Forced labour schemes such as Community Work Placements and Mandatory Work Activity may have finished but many claimants still face workfare under other names: Work Experience, Sector-based Work Academies, Work Trial, Youth Obligation, Work Programme, Work and Health Programme and even ‘internships’ with companies like Poundland – all backed with the threat of sanctions. Those on disability benefits have to deal with the farcical and brutal Work Capabilities Assessment (WCA), and those joining the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) group from April will experience a cut of £30 a week to their benefits. Claimants continue to be left penniless and sometimes homeless by sanctions and the built-in delays of Universal Credit (at least 42 days and sometimes longer to receive first payment).
The fightback continues
Through protests, leafleting and direct action we can break the silence and challenge the divisive narrative of ‘scroungers’. We can show our solidarity and march together – claimants and workers and disabled people – to demand an end to the ongoing marginalisation and ill-treatment of anyone receiving benefits.
All these actions are powerful ways to resist these cuts: in resisting sanctions and resisting workfare. They have worked time and again, forcing companies and charities to pull out of workfare schemes. They have embarrassed politicians into resigning – remember Ian-Duncan Smith, head of the DWP?
So speak to politicians in MP surgeries. Take action online. Drop leaflets. Join a protest. Organise a protest. For targets and ideas see below for some of the actions already planned. The government has to work hard to keep the reality of welfare cuts hidden, tying itself in a knot of lies about the ‘burden of benefits’. But we will expose the truth and demand that injustices are recognised and righted. All people should be able to live in dignity and be free of the constant threat of destitution.
Let us know if you are organising an action and we will share it! See the Take Action page for all the actions planned so far.
Suggested targets for a protest:
- Jobcentres As well as making clear your opposition to sanctions and workfare, it may be useful to have some leaflets that offer some sign-posting for claimants rights. For such leaflets see the leaflets on this website, Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty,Scottish Unemployed Workers Network.
- Maximus. This is the company carrying out the Work Capability Assessments. Offices in London, Exeter, Worthing.
- DWP offices London, Sheffield, Mansfield and Newcastle.
- Workfare exploiters. Prolific workfare profiteers include Poundland, B&M Bargains, Marriott Hotels
- Workfare providers. See the list on this website. Serco, Maximus, PeoplePlus (formerly A4e), G4S.
- Target Samaritans, Scope & Sue Ryder: these charities claim to reject workfare, but we know they’ve been involved in Community Work Placements recently. Put pressure on them and make sure there never involved in workfare again.
Actions already planned:
1-3pm ‘Cracks in the System’: Room 8 Houses of Parliament London SW1A OAA
South East London Unite Community will be performing ‘Cracks In the System’, a piece of poetry about the impact of benefit cuts and sanctions written by Paula Peters. See details here.
There will be actions at job centres throughout the UK – see details & locations of all the actions here.