Posted: November 13th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Charities, Info on schemes | 3 Comments »
Community Work Placements
Salvation Army is one of the charities propping up workfare and sanctions – let charities know it will damage their reputation if they get involved [Photo: Sinister Pics]
are the workfare part of the ‘Help to Work’ scheme. This was announced by George Osborne in September, and will begin in April next year. The other parts are daily attendance at job centres (for 35 hours per week) and compulsory training.
This means that once again we’re seeing ads for workfare subcontractors that target the Community & Voluntary Sector. While some charities (e.g. YMCA, Salvation Army, The Conservation Volunteers & Groundwork) are dedicated workfare exploiters, many others say they do not support workfare, but still end up helping to deliver it. The supply chain is so (deliberately) complex, it can disguise what’s going on.
Currently EOS, Maximus, Learn Direct, Reed in Partnership, ESG, G4S (tax dodging supremos) and Interserve (they rely on prayer & financial support from Christians) are all inviting bids from voluntary sector ‘partners’ to provide Community Work Placements in a ‘real working environment’ for up to 30 weeks, for up to 30 hours per week. In other words, forced unpaid labour for people who have not found ‘sustained employment’ while on the Work Programme.
The criteria for being sent on a Community Work Placement are ‘lack of motivation‘ (for example a reluctance to be exploited in no pay, low pay jobs) and/or ‘lack of work experience‘. Claimants will have to do these placements alongside ‘supported job search’: the exhausting and pointless process of endlessly looking for non-existent employment opportunities. As blogger Johnny Void says: “This new scheme represents 780 hours unpaid work, over two and a half times higher than the maximum community service penalty that can be handed out by the courts. And this is just for the crime of being unable to find a job.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 30th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Info on schemes | 12 Comments »
Community Service punishments are less harsh than the forced work handed out to unemployed people
Campaigners have condemned George Osborne’s announcement that more unemployed people will be forced to work without a wage or face losing their only source of income as a further criminalisation of the unemployed.
The maximum community sentence that a judge can hand out is for 300 hours, but claimants on six-month workfare schemes are already being forced to work without pay for 780 hours. The four-week Mandatory Work Activity scheme is already the equivalent of a medium level community service order that a person might receive if they were found guilty of drink driving or assault.
When a similar scheme was introduced in the US, thousands of jobs in the Parks Department were lost in New York alone – to be replaced with forced unpaid workers. Similar case studies have emerged in the UK, where workfare placements are already taking place in hospitals, council offices, charities and businesses.
Campaigners accuse Osborne of rehashing existing schemes, which DWP research has repeatedly found to fail in helping people find work. The pilot of the scheme announced today was found to have no effect on helping people find employment. 71% of people sanctioned on the scheme reported going without food; half went into debt. The requirement for daily visits to the Job Centre for people leaving the Work Programme is already in place for many people – though Osborne’s announcement is rebranding the current ‘Hit Squad’ and ‘Mandatory Intervention Regime’ as ‘Help to Work’.
This latest workfare scheme may become unworkable as charities and voluntary organisations refuse to take part. Tens of large charities have already quit workfare schemes: Oxfam stated that the schemes were incompatible with its goal of reducing poverty in the UK. The government is currently appealing the Information Commissioner’s decision that it must reveal the names of the organisations involved. If it loses, charities involved in sanctioning unemployed people will face further public pressure to withdraw.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Joanna Long, member of Boycott Workfare said:
“Community workfare schemes literally treat the unemployed as criminals – with far harsher sentences than if they had committed a crime. Osborne’s announcement is a PR rehash of schemes that are already failing to help people find work on a massive scale. It’s bad news for people who will be forced to work at far below the minimum wage – and it’s terrible news for the people whose jobs they will be replacing. This is about cutting the safety net for unemployed people, and handing something for nothing to charities, companies and councils which should be paying wages and taxes.”
Posted: September 26th, 2013 | Author: boycottworkfare | Filed under: Info on schemes | Tags: Community Action Programme | 17 Comments »
Some large charities continue to profit from workfare. Others – like Oxfam – give it a wide berth.
Rumours are abounding in the press that the Conservative Party conference will be used to launch a workfare scheme (or pilot of one) for people unfortunate enough to still be unemployed after two years on the Work Programme. We thought we should reproduce this article, first published by us on 12 December 2012, to point out it has already been piloted. And found to fail (apart from at increasing sanctions).
More news of workfare schemes that fail to help people into jobs came out last week, as the first examination of the “Very Long-Term Unemployed Trailblazer” is released. The headline is that being sent on the Community Action Programme (CAP) – a 6 month workfare placement – has no effect on employment levels with 15-18% of people finding work – the same amount as people who simply got standard job centre plus support.
