Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Help to Work Begins? Fight Back Against Workfare!

with 36 comments


Last week The Void posted this,

With less than one week to go until the launch date of the DWP’s woefully misnamed ‘Help To Work’ and details of the programme are still shrouded in secrecy.

‘Help To Work’ is the mass workfare scheme announced by George Osborne at last year’s Tory Party conference.  Those leaving the Work Programme without a job – which is almost everyone – will either have to sign on every day or be forced to work for no pay for a ‘community’ organisation for six months.  The whole package is expected to cost almost a third of a billion, with most of that money lining the pockets of private sector profiteers running the scheme.

Not a dicky bird has come out about this scheme – even on the prestigious DWP Facebook Page.

Well, today’s the day.

So, while we wait, why not try this?

Today’s new workfare scheme will fall apart if voluntary sector organisations refuse to take part. Help make it happen my contacting charities and groups you support to ask them to sign up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary!

Osborne’s headline policy of “Community Work Placements” is already in jeopardy as it is launched today, having failed to generate enough voluntary sector participation. Instead, organisations such as Oxfam and the umbrella body National Association for Voluntary and Community Action are marking the date by launching the “Keep Volunteering Voluntary” campaign.

The admirable Boycott Workfare notes,

  • Three of the largest supporters of other workfare schemes have said they will not accept placements: the Conservation Volunteers, Salvation Army and YMCA.
  • A response to a Freedom of Information request dated 10 April said the tender for ‘Help To Work’ was still ongoing, suggesting that the government was struggling to recruit the private providers to run the scheme.
  • The DWP has also said that the guidance for companies running the scheme will not be published until the launch date, 28 April, suggesting its production was running late.
  • The government is refusing to reveal details of where placements will take place to journalists.
  • Job Centre sources report that, at least in some areas, the framework for rolling it out is not yet in place.
  • The Community Action Programme pilot – a workfare scheme similar to Community Work Placements – could only find placements for 63% of participants.

They add,

If voluntary sector groups don’t take part, the scheme falls apart – let’s make it happen!

Organisations can affirm their commitment to genuine volunteering by signing the pledge circulated by the campaign. Over 25 groups have already signed, including Adur Voluntary Action, Anti-Slavery International, Asylum Education and Legal Fund, Boycott Workfare, Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), Children England, Christianity Uncut, Communities Inc, Derman, Disabled People Against Cuts, Ekklesia, Faith 4 Change, Hackney CVS, Hackney Refugee Forum, Hull Children’s Adventure Society, Moulsecoomb Forest Garden and Wildlife Project, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA), National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA), National Community Activists’ Network (NatCAN), Neighbourhood Networks, Oxfam, Salford Star, Simon Jones Memorial Campaign, Student Christian Movement, Unite the Union, Voices of Youth, Voluntary Action Harrow (VAH), 42nd Street.

This is an impressive list, but let’s make it much longer. Please ask any voluntary sector organisations you know (however small) to sign up. The disarray of the Community Work Placements shows that opposition and non-participation by voluntary organisations is already proving effective in derailing this punitive scheme.

Follow the new Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign on Twitter and Like it on Facebookto help spread the word!


36 Responses

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  1. The Daiyl Heil is already kicking off on this. But I notice it’s always could, may or might. It’s never “will”. It makes me wonder about the legality of the whole thing. If I’m referred to this scheme, I won’t be signing a damn thing. The only documents you have a legal reqiremet to sign for are your benefits on a signing day, and your travel money on a non-signing day.


    jj joop

    April 28, 2014 at 10:21 am

    • Grrrr….I meant Daily, not Daiyl. Should have worn my specs. Hell. should have gone to Specsavers.

      jj joop

      April 28, 2014 at 10:23 am

    • May Be They Are Planning To Change The Name {Allegedly} To UNEMPLOYMENT CONDITIONALITY PAYMENTS !


      April 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

  2. “The unemployed could be made to clean war memorials in return for their benefits, David Cameron announced last night.”

    Well he didn’t announce it to me!

    What a bleedin’ liberty!

    And just how many fucking war memorials are there for us to clean?

    Why could’t he find us something useful to do, like shining the shoes of City gents, or cleaning the pavements with our toothbrushes?

