Guest post: What the benefit reforms will mean to us

This is a guest post by @chmasu.

In 1992 my husband, Kevin, was working as a self-employed plumber and heating engineer. We were living in a private sector rented house with our three children aged 14, 9 and 6; and I was pregnant with our fourth child. When I was in my sixth month of pregnancy Kevin sustained a severe back injury, which left him unable to walk or stand up. After a six month wait Kevin was operated on, after which he could walk upright. However it became apparent that his back was not completely healed and it transpired that there was considerable scar tissue on the nerve, causing severe pain and limiting the distance he could walk and the amount of time he could stand. This scarring and pain was, we were told, permanent.

Following a face-to-face medical examination Kevin was awarded Disability Living Allowance (DLA), initially for a year and then, after another face-to-face medical examination by a Doctor, he was given what was then called a lifetime award. This enabled him to lease a car from Motability (I am not able to drive so our previous old banger of a car had gone). He was also awarded Incapacity Benefit, also with a face-to-face medical assessment. We claimed Housing benefit to help with the rent.

Kevin was not able to return to the plumbing work for which he was qualified so it was necessary to re-train. He studied part-time at our local F.E. College and obtained a BTEC National Diploma in Computing and Electronics. Despite his severe dyslexia he passed with distinctions in all subjects and was given the prize for best student on his course. He then obtained a Diploma of Higher Education in Computing. With these quantifications he chose to stop the Incapacity Benefit, despite it having just been renewed, and return to work part-time, eventually increasing to full time. Incapacity Benefit was replaced by Disability Working Allowance (DWA). None of the study or work would have been possible without the Motability car.

Over the years the DWA was replaced by Working Tax Credit (WTC) with a Disability premium. After 10 years working as a computer repair engineer for one of Britain’s leading small computer manufacturers he was made redundant when the company folded. There followed a year of JSA interspersed with very low-paid contract work.

Eventually he was encouraged by the Jobcentre to go self-employed. He started a computer repair business in partnership with our eldest child, who was also chronically ill, and who unfortunately became too ill to work, so Kevin continues as a sole trader, working from home. There is a steady trickle of work, but not enough to provide more than a very meagre income. It was not possible to get any finance from the bank so we put into the business all the money we could muster from the redundancy payment and a small inheritance from my parents. (Incidentally this inheritance put us just over the savings limit for Housing Benefit and they deducted an amount from our payment for two years,until we could prove that we had used up all the money.) It has taken 3 years to show a very small profit, rather than a loss. We are sustained by WTC, DLA and Housing Benefit. The computer business involves driving to customers and so is dependent on the Motability car. I have the same chronic genetic illness as my children and am not able to work, but I do not claim any benefits in my own right. We have become experts at living frugally and making economies.

The future
The Benefit changes that will be affecting us in the near future are Universal Credit to replace WTC and Housing Benefit, and PIP to replace DLA. As we now live in a housing association flat we will also be affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’ when our student daughter leaves home.

Universal Credit will be paid monthly and will be calculated according to the claimant’s weekly reporting to the DWP of hours worked and income received. According to the government website self-employed people will be assumed to have reached a ‘minimum income floor’. This figure will be used to calculate the amount of UC awarded.

“If there are no limitations on the number of hours you can work, the minimum income floor is likely to be the equivalent of you working 35 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage for your age group.”
Universal Credit and self-employment

As Kevin does not have 35 hours of work per week, and certainly does not pay himself anywhere near the national minimum wage, his self-employment will become unviable.

Kevin will eventually be migrated from DLA to PIP. With the arbitrary reduction of the walking distance which qualifies for the higher rate mobility component from 50 metres to 20 metres it is extremely likely that Kevin will lose the Motability car. This will also render his self-employment unviable as he will not be able to drive to customers. It is my dread that he will lose the benefit altogether, which will remove the ‘passport’ to disability-related premiums and possibly the Blue Badge for parking.

