Don’t even think of it – Day 6 of the Workfare Week of Action

IDS in dinner jacket

Iain Duncan Smith and his thinktank friends think that workfare and sanctions are a good idea for people in low-paid and part-time work too. tell him what you think! (Photo: CBI / flickr)

It’s now Day 6 of the week of action – and we must have already topped 35 hours of anti-workfare activity. Shame we can’t stick that down on the form!

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:

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

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!


Comments (10)

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I agree that it will be more difficult for them to push the "robbing the taxpayer" line, but I'm sure they'll find a couple of unrepresentative examples of fraud to use. The DWP or one of its slavers with access to an employee's current work pattern on computer could make sanctioning routine for low-paid workers. A local authority, for example, that is a sub-contractor could email at short notice an employee working, say, 20 hours a week with details of extra work that he must do. If he doesn't show...

Alex Talbot

Have just sent the following. I think it might be a good idea to encourage persons receiving in work benefits to be encouraged to develop themselves culturally. Perhaps paid time off to read great works of literature. I attach an example.
6388K View Download Perhaps you could send a PDF of the complete works of Shakespeare or Proust, possibly Marx's Das Kapital!


Peacefull non complience with the system on mass. thats the answer.


I will be sending them a list of diseases from my old pathology book - along with some very graphic pictures of venereal diseases. In fact all the diseases I wish them to have

Wat Tyler

Dear DWP,

I understand that you are looking for new ways to screw people: "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." (Lord Fraud).

I suggest putting Iain Duncan Smith in a cage and hanging him from Tower Bridge.
I feel this would have an enormously morale-boosting effect on the workforce.

Yours Sincerely,



Dear Matthew,

I understand that you are looking to take advantage of the "radical new opportunities" (Lord Fraud) offered by Universal Credit to find new ways to extend your constant, inhumane harassment of the people on out-of-work benefits to people on in-work benefits.

I feel the best way for you to gain real insight would be to bury yourself alive in a box for a month with no food or toilet paper (water permitted), to give you some idea of what it's like to be sanctioned by the DWP's 'Work of Starve' initiatives.

Hope this helps,

Yours Sincerely,



How about this for starters? ;)

Boycott Workfare Target Policy Exchange Gimps | the void

[...] With protests against workfare set to take place across the UK today, Boycott Workfare have also called for a day of online action against the Policy Exchange. [...]

Davey of Cornwall

A friend had a GF who worked at a Jobcentre during the Blair era. Allegedly the Workfare forms had already been printed. The scheme was allegedly squashed because council workers feared that they would lose their jobs. Basically replacing paid workers with free workers does not create any more jobs.

As the bible says "Is not the labourer worth his hire?" So there you have it, the bible objects to slavery. (I'm not particularly religious by the way but some things do have a ring of truth)


I emailed them, oddly enough from my experience in microbiology, (I'm loving the link to a paper in pathology) to advise them not to bother implementing any new strategies until they can demonstrate efficacy for their current welfare to work strategies.

I find it odd that they are calling out for academics and professionals in research for advice. It is my view, and probably of many others with a background in data analysis, that the department are incredibly poor at handling data.

So that was my advice, alongside the basis for their current failures,. Include exhaustive variables so that you can properly recognise successes and failures.


I'm a recently retired JC TU rep who has been fighting the target culture of sanctions since the summer of 2010.
PCS estimate that up to 40% of JC staff work part time and so will be on UC. Therefore, they will be in the frame for being referred for a sanction if they refuse to up their hours.
This would have to involve an additional outside job as DWP will be very unlikely to grant an increase in hours.