Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Workfare

News From the Welfare Front, from Boycott Workfare to Universal Credit.

with 63 comments

Image result for boycott workfare

Boycott Workfare, the admirable campaign group against government schemes for unpaid work for the out-of-work, has resurfaced with a chapter in a book published by Pluto Press.

A new book chapter using testimonies compiled by Boycott Workfare exposes the violent impact of forced labour.

When we talk about what’s wrong with workfare, we often mention the horrifying material impact on people’s lives of the benefit sanctions that underwrite it. The political impact of unwaged work is also important – the way it attacks workplace rights and destroys our freedom. And workfare is psychologically violent and humiliating: it is coerced labour that’s supposed to build skills and motivation but obviously does nothing apart from offer free work to businesses and charities.

Now, in a freely available chapter of The Violence of Austerity, just published by Pluto Press, the accounts of 97 people who were on workfare schemes between 2011 and 2015 show how workfare is not only ruthlessly exploitative, but can also mean being forced into dangerous work in which health and safety laws are violated as a matter of routine. As the authors write:

If being employed in workfare schemes can be read as a forced and therefore violent process in itself, it should also be read as a process that contains the potential for a different type of violence: the violence that confronts workers when they are told to stand in the cold, to lift heavy loads that they physically cannot lift, or to endure other forms of physical and psychological degradation.

‘The violence of workfare’ documents 64 concrete allegations of breaches of health and safety legislation, at 43 workfare exploiters across the UK – in charities, social enterprises, maintenance companies and discount stores, as well as in environmental, agricultural and recycling projects. The first-hand accounts that the chapter is based on were all submitted to Boycott Workfare via the name and shame section of this website. These ‘employers’ benefited from 1,139 weeks of forced labour from the 97 people whose testimonies are included. That’s almost 22 years of coerced, unpaid labour.

These testimonies make clear how people have been forced to carry out hard labour or heavy lifting, despite existing medical conditions which make this work agony. The testimonies reveal how people have been denied access to protective equipment, and how people have been exposed to dust, chemicals and other hazards. In some cases, these accounts document how organisations have refused workfare conscripts access to food or water, and denied them even short breaks.

At the same time, the testimonies collected together in this chapter provide evidence of workfare exploiters threatening to ‘sack’ people who don’t work fast enough, or try to complain or try to gather evidence of the conditions they are being forced to operate in. People on workfare face being sanctioned if they are unwilling to work in unsafe conditions or if they take any kind of action to draw attention to these conditions.

And some workfare exploiters, it is made clear, are more than willing to exploit the fear that the sanctions regime generates to try and force people to accept dangerous working conditions. That same fear is used to ensure as much management control over workfare conscripts as possible. ‘The fear of sanction can intensify and generate yet more unreasonable demands from employers,’ the authors write. ‘Workfare, as a form of forced labour, effectively permits employers to breach health and safety laws with impunity’. Dangerous working conditions are an effect of unfree labour, compelled by the threat of sanctions.

But we can fight.

We are all entitled to the same basic health and safety protections in workplaces, and in the next few weeks, Boycott Workfare is aiming to bring out a ‘know your health and safety rights leaflet’ that can be used to provide information on these rights, and how to challenge dangerous conditions. And we must continue to name and shame exploiters, and expose the conditions in which they force people to work. Public pressure works, and now that workfare exploiters can no longer hide behind anonymity, we can consign workfare to history.

‘The violence of workfare’, by Jon Burnett and David Whyte, is available for free here. You can read more about the chapter, and the rest of the book, in this article from Disability News Service.

Background:

Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive social security.

We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact.

We expose the companies and organisations profiting from workfare and we take action against them. We encourage organisations to pledge to boycott workfare. We inform people of their rights at the jobcentre and we provide information to support claimants challenging workfare and sanctions.

Boycott Workfare is not a front for any political party, or affiliated with any political party. Anyone who shares our aims is welcome to get involved. Email us: info@boycottworkfare.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Unfortunately, Boycott Workfare do not currently have the capacity to take on casework. We recommend that claimants contact local organisations for one-to-one advice and support.

Meanwhile on the Universal Credit front….

Public Finance.

Council housing managers have urged the government to halt the rolling introduction of Universal Credit, which they said is causing “considerable hardship” to tenants.

The National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) and the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) also called on ministers to scrap the seven-day waiting period for new claims.

They said that almost four years on from the initial introduction of Universal Credit “our research shows that delays in the assessment process, poor communications between DWP and landlords, and the seven-day wait period continue to cause significant problems to both landlords and their tenants”.

Rent arrears among Universal Credit claimants remained “stubbornly high” at 73% – equivalent to £6.68m – and 40% of households had accumulated arrears as a consequence of claiming.

Meanwhile, households faced mounting debts, as the average arrears for Universal Credit claimants had increased from £611.73 in March 2016 to £772.21 a year later.

NFA managing director Eamon McGoldrick said: “We are strongly urging government/DWP to halt the roll out of UC and ‘pause for thought’ until the system works properly for both claimants and landlords.”

The NFA and ARCH said their members generally supported the principles of Universal Credit and had launched initiatives to support tenants into work.

But they warned: “It is clear that support provided to tenants by landlords alone is not sufficient to resolve the problems being experienced and is not scalable as the roll out accelerates across the country and many more families and children become a part of the Universal Credit system.”

ARCH chief executive John Bibby said: “If the level of intensive support needed to vulnerable tenants is to be sustained during the planned rollout additional resources are essential.”

He also called for provision of a transition fund to enable landlords to support vulnerable tenants.

The DWP defines Universal Credit as support for people on low incomes or out of work, intended to ensure they are better off in work than on benefits.

