Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Mark Hoban interview

I've just watched an entertaining but infuriating interview with Mark Hoban on BBC's Newsight.
It started with a clip from the classic film Metropolis, a scene of mass forced labour.  It was then pointed out that 130,000 people have been "sanctioned" for not taking part in any of the 7 schemes affected by today's court ruling.  A Human Rights barrister said that they may have a right to compensation.  A TUC spokeswoman said that they support good quality work experience schemes, but not unpaid work in return for benefits.
Then the interviewer, Gavin Esler, turned to Mark Hoban and asked why his department was so incompetent.  It was rapidly clear that Hoban wanted to talk only about the vindication of the schemes themselves, not the court ruling.  They don't agree with the court, and want to be able to be flexible and respond quickly.  This is not a major blow, he said, it was "business as usual".  What provision has been made to repay people, Esler asked.  None, they're not going to pay.  (The interview was taking place against a backdrop of a scene of forced labour from Metropolis.)  Esler asked if people like Cait Reilly are workshy.  We offer help, said Hoban, not answering the question.  Then, astonishly, he uttered the phrase "tailored, personalised support".  When Esler put the contrary case, Hoban said that they were "very effective schemes in getting people into work".  I wanted Esler to bring up the DWP's own figures which show just how useless they are, but instead he turned to the Work Programme, and the 3.5% success in its first year.  Hoban repeated the phrase "personalised support".  So all the evidence that the WP offers nothing of the kind can be ignored by this government, and the same old lies can be propagated.
I agree completely with Zoe Williams in her Guardian piece: "All the statistics released about the Work Programme show execrable results, and yet we've heard nothing about penalties, or remaking the contracts, or rethinking the system. There is a creeping sense that this is turning into a cash cow for the private sector, a get-out-clause for the government ("we've spent all this money, if people can't get jobs despite our help, it's because they are inadequate"), and unemployed people will be left at the bottom, ceaselessly harassed by a totally specious narrative in which their laziness beggars a try-hard administration."


  1. I just saw the same piece. I was shouting at my TV too! Not only does Hoban not answer the questions put to him, be bulldozers his way through with different points completely.

    "Tailored, personalised support". I do wonder how many actually DO receive this? The sad fact is that the W2W providers are simply not geared up to this task. They do not have the facilities, staff training nor the financial incentive to do so.

    And yet again, this was an Employment Minister being typically dismissive. When Gavin Esler put Cait Reilly's Poundland experience to Hoban, he simply said "that's their opinion". Using the term "opinion" makes it easier for the likes of Hoban to dismiss their opponents concerns and make it look like they are wrong.

    A truly pathetic and disturbing performance by Hoban. I do wonder why people such as this go into politics.

    1. All the evidence available would seem to support the claim that none of these schemes offer "Tailored, personalised support" nor does any informed discussion take place with the "customer" before being place on one of these "schemes". Having read through the judgement, it would appear that whilst the programmes them selves are not illegal, the processes leading up to placements are questionable. Subject to seeing the full text of any new guidance & legislation, I suspect any new victim would have grounds to refuse if no discussions regarding the content of the scheme takes place or the advisor can demonstrate that it meets the requirment of "Tailored, personalised support".

      My long term prospects of continued employment are begining to look a little bleak, but the commentary & experiences posted here helps to formulate a robust plan to deal with the DWP should I find myself unemployed again. Refusing consent for the DWP to pass on personal information, customising a JSA with clear restrictions in respect to third parties, and an insistance on being addressed as "Sir" in public areas.

    2. Tailored, personalised support does not exist.

      Unless you count being emailed by your advisor and being told to apply for a job which you don't have qualifications for and which states "only applicants with the relevant qualifications will get the job". What was the point of that?

      And I have just been turned down for a job because "you are on the work programme and we have had bad experiences with people on it in the past who have been forced to take jobs with us that they don't want, given the amount of money lost as a result we don't wish to take the risk again" which is understandable. But not very helpful for me or anyone else

    3. I am now required to attend twice a week,I was very hopeful that this would include tailored support.Due to the Bus schedule I arrive an hour early,while talking to an adviser(not my own)I asked what this new class would entail? 1 hour of supervised job search,great let me pull up my Universal Job Match...Sorry not allowed,you must find other avenues,such as the yellow pages or a list of leads that we will supply....22 people were in my session,the list provided had 18 positions,we were all required to apply for at least 6,,Nonsense!

  2. Had a thought, everyone knows these providers get £400 for each bum on seat, I wonder how much money gets clawed back via sanctions. Either he believes what is being said which shows a woeful ignorance of the system, or he is living in a completely different world.

    I cannot think he has ever experienced what goes on, even if he did visit these places I am sure they will have a sanitised play acting for him.

    If these schemes actually worked I would have no problem, but as has been shown by the DWP's own figures they don't shown by studies worldwide they do no help, yet the ideology of IDS,Grayling, Hoban is all about this rather than the evidence.

    It is a case of Hoban sitting in the corner with his fingers in his ears ignoring things, then when people prove it is wrong they become wrong/deluded/liars/ etc.


  3. "We have no intention of giving back money to anyone who has had their benefits removed because they refused to take getting into work seriously."