It is extremely unlikely that Kevin, as a 62 year-old man with dyslexia and restricted movement, will be able to find a job

So where will this leave us? Kevin may be able to qualify for ESA, probably in the work-related group. If not, he will have to claim JSA. In either case, trips to the Jobcentre will be necessary. He has no means of getting there other than by using a wheelchair. He is not able to self-propel, so I will be pushing him there. My illness restricts my walking so the wheelchair will be fulfilling the function of a Zimmer frame – there will be pain. Work-related activity is unlikely to accommodate Kevin’s disability, which may well lead to benefit sanctions. The bedroom tax will eventually be applied. Shopping will have to be by home delivery, assuming we can still afford an internet connection. Food will become more expensive when I am not able to continue my daily forays to the reduced produce shelf in the supermarket or shop around for the cheapest deals. We will not be able to afford heating. We will not be able to go anywhere without help. Holidays, visiting our grandchild, church, any kind of excursion will be unattainable. We would no longer have a life if it were not for our close family and good friends.

This is just one story of a family affected by the Government’s austerity measures; there are many more and, as in the recent protest at the House of Commons about the removal of the Independent Living Fund, we need to make our voices heard before it is too late.

This is a guest post by @chmasu.

Atos want to end DWP Work Capability Assessment contract

According to a report in the Financial Times, (£) Atos are trying to bring an early end to their contract to carry out the Work Capability Assessment.

Atos, if you don’t know, are the French IT company that have the contract to assess every person that claims Employment Support Allowance and determine whether they really need support or should be told to get a job. They are notoriously bad at it, with vast numbers of decision overturned by appeal tribunals and many more who could not face the appeal abandoned without any income.

Crippen - Atos test

The Guardian reported on Monday that the Department of Work and Pensions were looking to commission other providers to take on some of the assessments but in a quote given to the Financial Times Atos said that they were already negotiating to leave the contract early. From the FT article:

The French IT company has been in discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions with a view to exiting the deal since October last year, because it views the tests as “outdated”.

“In its current form it is not working for claimants, for DWP or for Atos Healthcare,” Atos said. “For several months now we have been endeavouring to agree an early exit from the contract, which is due to expire in August 2015.”
“Despite these ongoing discussions, we will not walk away from a front-line service. Our total focus remains on delivering the services we are contracted to provide in a professional and compassionate way, until a new service begins.”

Of particular note is that in the article Atos are cited as saying that “the political environment has become untenable” and that the work capability assessment is “outdated”.

As I wrote earlier this week the replacement of Atos with another outsourcing company will not solve the problems with the Work Capability Assessment as those stem from government policy and the way in which the DWP enforce the contract so as to keep the numbers deemed eligible for help to a minimum. It is, however, satisfying to see a company which has been quite happy to play it’s part in the cruel and unnecessary suffering of thousands finally admit defeat.

Financial Times – Outsource group seeks exit from UK £500m benefits contract after death threats (£ – free registration to read 8 articles.)

Latent Existence – The problem with the Work Capability Assessment goes far deeper than Atos

The Guardian – Atos may lose fit-for-work tests contract as ministers line up rival firms

Ingeus recruiting “Health Advisors” for DWP forced “bio-psychosocial health assessments”

Ingeus advert

Welfare-to-work provider Ingeus are recruiting Occupational Therapists to become “Health Advisors” as part of a pilot scheme to help people on ESA (sickness benefits) to return to work. As I wrote yesterday, people receiving ESA in the Work Related Activity Group will be forced to see these Health Advisors and will lose their benefits if they do not. This is a huge problem for all kinds of reasons which you can read about in my previous blog postAn advert placed by Ingeus on the website of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association reveals more details of how the scheme will work.

“From 25th November 2013 Ingeus will be delivering a new Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) Health Professional led contract for customers claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with an 18-24 month prognosis post Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The 2 year pilot programme will ensure clients have access to suitably trained Health Professionals to support the management of their health and wellbeing. We are looking to recruit Occupational Therapists to deliver the ESA pilot across the Central Region.”

It gets worse though. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the words “Bio-psychosocial model” make an appearance.