It replaces: income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; income-related employment and support allowance; income support; working tax credit; child tax credit; housing benefit.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 27, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Names of Workfare Exploiters and Oppressors Revealed – by Court Order.

with 105 comments

 

Names of hosts for DWP “schemes…collectively referred to as “workfare””.

What do they know. Refuted.

Hats off to Frank Zola!

Further to today’s Court of Appeal ruling*, that dismissed the DWP 3rd appeal, with regards disclosing the names of hosts (employers/charities/businesses/public authorities etc) of your Mandatory Work Activity scheme (“MWA”), Work Experience and the Work Programme (“WP”) schemes. Please disclose all the names of said hosts you hold in connection to this ruling.

In your disclosure of host names, please indicate for each unique individually named host which individual unique scheme or schemes each specific host provided placements for.

The List of Shame.

NAMES OF PLACEMENT PROVIDERS FOR MWA (Mandatory Work Activity) DURING THE REQUESTED PERIOD
African Childrens Fund
Abacus Children’s Wear
ABCAL
Ability
Ace of Clubs Charity Shop
Acorns
Action for Disability
Action Housing
Active Community Team
Advocacy Support
Afro Caribbean Centre
Age Concern
Age UK
Agnew Community Centre
Air Ambulance
Aire Valley Recycling Ltd
Airedale Computers,
Al-Khair Foundation
All Aboard
Allied Healthcare
Almadene Care Home
AMF Torquay Bowling Alley
Amicus Horizon Housing Association
Animal Krackers
ARAS German Shepherd Inn
ARC
Archer Project
Arthritis Research UK
Arthur Rank
Arts Factory
ASAN
Asda
Asha Charity Shop
Ashgate Hospice
Aspire Community Enterprise Ltd
Auchinleck Talbot F.C.
Autism Plus
Aylestone  Park Boys Football Club
Babygear
Back2Earth
Bangladesh People
Bangladeshi ass sangag centre
Barnardos
Basic Life Charity
B’Dwe
Beaumaris Hostel


Bedfordshire Education Academy
Belgrave Hall Museum
Bernicia Group (Social housing provider)
BHF
Blaby & Whetstone Boys Club
Blue Cross
Bluebell Wood
Bookers
Boots
Botanical Gardens
Bottle Rescue Aireworth Mill
BR Environmental
Bradford Autism Centre
Bradford Community repaint
Breaking Free
Brian Jackson House
Briardale Community Centre
Bright House
Brighton and hove wood recycling
Britannia College
British Heart  Foundation
British Red Cross
British Waterways
Brockhurst Community Centre
Bryncynon Strategy
Bryncynon Strategy
Butterwick Hospice
Cancer Research
Cancer Uk
Capability Scotland
Care & Repair
Carers Centre
Caribbean Centre
Caribbean Restaurant (Streatham)
Carlisle Park
Carr Vale Allotments
Cash Convertors
Castle Gresley Community Centre
Cat Haven
Cats Protection League
Cauwood day services
CCA Furniture Outlet
Cerebal Palsey Care
Changing Lives in Clevedon
chapletown youth community centre
Chesterfield FC Community Trust
Chestnut Tree House Shop


Children in Distress
Children Scrapstore Reuse Centre
Children Trust
Childrens Society
Chopsticks North Yorkshire
Circulate
Citizen Advice Bureau
Claire House
Clic Sargent
Comfort Kids
Community Association – Trefechan
Community Re-Paint
Community Resource Centre
Community Voice
Complete Professional Care
Compton Hospice
Congburn Nurseries
Cooke Computers
Cooke E – Learning Foundation
Co-op
Corby Boating Lake
Cornerstone
Cornwall Hospice Care
County Durham Furniture Help Scheme
Croydon animal samaritans
CSV Media
Cusworth Hall
CVS Furniture
Dan’s Den Colwyn Bay
Dapp UK
DC Cleaning
Deans
Debra
Demzela
Derbyshire Timber Scheme
DHL
Dial Intake
Didcot Railyway Museum
Disabled Childrens Services
Discovery Community Cafe
Dogs Trust Glasgow
Dogsthorpe Recycling Centre
Doncaster College
Doncaster Community Centre
Dorothy House Hospice
Dorset Reclaim
Dovehouse Hospice Shop
Dragon Bands


Durham Wildlife Trust
E Waste Solutions
Earl Mountbatten Hospice
East Anglia Childrens Hospice Shop
East Cleveland Wildlife Trust
East Durham Partnership
East Midlands Islamic Relief Project
East West Community Project
Ecclesbourne Valley Railway
eco Innovation Centre
Elleanor Lion Hospice
ELVON
Encephalitis society
English Landscapes
Enhanced Care Training
Enterprise UK
Environmental Resource Centre
Essex County Council
Extra care Charitable Trust
Fable
Family Support
Fara
Fare share Malmo Food Park
Featherstone Rovers
Fenland District Council
First Fruits
FN! Eastbourne
Foal Farm
Food Cycle
Fops Shop
forget me not childrens hospice
Foundation for Paediatric Osteopathy
Fountain Abbey
Fox Rush Farm
FRADE
Frame
FRESCH
Fresh water christian charity
Friends of St Nicholas Fields
Furnish
Furniture for You
Furniture Project
FurnitureLink
Gateway funiture
Genesis Trust
George Thomas Hospice – Barry
Geranium Shop For The Blind
Glasgow Furniture Initative


