Posted: May 18th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Info on schemes, Name and shame | 4 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 | 18 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.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 11th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Call to action, Info on schemes | 6 Comments »
Not content with workfare for unemployed and disabled people, the DWP and their thinktank friends Policy Exchange are seeking ideas on how to extend workfare and conditionality to people in low-paid and part-time work as well.
The DWP and workfare thinktank Policy Exchange are seeking ideas on how to extend workfare and conditionality to people who are in work…
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.”
Having learned their lessons from New Labour in the spin of framing retrogressive steps as ‘radical’, the ConDems aren’t content with their efforts to grind down unemployed and disabled people. They now want to extend workfare and ‘conditionality’ – let’s call it profiteering, time-wasting, potentially life-sapping harassment – to working claimants when Universal Credit kicks in. 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.
Therefore, the DWP and Policy Exchange are both 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.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 7th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Charities, Info on schemes | 17 Comments »
Barnardo’s helped the government launch its workfare for young people. [Photo: Howard Lake/flickr]
Debenhams tell us that the workfare scheme they are involved in is “purely voluntary and in no way linked to the receipt of benefits”. We hear “Barnardo’s does not take part in mandatory work activity. Our position is that we are against the principle of benefits sanctions, having successfully lobbied the government last year to drop them for young people taking part in the work experience programme.” * One thing needs to be clear: the Work Experience scheme they refer to is not free of sanctions. It is workfare.
Last year after a huge public response to workfare, the government removed some of the sanctions from ‘Work Experience’, which is one of numerous workfare schemes. However, the idea that since then the Work Experience scheme has been purely voluntary is at best wrong, and perhaps deliberately misleading.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: February 22nd, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Info on schemes | 11 Comments »
In another blow to workfare, charity PDSA yesterday confirmed that they have pulled out of workfare. With immediate effect, those forced to work in their stores can walk free. This comes on the tail of two other major charities announcing their intention to steer clear of workfare last week, and is a promising sign as our week of action approaches that at least Mandatory Work Activity may soon be on its way out.
Today, Iain Duncan Smith faces another blow to his flagship Work Programme scheme, which last week was found to have been unlawful since its introduction. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has released a report on the failing £5 billion Work Programme. The report is based on the disastrous figures released by the DWP in November 2012, which showed just 3.6% of people on the Work Programme finding work, well below the contractual minimum of 5.5%, which at the time we were told was the expected target.
In fact, the DWP has been rather coy about their expectations and are strongly criticised by the PAC for not telling us that they actually expected providers to find 11.9% of people work, and that 9.2% of people would have found work with no help at all.
Let that sink in for a moment. The Work Programme reduced the number of people expected to find work by 61%. That’s 50,000 people who would have found a job, except they got sent on the biggest programme that exists to ‘help’ people find work.
The Work Programme was worst at helping those who need the most support. Providers, such as A4E, REED and Ingeus, actually reduced the number of ESA claimants finding work by 80%, and the number of 18-24 year of JSA claimants finding work by 74%.
This is due to providers “parking” claimants who they don’t think will make them money in their payment by results system. If you only get paid for getting people into work, why spend time and money on someone who is unlikely to get a job?
For those on the Work Programme, today’s news comes as no surprise. We know providers’ unhelpful concoction of psycho-babble, coercion and CV workshops at best obstructs us from being able to find work, and is always more demoralising than helpful. We know that the scheme is set up to place the blame for unemployment on the unemployed, shifting focus away from a triple-dip recession economy and any measures that might address the fact that even if all current job vacancies were filled there would still be 2 million people unemployed. We know that the ‘black box’ approach of the Work Programme can mean anything from neglect to bullying.
The figures the government tried to hide show that the Work Programme is a barrier to people getting a job at all. The Work Programme must be scrapped, along with all the other workfare schemes Iain Duncan Smith needed emergency regulation to resuscitate just a week ago.
Posted: February 15th, 2013 | Author: boycottworkfare | Filed under: Info on schemes | 12 Comments »
We are being informed that Job Centre Plus advisers are wrongly informing claimants that following the High Court ruling ‘nothing has changed’. This is in fact incorrect. As things currently stand following the ruling by three judges in the Court of Appeal on 12th February, our understanding is that:
1) If people are currently under sanctions from the unlawful schemes, these sanctions should be lifted immediately and they should be put back to first tier sanctions. If you are currently under sanction from one of the unlawful schemes but it has not been lifted, please get in touch.
2) Unless people have been sent updated notices under reg 5 of the new regulations then there cannot be a requirement for them to attend any of the schemes they have been sent on (except Mandatory Work Activity). As Public Interest Lawyers put it:
“The DWP made it clear in submissions to the court that the immediate effect of the judgment was that they would be unable to require people to attend affected schemes and that must be the case. Until lawful Regulations are passed and new notifications are sent out I struggle to see how attendance can be required on the affected schemes.”
