Join people in cities across the UK for pickets and creative action, and take part in online action too!
For today’s online action, we will turn our eyes towards the future and step up efforts to get another ‘flagship’ scheme grounded before it even sets sail out of the harbour. Not content with the devastation sanctions are already causing, the DWP and their thinktank friends Policy Exchange have been seeking ideas on how to extend workfare and ‘conditionality’ – let’s call it profiteering, time-wasting, potentially life-sapping harassment – to working claimants when Universal Credit kicks in. And we have this weekend to tell them: don’t even think of it.
According to Lord Freud, the banker-turned-welfare-minister: “The fact that those in work will come under the ambit of the JobCentre Plus for the first time as a result of universal credit gives the government radical new opportunities.” The ComDems have learned their lessons from New Labour in the spin of framing retrogressive steps as ‘radical’. They are boldly going where no poverty profiteer has gone before.
However, the government is well aware that the usual divisive rhetoric about benefits robbing ‘the taxpayer’ will be more difficult to direct against people who are already working and paying taxes. Also, many of the workers they aim to harass are organised, belong to unions and have access to resources such as free legal advice. The Cait Reilly case upset IDS so much he threw a spectacular hissy fit. There’ll be many more challenges if the DWP insists on sticking its nose where it’s not meant to go.
Therefore, the DWP and Policy Exchange are asking for suggestions on how to widen the range of their nets to self-employed, part-time and low-paid workers. In a document with the catchy title of “Extending labour market interventions to in-work claimants – call for ideas”, the DWP requests feedback from “employers, behavioural economists, social psychologists, think tanks, welfare to work providers, academics, charities, application designers and those at the sharp end of delivering existing services”. Of course, this call-out doesn’t include those at ‘the sharp end’ of DWP schemes.
The DWP’s call for ideas on in-work conditionality will run until 25 March. So we have only a couple of days to go, but let’s make them count. It asks that people submit ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alongside this, the Policy Exchange has formed a policy and academic group dedicated to this project. These lovely folks kindly invite comments ‘on a personal basis’ for Matthew Oakley at email@example.com.
We can ensure that they come to work on Monday to an overflowing inbox. Many websites allow you to download free PDFs of classics. Perhaps the DWP and Policy Exchange folks might want to read some. Dickens might be a good place to start, which will show just how ‘radical’ their plans are.
Suggestions, they want? Those of us likely to be on the sharp end of this stick could tell them what we think. Let ’em have it!