Glen Street Play Provision
Goodwin Development Trust
Govanhill Baths Community Trust
Greenacres Animal Rescue Shop
Greenfingers
Greenscape
Greenstreams Huddersfield/ environmental alliance
Grimsby District Health care charity
Ground Work
Hadston House
Happy Staffie
Harlington Hospice
Hart Wildlife Rescue
Hartlepool Council
Hartlepool Hospice
Hartlepool Prop (Mental Health)
Hartlepool Trust Opening Doors
Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling Project
Havens Childrens Hospice Shop
Havering Country Park
headway
Healthy Living Centre
Hebburn Community Centre
Help the Aged
helping hands
High Beech Care Home
High Wycombe Central Aid
Hillam Nurseries
Hinsley Hall Headingley
Hobbit Hotel
Holmescarr Community Centre
Home Start
Homemakers
Hope central
Hospice of hope
Hounslow Community Transport Furniture Project
Hull Animal Welfare Trust  Hull
Humanity at Heart
I Trust
Indoamerican Refugee and Migrant Organisation (IRMO)
Intraining Employers
Ipswich Furniture Project
Iranian Association
Islamic Relief
Jacabs Well Care Center
Jesus Army Centre
JHP
Julian House Charity Shop


K.T. Performing Arts
Kagyu Samye Dzong London
Keech Hospice Care Shop
Keighley & District Disabled
Kier Services – Corby
Kilbryde Hospice
Killie Can Cycle
Kingston Community Furniture Project
Kiveton Park & Wales Community Development Trust
LAMH
Leeds & Moortown Furniture Store
Leicester City Council
Leicester Riders
Leicester Shopmobility
Leicestershire Aids Support Services
Leicestershire Cares
Lifework
Lighthouse
Linacre Reservoir
London Borough of Havering
London College of Engineering & Management Woolwich
Longley Organised Community Association
Lyme Trust
Lynemouth Resource Centre
Mackworth Comm. Charity Shop
Making a Difference
Marie Curie
Mark2 (marc)
Martin House Hospice
Mary Stevens Hospice
Matalan
Matchbox
Matthew25 Mission
Mayflower Sanctuary
MDJ Lightbrothers
Meadow Well Connected
MEC
Mental Health Support
Midland Railway Trust
MIND
Miners Welfare community centre
Mistley Place Park
Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal Regeneration Partnership Scheme
Moore Cleaning
Morrisons
Muslim Aid
Myton Hospice
Nandos


Naomi Hospice
National Railway Museum
National Trust
NDDT
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council
Necessary Furniture
Neighbourhood funiture
Neterlands Dog Rescue
New Life Church
Newham Volenteers Group
Newport City Council
Nightingale House
NOAH enterprise
North East Lincs Motor Project
North London Hospice Shop
North Ormesby Community Shop
Northumberland County Council
Norwood
Old Nick Theatre
One 0 One
Open Secret
Overgate Hospice
Oxfam
Papworth Trust
Partner Shop
Paul Sartori Warehouse
Paws Animal Welfare Shop
PDSA
Pegswood Community Centre
Pennywell Community Association
Peterborough Streets
Pheonix Community Furniture
Pilgrim Hospice
Placement Furniture Project
Platform 51 Doncaster Womens Centre
Playworks
Plymouth Food Bank
Plymouth Play Association
Plymouth Volunteer Centre
Pound stretcher
POW Shop
Powys Animal Welfare Shop
PPE Paving
Preen Community Interest Company
Primrose
PRINCE & PRINCESS OF WALES
Prince of Wales  Sherburn in elmet
Princess Trust
Queen Elizabeth Foundation


Queens Walk Community
Queensland Multi-Media Arts Centre
Rainbow Centre
Rainbows End Burngreave
Real Time Music
Recycling unlimited
Red Cross
Refurnish
Regenerate Community Enterprise
Remploy
Restore
Rhyl Adventure Playground Association
Right Time Foundation
RNID
Rochford Council
Rosalie Ryrie Foundation
Rosliston Foresty
Royal Society for Blind.
Royal Wotton Bassett Town Council
RSPB
RSPCA
Rudenotto
Rudyard Lake
S & S Services
Saffcare
Sainsburys
Salvation Army
Santosh Community Centre
Sara
Save the children
Savera Resource Centre
Scallywags
Scarborough Council
SCD Fabrications
School of English Studies
Scope
Scottish Cancer Support
Scottish International Relief
Scunthorpe  Central Community Centre
Seagull Recycling
Seahouses Development Trust
Second Chance
Second Opportunities
Sedgemoor Furniture Store
Sense
Sesku Acadamy Centre
Shaw Trust
Sheffield Reclamation Ltd – Reclaim


Shelter
Shooting Stars
Shopmobility & Community Transport – Access
Slough Furniture Project
Smythe
Sneyd Green
Somali Community Parents Association
Somerfields
Somerset Wood Re-Cycling
South Ayrshire Council
South Bucks Hospice Warehouse
South Wales Boarders Museum
Southend United Football Club
Spaghetti House
Spitafields Crypt Trust
Splash fit
St Barnabas
St Catherines Hospice Trading
St Chads Community Centre
St Clare’s Hospice
St Davids Foundation
St Elizabeth Hospice Charity Shop
St Francis Hospice Shops Ltd
St Gemma’s Hospice
St Georges Crypt
St Giles
St Helens House
St Hughs Community Centre
St Lukes Hospice
St Margarets Hospice Scotland
St Oswald’s Hospice
St Peters Church
St Peters Hospice
St Raphaels hospice
St Vincents
St. Catherines Hospice
St.Theresa’s Charity Shop
Stages Café
Stannah Stair Lifts
Stef’s Farm (Education Farm)
Step Forward
Stocking Farm Healthy Living Centre ( Sure Start)
Stockton Council
Stone Pillow
STROKECARE
Strood Community Project
Strut Lincoln
Sudbury Town Council


