Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘dole

Iain Duncan Smith Insults Disabled Workers Facing Unemployment.

Welfare minister accused of ‘insulting’ workers at factory facing closure

Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 01, 2015

Work and Pensions  Secretary Iain Duncan Smith became embroiled in a row over job cuts at a Devon factory helping disabled people get work.

He Just Can’t Help Himself…’

“Exeter’s Labour candidate Ben Bradshaw said it was “extraordinarily insensitive” for the Cabinet minister to visit Pluss, based in the city, amid its upheaval.

Mr Duncan Smith, in charge of the Government’s controversial welfare reforms, visited Cornwall on Monday and Devon yesterday.

The proposed closure of Pluss factories in Exeter and Bridgwater, Somerset, which may result in up to 75 redundancies, could follow “changes in commercial contracts and funding from local authorities”, the social enterprise said.

Mr Bradshaw criticised the minister for not talking to staff losing their jobs.

“What an insult for Iain Duncan Smith to visit without speaking to staff and ignorant of the fact they’re losing their jobs. Some have worked there since the 1970s and will find it impossible to find other jobs,” he said.

But Dom Morris, the Conservative candidate in Exeter, said Mr Duncan Smith met some of those who have been helped by Pluss before speaking to the management.

He criticised Labour for using the visit as a “political football”.

He said: “I am disappointed that such a productive visit to a fantastic organisation that changes people’s lives has been kicked around like a political football.

“As Pluss have said themselves, the organisation is going through changes that will enable them to increase the number of people they support each year and turn more people’s lives around.

“Pluss does great work getting disabled people into jobs here in Exeter.

“We visited at the invitation of Pluss and met with people that have had their lives turned around by the Government’s Work Choice Programme.

“Put simply, we were there to celebrate the great work that Pluss does changing people’s lives.”

Its plant in Exeter makes cushions for wheelchairs and car upholstery. Many of the factory workers have disabilities or learning difficulties. Bosses fear they would struggle to find employment elsewhere.

Pluss, which is owned by four councils in the South West – Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay – over 50% of staff have a disability.”

The Mirror adds,

“Mr Gallin, of the Community Union, said: “Workers are devastated they face losing their jobs.

“It will be incredibly difficult for them to find another job, if not impossible.

“These are very vulnerable people who come here not only to work, but to meet people.”

Mr Gallin, who has worked for Pluss for 28 years, added: “If Iain Duncan Smith had come here and seen for himself how this factory runs, maybe it would have helped.”

Pluss, which is owned by four councils in the south west – Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay – said in a statement: “We are a ‘social firm’ and as such over 50% of our staff have a disability.

“Due to accumulation of a range of changes in commercial contracts and funding from local authorities, the company has commenced consultations on a range of proposals that deal with the challenges these pose.

“These include the potential closure of our manufacturing operations in Marsh Barton, Exeter and Huntworth Gate in Bridgwater, and rationalisation of corporate services.

“These proposals could result in up to 75 redundancies. The company will be looking to achieve these reductions through voluntary means wherever possible.

“These changes are aimed at increasing the number of people we support each year through more effective use of resources.

“As with all changes, Pluss recognises this will be bad news for those staff affected and we intend to put in place a range of mechanisms to support staff through this difficult period.”

Mr Duncan Smith’s spokeswoman said: “Iain and Dom met with disabled people who have been supported into work by Pluss – an organisation doing fantastic work in the local area.” ”

One assumes that the local Tories behind inviting this enemy of the disabled simply did this to “celebrate” these achievements, and that it had noting to the electoral campaign now in full swing.

See: Work choice: a drop in a leaky bucket.

Whilst Work Choice is a worthy programme, its modesty makes it incapable of even beginning to address the scale of the challenge. Indeed, the Government’s whole approach on disability and employment is flawed. All their energies and resources are focused on “supporting” disabled people to become more “employable” and confident – or “job ready” to use the correct jargon. This rather perniciously suggests that it is disabled people who need to change to adapt to the demands of the workplace. The reality, as we all know, is rather different. Where change is required is with society, and with the endurance of inaccessible workplaces, unavailable transport and the ongoing culture of stigma, discrimination and low expectations of the capabilities and expertise of disabled people. If the Government really wants to support the missing million, it must take radical action to create a more equal and accessible workplace for all. Work Transformation not Work Choice is what is required.

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 1, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Universal Jobmatch Mandatory (but not ‘Blanket’) from 4th March.

The PCS trade union has announced,

“The Secretary of State for DWP will make an announcement on 1st March 2013 that, with effect from 4th March 2013, FLAs can mandate claimants to register for UJ. This will be done via a Jobseeker Direction. Importantly, however, management have acknowledged that mandatory sign up to UJ will not be a blanket approach; instead, FLAs should encourage claimants to use UJ. Mandatory sign up will be on an individual basis, if the FLA feels that UJ would be beneficial to the claimant, and they have ‘unreasonably refused’. Management will be issuing guidance around this shortly.

Cookies Legislation

Currently, EU cookie legislation prevents mandatory sign up requiring customers to use their home computers to register for, or use UJ. This is because the choice to accept cookies on your computer has to be made ‘freely’, under the EU legislation. This means that if an FLA seeks to mandate a claimant to register on UJ, they will need to look at alternative methods of doing so – Internet Access Device (IAD) within a jobcentre, use of computer in local library, etc. Management refer to this as their ‘tactical solution’. PCS have raised doubts that there are sufficient resources within Jobcentres to enable this to be a realistic workaround.