    Am I the only one who is deeply disturbed by the spectacle of a government department stating that they are not going to comply with a court judgement: even possibly the ruing of the Supreme Court of Great Britain?

    What's next? Will tory ministers be deploying the army to physically prevent bailiffs taking Jobcentre furniture to be sold at auction for the debts that are owed?

    Lets take this to the extreme - if the police are called to assist with the collection, will armed soldiers open fire on the officers if they try to allow the bailiffs to remove items?

    This statement by the DWP is clearly absurd and makes absolutely no sense at all. However, what clearer example can be used to demonstrate the ingrained attitude of the DWP that the unemployed are not protected by the rule of law, and are inferior citizens.

    1. You're getting carried away. They're not going to pay back money because they're appealing to the Supreme Court. If they lose there, they can simply ignore the ruling and wait for someone to sue - and then ignore the ruling again.

  4. Hoban was gabbling. He had been given a script and ordered not to deviate from it. He was determined to defend the ideology of “one size fits all” whilst contradicting himself by “explaining” that one size doesn’t fit all. He also denied that this present Govt’s W2W schemes have been ruled, by the Court of Appeal, to have been unlawful ab initio because they have not been properly authorised by Parliament.

    Meanwhile, the Work and Pensions Committee have been taking further oral evidence this morning about the Work Programme scheme. I know that the Pluss organisation was due to appear but I have not seen or heard anything more about this morning’s oral evidence session as yet,

  5. Ultimately, if the govt continue to ignore the failings of the Work Programme and continue to ruin the UK economy they will not be re-elected. The ball is in their court. They can either invest in jobs (jobs that pay real money) and kick-start a recovery or like Hoban they can continue the pretence that the economy is 'on the right track'.

  6. Mark Hoban seems to have come under scruitiny ever since his expenses claims were made public. This included £80.00+ for silk cushion covers and nearly £2000.00 for a wardrobe, ALL for his *Second home*)!!He then started deleting comments (and not necessarily abusive or offensive ones) and banning people on his facebook page. (CENSORSHIP in a public forum ??) There was a furore regading this and he EVENTUALLY capitulated and has now taken down his facebook page.

    During this time I did not see ONE positive or supportive comment by ANY member of the public. NOT ONE! Nor did I see him answer ANY of the questions put to him.

    I voted Conservative at the last election and have done so all my life. Thanks to Mr Hoban's dispicable and ignrant 'antics', that was the last time I will do so. The "man" (I use the term advisedly) is a disgrace. I will take great delight in seeing him out of office.

    1. Interesting stuff Ian. Not on Facebook so didn't see Hoban's ramblings. It makes you wonder about the staggering hypocrisy of MP's esp Tory ones.

      In the 80's, councils were told by the then Thatcher government to outsource and privatise their services. All in the guise of getting better value for the taxpayer. They had to then buy back these services and select the cheapest bid.

      Of course, buying the cheapest in regards to MP's furnishing their homes on taxpayer funded expenses never seems to enter the equation. I'm sure the wardrobe Hoban bought for two grand was very nice. However, could he not have done the taxpayer a favour and bought a cheaper flat pack job from Ikea or Argos instead?

      As for deleting comments and eventually removing his Facebook page. Well, this is par for the course I'm afraid. How many times has Smith, Grayling and now Hoban avoided questions put to them on the TV and radio? Not to mention ducking out of taking part in radio phone-ins as well as being unavailable when the likes of the BBC do investigative reports on the Work program.

      People like Smith, Greyling and Hoban are simply dismissive of anyone who disagrees with them. When they do not get their own way and are faced with a group who will not kowtow to them, they get nasty and show their true colours!

  7. Gavin Esler looked increasingly frustrated as Hoban continually ignored the questions and proceeded to spout his scripted replies (to questions which hadn't been asked!). When will politicians realise that we are not fools and deserve proper answers to valid questions? But how good to see that at long last the BBC has stopped ignoring employment issues and has found the courage to question the Government - I'm thinking of Radio 5's investigation into faux self-employment as well as this Newsnight interview. Let's hope they keep it up. Channel 4 has shown the way with its excellent coverage and fearless reporting.

    1. ... not one of Hobo's finest interviews by any means. and his standards are low.

      that said, it wasn't a car crash in slo-mo a la Emma H either.

      drat. nothing to watch and savour on u-tube over and over again! drat.

      absolutely agree that Ch4 has shown the way in the context of this debate.

  8. I understand that the Govt is planning to introduce new Regulations this arvo, which will be called:

    ‘the Jobseeker's Allowance (Schemes for Assisting Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations 2013 (S.I., 2013, No. 276).’

    Once these new Regs have been published it will be possible to download them from the Govt’s legislation website, which is here:


    The new Regs will be published under the ‘UK Statutory Instruments’ heading and they should be available, on line, by about 16:00 today.

    The only thing that the Govt wants to do is to provide a clearer, more detailed, legislative description in the hope of side-stepping the recent ruling from the Court of Appeal.

    Ministers have no intention of re-visiting their underlying policies. They and the W2W providers all insist that the policies themselves are OK and the Court of Appeal did not criticise the Govt’s policy objectives.

    Therefore I’m not expecting much from these new Regulations but at least I now know what they are called and where to find them once they have been published on-line. !


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