Delivering bio-psychosocial initial health assessments to identify clients health related concerns and barriers to returning to work, usually taking place via face to face 1:1 appointments but may also require telephone based interventions as well as on occasions a home/community visit.”

The Bio-Psychosocial model of disability is what the government have adopted after decades of being advised by insurance company UNUM. The model basically says that disability is all in the mind of the disabled person and they only need to adopt a better attitude to overcome barriers to work and other activities. It places blame for being ill on the patient and insists that they can just think their way better, as though thinking can eradicate viruses or fix broken genes or regrow broken or missing body parts.

I think access to an extra doctor, nurse, OT or some one else could really be a great help to a lot of sick and disabled people but not through this scheme. Any extra healthcare needs to be consensual and voluntary, this is not. The money spent on this scheme would be far more useful given to the NHS. And as for this scheme using the bio-psychosocial model, you might as well just tell sick and disabled people to “snap out of it”.

Where’s The Benefit: Models of Disability

Vocational Rehabilitation Association: Ingeus advert

Sick people to be forced to talk to the DWP’s own “healthcare professionals”

Being accused of DLA fraud may force you to apply for PIP

The Benefits and Work website claims that people will lose their Disability Living Allowance permanently if someone accuses them of fraud. There is some truth behind this claim but the headline is a wild speculation from the information that they actually have.

The facts behind the story are this:

People who currently receive DLA will all be “invited” to apply for Personal Independence Payments over the next few years. A large number of people who receive DLA are not expected to qualify for the same level of support from PIP and so this move is rightly feared by many. People can apply for PIP before their DLA runs out if they wish – these are “self selectors” in DWP speak. Anyone whose care or mobility needs change will have to apply for PIP rather than alter their DLA claim. As long as nothing changes, most people can remain on DLA until 2015 or the end of their award.

The scary part of this story comes from a quote that Benefits and Work found on Rightsnet.

“At our local JC+/customer/representative forum meeting last week a DWP partner support manager brought the following change of wording to the attention of the meeting (second bullet point on page one of link)

In his words anyone who was ‘bubbled’ (shopped) would be taken as if they were a ‘self selector’ in the DLA/PIP reassessments.

Nothing appears to have been changed in the PIP trans regs to allow this but it is worrying when the PIP/DWP ‘thinking’ changes the words ‘those claimants where we receive information…’ from the actual legislation.”

The source claims that anyone who is reported to the DWP for fraud will be treated as if they have reported a change and therefore have to apply for PIP.

This is a fairly tenuous link, but a worrying one all the same. The overwhelming majority of reports to the benefit fraud hotline are either malicious or wrong and the fraud rate for DLA is incredibly low. If all that is required to trigger the move to PIP is a false report then a lot of people are going to be badly affected. However, we do not know whether this second-hand claim is true, or whether the practice will be widespread or just confined to one or two areas, and we do not know if a person will have to be found guilty of benefit fraud or just reported – the wording could mean either. Given the history of the DWP’s approach to sanctions I wouldn’t say it is out of the question for this to happen against the rules, but we will have to wait and see about that.

I find the way that Benefits and Work have reported this to be irresponsible and misleading. In their email they stated that “The DWP have ruled that…” when there is no such ruling, only a second-hand report. They also missed out the third sentence from their quote, which stated that nothing has changed in the PIP regulations.

I do not think anyone should worry about being moved because of a malicious fraud report, at least until we have more evidence.

Benefits and Work: Claimants to lose DLA permanently if falsely accused of fraud, DWP decides

“Residential training” for disabled people to be extended

I’ve just come across this government document “Residential Training Provision – Independent Advisory Panel Report” [PDF] and I’m freaking out a bit. I may be wrong – I’m too exhausted to get through the whole document – but it’s full of scary statements.

“Although the primary focus of the panel’s work has been to review the provision of what is often referred to as specialist disability employment training as delivered by Residential Training providers, the panel has been mindful of other DWP programmes such as Work Choice and Work Programme and note the disappointing statistics published recently.”

