Monday, 28 April 2014

Help to Work - at least for G4S

At last, we know four of the companies which have won the contracts to deliver the inappropriately named "Help to Work" programme.  The Financial Times reveals that they are G4S, Seetec, Interserve and Pertemps.  Why it hasn't named the other two, I have no idea, but A4e hasn't said anything, and Serco has launched a rescue rights issue, so perhaps they both lost out.  The FT says that G4S is the biggest winner.  It also says: "It comes less than three weeks after the British government lifted a ban on G4S bidding for public sector work and suggests that Whitehall is taking a favourable view towards one of its largest contractors, despite insisting that the company remains under close scrutiny."
But hang on a minute.  The bidding must have taken place during the time in which that ban was supposed to be in place.  And the company was "cleared" just in time for the announcement of its success.  Who is the government trying to kid?

The whole "Help to Work" story today has been utterly depressing.  This morning, on Radio 4's Today programme, Evan Davies had the dubious pleasure of trying to interview the appalling Esther McVey.  I bet he didn't want to.  When he tried to pose questions to her boss, Iain Duncan Smith, recently he ended up being complained about by ignorant listeners.  McVey did the same trick this morning - spouting utter twaddle and not answering questions.  The reaction to the new scheme in the media has been predictable.  The Guardian and the Independent get it right, while the Express salivates at the prospect of bludgeoning the poor even harder.  The BBC interviewed Kirsty McHugh of the ERSA, who said what you would expect since she's paid by the outsourcing companies, and Richard Johnson who used to work for Serco and talked sense.
So let's spell it out.  This scheme is largely about IDS's temper at the failure of the Work Programme, which he interprets as the failure of the unemployed.  So they must be punished.  And it will have the advantage of taking loads of people out of the unemployment figures.  They will be sanctioned en masse, or driven into the black economy, or forced onto workfare and so counted as employed.  
Newsnight is doing something on the scheme.  I don't think I'll watch.


  1. As part of this idiotic scheme, the odious Mail suggests:

    "Clean war memorials or lose your benefits"

    So war memorials are now deemed unworthy of the respect of being cleaned by a paid worker.

    The Mail even has the gall to have a photo of a presumably paid worker scrubbing down the Cenotaph in central London. I do hope the Mail has informed him and his co-workers that they can be expected to be massively under cut and indeed had their very livelihoods threatened. Priceless!!!

    1. I don't think there are enough war memorials!
      I know what it'll be, it'll be similar to the usual comunity service schemes where we get offenders coming out to my little country village in a gang wearing their high viz jackets and taking a week to sand down and repaint the railings round the village green. Most of the time they don't do anything they just talk on their mobiles, but as long as they are out on the site they must be doing teh work (and the person in charge obviously thinks the same). Oh and locations this can be done are limited because there must be toilet facilities available.

    2. Lest we forget that those that fought in WW2 not only did so to defeat facism but also to improve their own lives after the Depression - the 'People's War'.
      It was in this context that the Beveridge Report was written.

      The fact that it will now be those on workfare cleaning the memorials is a bitter irony.

      What people who support workfare don't realise is that the scheme is only part of Tory plans to break up the welfare state. Next on the hit list will working tax credit, followed by an extension of 'time credits' (this is were 'volunteers' are asked to replace public sector workers in face-to-face jobs e.g. customer service library staff), which will then be followed by a extra social insurance scheme to replace the NI scheme. This will then allow the Tories to get rid of JSA, which will replaced by workfare and then the holy grail, the State Pension, which will be replaced by a combo of means testing. workfare and 'time credits'.

      'Time credits' is the one to watch now. This has the potential to complete destroy ALL public sector jobs.

    3. 'Evan Davies had the dubious pleasure of trying to interview the appalling Esther McVey. I bet he didn't want to. When he tried to pose questions to her boss, Iain Duncan Smith, recently he ended up being complained about by ignorant listeners.'

      What did they complain about? Are these the same people that complain that the BBC is too left-wing, yet want the BBC to ignore the consequences of Tory Party policy?


    4. I am currently long term unemployed, so obviously I don't agree with increasing the level of conditionality and punishment of those out of work. But what REALLY gets me angry is the lack of proper scrutiny of these policies in parliament and in the press.

      The implications of asking the unemployed (if they have worked) to 're-contribute' to the NI scheme via workfare are very serious yet NOBODY (and I mean NOBODY, not even the Guardian) has raised this point.

    5. I'm not sure what you mean. In the old days, NI insured you for a fixed period only. Once you had used up those contributions you went on to a lower, means-tested benefit.

    6. One of the questions that seems to of been missed? Exactly how will this help the Unemployed secure sustainable paid employment? IDS mentions Support it seems to me that the WP promised that,then the PWSP also promised it,so who is B-Sing who?

  2. G4S, Seetec, Interserve and Pertemps may have won the contracts but where are they going to find the placements?

    Most of the charities have flatley refused to take the unemployed for 6 month placements. CWP by definition has to be of benefit to the Community so they won't be able to put people into regular profit making businesses for their 6 month placements.

    This new 'Help to Work' programme is gonna die of death before it's even got off the ground.

    IDS and McVey can go to hell!

    1. I wouldn't read too much into the benefit to the community tag. I've known people on Mandatory Work Activity sent to a recycling plant even though it should have been work to the benefit of the community.

  3. How would most people like to punish someone who vandalises a memorial? They would expect the vandal to clean his mess up somehow.

    How is that going to happen if someone is already doing that job just because they are unemployed, and aren't being paid?

    what message does that send? I thought the tories were all in favour of responsibility. of course they aren't: it's perennially their ethos that the poor exist solely to clean up after them.

    If the people responsible for these 'cleaners' are happy to take on free labour at the expense of a proper wage, who's to say what else they will stint on?

    1. Excellent point. But of course the Tories know this. Workfare is all about criminalising the unemployed and making the process of claiming benefits akin to theft - which is why they ignore that NI is an insurance scheme and suggest JSA is a 'handout'. It isn't. I have worked and paid for my JSA.

    2. If you were a vandal and got caught defacing a memorial, the max community sentence cleaning the memorial would be 300 hours, in practice more likely 50-100 hours.
      Yet if you're commiting the crime of being unemployed the standard sentence of community work is 780 hours!

    3. Its should be noted that Pertempts, Interserve and Seetec are also bidding on probation work in the midlands area. Wont be too long before groups of offenders and unemployed are merged together for cost savings. Very scary,

  4. I don't understand why these radio stations keep interviewing the same people over and over again. IDS and Esther McVey are like musicians from the 60's; they haven't come up with anything new, so they keep repeating the same tired old songs. Would it not be better to hear from those that these schemes are designed to "help" rather than the bias views and opinions of the people behind them?

    I agree with one of our Anonymous posters; this scheme isn't going to get far from the ground before it dies. This stupid nonsense of "Workfare" and "CWP" is going to do nothing more than displace PAID employees in favour of UNPAID ones. It's been said many times before, if memory serves. If it's so easy for the government to put people into "jobs", why not put them into PAID JOBS and help companies to expand, therefor helping the economy?!

  5. Why not try interviewing employers? I wonder what they think of the scheme and whether it would encourage them to employ the long term unemployed if they have been on it?


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