    Andrew Coates

    April 28, 2014 at 10:49 am

    • Cleaning war memorials lol reminds me of when my mum worked in a hospital… the police brought in an old woman they had caught out scrubbing the war memorial in the middle of the night… maybe cameron is trying to drive the unemployed demented 😈


      April 28, 2014 at 11:05 am

      • Stacey:

        You’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s always been about driving the unemployed mad. They just want to drive as many people as they can off benefits by whatever means possible. Preferably into the gutter: foodbanks and shelters.

        jj joop

        April 28, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    • “The unemployed could be made to clean war memorials in return for their benefits, David Cameron announced last night.”

      Meanwhile the council workers who now currently clean the memorials could be………… ..down at the JC signing on.

      Another Fine mess

      April 28, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      • … and then forced to clean the war memorials for nothing by the JC

        War Memorial

        April 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm



      April 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    • And if we don’t agree with war, or war memorials?

      something survived...

      April 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm

  3. From DWP – 28th April 2014.

    Help to Work: nationwide drive to help the long-term unemployed into work.

    Help to Work will give Jobcentre staff a new range of options to support the hardest to help get off benefits and into work.

    Full Details:


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    April 28, 2014 at 11:47 am

    • Obi:

      Any word yet on exactly who’ll be running all this? At the moment, it’s all about the Jobcentre being able to put the unemployed on community placements but there’s nothing about who’ll be running them.

      jj joop

      April 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    • I thought we knew the runners by who is recruiting, Guards 4 Satan & Seethingheck.

      Another Fine mess

      April 28, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    • Help to Work: nationwide drive to help the long-term unemployed into work

      You mean: Nationwide Hell to drive the unemployed, sick and disabled into unpaid work

      something survived...

      April 28, 2014 at 5:35 pm

  4. 28 April 2014.

    Help to Work: New unemployment rules in force.


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    April 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm

  5. The DWP Press Office twitter account is pushing this. I don’t know why they bother. Is any journalist worth her/his salt going to take at face value what is clearly government propaganda? The replies they get to their tweets are quite good, though:


    It is odd that this scheme begins today yet there’s been no announcement regarding the successful bidders for the CWP contracts.

    I can see the CWP costing providers more than they ever make out of it – think of the administration, the paperwork.


    April 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    • Another Fine mess

      April 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    • We now know (from the Void) that the first scabs and slave-drivers ready to go public are: Groundwork.

      “What we do

      Changing places, changing lives – one green step at a time

      Big global issues – the economy, the environment – have a big local impact. We work across the UK helping communities find practical solutions to the challenges they face.

      We provide training and create jobs, reduce energy and waste, re-connect people with nature and transform whole neighbourhoods. Step by step we’ll go on changing places and changing lives until everywhere is vibrant and green, every community is strong enough to shape its own destiny and everyone can reach their potential.

      To achieve this the mix of activities we carry out will vary from place to place to meet the specific needs of that community. ”

      You can contact this bunch of thieves at: Groundwork https://data.groundwork.org.uk/contact-us

      Lockside, 5 Scotland Street, Birmingham, West Midlands B1 2RR

      Andrew Coates

      April 28, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      • Ipswich Unemployed Action has now asked the scabs at Groundwork how much money they will make on each individual they force into Workfare and how much they will be getting out of this scheme.

        We await their reply with bated breath.

        Perhaps others will inquire about how much their company, sorry, ‘voluntary’ association, stands to profit from the unpaid labour of the unemployed.


        Andrew Coates

        April 28, 2014 at 4:06 pm

  6. The original intent of fortnightly signing-on was to prevent the unemployed from ‘cohesing’ forming groups etc. the rationale was to keep the unemployed as isolated as possible. Now with the advent of new technology and the internet in particular the original intent is somewhat diluted. It could be that the DWP now believes that daily-signing will have little or no effect on the ‘cohesion’ of the unemployed.

    Professor of Unemployment Studies

    April 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm

  7. I think they will share it out amongst the prime pimps who hold substantive contracts already, that’s how it used to sometimes happen. It wasn’t unheard of for tenders to still be being received a month after the scheme officially started. I think the tendering process for these toxic contracts has always been a bit of a PR exercise.