The document is a review of residential training for disabled people. It makes plenty of reference to “markets”, to “cost/benefit analysis” and to how the programme is great because it is “intensive”. It doesn’t make any mention of the potential health impact of an intensive course on a sick or disabled person, or the practicalities of being away from home with familiarity, provisions for medicines and care, or the impact of upheaval and stress of being forced to go away. In my opinion the most scary statement is this one:

“In the vast majority of cases, the type and severity of a person’s impairment/health condition has little bearing on their ability to secure and sustain employment”

It seems that plans are already in place to send a lot more people on such residential training.

“If the provision continues following this review it will be subjected to an open competition to tender for contracts for provision post August 31st 2014.”

There are plans for non-disabled people too.

The panel considers that the provision can be improved in the following ways:
1) Increase numbers that use the residential element including reaching out to nondisabled people who are long term unemployed and would specifically benefit from the provision e.g. they would benefit from a holistic and intense approach. It could be more cost effective to increase numbers of RT trainees, as the unit cost of provision would then be driven down.

Read the full document – Residential Training Provision – Independent Advisory Panel Report” [PDF]

UPDATE

This isn’t what I thought it was on first impressions, however I still have serious reservations about it. As is pointed out in the comments below:

“This is talking about residential colleges that currently exist that are primarily for adults with severe learning difficulties and/or multiple complex needs. When people in that group reach 19 it often their fervent wish to go to one of these residential places and they often don’t get the chance.”

So, I can see that this can be a positive thing in some circumstances and I was wrong to call it a work camp. However, the attitude of the review bothers me a lot. To claim that impairments and health conditions don’t keep people out of work is just plain wrong. Overcoming barriers in society can only get someone so far; sometimes an impairment just will not let a person work. The suggestion to roll this scheme out to long-term unemployed people shows there is a view that this “holistic intensive approach” is to be used elsewhere, and my fear is that it will be applied to people who are significantly sick or disabled but unlucky enough to be in the work related activity group for ESA. Combined with the DWP’s penchant for sanctions this could be a very bad thing. Also not addressed is how sick and disabled people will function away from their support structures at home.

Victory! DWP to launch PIP mobility consultation

The Department of Work and Pensions have today announced that they will hold a “further consultation on the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)”.

This follows the outcry after the threshold to be eligible for the most help with moving around was tightened from fifty metres to twenty metres with no indication during the consultation that this would be the case. Myself and two others had initiated a Judicial Review against the DWP to declare the consultation invalid and force a rethink. The Judicial Review would have taken place at the end of July.

The DWP would very much like you to believe that it is holding this new consultation because it is a kind and listening department and their announcement does not mention the court proceedings at all.

“However, the department has received significant feedback from disabled people and their organisations that they want a further opportunity to comment on the finalised assessment criteria rules around the mobility component. That is why it is now giving notice of a further consultation to be launched late June.”

However the emails sent out to my solicitor and to members of the stakeholder consultation forum had a subject line of “Re: Judicial Review” so make of that what you will.

While this new consultation is very good news it is not an admission that the twenty metre eligibility is wrong or an indication that the DWP will change their minds. We will have six weeks to make sure that the DWP has no choice but to admit that the twenty metre limit will cause serious harm to a great deal of people, withdrawing support from people that desperately need it. I will publish details of how to contribute to the consultation once they are available.

A lot of credit is due to Jane Young and We Are Spartacus for getting legal action organised to bring about this new consultation.

I will be discussing with my solicitor and other people involved what step to take next.

Press release: DWP to launch Personal Independence Payment mobility consultation

Why I am suing the government

We Are Spartacus

 

Ed Miliband’s Speech and Social Security Reform

Ed Miliband made a speech today setting out how Labour will cut spending on Social Security. He said “Controlling social security spending and putting decent values at the heart of the system are not conflicting priorities.” Many of the ideas he set out in the speech seem positive but his language suggested that Labour still have some of the mainstream rhetoric at heart. He said that the system does need reform, and I won’t disagree with that, but I differ slightly as to how.

