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Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.

Workfare: the missing headlines and the fiddled statistics

Posted: October 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Name and shame | 5 Comments »
Argos: still exploiting people with workfare

Argos: still exploiting people with workfare. Photo: olishaw/flickr

This week the ONS has officially confirmed that people on workfare schemes are not being counted as unemployed. We now know how the government is able to claim that unemployment has fallen by 50,000. Against shamefully scant critical media coverage this week, Minister for Employment Mark Hoban proudly announced that as of this week for ‘failing to do something’, such as work unpaid for Argos, people will now face up to three year sanctions.

The UK makes its citizens carry out forced unpaid work on threat of destitution – for private companies such as Poundland, which has seen a vast increase in its profits. No wonder Argos have been keen to get involved.

Sanctions have tripled since this government came into power and the use of food banks has rocketed. The new sanctions regime, with its threat of a maximum three year penalty, has massive implications for poverty levels in the UK and tears up the social contract. This makes the lack of critical media coverage truly shameful. Almost as shameful as the Labour Party supporting the idea. Whilst those struggling to find work are denied a right to welfare, it ís a different story for those organisations eager to be subsidised by state and taxpayer. Which takes us back to Argos.

Argos and Barnados, both profiting from workfare and so promoting this government’s austerity drive, are now working together and have launched the ‘Toy Exchange programme’. In return for your old toys, Argos will give you a £5 voucher, which can be redeemed only if you spend another £35. Argos is a business in trouble. It is closing 75 stores, and judging by the number of reports of mass workfare in its stores, forcing people to work unpaid appears to be a key part of its business plan. Whilst this joint venture is a nice little money spinner for Argos and Barnardos, who will end up doing all the work for this scheme for no wages with the threat of a three year sanction?

Not to be left off the state subsidised gravy train, the lobbyists appear to have had the ear of banker and self appointed welfare expert Lord Freud. He has asked companies to tender to deliver ‘budgeting help‘ for people moved onto Universal Credit. Between £80 and £145 hundred million is to be made available for companies to help claimants manage their budgets. If current form is anything to go by, this will mean the likes of A4e who missed its Work Programme targets and received a £46 million payout from the tax payer, whilst now threatening people with three year sanctions, will also end up telling people how to spend their money. A cynic might suggest that this money could perhaps also be used to prop up companies struggling to make the failing Work Programme profitable. But then workfare and welfare reform were never about getting people into work. Just ask A4e or Argos and follow the money.

 


5 Comments on “Workfare: the missing headlines and the fiddled statistics”

  1. 1 Anyone With a Heart Would Not Support Workfare | Birmingham Against The Cuts said at 2:10 pm on October 29th, 2012:

    [...] not reduce unemployment. Except of course when we are talking about government statistics, where people on workfare schemes are not counted as unemployed, even though they are unpaid and looking for a proper [...]

  2. 2 Workfare’s Christmas Bonus For The Bosses – Demonstrate, 8th December | Birmingham Against The Cuts said at 1:54 pm on November 21st, 2012:

    [...] to sanction, these schemes cannot be seen as anything other than punishment for unemployment, and a way of manufacturing falling unemployment figures (although in Birmingham, unemployment has continued to [...]

  3. 3 2012: The Year Austerity Economics Started To Unravel | Birmingham Against The Cuts said at 11:17 am on January 22nd, 2013:

    [...] are a number of reasons put forward for this – the huge rise in part time employment, the counting of forced unpaid workfare as a job, thousands going self-employed and pay freezes/reductions across the economy as a whole. Alongside [...]

  4. 4 Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » Combatting The Lies – Day 7 Of The Workfare Week Of Action said at 1:34 pm on March 24th, 2013:

    [...] training and employment support programs” in February 2013 – over 10% of JSA claimants, counted as in work by government statistics. Given how little actual training is available, chances are most of these were on a workfare [...]

  5. 5 Birmingham Trades Council » Combatting The Lies – Day 7 Of The Workfare Week Of Action said at 2:02 am on March 25th, 2013:

    [...] training and employment support programs” in February 2013 – over 10% of JSA claimants, counted as in work by government statistics. Given how little actual training is available, chances are most of these were on a workfare [...]


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