Tuesday, 9 October 2012

£10bn cuts

If you are unemployed you will be aware by now that it's your fault.  You lounge about at home in the lap of luxury while your neighbours go out early every morning to work for their living.  You need to be forced to work.  Ridiculous, isn't it?  But instead of having a rational debate about the reform of welfare, the Conservatives have decided to cut benefits piecemeal.  Having spent at least a decade in collusion with the right-wing press to demonise benefits claimants, they can now conduct polls and focus groups to show how popular it is to cut benefits.  Surprise, surprise.  There's no point in debating the rights and wrongs of this, because it's going to happen.  What is worth talking about is a radical rethink of the whole basis of welfare.  If you have any thoughts on this, please comment.

There have been a number of interesting reports in the last few days, both factual and speculative.  A piece in the Telegraph tells of the views of a group of Tory MPs.  They want to cut JSA by 10% after 6 months of unemployment and by another 10% after 12 months.  Another far right group, the think tank Policy Exchange, has come up with a report that shows that nearly a third of people leaving JSA are back "on the dole" (their words) within eight months.  Now, the conclusions they draw from this are bizarre.  Jobcentre Plus should have the same incentives as WP providers (despite the fact that there are as yet no published results for the WP).  Nasty things should happen to claimants of top-up benefits who are not doing all they can to find higher-paid or full-time work.  It seems to be about penalising people for the economic reality they can do nothing about.

Another interesting snippet comes from a BBC news piece about a disability rights campaigner at the Tory conference.  G4S has raised concerns about the number of referrals they are getting.  They have halved in recent months.  This is not contradicted by a DWP spokesman, who says that the number of referrals was always predicted to fall after the first year.  This is puzzling because it doesn't square with what we've heard about at least one A4e office, where the first appointment for someone referred was 7 weeks after the first phone call, and staff said they were overwhelmed by the numbers.  Was that unusual?


  1. Whatever the government are going to do to benefits, they should assess the individual not in an age group. For example the Housing Benefit changes. Come April I will have to pay £40 a month towards my rent as I live in a 2 bedroom flat. My rent is £260 a month. I've been looking at 1 bed places with rent of £400, so if I move they will be paying more in Housing Benefit for me in a 1 bed than a 2. It makes no sense.

  2. Lets cut £10 Billion on one hand,while letting the Work Programme spend £5 Billion,on a programme that has delayed publishing results and provides less support and less training than the JCP provided.Recently a fellow went into the WP and was assigned a guaranteed 6 month job with a national retailer,all fine and good(16 Hours a week) the DWP/JCP/WP are funding this to the tune of $2700.00 or roughly the amount it will cost the Employer over 6 months.Two questions come to mind(1)has this been done to remove him from the unemployment figures (2)Will this result in a payout for the WP Provider.There is a possibility that I have misread the intention here,but this still sounds a bit like the Taxpayer is footing the bill for a for profit corporation.

  3. Whenever I hear anyone saying benefits should be cut or even scrapped, I say this;

    Just make sure you invest in extra home security, a couple of baseball bats by your bed, a big dog and self defence classes!

    Because as sure as eggs are eggs, crime WILL increase under such proposals. Take things away from people who have very little (which includes having very little stake in society), then you end up with a group of people who have very little to lose. Especially if you take away any sense of hope as this govt is increasingly doing the those IN WORK, let alone anyone else!

    The Tory MP's who are proposing JSA cuts really are from a different galaxy, let alone planet.

    They seem to think that someone on JSA needs to have their benefits CUT to motivate them. Whilst at the same time, a CEO or chairman / woman of a large blue chip company needs to have to be paid 100, 200, 500 or 1,000 times the average salary of one of their factory / warehouse / shop floor employees to motivate them! Even if their company is under-performing!

    Of course, we all know how well such proposals go down with large swathes of an uninformed and ignorant public!

  4. I wondered whether G4S were complaining about a reduction in the number of ESA claimants being referred to G4S?

    I'm not claiming ESA but a friend of mine is. As far as I can gather from her (bearing in mind that I don't know the legal details and I haven't seen all of the relevant documents) the DWP seem to be giving people the basic ESA allowance (£71 per week) pretty readily.

    However the DWP seem to have decided that they cannot make a decision about my friend's fitness to work until she has obtained a new set of medical paperwork at her end first and then the DWP have organised Atos at the DWP's end.

    I gather (purely anecdotally from this one friend of mine) that there is a "medical top up" element with ESA. Apparently if the medical top up is eventually awarded then she will receive a total of £99 per week and payment of the top-up element will be backdated to the date of her original claim for ESA.

    It seems to me that the effect of all this is two-fold, being:-

    1. My friend can't be conscripted onto the Work Programme scheme unless and until she has been declared fit to work; and

    2. She is,in effect, being forced to give the DWP an interest-free loan of a not inconsiderable amount of money for an indefinite period.

    If my theory is right then I think it would explain a reduction in the number of ESA claimants being referred to the Work Programme, surely?

    Also, if my friend is declared fit to work by the DWP but she decides to mount a formal appeal against their assessment, presumably the DWP would not be able to refer her to a Work Programme provider whilst the formal appeal process is rumbling through the relevant Tribunal?

    There wouldn't be these complications with a JSA claimant but, as far as I can gather, the DWP seem to be softening their stance about ESA claimants.

    Hence I'm wondering whether G4S have seen a reduction in the referrals of all groups of claimants or only ESA claimants?

    1. Judi: I don't know if you know but you can attend the Atos medical with your friend? You can even sit-in on the medical itself. I've accompanied ESA claimants to two medicals

      Atos medicals, as you know, can be a very stressful experience so having a friend there really helps.

