Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Work, of various kinds

The noises coming out of the Conservative party conference suggest strongly that something like "Work for your Benefit" is on the cards. While that might satisfy a lot of voters, the question remains, as always, of what work the unemployed are supposed to do. Perhaps they will be the "volunteers" creating the Big Society. And that's something that A4e's Mark Lovell is keen to get the company involved with, having been in talks with Paul Twivy, a PR man who runs something called the Big Society Network. There's no reason, of course, why private companies shouldn't get involved, and they won't make money out of it, but for most of them it will be part of their PR strategy.

A4e has been at fringe meetings at both the Labour and Conservative conferences, as usual. And they've also been in Spain, where, the Financial Times reports, the government has started taking an interest in the unemployed and is talking to A4e "about what a programme to help the unemployed might look like."

A4e has another website called Tomorrow seeking contacts with employers who are faced with making people redundant. The language is somewhat startling, and the music on the home page very irritating. And shouldn't this be the role of Jobcentre Plus?


  1. A4e's Mark Lovell and Emma Harrison are always keen to shout about the virtues and benefits of all these job programs when the taxpayer are funding them. But it's a different story when they might have to use their own money to run the next one.

    As the saying goes, "put your money where your mouth is A4e".

  2. I've had a comment from someone who says s/he was made redundant by A4e. I would like to publish it, but it makes specific allegations, and A4e are quick to threaten when current or former employees go public. Could the poster please send another comment (which I won't publish) giving me an email address so that we can discuss this.

  3. Ive been unemployed for just over a year. can i be made to "volunteer" by the jobcenter?

  4. You can be put onto Flexible New Deal and the provider can find you a placement which could be with a voluntary sector organisation. Earlier this year the Jobcentres were encouraging people to volunteer, but it wasn't compulsory. I don't know if this is still happening.

  5. Thanks. but is flexible new deal now scrapped? i was told at the jobcenter it was?

  6. As far as I know the people currently on FND continue on it. It's going to be replaced by the Work Programme as soon as the government can get it up and running.

  7. Thanks. would i have been told then if i was on new deal? Ive been unemployed for just over a year now. my advisor has not spoke to me regarding new deal.

  8. I don't know your circumstances, but it's likely that they are not referring you to New Deal (now FND) because there will soon be new contracts. You can look forward to the Work Programme!

  9. I have been trying to keep count of the number of websites being operated under the A4e banner. Excluding the overseas operations, I think a4etomorrow.con brings the total up to around nineteen. Begs the question why they feel the need to spend substantial amounts of money on so many sites when legitimate multinational companies can manage with just one domain.

    If this company, A4e, was truly committed to providing real help and training, the £thousands wasted (on websites) would have been better spent delivering worthwhile programmes.

  10. I will not work for anymore than the total my jobseekers allowance equals to the the hourly rate of minimum wage. who is with me on this.

  11. Work Clubs: Looked at the flyers for this on the DWP website. Apparently you can set one of these up in your garage or back bedroom, no need to worry about health and safety, public liability or professional indemnity insurance. I am certain if you raised these issues they would find a nice minister who would abolish them for you.

    I was even more puzzled about the lack of information on how the DWP was going to pay for this so I phoned my regional contact, who informed me that there wasn’t any funding and if I wanted to set up a work club I would have to use my own resources. I rather laughingly suggested I run a jumble sale to fund the club, sheepishly he suggested that this might be a good idea.

    I asked about ICT and was told this was not essential!! I have a Sinclair ZX and an Acorn in the attic and I will be taking yesterdays newspapers out of litter bins and nicking pens from the bookies and using old chip paper to write applications on

    As usual we have social policy based on the Daily Mail and Burford WI, this is crass insulting nonsense which degrades and insults the unemployed.

  12. (a different anonymous, call me daisy)
    Mandatory Work Related Activity (M.W.R.A(!)) is part of FND. It is 30 hours a week and if you miss any, you have to make up the time.
    What it consists of (in my area, which is administered by Skills TRaining UK) is standard job-club lessons in technique (how to sell brand "u" etc, all very glib, platitudinal and patronisingly insubsantial) as well as enforced "networking" (cold-calling potential employers on the phone and in person).
    One thing that disturbs me is that we have to do all 30 hrs per week of this course (which is ostensibly a service to us) otherwise we lose our JSA.
    Now, these providers are payed a lot of money by the DWP, right? and they get bonus money for getting people off of benefits, right?
    So doesn't this seem a lot like the people on the programme are employees of the provider? Our action, our achievments (we do the "donkey-work," we fill out applications, we get on our own bikes and perform at our own interviews) increases their profits.
    30 hours a week for £65.
    That's about £2.15 an hour, less than half the national minimum wage.
    It's chicken feed, but hey, at least we're free-range, almost.

  13. Anonymous; I'd be really interest in knowing who the 19 subsidiary companies are, really interested, it's very difficult to track them all.


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