    April 28, 2014 at 1:27 pm


    Can anyone tell me where I can get hold of a copy of the latest version of the Universal Jobmatch Toolkit, please. Thanks.

    jj joop

    April 28, 2014 at 1:59 pm

  9. Last week the local paper’s front page had a story about the farm I was sent to do workfare (mainly hole-digging) at for a month in 2009, where I got injured at work several times and am still living with back injuries from one incident.
    Near the end of my time there they introduced actual Community Payback (Punishment) groups in the orange jumpsuits. These people were amalgamated with our workfare group, and so staff, visitors, bus drivers and locals used it as a reason to carry on treating us as ALL convicted criminals on a sentence.
    It’s also the place where the other guys on my workfare were thinking of gangraping a resident member of staff there, who was a lesbian.

    Anyway, the last few years they continued taking workfare schemes and community payback groups, all jumbled up together doing the same work in the same areas of the farm.

    The story now is that the farm is under threat of closure due to the economy and the cuts, financial reasons etc. I have mixed feelings on this.

    One of the parts of the farm is an ecology centre and I don’t want that to go. But each time I previously (AND subsequently) applied to volunteer there, they had always said no as I was too disabled. Though when they took me as workfare they did not care and I was suddenly seen as fit to work, though obviously was not. The farm and centre always went on about how ethical they were, well they should have a) had accessible toilets b) not forced people to do clearly dangerous and inappropriate and pointless work, c) NOT HAVE used workfare people. d) sorted out proper transport, and not forced us to get up at a very early hour for forced-march/run (carrying bags and very heavy boots and kit) of miles, after/before buses, which left from a bus station a mile away from our homes, just to get there/back, then be expected to dig holes all day, when one of us was disabled, no food/drink. toilets or proper breaks. In all weathers. Hypocrisy….
    Another point: If it closes, the decent young lesbian couple (one is the one threatened) who live/work there, who are from the farm itself and not involved in running the workfare, will likely be homeless.
    On the other hand, it’s sort of revenge for the crap conditions on our workfare.
    But one reason it faces closure is lack of volunteers. Now that is ironic. If you are disabled and apply to volunteer, they say you can’t. If you are workfare (forced) they take you, even if disabled. They must have got quite a bit of money from the scheme for taking workfare and community payback people. If they had refused to take workfare people they would lack workers. Since you can’t hire illegal workers; and if you had legal migrants, they’d want paying, even if you were an illegal company paying a pittance. Old people above retirement age have more time to volunteer and no restrictions on permission to work. But the physical nature of the work makes much of it unsuitable for them. Younger volunteers are subject to JSA rules so would be forced to quit, or have their benefit stopped for volunteering.

    Cameron’s wet dream!

    something survived...

    April 28, 2014 at 5:58 pm

  10. For those who don’t vist the void.
    Liverpool City Council has become the first council in the country to boycott the government’s new ‘Help to Work’ scheme which launched this morning.


    Going well isn’t it. 🙂

    Another Fine mess

    April 28, 2014 at 6:08 pm

  11. ‘Posturing’ charities to boycott job scheme: Coalition led by Oxfam says it objects to forcing people to report for community work in return for their benefits – so sayeth The Daily Heil.

    While I’m relieved that some of the big players are refusing to take part in Help to Work, their reasons have nothing to do with altruism or common decency. They’re just worried about the PR aspect of it. After all, how’s it going to look when they campaign against forced labour abroad when they force their own citizens into bonded slavery at home?



    jj joop

    April 29, 2014 at 7:25 am

    • Did you read the comments section jj joop of that link you gave.

      You notice despite saying this is an outrage, how dare charities, followed by everyone should work, that NOT ONE SINGLE SOLITARY PERSON THAT OBJECTED MENTIONED THAT LITTLE THING I LIKE TO CALL MINIMUM WAGE.

      Its ironic how none of them would work for £2.39 an hour yet its perfectly ok for you to as though claimants get some sort of concessions on the cost of living.

      You see they wont mention the money aspect, they wont mention that most of all the placements are totally unskilled jobs requiring next to zero effort in training, meaning in a matter of just an hour the claimant is fully trained and now as every bit effective as their paid counterpart.

      This whole subject would be instantly solved without doubt if a pound for pound system was used just like the one when claimants declare temp work. It would be instantly fair (a mantra of current government), instantly reminiscent of the workplace and above all, identical to how the working world works.

      Supporting a system such as expecting claimants to work for less than the minimum wage while performing tasks identical to paid staff is no different to excepting the abolition of the minimum wage across the board.