  5. @iMatt, the Tories must have read your mind! Under new proposed laws householders will have expanded rights to retaliate against intruders. The tories know these benefit crackdowns will force people to turn to crime - they are truly the nasty party...

  6. Alan Cave,Contracted Customer Services Director at the DWP is leaving in November to take up a position with SERCO,outside the Welfare to work sector.My personal opinion? Bailing before the WP results are published? Rewarded for the great job he accomplished at the DWP? What I would like to say/think would probably end up in a lawsuit,is this just the start of the Exodus?

  7. Well yesterday was my 1 year on the WP,after a depressing meeting with my"Advisor" the senior case manager sat in for the review.Why have you not found employment?Do you think you have tried hard enough?Are we wasting are time "Mentoring" you? Would you consider relocating?Are you suffering from drug or alcohol issues? Are you really looking for employment? Ect,Ect.As I explained to them,I have plenty of experience,but not the current qualifications,I have arranged 2 work placements,but you dropped the ball(this was denied,but I had the E-mail)We arranged for your CSCS card,why did you not complete this? I did but you have not arranged a work placement.. Silence ,pause...After discussing your case you are now required to attend 3 weekly job search sessions,failure to attend and participate will result in a sanction.. What will change,regardless of how many applications,without the proper training/retraining?

    1. It is obvious from what you say that the imposition of thrice weekly "jobsearches" (ha!) are being used as a punishment rather than as a genuine way of helping you. If they wanted to help they would arrange a suitable work placement.
      The message is clear - they want you and everyone else to believe that being unemployed is the fault of the unemployed rather tahn a remorseless arithmetic sum where if there are more people than jobs then the difference will be unemployed.
      Quad Erat Demonstrandum

    2. M: There is no legal requirement to answer questions about drug/alcohol issues - regardless of whether you do or don't have any issues.

      Remember the provider is a private company. You have no idea which other third-parties they will sell/pass your personal information to.

    3. Amazing,showed up for the Job Search 15 minutes early(1545) I was told to start at 1600 all computers shut off automatically(internet) confused stares,slight panic...you can leave,we do not know how to reset the system,,LMFAO..

  8. So they are going to cut 10bn from benefits again how are they going to do this and still give us the money THEY say we need to live on and now they have stopped council tax benefits here in Leicester we are being asked to pay 20% on out council tax how are we to do this if they cut the benefits again?? As for finding work well if you are an employer and you have before you a 25/30 year old and a 55/60 year old who would you take the 25/30 year old, I know that can not discriminate about age they get round it by NOT giving you the job. so Im 60 and out of work who is going to give me a job.

  9. This is disgusting. I have been sent to the WP I have my ''About You'' session on Monday. I have sadly been unemployed for ''over 12 months'' I am a single mum who decided to raise my daughter for the first six years of her life before then trying to find a job, which was impossible in my area as there are so little vacancies. I was just about to enrol for a qualification in Teacher Training (PTLLS) as I really want to become an Adult Ed teacher/Workskills trainer or something similar...then they sent me the letter to go to A4e. My heart sank. A4e usually don't deal with people wanting that kind of work, they usually assign people to places like Maccy D's alright if you're a school leaver but I'm 29 years old! Can anyone shed light on this for me and tell me if I'm gonna end up nowhere on this ''scheme''???

    1. Well Anonymous, Welcome to the wonderful world of the Work Programme and A4e!
      You have some reading to do, start here:
      and then see what you don't have to sign here:
      Resist pressure to sign stuff.
      They will try to decide how likely you are to earn them money (i.e. how low or high hanging a fruit you are). To this end you will be required (you can refuse) to complete questionaires designed to identify your "barriers to work" (No suitable jobs is not seen as a barrier!).
      Do not expect to be offered relevant training (unless you can't read or write or use a computer), especially if this involves A4e in expense.
      Remember these people are not your friends - you represent an opportunity to make money and meet targets - nothing else.
      Anyway it would appear that you have little choice but to attend (like the rest of us) so you will be able to judge for yourself if you'll "end up nowhere on this scheme."
      Let us know how you get on.

    2. "Remember these people are not your friends" - that's far too sweeping. Many clients have experienced helpful advisers who treat them properly. The fact that staff are pressured to meet targets doesn't mean that they don't achieve results which the clients welcome.

    3. They should have no problem with you doing a course, but you will have to apply for jobs etc, and if you find a job you will have to give up your course.

      If it's a full time course, then obviously you won't be claiming JSA, so you won't have anything to do with A4E.

      I'm presently doing a P/T course while being with A4E, having been on the WP about a year. They have never tried to get me a minimum wage job, in fact you could say they've tried very little and it has all been up to me. If you put on your forms that you are looking for teaching jobs they will (try to) help you with that. If there are none going there are none going, but at least you are putting the work into looking, plus doing the course. The course BTW is something I found, not anything they found or suggested for me to do, as they don't do that kind of thing.

  10. I have encountered the same problem,the key question you should ask is what training is available?,this seems to be the Bermuda triangle of the WP,at the end of the day they only exist because of the unemployed,without us they would be redundant.

  11. Historian - you say "The fact that staff are pressured to meet targets doesn't mean that they don't achieve results which the clients welcome."
    No-one said otherwise!
    1. I would prefer to see the word "sometimes" inseterted between "don't" and "acheive" in your submission. and
    2. The pressure to meet targets - and they are many and manifold - distorts the relationship.
    or perhaps you think otherwise?

    1. I think you're forgetting whose blog this is again. Your second point is valid, but that doesn't prevent people from wanting to help clients. Your first point is your own opinion. You are well aware that I won't have attacks on A4e staff.


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