2014 was a year of successful action. What should 2015 hold?

tea and leaflets outside cardiff job centre

Share your ideas about how to take on workfare and sanctions in 2015

In 2014, your actions helped push workfare closer to collapse. The disgusting new Community Work Placement scheme struggled to get off the ground; 500 charities and voluntary organisations pledged to avoid workfare and Keep Volunteering Voluntary; and direct action and pressure across the UK brought an end to hundreds of placements.

Read more about how we all helped push workfare closer to collapse.

What does 2015 hold?

Over the next few weeks, we’re having a proper think about the most effective ways to take on workfare and sanctions in 2015. We’d like your ideas and creativity to help us plan ahead!

Please email or comment on this article by Wednesday 4th February. We’ve got some thoughts on the questions below and would love to hear your thinking on any of them too. Please feel free to think wider as well!

  1. What are workfare’s weaknesses at the moment that can be exploited?
  2. What can we do to step up the challenge to benefit sanctions?
  3. How do we challenge the wider normalisation of unpaid work?
  4. When should forthcoming weeks of action take place? Who do you think they should target and why?
  5. What would inspire more people to get involved in the fight against workfare and sanctions?
  6. Do you have ideas of ways to expose and challenge the fact that all the major parties have a pro-workfare stance during the election?
  7. When and where should the next national gathering of groups taking action on welfare take place? Can you help make it happen?
  8. If you’re a local activist or going through workfare, how can we best support you?
  9. If you’ve used Boycott Workfare’s website or leaflets, or been in touch by email or twitter, what has helped? What’s been missing?
  10. Any other thoughts?

Most importantly, if you have skills or time to offer to make these ideas happen, please let us know. Wherever you are based, let’s find ways to use everyone’s energy to fight workfare and sanctions!

Challenging sanctions

With the Sanctions Inquiry taking place at the moment (final oral evidence hearing on 4 February), it’s an important time to shout about why benefit sanctions must be brought to an end without exception.

This chilling account of the culture of sanctioning in Jobcentres is an important reminder of why.

Though it’s clear the inquiry won’t come to the conclusion it should – that all sanctions should be abolished – we think it’s important that our voices are heard. Boycott Workfare put in a submission to the Inquiry. Can you help use it as an opportunity to influence those who help sustain workfare and sanctions or could do more to challenge them? More here.

In other news…

  • Members of Boycott Workfare met sister campaigns in Ireland – where they managed to stop hundreds of workfare placements in Tescos from ever getting started! Read more.
  • Cancer Research have cancelled ten placements and pledged to stop any others. Please help hold them to their word.


Comments (5)

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the sanctions debate should be prioritised to the mindset of living standards.

no person of any age or any reason should be left with no income at all. if a sanction system is to continue. then the government should first set a fair living income (to prevent poverty).
in short a universal hardship amount.
and then have a premium ontop for the JSA provision. where only the JSA provision was to be stopped.. ofcourse for genuine reasons.

for instance if the cost of living a basic life was £53 (excluding rent&counciltax) then no sanction should take away that minimum income nor force people to go weeks without that minimum income while applications are processed. however the £19 difference(£53-£72) could be deducted as a more suitable solution for those that genuinely deserve a sanction.

it also would mean that while sanctioned the person is not required to forfill commitments as the extra funds (£19) are not available to cover transport, postage etc.


there should be more work in the community also there should be paid incentives to people who go on these schemes. large sections off run down council estate need painting and clearing off rubbish. I am sure for an extra bonus many claimants would love to give back and receive something in return


Some random thoughts:-

Insurance provision while on workfare I think is a grey area that could be exploited. When I asked for an insurance verification form to prove I was insured while undertaking any activity, it was not forthcoming. I believe people on workfare are being viewed as 'volunteers' incorrectly. It will probably take a serious accident or death of somebody for anything to come to light. When the insurance works out a way not to pay. I am sure it will look at the definition of the person concerned, and the only definition I can come up with is 'conscript'. I think the service provider should be providing some type of insurance while people are on workfare. If they should, then that will be a cost that might drive many of them to review their eagerness to be involved. Hit them in the wallet.

Overall I think a campaign ' A days work for a days pay' needs to launched. But needs to be something catchy, and like the Ice Bucket Challenge could do with something viral/funny to get into peoples hearts and minds. (Creative people needed)

The figures on sanctions need to be forced down peoples throats. One magistrate in my area, when a man stole from a shop because he was sanctioned. Said 'If you have a problem with benefits, you go to the benefits office you don't steal from a shop'. What he needs to realise is that decisions are not overturned quickly. Mandatory reconsideration has no defined timescale and the DWP even refuse to publish the 'average' time this process takes. That needs to be highlighted. Not people are getting sanctioned, but they have no recourse and are in the hands of the DWP who are working to no timescale's...

Mandatory, needs to be a word synonymous with the DWP. Why do grown adults need to be treated as children? Jobseekers directions etc etc. All need to end. But its an angle that I think annoys people, well it annoys me.

Investigate DWP big wigs, look into their connections and affiliations. What voluntary work have they ever done? Put them under a microscope. Exploit any weakness.

People viewed as guilty and have to prove their innocence with regards to everything. Sanctions etc. Unconstitutional to my mind.

Amounts of money given to service providers and their cronies to provide workfare. The fact only guidelines are issued to them and no strict procedures or policy. Industry has sprung up to help the long term unemployed into work, but as a whole how much does it cost? How many people does it employ? How much money is being wasted on little to no results.

Regular newsletter, pulling together information into a central source. Lots of good information out there, but strewn across websites like Refuted, Unemployment Movement etc.

Need to amplify how bad the system is, that you don't realise how bad it is until you are in it. So for example, if you are unemployed tomorrow do you realise you will have to do this ... Sign every day, 30+ hours job search a week regardless of the amount of jobs available, any job is better than no job expectations, expect your standard of living to drop dramatically. Market on peoples aspirations but more importantly their fears. Uncertain climate, economy, anybody could be unemployed tomorrow... do you expect the system to treat you like this. Is it acceptable?

Covert recording of meetings, courses, etc. Show the ineptitude of the people concerned at the various levels. Kick it up onto youtube or some other public platform.

Neil Foss

So people who are sanctioned don't need to look for work? Surely that breaks the basic agreement between state and claimant of being available to look for and do work.
Sanctioning should never be used. Reasons for sanctioning are spurious. No money is paid whilst appealing. Families suffer because the responsible adult gets sanctioned. The government omits sanctioned claimants from official stats making unemployment figures bogus.


We should stop talking about "Britains" welfare system or "The" welfare system and start talking about ‘Iain Duncan Smith's’ welfare system or ‘David Cameron's" welfare system etc. It is not Britain who manages the welfare system it is a small number of lying, criminal, spineless individuals. Every single one of them should be made accountable for their actions and or decisions that put the British public at risk. We should make sure that the names of these individuals and those who do not oppose them go down in history and are remembered for their actions for generations to come. The use of terms like "Britain's", "Our" and "The" serve only to provide escape routes for these criminals.