In an effort to positively spin the government’s multi-billion pound policy failure, the DWP press office has let slip what all of us knew all along: the real aim of workfare – and all government welfare policy – is to deter and strip people of their welfare claims. Even after selectively releasing only some of its statistics, the government could only muster the following weak announcement:
‘A year after the payment-by-results scheme was launched, significant numbers of participants are spending at least three months off benefits according to the data.’
No mention of jobs because the Work Programme – and workfare – was never created to help people find work. Little wonder then that the number of long term unemployed stands at 99,700, up from 2010’s figure of 43,300. Perversely whilst politicians, the media, and Work Programme providers such as A4e blame the unemployed for being unemployed, they also demand more money, tougher sanctions, and blame the economy for the scheme failing.
Meanwhile, Work Programme costs continue to rocket. Attachment fees, the cost of sending people to private providers such as Maximus, now stand at £215 million, up from the £185 million originally forecast.
The government’s target was to use the Work Programme to get 40% of people into jobs, yet it struggles to reach 25%, and even then that 25% records anyone who has signed off for any reason. Let’s put this ongoing massive £5 billion plus policy failure in context: 28% of people are expected to find jobs without any help from the Work Programme or the likes of A4E at all.
Meanwhile, London is set to be the trial ground for another workfare scheme, targeted at young people: All who leave school are to be ‘forced’ to do voluntary and community work, before being able to claim Jobseekers Allowance.
Overlooking the fact that under-18s usually cannot claim Jobseekers Allowance, this pilot scheme – endorsed and pushed for by Boris Johnson – is to be specifically targeted at young people in areas where riots occurred last year. These 10,000 youths, who as yet are not even claiming benefits, will be expected to work with the elderly and carry out environmental work. That’s a workforce of 10,000 people doing jobs that should be paid. If they refuse to do so they will be barred from claiming welfare. Let’s say that again: They will be barred from claiming any welfare. But when they finish this ‘forced voluntary scheme’, they will not be offered a job.
Sadly, whilst commenting on the scheme, Labour’s London Assembly leader called the idea ‘laudable’. Unfortunate since it looks like collective punishment of all young people in areas where riots occurred.
That’s why this campaign – and people like you who make it happen are so important. This campaign continues to grow and go from strength to strength. Holland and Barrett pulled out because of you. Success breeds success, so lets all keep achieving, this week and beyond!
Get ringing! Running from Saturday 7 to 13 July, Liverpool Combat Workfare will be conducting a series of pickets and communication blockades against A4e, inviting you to join them in dial-up fun on Tuesday and Thursday this week. Brighton Benefits Campaign will also be clogging up A4e’s lines this Friday – keep an eye on their site for details!