Sue Ryder
Sunderland Community Furniture
Sunderland North Community Business Centre
Superdrug
Swindon 105.5
Sycamore Lodge
sydney bridge furniture shop
Sypha
T&M Kiddy’s Kingdom
Tara Handicrafts
Teamwork
Teesside Hospice
Tendring Furniture Scheme
Tendring Reuse & Employment Enterprise
Tenovus
Tesco
Thames Hospicecare
Thames Valley Hospice
Thanet District Council
The Ark Shop
The Art Organisation
The Charity Shop
The Childrens Society
The Childrens trust
The Crossing
The Good Neighbour Project
The Greenhouse
The Harrow Club
The Hinge Centre Ltd
The Isabella Community Centre
The Island Partnership
The Kiln Cafe
The learning community
The Linskill Centre
The Listening Company
The Octagon Centre  Hull
The Old Manor House Riding Stables
The Princess Alice Hospice
The Range
The Reuse Centre
The Rising Sun Art Centre
The Rock Foundation Ice House
The Shores Centre
The Spurriergate Centre
The Undercliffe cemetary charity
The Vine Project
The Welcoming Project
The Woodworks (Genesis Trust)


Think 3E,
Thirsk Clock
Thurrock Council
Thurrock Reuse Partnership (TRUP)
TLC
TooGoodtoWaste
Top Draw
Traid
Trinity Furniture Store
Troed Y Rhiw Day Project
True Volunteer Foundation
Tukes
Twice as Nice Furniture Project
Twirls and Curls
Ty Hafan
Tylorstown Communities First
United Churches Healing Ministry
United Play Day Centre
Unity in the Community
UNMAH
Untapped Resource
Urban Recycling
Vale of Aylesbury Vineyard Church Project
Vista Blind
Walpole Water Gardens
Walsall Hospice
Wandsworth Oasis trading Company Limited
Wat Tyler Centre
WEC
Weldmar
Well Cafe
Wellgate Community Farm
Wellingborough District Hindu Centre
Western Mill Cemetary
WH Smith
Wheelbase
Whitby Council
Wildlife Trust
Wilkinsons
Willen Care Furniture Shop
Willington Community Resource Centre
Windhill Furniture Store Shipley
Woking Community Furniture Project
Womens Aid
Womens Centre
Woodlands Camp
Worsbrough Mill & County Park
Xgames
YMCA


York Archaeological Trust
York Bike Rescue
York Carers centre
Yorkshire Trust
Yozz Yard
Zest
Zues Gym


 

Excitement mounts as the Workfare exploiters run for cover…..

This news came to us via our friends at Boycott Workfare.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 29, 2016 at 4:10 pm

‘Unpaid Work Experience” – Workfare – “contradicted the European Convention on Human Rights” say Judges..

with 52 comments

Tips to Jim and I was a JSA Claimant.

Brits punished for refusing ‘slave labour’ due compensation after landmark court case.

Reports the Mirror this evening.

Brits who had their benefits stopped after refusing to do unpaid work experience are closer to compensation after the Government lost a crucial legal battle.

Three Court of Appeal judges in London have dismissed its challenge against an earlier High Court ruling.

The Government had appealed in a bid to prevent thousands of individuals who had jobseeker payments stopped from clawing back millions of pounds in lost benefits .

The scheme – dubbed workfare – was introduced in the wake of the financial crash, when jobs were scarce.

But critics said it was pointless and the work experience offered was of little value. Dr Simon Duffy of the Centre for Welfare Reform dubbed it “modernised slavery” .

In one case, university graduate Cait Reilly was forced to give up her voluntary position at a museum to work for free in Poundland instead.

But while thousands were affected by the scheme, only a fraction are likely to receive a pay out.

Dr Lynne Friedli, who campaigned against the scheme, described the ruling as “a partial victory”.

She added: “The money was unlawfully taken and must be returned.”

But Professor Paul Spicker from Robert Gordon University warned: “It is not at all certain that this judgment will help claimants directly.

“The Act that has been challenged is still the law. There is also an ‘anti-test-case’ rule which means that other people who suffer injustice cannot get redress. The Supreme Court needs to revisit the rules that make this possible.”

Social media activist I Was a JSA Claimant said: “For people like me who have been campaigning against benefit sanctions and workfare this judgement reinforces what we have been saying for a long time.

“Sanctions are an unfair punitive punishment which does nothing to help people back into work.

“The individuals and families affected will hopefully get the money that was stopped back, but that will not properly compensate for the hardship they had to endure during their sanction.”

The judges reached their conclusion on the basis that workfare contradicted the European Convention on Human Rights.

The article explains the background:

Friday’s decision is the latest in litigation over back-to-work schemes following a Supreme Court ruling in October 2013.

Five justices at the highest court in the land ruled, in what became known as the Poundland case, that the Government’s flagship back-to-work schemes were flawed .

They said that sufficient information had not been given to claimants to enable them to make representations before benefits were stopped.

The Government brought in emergency retrospective legislation, the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013, to “protect the public purse” and stop the payouts.

It was argued the sanctions had been justified and the claimants would be receiving “undeserved windfall payments”.

But a High Court judge, Mrs Justice Lang, declared the 2013 Act “incompatible” with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to fair hearings.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decided not to make any payouts pending the Court of Appeal bid to overturn Mrs Justice Lang’s decision.

Appeal judges ruled on Friday that when Parliament enacted the 2013 Act in order to retrospectively “validate those sanctions” it was “successful in doing so as a matter of English law”.

But Lord Justice Underhill, announcing the ruling of the court, said: “But we have also held – upholding the decision of the High Court – that in the cases of those claimants who had already appealed against their sanctions the Act was incompatible with their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.”

He added: “Under the Human Rights Act that ‘declaration of incompatibility’ does not mean that the 2013 Act ceases to be effective as regards those claimants; it is up to the Government, subject to any further appeal, to decide what action to take in response.”