So the four building blocks of a One Nation social security system are: work, rewarding work, investing for the future not paying for failure, and recognising contribution.

For the rewarding work part, Miliband noted that work does not pay enough to live on and that welfare fills that gap, and I applaud his commitment to promote a living wage and to change the law to prevent loopholes that allow reduced wages.

When it comes to investing for the future not paying for failure he said that housing benefit costs are high because there are not enough homes and said that building homes would be a priority, although he did not say who would pay for those homes or mention a rent cap. Nevertheless I applaud the commitment to building homes.

However, I disagree with what he said about recognising contribution. He said that  “people’s faith in social security has been shaken” because “it appears that some people get something for nothing and other people get nothing for something“. The example given was that someone who became unemployed after forty years would receive the same help as someone who became unemployed after two years. I think this is a very poor example given that he was talking about National Insurance, because it is that nature of an insurance system that some people pay in more than others but that everyone gets the same help when they need it. A driver who had a car accident after ten years of driving would not get a better payout than a driver who crashed in their first week. The actual issue which needs addressing here is that Job Seeker’s Allowance is not enough to live on whether a person has worked two years or forty and in fact in the UK our unemployment benefits are much lower as a proportion of income than in many other countries.

It is when Miliband turns to the subject of work that we find some of that scrounger rhetoric still present. Tell-tale phrases such as:

Which leaves hundreds of thousands of people in long-term idleness.

the denial of responsibility by those who could work and don’t do so.

Now just as there is a minority who should be working and don’t want to, there is a majority who are desperate for work and can’t find it.

“Idleness” is a loaded word when Miliband could have referred to unemployment. At least in the last statement he said that it is a minority that does not want to work, but I believe he should have gone further and pointed out just how tiny that minority is rather than fuel the myth. Maybe as Sue Marsh says Labour are improving when it comes to scrounger rhetoric, but they are still using the language of the Tories and the tabloid papers and they have some way to go.

Labour’s big idea to tackle unemployment is a compulsory jobs guarantee. I like the idea of a guaranteed job after a year or two of unemployment. I am not so happy with the emphasis on the compulsory part, which again plays to the scrounger rhetoric. Under Labour’s plan the government would pay for 25 hours a week at minimum wage while the employer would pay for 10 hours of training. There would be a tax on banker’s bonuses which Labour say would fully fund the scheme. I think as solutions to unemployment go, this isn’t a terrible idea, although I have to ask what happens when the funding for these jobs ends. And I am concerned that if the system is not flexible then people may be forced into inappropriate jobs which may not accommodate their circumstances or abilities. I hope that some safeguards to prevent that are written in to the compulsion.

I am more concerned about the plan for parents. Miliband said that since children of 3 and 4 years old get 15 hours a week in nursery education, parents must use that time “to undertake some preparations to help them get ready to go back to work. Attending regular interviews in the Job Centre, undertaking training, finding out what opportunities exist. To be clear, under this policy there would be no requirement to go back to work until their youngest child is 5.

In other words, parents must spend several hours a week for two years going in to the Job Centre to attend pointless interviews which presumably will be farmed out to the likes of A4E, where they will continually re-jig their CV and attend training which may or may not be relevant to work they can get months or years later. This, apparently, is to encourage the ethic of work, because he seems to believe the scrounger rhetoric that says otherwise those parents will never want to return to work.

Disabled people got a mention in the speech too. Unfortunately Miliband reinforced his commitment to the Work Capability Assessment. He did at least concede that the WCA is not working, saying:

But when over 40% of people win their appeals, it tells you the system isn’t working as it should. And too often people’s experience of the tests is degrading. So this test needs to change. It needs reform so that it can really distinguish between different situations. Disabled people who cannot work. Disabled people who need help to get into work. And people who can work without support.

The test should also be properly focused on helping to identify the real skills of each disabled person and the opportunities they could take up. I meet so many disabled people desperate to work but who say that the demand that they work is not accompanied by the support they need. So these tests should be connected to a Work Programme that itself is tested on its ability to get disabled people jobs that work for them.

