optimism alone won’t find jobs where none exist

    With a deficit of two million vacancies, no amount of Work Programme intervention is likely to fill the jobs gap

    “We are by definition an optimistic organisation,” Paul Brown, a director of the Prince’s Trust, told me. “You’ll probably get sick of it after a while.” On Wednesday the trust announced 100 “job ambassadors”, paid positions for young people to help 100,000 other young people either into jobs or training. The same day unemployment reached a 16-year high, with 8.4% of people out of work, rising to 22.2% of 16 to 24 year-olds. Don’t get me started on women, this isn’t the time. “Too many young people have just given up hope. We think they’re wrong,” said Brown.

    It sounds quite uneventful, but I sniff an urgency underneath this that is not very third sector. The Prince’s Trust has had job ambassadors for some time, but they were voluntary posts. The decision to start paying must partly be in recognition of how hard it is to cheerlead for the world of work when you can’t get any. There is an ominous ring to lines like this, from Martine Milburn, chief executive of the trust: “This scheme will make sure an unemployed generation does not become an unemployable one.” It’s as close as a charity will ever come to saying “you’re screwed” – the subtext is that the scheme is not about finding a job today, it’s about warding off despair while you wait for the upkick. None of this is spoken, and that’s what bothers me. The situation has changed for young people, but the narrative hasn’t. Keep positive, primp your CV, stay skilled, train, volunteer, be busy, don’t despair – never mind that despair might be a reasonable response. Don’t do it anyway.

    Meanwhile, the Work Programme draws its scripts from the same alternative universe where jobs are plentiful and people just have too many typos on their CV. This is the payment-by-results scheme introduced in 2010 to replace a patchwork of 20 similar schemes that the National Audit Office called “confusing and inflexible”, which is as close as a government agency gets to calling anything “totally crap”. It’s too early to assess the Work Programme, but what the NAO has, cautiously, been able to say is that its estimates for how many people can be found jobs are “over-optimistic”. They need only look at the landscape. There’s no growth. There are 2.67 million people seeking work and ready to start tomorrow. There were 463,000 vacancies advertised between October and December last year. That’s six people chasing every job; of course there are regional variations, so there are places with 35 applicants for each post and places with only two. But even in the latter case, that shortfall is still pretty major; any ambassador or adviser who thinks the solution is to gee up the unemployed person is disregarding the fact that, when the jobs don’t exist, some people will remain unemployable. This isn’t politics, this is arithmetic.

    Politicians distort the picture, especially when they’re stewarding a country into even more widespread unemployment (when I say “stewarding”, I mean that in the sense of doing 90mph, with their hands over their eyes, screaming). They talk about being “trapped on benefits” by the generosity of those benefits, failing to mention that even if you were to slice them until you starved people out of the trap, there wouldn’t be any jobs to walk into. They talk about “generations of worklessness” as though the gentle rhythms of genetically acquired sloth could conflate this generation’s problems with those of that above. An unemployed 20-year-old now is one of nearly a quarter of his cohort. He labours under a set of circumstances that are peculiar to him and his peers. He did not learn this unemployment off his unemployed dad. But political rhetoric shading into mendacity is hardly new: in the interests of their own long-term credibility, MPs should probably address this at some point, but it’s hard to conceive of a moderately robust person who would listen to it and be afraid.

    What does strike fear into me is the coalescence of denial, where political expedience merges with the positive thinking agenda, and it all dovetails with the erroneous sense that it’s somehow “political” to articulate how bad a situation is. Number crunchers give the facts. In the interests of not overstating the disaster, I quote the most positive reading I could find, from the Work Foundation: “Comparing the three months to December with the previous three months, employment increased by 60,000. This is in sharp contrast to the steep falls recorded in the autumn. However, the bad news is that the job market remains grim, with unemployment continuing to rise to record levels.” But these facts aren’t reflected in how unemployed people are discussed: where “sensible” still means “optimistic”; the deficiencies are still within the individual.

    Even Ed Balls, writing in the Mirror on Wednesday, said “Families, pensioners, young people and businesses already know things are tough.” That’s all true – everybody loses when unemployment is high, even those who haven’t lost their jobs. But when people are constantly asked to look for jobs that aren’t there, you need to do a bit better than “everybody’s got it tough”.

    I understand the Prince’s Trust, and the necessity of its enthusiasm. I even, to a degree, understand the way politicians on both sides describe any given situation to suit their argument, rather than to help the people in it. But I still say this is a dangerous game. The BBC complements the latest figures with a “How to get a job in retail” guide (I can give you the short answer: accept one third of the minimum wage and let them pretend you’re an “apprentice”– that’ll get you a job). David Cameron says the Work Programme is the “biggest welfare to work scheme since the 1930s”, when all it amounts to is a set of large payments, from the government, to 18 companies who are then contracted to harry people into jobs that don’t exist. Charities try to ward off despair by bare assertion. This is the kind of situation that leaves people feeling alienated, not just from the world of work, but from the world altogether.

    Article & comments here.

    The Guardian

    February 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm

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