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Posted: September 19th, 2013 | Author: boycottworkfare | Filed under: Info on schemes, Welfare to work industry | 3 Comments »
This August will see the start of yet another role out of a scheme of unpaid labour aimed at the poorest. “Traineeships” are the grand plan of Skills Minister Matthew Hancock to provide free workers to companies for up to 5 months at a time to help us “secure an apprenticeship” afterwards ( which themselves have a minimum wage of only £2.65 an hour!). Although starting with 16-19 year olds it will eventually involve people up to the age of 24.
The government state they want traineeships to “simplify the system” for companies and “bring together, or cease, other similar programmes”. Although they do not say which schemes the traineeships will replace, it is most similar to the current work experience scheme. However, traineeships will not just be restricted to those on JSA, but also school kids when the compulsory age of education moves up to 18.
Like with the work experience scheme the placements can be with companies. However, whereas the Work Experience scheme placements were 2-8 weeks, with traineeships the length will more than double to 6-22 weeks (5 months). This will make it easier for companies to exploit us as they won’t have to train new people as often.
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Posted: June 29th, 2013 | Author: againstworkfare | Filed under: Call to action, Info on schemes | 6 Comments »
This week the government announced a further cut of £350 million to the welfare budget – a ‘new contract’ that targets the unemployed. In future anyone who is made unemployed will have to wait a whole week before being allowed to claim JSA.
As well as this, the governments wants around half the people claiming JSA to go to the job centre twice as often as they do now – the same frequency that will be ‘routine’ for people suffering under the ‘intensive and uncompromising regime’ which will hit leavers of the Work Programme. And, despite funding for English language courses being cut in 2011, people whose English the job centre doesn’t think is good enough will be sanctioned if they don’t attend the courses (though already this is happening on a smaller scale than announced). Lone parents will start having to do what the job centre tells them as soon as their child turns three.
The government knows that ‘claimants targeted by an intensive approach [are] much less likely to stay on benefit’. The aim is to make it as difficult, stressful and intrusive as possible for unemployed people to claim the money they need to survive – and to make it as easy as possible for the job centre to stop that money – by increasing the number and extending the detail of the tasks you have to complete, and the conditions you have to fulfill, in order to deserve benefits.
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Posted: May 25th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Info on schemes, Welfare to work industry | 7 Comments »
Another week, another admission from politicians that the government’s Work Programme is failing (but obviously without any moves to bring it to an end). This open letter of complaint highlights just how useless the Work Programme really is, and concludes “I think the only solution to my complaints is for your company (and the Work Programme in general) to cease to exist.” For more stories of people’s experiences, read the comments on the blog where this letter was originally posted.
Work Programme: proving there’s money to be made out of the unemployed, but none for the unemployed themselves. Photo: Howard Jones
To whom it may concern
I am writing to lodge a formal complaint against Avanta. I do not wish to target any individual branch or person in my complaint but, rather, your organisation as a whole. My reasons for this are that I believe any branches or individuals are only acting in the interests of your company and their actions are a reflection of what is expected of them.
I will state, however, that my branch is the [removed] branch – but I’m fully aware my complaints are not limited to this one branch.
I am extremely dis-satisfied with what is supposed to be a service intended to help myself, and other jobseekers, back into work. There is nothing about Avanta which proves to me that Avanta are interested in anything more than filling their own pockets.
My complaints are as follows, and in no particular chronological order:
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Posted: May 18th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Info on schemes, Name and shame | 13 Comments »
The government must now reveal the list of workfare exploiters, which it fears mean the schemes will ‘collapse’. But it praised Salvation Army for ‘holding the line’. [Photo: Sinister Pics]
Some great news: The government has lost its appeal and must reveal the organisations
that have used Mandatory Work Activity, Work Experience, and Work Programme placements. That means we’re going to be able to show those organisations what we think of them profiting from free labour!
The evidence the government submitted reveals what a huge impact your actions have had. They argued:
“The activities of campaign groups and the results of negative publicity meant that… “a great many placement organisations” had ceased to offer placements. That in turn reduced the numbers of opportunities available across both programmes with a loss of many placements and prospective new placements being at risk.” (Point 109)
This adds to the evidence that emerged earlier in the week that numbers of people on “Government employment schemes” (read ‘workfare’) have dropped by 16,000 this quarter. We also heard that Seetec were complaining at an industry conference last week how difficult it is to find placements nowadays because employers are worried about protest. The DWP’s appeal revealed that one subcontractor has complained about a loss of 100 placements per week in its area alone (point 93).
That is your actions – whether building pressure online, spreading the word, withholding donations, boycotting shops, joining a picket or staging an occupation – helping push back forced unpaid work in the UK.
The government feared that “Put simply, disclosure [of names] would have been likely to have led to the collapse of the MWA [Mandatory Work Activity] scheme”. Let’s do our best to make sure it does! Keep your eyes peeled for the release of the names and get ready to step up the pressure on those profiting from forced labour.