Miliband did not say how exactly he would change the assessment so that it can accurately distinguish between people who can or can’t work or need help, and I doubt he knows. He didn’t say how he would stop the assessment being degrading. He also made no mention at all of the severe stress caused by continuous reassessment and health implications of that.

The benefit cap, too, got Miliband’s support. He said:

“In 2011, there were 10 cases where £100,000 a year was spent on housing benefit for individual families. That’s 10 too many. And it is one of the reasons why Labour has said we would support a cap on overall benefits. As Ed Balls said on Monday, an independent body should advise government on how best to design this cap to avoid it pushing people into homelssness and costing more.”

Possibly the most stupid policy announced was an overall cap on social security spending for three years. The effort to reduce the spend on social security by attacking unemployment and high rents is great, but there is no predicting how the economy will actually do to the total cost and setting an absolute budget means that should too many people need help then some will go without or everyone will have to get less. That will result in poverty, homelessness and starvation either way.

I don’t want to criticise these ideas without providing an alternative. I want to suggest some ideas of my own which would take into account some things that I think we need to recognise: That capitalism will not focus work where we have need, such as healthcare, social care and building. That even after creating more jobs we cannot go back to full employment because new technology, efficiency savings, automation and outsourcing mean that we will never again need as many workers as we once did. That there are very few people who can work but do not want to, but there are many who want better working conditions or better wages who have a very weak bargaining position. That the benefits system is inefficient, full of errors, and places a huge strain on those subject to it.

Allowing for those facts, then, I would suggest:

  • Build new social housing by investing in housing associations and cap rents to create secure and cheap homes not subject to inflation through private profit.
  • Invest heavily in healthcare and social care to create jobs in areas where we need the services.
  • Introduce a Universal Basic Income (Citizen’s Income) that will provide enough to live on to every single citizen.

I think that housing associations are a much better way to invest in housing than any scheme to encourage private industry to build them. Housing associations become self-financing and take that initial investment to continue creating more homes which are cheap and secure. Rent caps would reign in private landlords who are profiteering from inflated rents, and would also prevent rents from rising in response to universal basic income. Investing in the NHS and social care would both create jobs and improve our healthcare and quality of life to the benefit of all rather than subsidising jobs within private industry for the profit of a few investors.

Universal Basic Income is, I admit, a much more distant proposition because it’s too revolutionary for many people. The concept is this: that every citizen would receive an income sufficient to live on, regardless of means, without asking anything of them in return. They would not be not required to look for work, or to volunteer for a charity, or to do community service, or anything else. It would be unconditional. It would replace the tax allowance on wages because although an employee would pay tax on all income, they would still have their universal basic income. It would replace pensions, Job Seeker’s Allowance and Employment Support Allowance (Incapacity Benefit) as well as most other benefits, in one stroke removing means testing, the work capability assessment, and the stress and stigma of the current system.

Replacement of disability living allowance headline news for hours

The replacement of DLA with PIP was the main story all morning until cruelly kicked from the headlines before the evening news. Here are some collected clips and links.

Steven Sumpter on Sky News – Video (Main headline all day)

Steven Sumpter on LBC Radio at 08:05

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Margo Milne on LBC Radio at 08:15

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Sue Marsh on 5 Live at 09:05

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Sue Marsh on Radio Leeds at 09:50

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Steven Sumpter, Ema, Kaliya Franklin and Sophie Christiansen on 5 Live at 10:35

With Stephen Duckworth of Capita

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Rebecca on on BBC WM

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The Guardian – Three disabled claimants launch legal action against new mobility tests

The Independent – Ed Miliband attacks ‘nasty’ George Osborne as DWP faces court challenge over benefit reforms

Ed Miliband criticised the government’s welfare policies but still fails to understand what went wrong with the work capability assessment

Sue Marsh has attempted to combat some of the lies the government tell about DLA

I’m one of three people taking legal action against the DWP over the PIP consultation

Bedroom Tax and ESA in the news 31/03/2013

Sue Marsh talked to LBC radio at 20:00 about the people dropping their claim for ESA before their work capability assessment.

