Saturday, 10 November 2012

Weekend thoughts

As we await the Work Programme performance data, we can see that the excuses are already prepared.  The figures for the number of long-term unemployed show that, far from being reduced by the WP, they are going up.  In September there was a 2% increase on the previous month for those out of work for 12 months or more, and that's a 128% increase on the same time last year.  That is a huge indictment of the scheme that was going to solve everything.  Yet we read (in the Telegraph, for example) that providers are complaining that not enough "hard to help" claimants are being put on the programme.  Those on ESA are not being referred in the numbers expected, and that cuts the possible profits of the providers.  We often read that Jobcentres are not referring people in the expected numbers, but nobody seems to have asked the Jobcentre managers why that is.
Are the providers really concerned that they're not getting enough of the most difficult clients?  They appear to be doing little or nothing to help those they do get.  We know (from the whistle-blower on Channel 4 News) that A4e's advisers have huge caseloads and have to concentrate on those most likely to get work i.e. those who've been out of work for the shortest time.  Perhaps that's because so few people are getting work.  Instead of getting them off the books, providers have to maintain contact with all these clients.  It's a mess, and it will be very difficult to present it as anything else.
We are not to be allowed to know which organisations are taking part in "workfare" programmes.  The DWP has defied the verdict of the Information Commissioner, asserting that the hostile action which would follow that disclosure would make those organisations withdraw.  That would be particularly true, they say, of MWA, the mandatory work activity programme.  The quote (in the Guardian) is that it would collapse "with incalculable losses to the taxpayer and many thousands of persons in long-term unemployment who are supported by the scheme."  I don't get the "losses to the taxpayer" bit.  And as the article says, "The government's own research also showed that the scheme does not help the unemployed to get a job once they've finished the four weeks of work.  It also had no effect on getting people off benefits in the long term." It seems, though, that most of the organisations involved in MWA are in the voluntary sector.
The government is fast approaching a formal return to the age-old concept of deserving and undeserving poor.  It's going ahead with plans to give priority in council housing lists to "working families, ex-servicemen and people who volunteer".  (See another Guardian article.)  This may not work in Labour-controlled areas.  And what constitutes volunteering?  Everybody else who is homeless would be shoved into private rented accommodation, perhaps miles from where they've always lived.
Critics talk about a return to the workhouse.  No, there won't be workhouses.  But the mindset is very similar to that which produced the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act.


  1. As a long term unemployed and technically homeless I thought that this programme (as described on the label) was the cat's meow...1 year on? they are still clueless,if you read any W2W website,there is a glancing mention of the unemployed,but page after page of how to keep this programme and the people that get paid by it alive...The main aim is to keep the cash flow going and to keep Empire building ,regardless of the results or lack of!

  2. There is no other interest for the Private Providers other than to make profit.

    Their banner should be:

    The Work Programme is not here to get you a job, it's here to make our company profit, period.

  3. I have to disagree that workhouses will not return to the United Kingdom.

    I think that a two fold approach will be adopted:

    1) The criteria for claiming social security under the Universal Credit scheme will involve complying with guidelines rather than formal regulations. This will mean that significant numbers of people will be have their social security withdrawn because of failure to comply with rules decided by their local job centre, that they had no way of knowing anything about.

    This will result in a very large number of destitute people who will be forced to fall back on food banks and charities of last resort.

    The charities will not be able to cope with the demand they experience, from these destitute, mainly single, people.

    Starving and homeless, the new destitute will begin to commit petty crime to feed themselves.

    These people will inevitably be easily detected and arrested by the authorities, put before the courts and imprisoned.

    Those convicted of these petty offences will then be incarcerated in privately run prisons where they will be compelled to work without re-enumeration by corporations that are being encouraged to relocate from India, China and other parts of the far east to take advantage of the free labour opportunities offered.

    2) Lack rent control provisions in the United Kingdom, or any large scale building of private or public housing coupled with increasing restrictions and reductions on local housing allowance will eventually mean that over the course of the next decade housing for the poorest families in all parts of the United Kingdom will be unavailable.