Special congratulations go to Frank Zola for pursuing this to the Information Tribunal. The full decision can be enjoyed here. (Of particular note are points 28, 29, 67, 70-75, 93, 94, 96, 99, 100, 103, 109, 127, 133, 176, 196)
Since the Salvation Army gets a special mention from the DWP for ‘holding the line’ (point 196), you may like to take this opportunity to remind them why this position is just so inconsistent with their Christian values. The Salvation Army UK can be contacted on facebook, by phone (020 7367 4500), by email (email@example.com). More background on their involvement and contact details can be found here, or you can tweet at them:
Posted: May 13th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Info on schemes | No Comments »
The fantastic and v. useful infographic that Occupied Times have put together, working with Boycott Workfare. Click on it to see it full size!
There are different rules for each of the workfare schemes, and the job centre and work programme don’t seem too bothered about following them, so it’s important to know your rights! We hear stories every week of people who have managed to avoid workfare by asserting their rights. This great new infographic, put together by Occupied Times (who also published this article about Boycott Workfare), is a very useful summary of some of our key rights. For more detail, check out this page too.
Please help spread the word! Pass the infographic onto people you know who are signing on, or download and print leaflets (with the infographic formatted for A4) to give out at your local library, work programme provider or job centre. (We can help with printing costs – so let us know if that would help!)
Posted: March 22nd, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Info on schemes, Welfare to work industry | 10 Comments »
Iain Duncan Smith and his thinktank friends think that workfare and sanctions are a good idea for people in low-paid and part-time work too. tell him what you think! (Photo: CBI / flickr)
It’s now Day 6 of the week of action – and we must have already topped 35 hours of anti-workfare activity. Shame we can’t stick that down on the form!
Join people in cities across the UK for pickets and creative action, and take part in online action too!
For today’s online action, we will turn our eyes towards the future and step up efforts to get another ‘flagship’ scheme grounded before it even sets sail out of the harbour. Not content with the devastation sanctions are already causing, the DWP and their thinktank friends Policy Exchange have been seeking ideas on how to extend workfare and ‘conditionality’ – let’s call it profiteering, time-wasting, potentially life-sapping harassment – to working claimants when Universal Credit kicks in. And we have this weekend to tell them: don’t even think of it.
According to Lord Freud, the banker-turned-welfare-minister: “The fact that those in work will come under the ambit of the JobCentre Plus for the first time as a result of universal credit gives the government radical new opportunities.” The ComDems have learned their lessons from New Labour in the spin of framing retrogressive steps as ‘radical’. They are boldly going where no poverty profiteer has gone before.
However, the government is well aware that the usual divisive rhetoric about benefits robbing ‘the taxpayer’ will be more difficult to direct against people who are already working and paying taxes. Also, many of the workers they aim to harass are organised, belong to unions and have access to resources such as free legal advice. The Cait Reilly case upset IDS so much he threw a spectacular hissy fit. There’ll be many more challenges if the DWP insists on sticking its nose where it’s not meant to go.
Therefore, the DWP and Policy Exchange are asking for suggestions on how to widen the range of their nets to self-employed, part-time and low-paid workers. In a document with the catchy title of “Extending labour market interventions to in-work claimants – call for ideas”, the DWP requests feedback from “employers, behavioural economists, social psychologists, think tanks, welfare to work providers, academics, charities, application designers and those at the sharp end of delivering existing services”. Of course, this call-out doesn’t include those at ‘the sharp end’ of DWP schemes.
The DWP’s call for ideas on in-work conditionality will run until 25 March. So we have only a couple of days to go, but let’s make them count. It asks that people submit ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alongside this, the Policy Exchange has formed a policy and academic group dedicated to this project. These lovely folks kindly invite comments ‘on a personal basis’ for Matthew Oakley at email@example.com.
We can ensure that they come to work on Monday to an overflowing inbox. Many websites allow you to download free PDFs of classics. Perhaps the DWP and Policy Exchange folks might want to read some. Dickens might be a good place to start, which will show just how ‘radical’ their plans are.
Suggestions, they want? Those of us likely to be on the sharp end of this stick could tell them what we think. Let ‘em have it!
Posted: March 15th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Info on schemes | 21 Comments »
Yesterday the Government introduced a new workfare bill to retroactively change workfare legislation judged unlawful by the High Court, so that it has always complied with the court ruling, even though for two years it did not. Its aim? To avoid paying back the JSA money it unlawfully stopped when people were ‘sanctioned’ on its workfare schemes. That the government would try to avoid paying was expected. What no one expected was how it plans to do so.
In its arguments to justify withholding social security people are due – an average of about £500 per person, £130 million pounds in total – the DWP has stated that:
“If the Department cannot make these retrospective changes, then further reductions in benefits might be required in order to find the money to repay the sanctions”
In short, if the government is made to obey the high court’s ruling, it will inflict collective punishment on those who can least afford it by finding £130 million pounds more in new cuts from the welfare
budget. Shockingly this is supported by Labour. Yet again the poorest will be made to pay for the mistakes of the powerful.
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