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.
More evidence has emerged revealing the people who are really profiting from workfare. The Guardian exposed that Conservative Party donors have benefited from £73 million in “welfare to work” contracts, including a scheme which awarded an £800 bonus for every workfare placement organised. Embarrassingly, one of those implicated is the Director of Iain Duncan Smith’s ironically named “Centre for Social Justice”. But we know that Labour are at it as well. More on this soon.
Eager to cash in, Bournemouth College have been caught advertising people on the Work Programme to businesses on ‘a try before you buy’ basis. Local activists raised the alarm, and the College has since changed this offensive sales pitch on their website, but not before the original advert was saved in all its glory here.
You know workfare is in trouble when right wing industry think-tank CESI has admitted “It could prove to be a very expensive failure if it doesn’t get people into jobs.” This is in light of recent DWP research showing that Mandatory Work Activity has “zero effect” on helping people find work.
The government has another great workfare idea: Make everyone who has been on the Work Programme do six whole months of full-time forced unpaid labour. It introduced a pilot scheme for this idea, the bizarrely named “Community Action Programme”, which is being implemented by profit-making “Welfare to Work” companies. We hear from one unlucky person about the shambles that was the first day of their six month stint.
After being informed that I had won the “lottery” so to speak, I was duly summoned to attend a Community Action Programme “Welcome meeting” on this fine February morning. Determined not to be too sullen despite having been previously shall we say, a little under impressed by the so called assistance received through A4e 6 months prior, I tried to open my mind to the possibilities that may be offered by Pinnacle People, and knowing that I have little choice but to attend or lose my benefits, off I went.
In November we reported on a new workfare scheme that the government is “piloting”. Now hear from someone who has been “volunteered” for it:
I did a Mandatory Work Related Activity as they called it for 4 weeks in May, and I’m still signing on now, so a fat lot of good that did. I was told that I wouldn’t have to do it again, but lo and behold, I been ”volunteered” (the dole offices words not mine) for what they’re now calling a Community Action Programme. I’m working side by side for 30 hours a week for the next 6 months with people doing the exact same job and hours, but while they’re walking away with £180 in their pockets I be coming home to my £65 a week dole money.
As I was told this Monday, I will be expected to show real enthusiasm and keenness ”just in case there’s a slight possibilty there could be a job at the end of it” (the dole office’s words again!!). Failure to do so will see my benefits cut or even stopped.
The government has unveiled plans for yet another workfare scheme. This time, for six months at a time. In a press release on 8th November, Chris Grayling revealed plans to give community service type sentences to the long term unemployed. A trial is already underway in Derbyshire; Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland; East Anglia; and Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. In short, claimants are now being treated as criminals.
In a clear sign that the government intends to use forced labour to replace the gaps left in public service delivery, the provider guidelines suggest that a community placement would be appropriate at Local Authorities and Councils, Government Departments and Agencies, Charities and third sector organisations, Social Enterprises, and Environmental Agencies.
In an interesting development, Atos, the IT company now infamous for its “work capability assessment” designed to deny sick and disabled people benefits, is running one of the trials. Ingeus (owned by city financiers Deloitte) is running the other.
This scheme adds another element of forced labour on threat of sanctions for claimants to the existing schemes:
- Two months’ work experience for young people
- Six month work placements mandated as part of the Work Programme
- One month, 30 hour a week, Mandatory Work Activity