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Aktive Arbeitslose challenge sanctions and share mutual support with unemployed people in Austria.

Aktive Arbeitslose challenge sanctions and share mutual support with unemployed people in Austria.

Boycott Workfare is proud to be taking part this week in a conference in Vienna, hosted by the Austrian group ‘Aktive Arbeitslose‘. As well as an exciting chance to share ideas, tactics and experiences across borders, it’s also an opportunity to look more deeply at the EU and its involvement in workfare. What we found is revealing but perhaps unsurprising.

As high unemployment, austerity, and cuts ravage Europe, and millions of people are plunged into poverty, the workfare industry continues to promote poverty and a europe-wide race to the bottom. But people across Europe are refusing to run that race.

Wondering what this has got to do with EU? Follow the money: In 2010 A4e alone had already received £60 million from the European Social Fund (ESF).

Perversely the ESF claims its aim is to ‘help millions of Europeans improve their lives by learning new skills and finding better jobs’. Yet A4e continues to fail to meet its targets to get people into work and to ruin lives via sanctions. The EU continues to fund it to do so. Not to be outdone, REED and Deloitte-owned Ingeus have their snouts in the trough as well: REED were recently awarded £4.9 million. ESF-funded Ingeus recently had a visit from an EU commissioner to highlight its ‘successes’, which is odd given that it too is failing to meet its minimum Work Programme targets.

Familiar? European Social Fund branding appears on Work Programme letters and leaflets.

Familiar? European Social Fund branding appears on Work Programme letters and leaflets.

The government’s flagship £5 billion Work Programme is, according to DWP statistics, worse than doing nothing at all. Every single private company has failed its targets, but instead of the scheme getting scrapped, the companies want more for doing even less. This is the scheme that the European Social Fund has boosted with a further £66 million so that disabled people can be subject to it as well. The EU is subsidising the likes of A4E and the government to sanction to people and increase poverty.

Whilst workfare providers make millions from scrounging astronomical sums in the form of both UK and EU taxpayer subsidies, jobseekers continue to be scapegoated, punished and impoverished. Yet if workfare providers and funders can co-operate across borders, so too can the people in Europe – in fact we should. We are keen to hear from groups across the EU. If you are in Europe and reading this, please contact us. If you are a EU citizen in the UK on workfare or who has been sanctioned then get in touch.

The First Vienna International Conference of Unemployed is a welcome opportunity to share counter-strategies and to network together. We have the tools. We have the ideas. Let’s use them.

Read Boycott Workfare’s speech to the conference.

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Jj

It is truly shocking how much money gets ploughed into these Work Programme primes and, worse, how it is literally turning into nothing.
Is there nobody with any sense of responsibility at the ESF?
Surely it should come as a surprise to nobody that people with minimal competence are not fit to 'support' people into a barren, tiny labour market.

Well the ESF can save some money from me. I should be starting my new job tomorrow and Ingeus can whistle if they think they're getting details. They played no part in me getting the job, so they can do without the outcome payment.

Following the money… The EU and the Work Programme

[...] Workfare, a UK campaign against unpaid work for people on benefits, attended the conference. You can read Boycott Welfare’s speech that they gave at the conference [...]