    As a consequence shanty towns will begin to spring up in parts of the North of England, Wales, and Scotland.

    A solution to the housing crisis faced by families will be to convert large warehouses into homeless shelters, where hundreds of families will be housed in bunk beds, side by side with other families.

    The location of these shelters will be away from cities and all major population centres.

    To assist paying for rent the families living in this accommodation will be expected to carry out unpaid work for private profit making organisations.

    I hope that I am wrong, but I think this is the terrifying reality that the societies most vulnerable will have to face, in only a few short years.

    1. Or........ people revolt and change the system...

  4. Historian - you are absolutely right to point out the similarites between the narrative surrounding the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act and the current long-term unemployment crisis.

    If possible I would like to contact you privately. I am presently unemployed and on the WP with a4e. I have some news which might interest you.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. You can simply send me a comment headed "not for publication". You can include your email address if you wish.

  5. Nothing new in the Telegraph article but a surprisingly balanced comment section (considering the right wing nature of the paper). I was struck by the comment from an provider ex-employee which exposes one of the ways that the system was (and still may be) defrauded:
    I quote:

    "These schemes are worthwhile if
    run properly but that is a rarity, I worked as a employment advisor for 5 yearsand in the end left after being asked to forge signatures, to claim over 50K worth of training which had not taken place.
    I was threatened by area manager who had let this happen by bringing in staff to baby-sitting clients rather than give them the training. In the end I went to head office and kicked up a sh*tstorm and was paid off to keep my mouth shut (3 months garden leave). This is endemic in this sector I am sure."

  6. I've said it before and I'll say it again, all of us who are unemployed are just pound signs on legs to any Private Provider.

    If your not making the Private Provider any profit at all, then your of no use to them.


    SICK is what any seine person would call this, it has to be stopped.


    1. Quite right Hot Girl 1:
      Lord Fraud refers to the unemployed as "stock". This is clearly symptomatic of the way that the present government looks upon the unemployed as a resource to be exploited for the benefit of the rich.

    2. I 100% agree with your comments.

  7. What does "fit to work" mean? Does it mean, "Probably able to work for a probable total of 10 or maybe even 20 hours a week as long as the employer is not fussy about which 10 or 20 hours?"

    If that is what "fit to work" means then my friend & neighbour might be able to do that 10 or 20 hours, most weeks at least, but she certainly would not be able to do 40 hours or more every week without fail and she would not be able to be reliable about which 10 or 20 hours.

    She is a single adult with no dependent children, living in a one-bedroom Housing Association flat. She worries that if she can't pay the rent then she will be evicted from her flat, plus she'll have no heat, light or hot water unless she can pay the utility bills as well. Under the new rules for Working Tax Credits, this lady would not qualify for WTC unless she works for not less than 30 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage.

    Previous governments decided that the cheapest option for the then government would be to put this lady on Disability Living Allowance and forget about her. It is very unlikely that she would ever be able to contribute enough in tax to make worrying about her worthwhile for any government.

    However, she has been forced onto ESA, which led to an Atos assessment, which led to her being put on JSA, which led to another claim for ESA instead (now approved pending a further Atos assessment.) The local JCP understand that this lady's medical problems mean that the most sensible option would just be to leave her on ESA - an idea with which her doctors agree.

    The present government is spending far more money on persecuting this lady than it would cost them just to leave her alone and the government is most unlikely ever to be able to reap a financial reward out of this endless persecution of a sick woman.

    The present situation simply creates a lose-lose all round, it seems to me.

  8. Alarmed,ashamed? As a long termed unemployed living the life of luxury on £71 a week,homeless,time to end this myth!...The problem is how to do this without hurting others or causing distress!

  9. It's worth remembering that the old workhouse sysem wasn't abandoned because it was inhumane and ineffective but simply because it cost too much. Back then the establishment seems to have been bright enough to grasp that concept - I can't work out if the present mob are really dim or just enjoy hassling poor people. Somehow I suspect the latter.


Keep it clean, please. No abusive comments will be approved, so don't indulge in insults. If you wish to contact me, post a comment beginning with "not for publication".