More in the Independent: Benefit sanctions handed out to thousands of people ‘unlawful’. The Court of Appeal dismissed a legal challenge by the Government. The Guardian: Appeal court rejects challenge in Poundland case. Three judges uphold high court ruling that emergency measures introduced in 2013 were incompatible with human rights law

Hats off to all those who stood up against the thieving Workfare Exploiters and the DWP!

The fight continues…..

Written by Andrew Coates

April 29, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Workers and Shirkers: Jesus, okay, Iain Duncan Smith Wept.

with 50 comments

Bringing the discussion into the here and now … Workers Or Shirkers? Ian Hislop’s Victorian Benefits.

Ipswich Unemployed Action is in two minds about watching this documentary tonight: Workers and Shirkers.

Thursday 7 April. 8.00pm-9.00pm. BBC TWO

Ian Hislop’s entertaining and provocative look at Victorian attitudes to the poor sheds a sharp light on today: controversial benefits cuts, anxieties about scroungers, sensational newspaper reports, arguments about who does and doesn’t deserve welfare – it’s all there!

Ian explores the views of five colourful individuals whose Victorian attitudes remain incredibly resonant. Pioneer of the workhouse Edwin Chadwick feared that hand-outs would lead to scrounging and sought to make sure that workers were always better-off than the unemployed. That sounds fair – but was his solution simply too unkind?

James Greenwood, Britain’s first undercover reporter, made poverty a cause célèbre – but is that kind of journalism voyeuristic?

Helen Bosanquet, an early social worker, believed that poverty was caused by ‘bad character’ – that some people simply more deserving than others. Bosanquet came to blows with Beatrice Webb, who took a more economic view of the causes of poverty, leading her to argue for the first foundations of the welfare state.

Finally, even if we want to be generous, are there limits on how much we can afford to help? That dilemma faced Margaret Bondfield, Britain’s first female cabinet minister who, despite her impeccable Labour credentials, advocated controversial welfare cuts in the 1930s, a time of national austerity.

Wrestling with these questions with his customary mix of light touch and big ideas, Ian also has revealing conversations with Iain Duncan Smith (former Secretary of State of Work and Pensions), Deirdre Kelly (also known as ‘White Dee’, famous for featuring in Benefits Street), Owen Jones and Tristram Hunt MP.

The one mind says, Hislop is bound to say something interesting, as are most of his interviewees, and it would be pleasant to see Iain Duncan SMith put on a snivel.

The other points out that the war of the United Federation of Planets against the Dominion and those bastard Cardassians is at a crucial point. Sisko is about to undertake a dangerous mission to  take back Deep Space Nine and keep the minefield in the wormhole (CBS Action).

Hard choices have to be made.

At the moment it looks as if the cause of the Deep Space Nine Resistance looks like winning.

In which case we will rely on the Newshounds who comment on the Blog to report back from the Workers and Shirkers front.

Ian Hislop says former work and pensions secretary broke down during filming of new Workers or Shirkers documentary.

Iain Duncan Smith broke down and wept about the plight of a single mother during a television interview months before he quit as work and pensions minister.

The Private Eye editor Ian Hislop said Duncan Smith started to cry during an interview last December for a documentary on Victorian attitudes to poverty. “It was a curious thing,” he told the Radio Times. “IDS actually broke down. He wept in front of me. It was a very extraordinary moment.”

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Strive ‘Training’ Scheme that Fines 10 for a ‘Tut’ Under Investigation but Workfare Abuse Continues.

with 70 comments

https://i2.wp.com/www.ardrossanherald.com/resources/images/4902072.jpg

This story broke last week (signaled here Hat-Tip Enigma):

A NORTH Ayrshire Council scheme designed to help out people who are searching for work has been lambasted for fining people who attend it for as little as tutting or having their hands in their pockets.

And the Department of Work and Pensions has now suspended referrals to the STRIVE programme pending investigation into the workings of the fines system.

North Ayrshire Council have hit back at the claims and have backed their programme but one person who attended the course, who wishes to remain anonymous, has hit out at the fines system and explained what it is like.

Herald.

Scheme that fines jobless 10p for tuts is investigated

JOB seekers in Ayrshire are worried they might be sanctioned for tutting.

It comes as details emerge of a controversial “job readiness” programme that fines those taking part for as little as chewing gum and having their hands in their pockets.

The Department for Work and Pensions yesterday suspended referrals to the STRIVE programme in North Ayrshire while it investigated the claims.

The Lennox Partnership, which operates the programme, also runs similar courses with similar fines for West Dunbartonshire and Renfrew councils. It has also been asked to deliver the course four times nationally for service provider Ingeus, although no fines are involved in those courses.

Fines start off as little as 10p for tutting, or having hands in pockets, but can rise up to £1 for swearing or £5 for using phones.

One job seeker told our sister paper, the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, that the fines had even left one of his fellow course mates in debt. “Now most of these fines are really cheap for things like hands in pockets etc … but checking your phone or having it go off outside of break time is an instant £5 fine and if you don’t pay it on the spot you get kicked off the course … and since the Job Centre sent me there, getting kicked off the course is an instant sanction.

“One person got fined when their phone went off but only had £3 and had to borrow the rest from other people on the course.”

The Lennox Partnership insisted that non-payment of a fine would not lead to sanctions, and said no one on the programme has been sanctioned.

A spokeswoman for the partnership said: “The fine system replicates behaviours that would not be acceptable in most workplaces and is utilised as a preventative measure to change those behaviours, which could subsequently impact on clients both securing and sustaining work.

“We have been delivering STRIVE in North Ayrshire since 2011 and the fine system has been an integral part of all delivery. Our success rates have seen 80 per cent of graduates securing employment and 84 per cent retention rates with employers across a range of industry sectors. This demonstrates the success of STRIVE and what we are trying to achieve.”

