Thursday, 17 February 2011

Welfare Reform

The welfare reform bill is out, and with it the expected rhetoric about ending the dependency culture. The universal credit is the most important aspect, and few will quarrel with it. The problem is that the public are being led to believe that everyone could work if they really wanted to, and that there are many thousands of workshy scroungers out there who have to be bludgeoned into jobs. Turning down a job offer continues to be the major crime, despite the fact that the only job offers anyone ever turns down is the casual work through agencies.

Cameron poured scorn yesterday on the failure of FND (although his figures have been disputed) yet the government has decided to extend the contracts for another 3 months to bridge the gap to the start of the Work Programme, and is going to give the WP contracts to the same failed providers.


  1. Interesting comments historian. I only managed to hear a snippet of information on the radio as I was driving into work yesterday.

    I have a theory (aka opinion really) that I would like to share with you all.....

    Having worked for over ten years delivering welfare to work contracts with a number of organisations including A4e, it is glaringly obvious why these contracts do not deliver and the Work Programme will be no different either.

    DWP contracting out these services to private profit making organisations is fundamentally flawed. As soon as you put a price tag on a persons head, it is from this moment that a cleint is no longer regarded as a human being, but as a commodity and as a vehicle to generate money from. No amount of glossing up and gushing about improving peoples lives and being passionate about people and their welfare will change this fact.

    Organisations delivering these contracts do so with the minimum of financial investment in each client. There is absolutely no facility whatsover to provide proper training and qualifications to these clients within these organisations. Likewise the conservative govt or should I say coalition govt have not made any provision for upskilling the long term unemployed by providing a proper training allowance.

    Look at the big picture everyone - currently we have the highest levels of unemployment in decades, VAT has increased, National Insurace is increasing including the employers contributions. Legislation is changing to ensure that employers will in the future have to provide and pay into employee pension schemes. We have the lowest number of employment vacancies in years. How does DWP, A4e the Govt et al expect people to find work when it is not there? Yes there is a huge push on enterprise start up and SME's to take on apprentcies, but who is going to pay for it when employers now have to pay more than ever before in taxes for their employees?

    Businesses are hesitant about taking on new / additional personnel because of the current suppressed economic climate and the sheer expense it will cost. This situation will not improve any time soon and therefore the "Work Programme" just like it predecessors will suffer the same fate.

    Contracting local, not for profit, employability service providers to deliver the work programme is the only sensible thing to do considering the current climate. These local operations have the advantage over larger organsiatons in that they dont have the pressures of profit margins to maintain, have a proper local knowledge of the labour market and do not have to deal with the bureaucracy, hierarchy and one size fits all, low cost approach model that the larger private operations persistently adopt.

    Whilst I cautiously welcome the theory of the new universal credit and making work pay ideals, I fear though we have not been fully informed of how this will be administered and controlled. Is this something that could be contracted out in the future, dare I say?....

    It was only this day last week that I attended an employability conference where a regional relationship manager from DWP presented a lengtly presentaion on change to IB assessment and the work programme. A grim picture was being painted before my very eyes. Draconian, inhumane and belittling are the mildest adjectives I can use to describe what is in for those who claim these benefits....

    When will this situation change and when will the UK population finally stand up for themselves and oust our useless and immoral Westminster administration.....

  2. I feel a little a bit scared about the reforms being introduced as I think they are only the tip of the iceberg. I believe in making work pay but possibly more jobs need to be created by making the economy grow. I think now the 'stick' is getting bigger than the 'carrot' in making people work.
    I presume we all agree that fNd was a bit of a wash-out but how different is the Work Programme? Very interesting to see that some of the major players are pulling out of this now.
    Also, does anyone know if Shaw trust has been making redundancies possibly with Pathways to Work, but recruiting for Work Choice?

  3. I absolutely agree with Anonymous on his comments regarding contracting out DWP provisions to private, profit making organisations who are so target driven that they see every client as a potential pound sign. As he says no amount of glossing over with platitudes about improving peoples' lives and taking a more holistic approach to unemployment will detract from this.
    I am getting very disillusioned about the welfare to work sector, the good that people do is completely overshadowed by targets and KPI's and if these aren't achieved then the attitude is that there are plenty of other people knocking at the door willing to do the job (I heard this being told to a colleague by his manager)
    Local non for profit organisations are ideal to deliver the Work Programme - but do not have the financial back up to deliver these as they cannot afford to wait for payment for sustained job outcomes. One such organisation I know of provides a fantastic mentoring programme working alongside the big providers such as TNG and YMCA Training - the problem is that they are all volunteers and the programme has one paid employee to facilitate it. This is the sort of provider we need to deliver the new contracts.
    How depressing is this all getting now??

  4. Before Blunkett (now working for A4e) privatised it in 2006 New Deal was organised by JCP on a regional basis, contracting with any organisation which could deliver. It was flexible and it worked.

  5. I see to that if you make an honest mistake in filling out forms, then you are liable for a £50 fine. Of course not the other way round ..... Wicked people. Wicked in the original sense.

  6. An article published in The Observer today New Benefit System Will Hit Vulnerable by Jill Insley

  7. yes redundancies are being made at shaw trust

  8. That's just awful, Anonymous :-) I am so sorry to hear that :-) May our thoughts be with the staff (soon to be ex :-)) staff at Shaw Trust at these most difficult of times :-)

  9. Thanks a bunch BlackTie - I'm disabled and worked for Shaw Trust for 14 years. Now redundant.

  10. My first post to this blog. Also worked for Shaw Trust for 7 years - now redundant.


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