Thursday, 5 January 2012

50% are workshy?

There's an article in the Express today which raises some interesting questions. You have to get past the headline "Workshy are Exposed" and get to the figures (which are suspiciously round numbers). "A report has revealed that 20 per cent of people ordered to take part in a four-week community project scheme stopped claiming state handouts." Translated, I suppose this means that 20% of those directed onto Mandatory Work-related Activity signed off rather than comply. Then, "Another 30 per cent of people in the pilot project were stripped of their £67.50 a week unemployment benefit after failing to turn up." Which adds up to the "half of people claiming unemployment benefit (who) would prefer to lose their benefits than take part in unpaid work". That's a big saving on the benefits bill.
Assuming that the figures are more or less accurate, what's going on? I know that when I was unemployed I would not have had a choice; I could not have foregone my unemployment benefit without rapidly becoming homeless and destitute. Clearly some people are not in that position. I have met people who were "signing on" even though they did not need the money. They were being kept by someone else, or they had enough money to tide them over. They signed on because they wanted their NI contributions paid, and because they could. I met others who were almost certainly working in the black economy. Yet even these didn't drop out of the New Deal 13-week programme, and some went on work placements. So what's going on? Your thoughts please - but note that I won't publish anything that simply rants against the system. We can take that as read.


  1. It may be that those sanctioned for non-compliance (and good on them!) may have had their benefits later reinstated on appeal.

    These articles, especially from toilet paper like the Express, tell us nothing. We already know these schemes are just a complete scam. It may be that while attending you aren't classed as unemployed, so your JSA is stopped and you receive the same amoutn of money as a 'training wage' instead.

    None of which touches on the nature and effectiveness of the workfare scam. I wonder how many workfare slaves the Daily Express will take on (rhetorical).

  2. Who did the report? It would be nice to see who asked for it. How many people decide to go to the disabled/ill route. Then you have the people with partners who work.

    The report has no attribution.

  3. hmmmm....this is the Daily Express. The newspaper that reports innacuracies such as calling the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) an "EU court" in a recent anti EU rant / article despite the ECHR predating the EU and even the EEC!

    The ECHR innacuracy fits in with the Express's general anti EU xenophobic stance. As does the highlighted "50% are workshy" article. This fits in with the Express's dogmatic anti benefits agenda.

    As the saying goes, never let the truth or facts get in the way of a good story.

  4. Identical stories appear in the Mail and the Telegraph today. Usually these stories can be easily traced to the press releases on the DWP site, but there is nothing that relates to this, nor do any of the recently published research papers relate at all. I doubt the Express has fabricated it, it must be that some one at the DWP, or Tory party has given this to these three papers.

    As for the stats, as you mention 20% and 30% are rather conveniently round figures. As Ghost Whister says we don't know how many of these showed 'good cause' for non compliance and were reinstated.

    I work with people with autism, and since ESA was introduced, and particularly since the criteria was made tougher in March 2011 lots of people who are refused ESA and so forced onto JSA are really quite substantially disabled. I have plenty of clients who have to be taken by their carer to sign on because they are incapable of traveling without support or communicating when they get there. Those who do not have a carer to taken them simply are not able to do this mandatory activity.

    Love the blog by the way


  5. 'Assuming that the figures are more or less accurate, what's going on?'

    Well for a start they're being a bit sneaky implying that "half of people claiming unemployment benefit (who) would prefer to lose their benefits than take part in unpaid work". Not everyone on unemployment benefit has been referred to the work programme. I very much doubt as many as half of all people claiming unemployment benefit are under the work programme.

    I work with an unemployed client group, due to funding we are not allowed to work with people after they are referred to the work programme. Looking at the clients we have 'lost' to the work programme it would appear they are targetting the longest term out of work first rather than go for everyone after three months. Young people, even those only unemployed for a fairly short period say 3-6 months also seem to be pretty much an automatic referral. Those who have been thrown off/come off disability benefits seem to be another target group.

    Jane covers the problems faced by disabled clients above and in common with her observations I would completely agree that they will account for quite a high percentage of no shows as a result of their health problems. There is also the fact that many have fluctuating conditions so whilst they might have been able to sign on for a few months many will find themselves back on ESA and temporarily away from the work programme.

    Young people living at home with their parents can afford to take on temporary work, christmas jobs, irregular agency work etc or attend college and do tend to be a slightly higher turnover group in terms of employability services because of this.

    It also appears that those starting out on contributions based JSA are being left alone until their contributions run out and they've been claiming income based JSA for between 3-6 months. As these are people with fairly up to date skills many of them will simply be finding work and coming off benefit, their efforts to find work over previous months having paid off.

    In other words the groups identified above would in all liklihood be coming off benefits anyway for perfectly sound reasons.


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