Unemployed people taking part in STRIVE must wear “business dress”, and, according to the Lennox Partnership’s website, obey: “the same rules / disciplines that would be expected during a probationary period in a new job”.

The aim of the course is to “empower participants and develop the soft skills, the attitudes and behaviours that employers in the job market are seeking”.

Kim McLauchlan, a 19-year-old from Kilwinning, who went through the programme recently and now works as a chef, told The National she had found the experience rewarding: “I was such a quiet person. I’d be the last person to speak in a group. They helped me get the confidence to do the job I’m doing today.”

STRIVE fines were all part of the “learning process”, she said.

A spokesman for North Ayrshire Council, defending the scheme, said: “The STRIVE programme has an extremely successful track record with 90 per cent of candidates on our most recent programme going on to secure employment. Most participants find the course highly beneficial and carry forward the skills learned into their working life.”

“The ‘fine’ system is used as a preventative measure to change behaviours and instil a professional attitude that employers will be impressed with.

“Any monies collected go towards a fund to provide provision for interview clothing, haircuts and interview travel expenses.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We have suspended the referral of claimants to North Ayrshire Council’s STRIVE programme while we investigate these claims.”

The Void has looked at the scandal.

Even the DWP are appalled, with the Daily Record reporting they have suspended referrals to the STRIVE  programme run by the Lennox Partnership.  Those behind the schme are unrepentent, with North Ayrshire Council claiming that they are just trying to “change behaviours and instil a professional attitude”.  Participants who refuse to pay the fines are required to leave the course raising fears they may face benefit sanctions for refusing to take part in ‘work related activity’

You can tell the Lennox Partnership what you think of this vile practice on twitter @TheLennoxP.

This however is yet to face a serious investigation:

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) insists it is a voluntary scheme known as a “sector-based work academy”, which offers benefit recipients a chance to gain work experience with the possibility of a job at the end.

However McGregor, who has eight years’ experience working in the care sector, said he felt he was being “railroaded” into taking part in the scheme, which is taking place at Kyle Court and Hillside View Care Homes in Paisley.

A letter sent to him states in certain circumstances benefits may be stopped if the claimant, without good reason, does not “take the opportunity of a place on an employment programme or training scheme”.

McGregor said he refused to participate in the scheme as a matter of principle and that he was only promised a “one-to-one” interview at the end of the scheme.

He said: “I went on a people handling course for one day, then I was meant to start and do a 36-hour week for six weeks without any pay, apart from my unemployment money.

“I used to earn £110 a night for a 12-hour shift, but they are expecting me to do 36 hours for £73.10, it is absolutely shocking.

“You are looking after people who are vulnerable – such as taking them to the toilet.

“I have no qualms about the job, I did that job for years, but I want to be paid for it.

“They are saying it is six weeks probationary, but they could pay me – and at the end of that time if they don’t think I am fit to work there they can tell me to go somewhere else.”

He added: “They didn’t ask what days would suit you, it was basically you were to work to their rota.

“I don’t know how they can turn round and say it is completely voluntary.”

Sarah Glynn, of the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network, said they were against the principle of anyone being made to work for their benefits.

“A lot of things are branded as work experience and they are not, they are free labour,” she said. “Do you need work experience stacking shelves? That is not work experience, that is exploitation.

“It is affecting the whole labour market as these are jobs that people should be paid for.

“Even if people have no qualifications and they have come straight from school, they shouldn’t be asked to work for nothing – if they are working they should be paid for it, it should just be a basic principle.”

Glynn said she had made a complaint to the Care Inspectorate over the scheme, which confirmed the issue had been raised and information was being carefully assessed.

The DWP said all participating claimants had to meet eligibility criteria including identification and disclosure checks, references and a successful application form and interview to ensure they were suitable for working with elderly and vulnerable people.

It confirmed that once participants agreed to take place in a DWP “sector-based work academy” they could risk being sanctioned if they failed to meet conditions. These can include a failure to meet “basic standards of good behaviour”, according to the letter sent to McGregor.

The Herald.

Is it just because my dad was Scottish but is it true that because the Scots are pretty stroppy and likely to complain that these scandals come out so quickly?

I would bet there’s plenty going on in the rest of the country.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 4, 2016 at 9:59 am

Benefit Sanctions Saga: MPs Call for Independent Review.

with 72 comments

 

With so many controversies about welfare cuts, Iain Duncan Smith throwing a wobbly, and the new religious bigot in charge of the DWP, this has tended to pass beneath the radar.

Our own opinion is that there is no need for any ‘review’ of this system: it should be got rid of immediately.

Along with the ‘Help to Work’ programme, notably the ‘Bullies’ Charter’ that can oblige claimants to attend the ‘Jobcentre’ every day, send them out of ‘community service’ (workfare), and have intensive ‘Jobcentre’support’ from the amateur psychiatrists and other odd-balls they have to undertake this task.

Or as the DWP mischievously  puts it, “Jobcentre advisers will tailor back-to-work plans for individuals according to the particular barriers to work they may have. The new measures include intensive coaching, a requirement to meet with the Jobcentre Plus adviser every day, or taking part in a community work placement for up to 6 months so claimants build the skills needed to secure a full-time job. “

We note, “Those who fail to participate in the scheme will face potential sanctions that could see them lose their benefits for a period of time.”

Abolish Sanctions now!

MPs call for full independent review of benefit sanctions.

Parliament.

24th of March

A full independent review should be established in the new Parliament, to investigate whether benefit sanctions are being applied appropriately, fairly and proportionately, across the Jobcentre Plus (JCP) network, says the Work and Pensions Committee in a Report published Tuesday 24 March 2015.

