Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘James Purnell’ Category

Benefits Chaos in Store for Us, Does Labour Offer a Solution?

The Guardian reports on a major speech to be given today by Liam Byrne, their Shadow Minister  ,

“The coalition’s benefit cuts have descended into “chaos” that will cost an extra £1.4bn because of delays, extra claimants, waste and complaints,Labour claims.”

This is the bit that concerns us lot most,

Labour said the biggest cost would come from the government’s probable failure to meet its targets on the youth contract, which pays employers to hire young people. The government is projected to miss its aim of subsidising jobs by 92%, meaning 147,940 more young people on the dole at a cost of £9m a week in 2014.

The party said another large extra cost was caused by universal credit, a scheme to make sure people get all their benefits in one lump sum. Labour said this would need £300m in 2015 as the project had been hit by delays and IT problems.

“Universal credit was once a flagship, now a sinking ship,” Byrne will say. “If we don’t fix this mess, millions of families’ tax credits will be put at risk – along with billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.”

Labour also pointed to fraud and error costing £140m, the £119m cost of extra benefits caused by an under-performing welfare-to-work programme, and an additional £102m to implement the bedroom tax – cuts to housing benefit for households with spare rooms. It said tribunals related to people challenging cuts to their disability benefit would cost £290m.

Byrne will also call on ministers to impose a deadline on the healthcare company Atos to “turn things around or lose its contract” …

The BBC has just reported the speech Liam Bryne actually made,

He said Labour backed Universal Credit, which is due to replace the majority of out-of-work benefits by 2017, “in principle” but “the implementation is a disaster,” with extra costs likely to add up to £300m to implement by 2016-17. Mr Byrne says he has written to the DWP to call for cross-party talks “to see exactly how bad things are” with universal credit and “what’s needed to fix them”.

Labour would bring “social security spending” under control and “tackle these delivery problems head on”, he said.

The BBC’s Political Correspondent,  Vicki Young comments,

A closer look at Mr Byrne’s speech reveals that his criticism is directed at the delivery of the programme rather than the principle.

He actually backs work capability tests for the disabled but believes another company should get the contract.

On Universal Credit, he says it’s a good idea, but needs to be implemented more efficiently – even the DWP admits it hasn’t been a smooth path.

As the Guardian noted,

” Miliband has said the coalition’s welfare cuts will be a “starting point” that cannot be reversed without savings elsewhere, but promised an approach to benefits that will restore the “dignity of work”.”

Need we be reminded that it James Purnell, as Work and Pensions Secretary under Gordon Brown, who first put forward the idea of cutting welfare?

The final nail in social security’s coffin came with the demise of the Department of Social Security in 2001 and its replacement by the Department for Work and Pensions. The significance was underlined by James Purnell when he became secretary of state seven years later. He called it “an ideological break with the past” and dismissed the very notion of social security: “Security as something handed down; welfare as bureaucratic transfer; people as recipients of funds.”

Liam Byrne also has form on this kind of thing,

Extracts from Liam Byrne’s speeches of the past.

1. In 2011, Byrne told Labour conference: “Many people on the doorstep at the last election felt that too often we were for shirkers not workers.”

2. He told LSE a year ago: “Labour is the party of hard workers not free-riders. The clue is in the name. We are the Labour party. The party that said that idleness is an evil. The party of workers, not shirkers.”

3. An ally of Liam Byrne told the Mail on Sunday in Dec 2011: “Decent Labour voters see their neighbours lie about all day and get benefits while they are working their socks off, and say, ‘Why should I vote Labour when they let this happen?’”

Protests over Welfare Reform: Lord Freud Put Outside his Comfort Zone.

From the BBC,


The BBC’s Tom Symonds: “Protesters have taken over the road”Up to 300 anti-cuts protesters – some posing as removal men – blocked a road outside the north London home of welfare minister Lord Freud earlier.

More pictures from UK Uncut  on Facebook here.