      April 29, 2014 at 9:36 am

      • It’s the Daily Mail, deary. Their readership will have the unemployed stripped of all their benefits – and still do Workfare!

        jj joop

        April 29, 2014 at 11:58 am

  12. Help to Work?

    Making the unemployed attend a jobcentre every day, or work unpaid, isn’t a helping hand, it’s a punishing one.

    Forcing people into unpaid labour contradicts the spirit of volunteering, it is just thankless drudgery, insisting that people visit the jobcentre every day for intensive coaching as an alternative to unpaid work is no less futile, it ties them to one place and robs them of control over their own lives.

    Being under a futile obligation will ratchet up a sense of worthlessness, so this initiative can only be understood as an additional punishment for long-term unemployed people.

    This helps to justify a punitive welfare regime.


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    April 29, 2014 at 8:37 am

    • Exactly, and it’s not hard to imagine how people will react to this daily humiliation.

      More work for G4S security!

      Andrew Coates

      April 29, 2014 at 10:51 am

  13. We need a clear distinction between volunteering and the Governments ‘Help to Work scheme’

    Any kind of ‘forced’ relationship that is labelled as ‘volunteering’ undermines the very essence of what volunteering means.

    As the government announces another scheme focusing on long-term unemployment, it’s finally time for charities and volunteer-involving organisations to take a stance on how we define this type of engagement.

    We are at risk of damaging the reputation and true spirit of volunteering if we continue to sit back and allow it to be confused with ‘compulsory schemes’ that are driven by a completely different set of intentions.

    ‘Mandatory’ work schemes and the new ‘Help to Work’ scheme linked to welfare benefits, too often these activities are talked about and organised under the banner of ‘Volunteering’.


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    April 29, 2014 at 9:18 am

    • Its articles like that , that make me laugh as its as though government have never used wordplay to get away with something they know will be unpopular or need support for.

      Take the Boston bombing, these were low yield devices yet both the president of the united states along with countless global politicians and the media referred to them as WMDs. Now to put this into context 911 claimed 1000s of lives, 1000s of injuries and even now the list grows longer what with the fallout with the remaining dust cloud their after, where as the Boston bombing claimed a mere 3 dead and 140 injured (no disrespect intended), yet not once was 911 cited as a WMD. To add to this 911 caused infinite amounts of damage yet Boston’s was superficial in comparison.

      The problem with wordplay is the terms used are all to often generic in nature (how longs a piece of string) and thus open to abuse.

      Take hair ads like pan10, “makes your hair feel healthy”. Now advertisers know how humans and the brain works so know only to well that most will read this as “makes your hair healthy” as generally such wording is glanced at rather than actually read and digested properly. Even as we speak now this very second, POM the drinks company are being taken to court by coca cola for false advertising.

      A good historical example of this where belief can be altered further into a mental and physical act just to highlight how damaging and effectual this behaviour/practice can be is when Columbia Broadcasting System radio network first began airing War Of The Worlds.

      The question is whos really at fault here as both will give a good argument in court so is it the public who should pay closer attention to said products or the person representing and profiting from the product.

      My answer would be “the one who stands to gain most from it”.

      My reason for giving this is they are the one broadcasting to many, all of which will be at various educational levels so its extremely fair to expect them to be clear and concise.

      If words are not chosen carefully, they can lead people to imagine allsorts of things, something you would think especially because they all boast degrees, that politicians would already know or is it that they do but they just don’t want you to know, either way it doesn’t look good on their profession, nor convictions if their campaign is built on the premises of twisted truths and double meanings.


      April 29, 2014 at 11:10 am

  14. For “Something Survived”

    You missed out the gas chamber in your story about forced labour at the “farm”!


    April 29, 2014 at 9:38 am

  15. looking forward to them making me come in ever day to sign. That is a private room ever day so I can record it.

    Last time they tried that I just say yes please put me on daily signing as I cant afford the bus to town ever day to go to tescos etc.

    Of course the b’stards would not then.


    April 29, 2014 at 3:12 pm

  16. they put me i signing every day after the wp but stopped after a week as it was 30 quid in bus fairs ,got the money back but the jcp paid it in my account so had a 3 day wait to get it back so its unworkable prob get at most go 2 times a week as the also got no where near the staff and no public toilets either.

    mu adviser has just 10 mins now to see me so just enough time to check my js sign on and that’s it.

    super ted

    April 29, 2014 at 4:49 pm

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