The Committee reiterates this recommendation, originally made in January 2014 but rejected by the Government, in the light of new evidence which raises concerns about the approach being adopted in a number of individual Jobcentres, and more broadly, including concerns about whether targets for sanctions exist.

The report calls for the independent review also to examine the legislative framework for benefit sanctions policy, to ensure that the basis for sanctioning is well-defined, and that safeguards to protect the vulnerable are clearly set out.

Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:

“Benefit sanctions are controversial because they withhold subsistence-level benefits from people who may have little or no other income. We agree that benefit conditionality is necessary but it is essential that policy is based on clear evidence of what works in terms of encouraging people to take up the support which is available to help them get back into work. The policy must then be applied fairly and proportionately. The system must also be capable of identifying and protecting vulnerable people, including those with mental health problems and learning disabilities. And it should avoid causing severe financial hardship. The system as currently applied does not always achieve this.”

Hardship payments

A system of discretionary hardship payments exists to mitigate the risk of sanctions causing severe financial hardship. However, the Report concludes that changes are required to the system, to ensure that it is more effective in achieving this.  In particular, the report emphasises widespread concern that standard JSA (Jobseeker’s Allowance) hardship payments are not available until the 15th day of a sanction period.

Dame Anne Begg commented:

“Recent research suggests that benefit sanctions are contributing to food poverty.

No claimant should have their benefit payment reduced to zero where they are at risk of severe financial hardship, to the extent of not being able to feed themselves or their families, or pay their rent.

DWP’s (Department for Work and Pensions) discretionary hardship payment system is intended to prevent this happening, but it does not always do so. This is often because JSA hardship payments are not available until the 15th day of a sanction period.  It is not reasonable to expect people to live without any source of income for 2 weeks. DWP should make all hardship payments available from day one of a sanction period.

Problems also arise because the claimant is not aware of the application process for a hardship payment or because they are put off applying because of the difficulty in understanding and navigating the system. This needs to change. DWP should not wait for the claimant to apply for a hardship payment. It should initiate the process itself, and then coordinate the decision on hardship payments with decision-making on the sanction itself, particularly where the claimant has dependent children or is vulnerable.”

Investigating the deaths of vulnerable benefit claimants

The report notes that DWP currently investigates all deaths of benefit claimants “where suicide is associated with DWP activity”, and in other cases where the death of a vulnerable benefit claimant is brought to its attention, through a system of internal “peer reviews”. Since February 2012, DWP has carried out 49 peer reviews following the death of a benefit claimant.

DWP has stated that 33 of the 49 cases have resulted in recommendations for change at either local or national level. However, it was unable to confirm in how many cases the claimant was subject to a benefit sanction, or provide any details about how its policies or procedures had been altered in response to the death of a claimant.

Dame Anne Begg said:

“We have asked DWP to confirm the number of internal peer reviews in which the claimant was subject to a benefit sanction at the time of death, and the result of these reviews in terms of changes to DWP policy.

It is important that all agencies involved in the provision of public services are scrutinised, to ensure that lessons are learned after members of the public are let down by the system, particularly where the failures of a public body may have contributed to a death.

We believe that a new independent body should be established to fulfil this role.”

Increasing the evidence base on financial sanctions

The Committee finds that more “active” regimes, in which unemployed claimants are required to do more to find work, have been shown to be relatively effective; however, evidence on the specific part by played by financial sanctions within successful active regimes is limited and far from clear-cut. The report calls for a series of evaluations to increase the evidence base, particularly around the efficacy and impacts of the new sanctions regime introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012.

Dame Anne Begg said:

“The Government introduced longer minimum sanction periods without first testing their likely impacts on claimants. The minimum sanction period is now four weeks, rather than one week. It is important that the impacts of the new sanctions regime are properly evaluated.

There is currently no evidence on whether the application, or deterrent threat, of a four-week sanction makes it more, or less, likely that a claimant will engage with employment support or gain work.

This is an area of policy which must be based on robust evidence. The Department needs to demonstrate that the application of the new sanctions regime is not intended to be purely punitive.”

Full implementation of the Oakley review

The Oakley Review of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) sanctions in relation to Back to Work Schemes, published in July 2014, made a number of recommendations aimed at improving some aspects of the sanctions system. This has already led to welcome changes, including improvements to DWP’s information to claimants about the sanctioning process, and the clarity of its claimant letters.

However, a number of the Oakley recommendations are yet to be fully implemented, in part due to the requirement for legislative change and/or contractual negotiations with Work Programme providers. The Committee believes that DWP should take more urgent steps to fully implement the outstanding recommendations.

Dame Anne Begg commented:

“DWP must take a more common-sense approach to mandatory Work Programme activity and sanction referrals. For example, it makes no sense, and is a considerable waste of administrative resources, for Work Programme providers to have to refer a claimant back to DWP for a sanction decision, even where they know that the claimant had a perfectly good reason for not meeting a particular requirement.

In the negotiations to re-let the Work Programme contracts in 2017, DWP should prioritise the development of a more flexible approach to the setting of mandatory conditions.

There is also widespread support for pre-sanction written warnings and non-financial sanctions. The Department should get on with piloting this approach. If it requires legislation, the Department should bring it forward as soon as possible in the new Parliament.”