Here at Ipswich Unemployed Action we are pleased to hear that our old friend Lord Freud got it in the neck.
Here is some of his background (adapted from Wikipedia).
“Freud was a Financial Times journalist. In 1983 he worked fir Rowe & Pitman. He oprated over 50 deals, raising more than £50bn in 19 countries. Many were high profile, including the flotations of Eurotunnel and EuroDisney.
His role in the deals earned him a great deal of publicity and criticism.
By 2003, Freud had become the vice-chairman of investing banking at the firm, now known as UBS AG.
He retired early at the age 53, claiming that he was bored with the City.In late 2006, Freud was appointed by the Tony Blair, to provide a nominally independent review of the British welfare to work system.
His subsequent recommendations called for expanded private sector involvement in the welfare system, for substantial resources to be found to help those on Incapacity Benefit back into “economic activity” and for single parents to be required to take paid employment earlier.
Although his recommendations on single parents were immediately adopted, when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007 other restructuring measures were soft-pedalled.(Note, oh no they weren’t).
He was later rehired as an adviser to the government when James Purnell was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2008.
He was involved in producing a white paper, published in December 2008.
This would require most people receiving benefits either to participate in some form of employment or prepare formally to find paid employment later.
He said, “We cannot have people simply loafing about, doing nothing and expecting the state to finance their lifestyles,”
“”That is the way to the destruction of our society.”
In February 2009, Freud joined the Conservative Party, which at that time was not in government. He was given a life peerage as Baron Freud, of Eastry in the county of Kent and became a shadow minister for welfare in the House of Lords.
As of 2012, Freud is in charge of reform of the benefits system.”
His lordship has never done an honest day’s work in his life.
He is now making our lives a misery.
The sooner he joins another Baron(ess) the better!

Bedroom Tax, Now Even Frank Field Joins Protests.

Today in the Independent.

Brick up your doors, knock down the walls’: Labour MP Frank Field makes dramatic call as ‘bedroom tax’ hits

The cut will reduce a claimant’s housing benefit payments if their home is deemed under-occupied

former welfare minister has delivered a dramatic appeal to landlords to take direct action against the “bedroom tax” by knocking down walls or bricking up windows in protest against housing benefit cuts.

Thousands of people will protest tomorrow against the changes, which come into force on Monday, in more than 50 demonstrations in all parts of Britain.

Further campaigns of civil disobedience are planned next month over the bedroom tax, under which people face losing up to one-quarter of their housing benefit if their home is judged to be under-occupied.

I can’t say I’d ever had thought that Frank Field would say something like this!

Written by Andrew Coates

March 28, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Cait Reilly and the History of UK Workfare.


Support this Campaign (see Box Bottom Right for link).

The Cait Reilly case has brought workfare (unpaid work for benefits)  to people’s attention.

Some seem to think this is a new policy.

Red Pepper reports,

Karina was mandated to work in Primark under New Labour’s Flexible New Deal. She had been sent to a private ‘welfare to work’ provider whose regime included putting claimants to work without pay in businesses, charity shops and public sector workplaces. Although regulations meant that she could only be obliged to work for up to 12 weeks without pay, she worked for 24 weeks, fearing she would have her benefits stopped if she did not agree. She had signed up to and paid for a college course that would help her find work but she had to give it up to do the placement: ‘They told me they would stop my JSA, so I stopped my English course.’

This sytem  began with the New Deal in 1998.

This is what the programme offered, (Wikipedia),

The NDYP begins with an initial consultation session, referred to as Gateway, that focuses on improving job search and interview skills. This training is provided by an external organisation such as a4e, CSV or YMCATraining. If the search for employment is still unsuccessful after the Gateway sessions, to continue to receive unemployment benefits, one of four options must be chosen:

• A subsidised job placement. The subsidy is £60 per week, and lasts 6 months; a £750 training allowance is also available to participants. Clients are paid a wage from the employer.

• Full-time education and training, for up to 12 months.

• Work in the voluntary sector, the client is paid JSA plus a £15 training allowance. This is called Community Task Force.

• Work with the Environmental Task Force.(DWP website; Peck, “Workfare” 304; Glyn 53)

Participation in one of the four options is mandatory to receive benefits, refusal to participate will lead to the benefit being stopped and will be referred to a Decision Maker who will decide whether a recipient should receive a sanction should they decide to reclaim.”

