This week the government announced a further cut of £350 million to the welfare budget – a ‘new contract’ that targets the unemployed. In future anyone who is made unemployed will have to wait a whole week before being allowed to claim JSA.
As well as this, the governments wants around half the people claiming JSA to go to the job centre twice as often as they do now – the same frequency that will be ‘routine’ for people suffering under the ‘intensive and uncompromising regime’ which will hit leavers of the Work Programme. And, despite funding for English language courses being cut in 2011, people whose English the job centre doesn’t think is good enough will be sanctioned if they don’t attend the courses (though already this is happening on a smaller scale than announced). Lone parents will start having to do what the job centre tells them as soon as their child turns three.
The government knows that ‘claimants targeted by an intensive approach [are] much less likely to stay on benefit’. The aim is to make it as difficult, stressful and intrusive as possible for unemployed people to claim the money they need to survive – and to make it as easy as possible for the job centre to stop that money – by increasing the number and extending the detail of the tasks you have to complete, and the conditions you have to fulfill, in order to deserve benefits.
Shamefully – though predictably – this massive attack on welfare was yet again supported by the Labour party.
But it’s not all bad news. This week showed again what most of us already know: that the Work Programme is a £5 billion waste of tax payers’ money. Less than a third of the target number of people claiming ESA (Employment Support Allowance – for people who are sick or disabled) found jobs lasting any time at all.
But don’t just take our word for it. What do the papers say? ‘welfare to work scheme failing to get people into work‘; ‘Government’s £5bn Work Programme failing and failing badly‘. As even government loyalists point out: the DWP have acknowledged that the Work Programme has missed all of its ‘minimum performance targets’.
It’s now a widely known fact: the Work Programme is a £5bn zombie-shambles.
And the Work Programme is just one of a number of workfare schemes – not one of which work. Workfare takes away paid jobs. It just makes it easier to sanction people.
Yet it appears no one has told the Salvation Army, who continue to ‘hold the line‘ for the DWP. Disregarding the facts, the Salvation Army have written up a pro-Work Programme report and have publicly claimed that ‘The Work Programme is working, but it could be working even better’.
It should now be clear to everyone that the Salvation Army put Work Programme profits before the people who they claim they are supposed to help.
Back in March Boycott Workfare occupied the Salvation Army’s headquarters, together with Christianity Uncut. This week the Salvation Army took action again to pro-actively support the Work Programme workfare and the DWP.
Workfare is on the ropes – together we can take it down.