Committee recommendations

The report makes a number of further recommendations, including that DWP should:

  • Not proceed with in-work sanctions beyond the existing pilot areas until robust evidence is available from the pilots to demonstrate that in-work conditionality can be effectively applied. [paragraph 56]
  • Establish a small-scale pilot to test the efficacy of a more targeted approach to sanctions based on segmentation of claimants by their attitudes and motivations. [paragraph 93]
  • Develop new and more effective systems to monitor the destinations of claimants leaving benefit in general and, in particular, those leaving benefit following a sanction. [paragraph 66]
  • Expedite the evaluation of the Claimant Commitment, including a review of the appropriate use of Jobseeker Directions. [paragraphs 74 and 84]
  • Develop guidance which is specifically intended to assist JCP staff to identify vulnerable claimants and tailor conditionality according to the claimant’s individual circumstances. [paragraph 80]
  • Improve JCP staff training on the statutory single parent flexibilities designed to protect single parent JSA claimants from inappropriate benefit conditionality; and produce a simple, plain English guide to the flexibilities for all single parent claimants. [paragraph 88]
  • Review Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) sanctioning within the Work Programme, and continue to develop alternative approaches to employment support for this group, including voluntary models, such as Individual Placement with Support, for some groups. [paragraphs 134–35]

Written by Andrew Coates

April 1, 2016 at 9:00 am

Help to Work a Failure.

with 168 comments

As many of us are on schemes for the unemployed, not to say long-term unemployed, and know the insides and outsides of these programmes all too well, this comes as no surprise.

Before reading it bear in mind that the prospect of adding cognitive behavioural therapy to the list of tortures – which include having to listen to people  unable to provide any actual offers of work – they make us undergo is becoming more and more probable.

The picture above, of somebody forced to attend the Jobcentre every single day, and workfare, illustrates why people hate the system as well.

Figures prove Help to Work doesn’t help and doesn’t work

Reports Sentinel News.

  • Compulsory government welfare-to-work scheme has no effect for most people
  • Huge levels of failure to meet targets by companies delivering the programme
  • Help to Work was launched despite a pilot scheme failing

By Chaminda Jayanetti

Newly released government figures show that Help to Work, its flagship welfare-to-work programme for the long-term unemployed, has only seen one in five of the people referred to it progress into even remotely secure jobs.

Help to Work, which includes three intensive schemes, was launched in April 2014 as a compulsory programme for those who had been unemployed for more than two years.

At the time, David Cameron said: “This scheme will provide more help than ever before, getting people into work and on the road to a more secure future.”

But figures published yesterday by the Department for Work and Pensions reveal that of the people referred to Help to Work between April and December 2014, less than half – just 44 percent – went on to spend any time in work at all during the year following their referral.

Thirty percent went on to complete at least 13 weeks in work, and barely 20 percent made it to 26 weeks of work – half a year – in the year after their referral.

In other words, four in every five people referred onto the scheme did not progress to even medium-term work.

It is the first time the DWP has published data on the amount of time spent in work by those on the Help to Work programme. The statistics exclude those who became self-employed, but the figures are nevertheless dire.

Three schemes, all failing

Help to Work comprises three separate schemes, with each long-term Jobseekers Allowance claimant forced on to one of them. If they refuse, their benefits can be docked. The schemes are:

  • Community Work Placements – six-month compulsory unpaid work experience placements of up 30 hours a week, plus up to ten hours of “supported job search activity” every week
  • Mandatory Intervention Regime – claimants receive “intensive support” from Jobcentre staff, who can refer them to other local services and training
  • Daily Work Search Review – claimants have to attend the Jobcentre every single day for up to three months to discuss the job applications they have made

The three schemes saw tens of thousands of people forced onto them between April 2014 and December 2015 – 80,000 on Community Work Placements, 47,000 on Daily Work Searches, and nearly 100,000 on the Mandatory Intervention Regime (which can include people who completed one of the two other schemes).

But nearly two years on from their launch, all three schemes are failing to have a meaningful impact. Under both the Mandatory Intervention Regime and the Daily Work Search Review, around 45 percent of the referred claimants found any paid work (excluding self-employment) in the year after their referral. About 30 percent found 13 weeks of work, and one in five found six months of work.

CWP at the DWP

The worst performance, however, was in the Community Work Programme. Given that this includes six-month placements, it is perhaps unsurprising that only 18 percent of claimants had time to fit in an additional six months of paid work in the year following their referral.

But barely a quarter completed 13 weeks in paid work, and less than two in five of all claimants undertook any paid work at all, excluding self-employment.

The Community Work Programme is the only one of the Help to Work schemes that is delivered by private companies – and their performance has been terrible. Just one of the 18 regional contracts met its target for “short completions” in 2015 – that is where a claimant completes between 12 and 21 weeks of employment after being on the programme.

Just three of 18 contracts met the target for “long completions” – between 22 and 26 weeks of employment – with ten contracts falling well short of expectations. Six of the 18 contracts met the target for job outcomes, where claimants found more than 26 weeks of work.

Seven companies hold the 18 contracts between them – led by G4S with six and Seetec with five. Ten of the contracts – more than half – missed every single target.

A bad idea from birth

The DWP conducted a fully-fledged pilot scheme in 2013, which was widely seen as a failure – almost as many people who undertook the pilot help to work schemes were still on benefit two years later as those who’d had no support at all. Despite this, the government decided to bring forward implementation of the full Help to Work scheme.

Interestingly, the programme was expected to cost £300m a year, but has in fact come in at £190m in 2014/15 and £230m in 2015/16. This may be because the private companies on the Community Work Programme were paid by results – an initial payment for claimants starting a community work placement, but further payments only if employment outcomes were met. The failure of so many providers to meet their targets may have reduced the scheme’s cost – although the annual burden on the taxpayer remains in the hundreds of millions.

The government announced last year that the Community Work Programme would be abolished from 2017 along with the controversial Mandatory Work Activity programme, which is outside the Help to Work scheme. These will be replaced by a new scheme, the Work and Health Programme, targeted at both disabled people and the long-term unemployed. The conflation of health and work is likely to be the source of ongoing controversy.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 23, 2016 at 11:28 am