However, the UJ project has indicated that they are seeking to make changes to the UJ site which will provide an option to remove the cookies from home computers. When these changes are made, FLAs will be able to mandate customers to sign up from home. This is what management are calling the ‘strategic’ solution, but they are unable to say when this ‘fix’ will be implemented.

Access to UJ Account

If, and when, a claimant signs up to UJ, they will be encouraged to give DWP access to their account. However, it is absolutely clear from a legal perspective that the claimant does not have to tick the box to give DWP access to their account, and can provide alternative proof of UJ sign up and use, e.g. screenprints

FLAs setting up UJ Accounts

It has been brought to the attention of PCS that some District Managers are encouraging FLAs to set up their own UJ account and then take claimants for a ‘walkthrough’ of the system. PCS has challenged the security aspect of this process and, as a result, management centrally, have issued clear instructions that this practice must stop. PCS has received assurances centrally that any advisor, following what they believed to be a ‘reasonable management request’, will face no disciplinary action as a result of their actions.

Robustness of UJ Site

PCS has raised serious concerns around the robustness of the UJ site. The UJ site has already attracted widespread media attention due to a number of rogue job adverts that have appeared and security concerns. Management have stated that they have increased the number of checks on the site to prevent ‘bogus’ adverts appearing, but are unable to offer any cast-iron guarantees that vacancies of this type will not appear in the future. PCS has also challenged management around employers offering jobs with salaries/wages below the national minimum wage level. Again, management state that they are constantly monitoring any misuse of the system. Although they admit that there a number of fixes to the site still to be made, for example around the geographical searches, management insist that the site popular and well used.

Summary

The view of PCS is that Universal Jobmatch is nothing more than a crude tool being used by DWP management to help deliver this government’s ‘scorched earth’ approach to the welfare reform agenda. Disgracefully, it is PCS members who are at the forefront of criticism from claimants and welfare groups alike when failings of the system are highlighted across the national media. FLAs should follow the guidance and use their own discretion when mandating claimants to sign up to UJ, and resist any local targets or blanket approaches at a local level.

The working processes outlined within this circular are absolute and not subject to any “interpretation” by district managers. Any attempt to amend these processes under the banner of ‘Freedoms and Flexibilities’ should be escalated to the Group Office as a matter of urgency.”

Comments.

  • In Suffolk the public Library Computer system will not support Universal Jobmatch (just one of the problems this ‘privatised charity’ is causing). How can you get access to it if you do not have a home link to the Net? Johnny Void says that ”  Jobcentres will be providing Internet Access Devices for those unable or unwilling to use a home PC.”. We are sceptical, very sceptical , that local Jobcentres will be able to cope with the demand. Ipswich Silent Street DWP and JC are straining to park their growing number of clients as it is.
  • “Currently, EU cookie legislation prevents mandatory sign up requiring customers to use their home computers to register for, or use UJ.” So even if you have a link to the Net they can’t make you sign up through your home broadband etc.
  • If you feel you would like to use Universal Jobmatch (and we would hardly recommend ignoring any way of getting proper work) you do not need to  give your ‘adviser’ access to your account. If you dislike Nosey-Parkers, do not mark the box which allows this.

On the Web we learn that security problems, the risk of identity theft, and bogus job announcements, continue.

This is no surprise: the system is created by some American company whose interests are far from public service.

It is likely that more difficulties will come to light in the coming weeks.

Poor Will Refuse to Pay Council Tax.

Eric Pickles: I want your Dole Money!

The Guardian covers this story today,

Local authorities have conceded that up to 84% of people on low incomes will refuse to pay council tax after being caught in the net by benefit changes this April, and admit there is little they can do about it.

Ministers have cut the support for means-tested council tax benefit by £500m, and told local authorities to decide where the axe should fall. The result is that 326 town halls in England have put forward “local” council tax schemes – with residents in neighbouring regions facing wildly different penalties.

Nationally the council tax benefit cuts will mean the poor face an average bill of £247 a year from April, a charge from which they are currently exempt.

But because the sums average less than £5 a week, councils are warning that it would “in many cases be uneconomic to recover, with the costs of collection, including legal recovery costs, being higher than the bill”.

The result is that councils are budgeting for large losses and potentially widespread non-payment. A series of freedom of information requests by False Economy, a campaigning group part-funded by trade unions, found more than 70 councils were resigned to seeing swaths of residents refusing to pay the tax.

Yes you read it correctly, we will have to find “an average” of £247 to fork out.

That’s from our JSA, already cut (not brought up to inflation levels).

Piggy Pickles, Eric Pickles the Minister  for Grinding the Faces of the Poor, is on the way to being the most hated man in Britain.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Channel Four to Screen Hate Attack on Unemployed.

 

 

How Johnny Void sees it.

Channel Four “Tricks of the Dole Cheats”,

Reporter Morland Sanders investigates Jobcentre Plus, the organisation tasked with getting Britain back to work and cracking down on dole cheats. With the help of jobseekers, undercover filming and a former insider, the programme reveals the shirkers’ tricks that make it easy to cheat the system.

And for the next trick Channel Four has a go at all those dodgey crips and spazs…

Me old Grannie would say, Channel Four is bleeding filth.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 12, 2012 at 10:08 am