3) Unless the government wins the right to appeal to the Supreme Court and wins that appeal, then people who were sanctioned on any of the unlawful schemes should be paid the benefits that were withheld. The government has indicated it will not consider paying this until the appeal decision has been made and has issued misleading guidance to Job Centre staff to tell people that they cannot appeal before then. This is not the case and in some instances you can lose your right to appeal if you do not do so within a month. See the very useful update from Child Poverty Action Group here. As soon as a model letter to appeal is available, we will share it here.
So, for anyone say on a 6 month sanction that sanction should be immediately lifted, their benefits reinstated and they should then go back to the first tier of sanctions (they cannot impose the longer sanctions until there has been the repeated failure to participate).
This week workfare has been judged to have been unlawful. The following companies and charities are involved in workfare:
Poundland, Argos, ASDA
AGE UK, YMCA England, Salvation Army, Sue Ryder, RSPCA, PDSA
There are many more organisations which are profiting from people forced to work on unlawful schemes on this list here.
We hope this helps clarify the situation for people, and we ask them to remind these companies and charities of their shameful behaviour.
The new regulations are available here.
Posted: February 13th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Action report, Info on schemes | 22 Comments »
Since workfare has been rolled out in the UK it has been found to be fraudulent, failing, and now, illegal. Yesterday, three judges unanimously agreed that almost all of Iain Duncan Smith’s back to work schemes which hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to take part in were unlawful (Mandatory Work Activity is sadly unaffected). Everyone who has been sanctioned on these schemes since they began two years ago should be entitled to be paid back; Newsnight last night said 130,000 people who have been unlawfully sanctioned are affected.
But it didn’t take long for the humiliated government to get forced unpaid work back on the road again. Last night, promising a “short sharp shock”, it rushed through regulations which mean that from today these schemes may be mandatory. We say may because the DWP doesn’t exactly have a good track record of following the law; the new regulations were rushed out in 24 hours and may not respect the judges’ ruling.
The new regulations haven’t yet been put in the public domain, so once again people are in a limbo where we have no way of knowing our rights. This is what we understand to be the case at the moment, and we’ll keep you posted as we hear more:
1. Until yesterday, all back to work schemes apart from Mandatory Work Activity were unlawful. This includes the Work Programme, Work Experience, Sector Based Work Academies, Community Action Programme and Trailblazer schemes. This means:
- nothing was legally mandatory on those schemes
- everyone who was sanctioned on them should be entitled to recoup their lost payments
2. The government plan to ask the Supreme Court for a right to appeal. Until they have done so, they say they will not accept requests for sanctions to be repaid. It is very unlikely they will win the appeal, but it does mean there will be a delay in repayments. We will stay in touch with Public Interest Lawyers to keep people posted on this, and whether there may be a case for compensation.
3. Job Centre staff have been advised to tell people that because of the new regulations brought in last night “nothing has changed”. This is not the case:
- Unless the government wins the right to appeal and wins that appeal (which is unlikely), then everything you have been asked to do on these schemes in the last two years was unlawful.
- Job Centres are issuing new letters to claimants from today which suggests that the previous letters about back to work schemes are no longer valid. This could mean that you are not mandated on these schemes until you receive a new letter.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 9th, 2013 | Author: editor | Filed under: Info on schemes, Welfare to work industry | 4 Comments »
Workfare: doesn’t work and not fair. Photo: Howard Jones
Last week saw the Labour Party announce its own form of workfare: the Job Guarantee. Labour, who introduced workfare and welfare reform into the UK whilst in government, now guarantees a number of things: It guarantees that yet again politicians will give billions of taxpayers’ money to subsidise big private businesses – probably the likes of failing and government contract reliant A4E, and workfare-users ASDA – helping them to drive up their profit margins. It guarantees to further undermine real job vacancies as companies replace job roles with subsidised compulsory short-term placements.
Labour, like the coalition government, also now guarantee to undermine the idea of a living wage, which just two months ago Ed Milliband appeared to champion. After all if a company can get staff forced to work for it, both provided by and subsidised by the state at minimum wage, why pay the living wage? Indeed, earlier announcements about the scheme suggest that it will include 10 hours unpaid, so will also be far below minimum wage. In addition, Labour’s ‘guarantee’ will only last for six months. With a revolving door workforce on tap, why would an employer create permanent jobs? As this campaign has revealed, workfare replaces paid employment, and undermines the wages of people already in work, who have seen their overtime and hours reduced: Debenhams is the latest to use workfare to staff its shops during the busy festive season.
With each placement lasting only six months, Labour guarantees to use its scheme to massage the unemployment figures, not giving those who finish their placements anything to go on to, but effectively resetting the clock on their long term unemployment. If you refuse to take part, then Labour guarantees harsh sanctions. Read the rest of this entry »