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