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Sue also talked to Sky News at 15:30.

Owen Jones discussed the Bedroom Tax with Robert Oxley of the Tax Payer’s Alliance on Sky News at 17:30

Lisa Egan talked about ESA on Radio 5 Live followed by Grant Shapps.

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Trialia Hall debated the bedroom tax with Edwina Currie on Radio 5 live at 23:20 30/03/2013

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Do I really have to say why workfare is wrong?

Workfare Times cartoon

Workfare replaces paid jobs with unpaid labour

“Did you know we could offer you free, temporary staff for four weeks?”

– Previous advertising material from JHP Employability.

“After the 6 weeks were up the manager asked him if he would like to stay on for some extra weeks, my friend asked ‘with pay’? The manager said why would he pay him when he can pick the phone up and get more unemployed people who have to work for nothing”

Comment on Guardian CIF about a work placement with Tesco

“Stores such as Argos, Asda, Superdrug and Shoezone made use of the government’s workfare schemes to meet their seasonal demand, instead of hiring extra staff or offering overtime.”

red pepper: Workfare: a policy on the brink

Workfare keeps wages down for those still in jobs.

“It’s obvious that workfare workers are replacing paid jobs – pushing our low-wage economy down towards a no-wage economy.”

– Natalie Bennett – Leader of the Green Party

Workfare is literally worse than useless

“5 per cent of long-term unemployed can be expected to find jobs for six months if left alone to do so.

Successful six month employment rate during the first year of the Work Programme was just 2.3 per cent, significantly below the target of 5.5 per cent.”

– Telegraph: Iain Duncan Smith’s Work Programme ‘worse than doing nothing’ (The Work Programme includes work placements.)

Workfare subsidises big business

Instead of paying wages that contribute taxes and spending back into the economy, big companies like Tesco and Poundland benefit from free labour while continuing to keep the workers reliant on benefits at our expense. That money goes straight into shareholder’s profits.

Workfare does not provide the training that it is meant to

Work experience schemes are meant to provide training for future jobs. Instead we have people with extensive education toward a chosen career being sent to stack shelves and sweep floors which does not further them in the career they have trained for at all. Even when a person expects to find work in retail, four weeks experience in shelf stacking is hardly a necessity to do the job in future. In most cases little or no training is being given and the work placement consists only of manual labour.

Workfare exploits sick and disabled people

People who receive Employment Support Allowance and are placed in the Work Related Activity Group can be sent on The Work Programme or Mandatory Work Activity. Charities such as Sue Ryder, The Conservation Volunteers and The Salvation Army are fully aware of that, even enthusiastic, although TCV has now announced it will not force people on ESA to volunteer(!) and Sue Ryder has pulled out altogether.

“How can we morally take sick and disabled people and force them to work?

At The Salvation Army, we have a history of believing in emancipation through employment. People who come for work experience with us are fully supported throughout their placements with help tailored support to their needs.”

The Salvation Army, in a comment on Facebook

“Arbeit Mach Frei”

The Nazis

Workfare is costing poor people money they don’t have

People sent on work schemes are having to pay for transport to get there without any extra income. Sick and disabled people are often being hit particularly hard by transport costs as they are too sick to use the bus or train and end up paying for taxis to avoid having their benefits cut.

Workfare is damaging the health of sick and disabled people

People in the Work Related Activity Group on Employment Support Allowance are not fit for work, they are considered to potentially be fit for work at some unknown point in the next few years. And yet they can be sent to work nearly full time (30 hours) for several weeks. Of course it’s going to damage their health.

Workfare doesn’t create new jobs, only changes who might be in a job.

If there aren’t any jobs being created then all workfare does is give the employer weeks of free labour from one or more people before they employ someone, if they even need to.

Workfare doesn’t pay wages

“A fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work”

the least that an employee should demand.