Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Labour to Keep Benefit Cuts: Will They Keep a (renamed?) Work Programme?

with 22 comments

This is a key part of Miliband’s speech on Welfare,

State benefits could rise by less than inflation each year under a Labour government because of the cap on welfare spending announced by Ed Miliband.

Until now, Labour has suggested it would restore the link between benefits and inflation if it regains power. It voted against  breaking the link in April, when the Coalition Government pegged the annual uprating to 1 per cent for the next three financial years up to 2015-16.

Is this clear? Well not entirely,

Labour sources told The Independent that a decision on whether to restore the link would  not be taken until much nearer the election. It would not be financed by extra borrowing. If the party were in government now, restoring it would be funded by bringing back a 50p top rate of tax on earnings over £150,000 a year, which was cut to 45p in April.

Katy Clark, a Labour MP, warned that “some of the most vulnerable,” including the disabled, would lose out if Mr Miliband’s benefit cap were not set high enough. “The devil will be in the detail,” she said.

Miliband also said this,

“Overcoming worklessness, rewarding work and tackling low pay, investing in the future and recognising contribution: these are the Labour ways to reform our social security system.

“We have always been against the denial of opportunity that comes from not having work. And against the denial of responsibility by those who could work and don’t do so. This country needs to be a nation where people who can work, do. Not a country where people who can work are on benefits.”

Now what are they going to about the failing Work Programme?

To remind us all, Richard Johnson said in the Guardian that the work and pensions select committee found this.

The committee acknowledges that the WP simplified the sector. It has shifted things to payment by results, supposedly reducing risk to the public purse. The contractors are highly variable in quality. Their performance is improving, for some jobseekers anyway, but they are running the service with massive caseloads. “Creaming and parking” (helping the jobseekers that are easier to find work for and ignoring the hard ones) is endemic. Specialist services, to address complex jobseeker needs such as disability or homelessness, are underused, and specialist subcontractors get a raw deal. The WP also fails to engage adequately with employers and has a poor relationship with Jobcentre Plus.

The fundamental flaw is laid bare in the £248m that the committee says the Treasury is clawing back for underspend on the WP in 2012-13 – money that was allocated and that contractors haven’t earned.

The initial WP concept (as set out by Lord Freud, now responsible for the rollout of universal credit) was based on the simple notion that it costs a shedload of money to keep people on benefits – more than £100m a day. Surely, it is better to invest in welfare-to-work programmes to reduce the benefit bill through moving people into work. If the Treasury can’t find the additional cash for extra welfare-to-work programmes, then get private sector firms to fund it and pay them back out of the benefit savings they generate.

Some people, even after years of unemployment, find their own job. Money spent helping this “deadweight” will be wasted. Some people, however, are at risk of getting stuck on benefits and never moving off them. The higher the levels of disadvantage, the more complex their needs are likely to be, and the more expensive any solutions. But the jobseekers that cost more to help will be the ones that deliver a greater return in reduced long-term benefit liability.

It appears that this link between programme investment and savings has been forgotten. The payments made to WP contractors, as noted by the committee, are ineffectively targeted. The contractors are not incentivised to risk spending on jobseekers who appear hard to help. With limited overall funding, contractors are trying to protect themselves by disinvesting in the programme, running with caseloads of up to 180 jobseekers per adviser. This creates a vicious cycle, with high caseloads meaning low outcomes, meaning further disinvestment.

The £248m underspend gleefully recouped by the Treasury represents a massively increased risk to the public purse. It indicates lower levels of “off-flow” from benefits to employment, which will push up the benefit bill in future years. With those mostly likely to be parked on the WP representing the biggest risk. The programme is applying a sticking plaster, counting the unused splints, and leaving the patient crippled.

We would add that that

  • The Work Programme is simply not finding people jobs.
  • It offers no real training.
  • The companies that run it form a lobby to grab more public money regardless of results.
  • It creates an army of people unhappy with their treatment (sanctions, bullying, absence of courses).
  • It is bloody useless.