Gateway normally meant some CV writing (highly useful) job application and interview techniques (also useful).

It could also included less useful ‘courses’ including those based on the kind of self-help manuals that made Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus school of thought.

Despite appearing to offer a number of ‘options’ most people were put, without any choice, on the 3rd (I know nobody who did the first, which meant they got paid). Placements were rapidly extended beyond the ‘voluntary sector’ and the ‘Community Task Force’. They included working in local government, and private companies.

Why did people participate?

‘Work experience’ might be useful (for your CV for example). There was always the possibility of paid work. But more important perhaps was that getting an extra £15 and doing something was preferable to sitting in a room being hectored and told, 5 days a week, to do “job search”.

These Placements lasted from 13 weeks to 26 weeks.

I know personally cases of people of working in Ipswich warehouse-mega-stores shelving and carrying stuff around. One told me that his boss bought him a couple of drinks at Christmas – as well he might.

Charities and the ‘voluntary sector’ might seem a good idea. The Labour Government began farming out welfare services to them. The unemployed were used instead of paid employees – when they were not working alongside people sentenced to do Community Service.  Or, in Ipswich, working alongside prisoners on day release from Hollesley Bay.

Without the rights of salaried employees the unemployed were open to a wide range of abuses. Charites (often with highly paid executives) and the Third Sector are not always good employers.

I know of a number of significant cases where people felt ill-treated.

In nearly all cases when the Placement ended there was no job.

The attitude is thank you very much and now for the next placement-person.

The Flexible New Deal was introduced in October 2009.  James Purnell Work and Pensions Secretary was behind the change, though he had to resign that years when his expenses claims were found out.  

The Flexible New Deal reduced the time of Placements to 6 weeks. It got rid of the ‘sitting in front of a computer doing job search’ (though not the ‘courses’). It abolished the £15 bonus.

But the slide towards using the unemployed as free labour became more explicit.

They also used ‘volunteers’ from the Dole in place of genuine volunteers.

The Work Programme was introduced last summer. On this site Worky has explored its details.

Cait Reilly appears to have got into one of its programmes, a 2 week placement.

There is already the Mandatory Work Activity to punish people – which we have discussed here.

The plan now to make everyone who is unemployed for over 2 years participate in the Community Action Programme.

This is full-time unpaid workfare.

When it’s introduced it will be used to fill the gaps in public services – caused by the Liberal-Conservative Coalition cuts.

That is “picking up litter”  tidying up parks, and no doubt carrying all kinds of tasks not getting done because of government cuts.

It will be US style workfare.

There is conclusive evidence against workfare – here.

But, as reactions to Cait Reilly show, there are people in this country who simply want to order the out-of-work around, and make them sweat.

Something that Lord Freud, a former banker and wheeler-dealer, the man who advised the Labour Government on the Flexible New Deal and now, the Coalition on the Work Programme, has only ever done in a Sauna.

Miliband and Welfare Reform.

Ed Miliband on Welfare Reform:

This is one of the hardest issues for our party because all of us know in our communities people who are in genuine need and who worry about the impact of new medical tests, or changes to rules on them.

At the same time, let’s be honest, we also know there are those for whom the benefits system has become a trap.

That is not in their interests or the interests of us a society and we are right when we say it must be challenged.

Reforming our benefits system is not about stereotyping everybody out of work, it’s about transforming their lives.

Real help matched with real responsibility.

That is why on welfare, I will look closely at whatever the government comes forward with: not arbitrary cuts to benefits but a genuine plan to make sure that those in need are protected and that those who can work have the help they need to ensure they do so.

Work is a central part of life. But it is not all that matters.

We all care about making a living, but we don’t just care about that.


More Here.

What does this mean?

One indication could show us.

There are rumours that our old friend James Purnell – the man who began the whole miserable process of ‘welfare reform’ – may seek a post in the Shadow Cabinet. In the same role?

We shall be watching developments like ‘awks.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 29, 2010 at 9:11 am