The worst thing that Labour could do is to offer a new version of the Work Programme.
We need work creation, not another system of outdoor relief for the unemployment business.


22 Responses

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  1. Whatever the new name, it will be the same old scheme whoever is running it – Labour/Conservative or Private Business/JobcentrePlus.

    In the meantime, here is a definition of an idiot.

    The idiot: “A person lacking professional skill, having bad judgement in public and political matters, characterised by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private, as opposed to public, affairs.”

    Does this apply to IDS and Co? Read this interesting piece here:



    June 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm

  2. I fear that Labour will take a bullwhip to sort out the unemployed; and that both the Tory’s and Labour would like to bring back something akin to the Blood code. Happy days!

    A. Ellis

    June 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm

  3. Of course a Labour government will keep a renamed version of the Work Programme. Let’s not forget that the Tory Work Programme is practically identical to the last Labour government’s Flexible New Deal – all the Tories did was change the name and tinker round the edges a little. Anyone who thinks that voting Labour will change anything is either mad or thick – up the revolution!


    June 8, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    • Previous Labour Schemes
      1970’s training opportunity programme
      and the job training scheme
      became COMMUNITY PROGRAMME under thatcher


      June 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm

  4. Liam Bynre’s new favorite word:


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    June 9, 2013 at 8:37 am

  5. All these employment schemes are pointless whilst we have over 5 million (the true figure) unemployed, and less than 100,000 full time equivalent job vacancies. If we could magically create a job vacancy for every person who needed it the problem could be erradicated overnight. The government could then concentrate on dealing with those who will not take a job, rather than treating everyone as a lazy scrounger. No government will do this though as they are happy to have millions unemployed as this controls the power of the unions and provides a source of cheap labour (poverty wages/conditions and Workfare). It also distracts people from government corruption and incompetence by attacking welfare recipients.

    Blackpool Lad

    June 9, 2013 at 1:05 pm

  6. How do you suggest we get “Work Creation” Andrew if the world is not buying goods?

    Maybe we should be following Germany`s example as suggested by Labour, really they have over 3 million unemployed and they`re whole system is predicated on low wages and no workers rights.

    The only real way out of this by creating a “Guaranteed Basic Income” for everyone: getting rid of conditionality in the welfare system and the distorted ideologies around work through which we may finally see a country grow from the bottom up through people creating work for themselves free from the spectre of starving, be humiliated, degraded, and murdered by the state for the sake of a benefit cut.

    • Germany is, as you say, no example to follow, what with its 1 Euro an hour jobs for the unemployed, no minimum wage, and a growing group of people shoved right out of normal standards of living.

      Insight: The dark side of Germany’s jobs miracle February 2012.

      “Anja has been scrubbing floors and washing dishes for two euros an hour over the past six years. She is bewildered when she sees newspapers hailing Germany’s “job miracle.”

      “My company exploited me,” says the 50-year-old, sitting in the kitchen of her small flat in the eastern German town of Stralsund. “If I could find something else, I’d be long gone.”

      Stralsund is an attractive seaside town but Anja, who preferred not to use her full name for fear of being fired, cannot afford the quaint cafes.

      Wage restraint and labour market reforms have pushed the jobless rate down to a 20-year low, and the German model is often cited as an example for European nations seeking to cut unemployment and become more competitive.”

      More here,

      Andrew Coates

      June 10, 2013 at 10:51 am

    • Germany is a shit hole. Despite being one of the richest countries, they were pretty much a joke throughout history… (short version)

      1) German Empire (I feel awkward even referring to it as that)
      2) deciding that by killing millions of people was the way to expand into a global power force
      3) West Germany… good, East Germany… crap, at everything
      4) All major well-established German companies today were supporting the Nazis in some shape or form (Adidas, Allianz, Audi, BASF, Bayer, Bosch, BMW, Deutsche Bank, Haribo, Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Porsche, Siemens, VW etc) from party membership to state ownership, and from building and running concentration camps to producing weapons and chemicals to kill.

      Its strange when you think of the country with the 4th or 5th largest GDP, is reliant on both these Nazi-era companies and happen to be using some of the Nazi methods, on its own people today. Its quite ironic that its been overlooked by many and not common knowledge. I guess its still mild in comparison to China.

      Universal Jobmatch

      June 10, 2013 at 10:39 pm

  7. There’s a petition up to stop compulsory use of Universal Jobmatch. Please sign it and spread the word.


    Samwise Gamgee

    June 9, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    • I recently asked my signing advisor at the jobcentre if I could uncheck the box requirng them to have access to my ujm account. I was told that if I did as I have already given permission for them to access, I would be put forward for a sanction doubt. Also where as at one time at the jobcentre, I was only asked for my ujm account number, instead of that, I am now asked for the email address I gave when I set up [mandated] account. As I am on the work programme, I have also been reminded by my pa to keep the ujm upto date as the jcp are checking on everything now. My pa at wpp has said they don’t need my ujm account it’s only the jobcentre. It’s as though the jobcentre are running a work programme alongside the wpp’s.


      June 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      • Your experience is (so far) entirely different to mine. I have never been told to create a UJ account, either by the Jobcentre or my Work Programme provider. The JC mentioned UJ once, early in the year, and my WP have raised the subject in passing twice, but I have never been mandated to create an account on UJ by either the Jobcentre or my Work Programme.

        I only hope this remains the situation for a while yet!

        Samwise Gamgee

        June 11, 2013 at 2:29 pm

  8. Meanwhile, GPs are whining about their work being swamped with benefit reviews.

    “The issue is the latest development in the controversy surrounding the overhaul of the welfare system and its impact on GPs.

    In April, the GLMC advised members not to carry out care assessments for patients affected by the “bedroom tax”, saying it was a social-work matter. The previous month it emerged some GPs charged benefit claimants up to £150 to write letters for them to appeal against a benefit decision”.

    God help the poor and the sick.



    June 10, 2013 at 7:33 am

  9. Of course Labour will keep the Work Programme and IMPROVE (read: rename it and make it more strict and tougher for claimants) it.

    The problem is Labour doesn’t even have a leader…

    Universal Jobmatch

    June 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm

  10. Universal Jobmatch – who’s logging into your account?

    “UJM has a serious security flaw. Even if a user logs out of the system, the ‘cookies’ it stores are retained unless specifically deleted. If they are not deleted, the next person accessing the system can be logged on as the previous individual – and will have access to all the previous person’s personal information”.

    The above excerpt is from the following account describing another flaw in the already controversial UJM:



    June 11, 2013 at 7:58 am

    • Good point! It makes you dislike Universal job match more and more – and it’s hard enough to use anyway.


      June 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm

  11. After the Panorama report last night about the blacklisting of workers within the construction industry, I wonder what Universal Jobmatch will do to help the blacklisted victims find a job?

    Will Jobcentres still insist these blacklisted victims must still seek work? How will the blacklisted victims themselves handle the additional burden of going on the treadmill of Universal Jobmatch?

    The woman responsible for compiling the blacklisting database claimed she was the only one on earth who knew about it. Not quite true. I knew about it more than a year ago. Have a look at this site:


    That website has posted several reports about blacklisting since that time – well ahead of Panorama!

    I also suspect it is not only construction workers who are on employment blacklists!


    June 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

  12. Jobseekers try to overturn law denying them benefit rebates.

    Lawyers say Iain Duncan Smith undermined jobseekers’ rights with legislation allowing DWP to ignore court judgments.

    Iain Duncan Smith and parliament have conspired to undermine the basic rights of hundreds of thousands of jobseekers by enacting retrospective emergency legislation, according to the contents of a legal filing sent to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    June 11, 2013 at 12:38 pm

  13. I bet the DWP are using “Prism” to keep an eye on claimants.

    A. Ellis

    June 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    • And Us Here Too. Don’t Forget ”WORDPRESS” Is An American Website UJM Is Hosted By Monster

      Mr Pixel

      June 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

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