Friday, 31 May 2013

Intensive and uncompromising

You're coming to the end of your two years on the Work Programme.  What now?  After all that "tailored support" (don't laugh) you still can't get a job.  Perhaps now they'll get off your back for a while.  But no.  According to a government press release, "Work Programme leavers will be targeted by a hit squad of specialist advisers as part of a tough approach to get them into a job."
You see, it's your fault.  You've had all that help but you remain stubbornly unemployed, so clearly what you need is an "intensive and uncompromising regime ....... with rigorous monitoring to ensure they are doing everything they can to find work".  This will be delivered by the Jobcentres.  People will be put onto training schemes, Mandatory Work Activity placements or "intensive work preparation" as soon as they come off the WP.  An extra £30m is going on this, for extra training and specialist help such as counselling for drug or alcohol dependency.  Another requirement: "Every Work Programme returner will also be required to register with Universal Jobmatch to aid work search and job matching and to allow their adviser to check their work search activity online."  There has, apparently, been a pilot scheme (where?) which proved, said officials, that "claimants targeted by an intensive approach were much less likely to stay on benefit."  (Telegraph)  No figures, you notice, but we would have no reason to believe them if there were.
This is a tacit acknowledgement that the WP is a waste of money.  Two years in which all this stuff was supposed to be happening and obviously wasn't - so throw a bit more money at it, cutting out the WP providers.  But the attitude is ingrained in this government that people are out of work by choice, and if you just keep cranking up the pressure they'll get a job.  Or, at least, they will disappear from the lists of benefits claimants.  
Labour has said that WP leavers would be forced to accept a paid job, but we wait for them to fill in the details.  It surely has to be better than this government's clueless plan.

One bit of good news: the BBC reports that in 2012-2013, 708 employers have been fined for paying less than minimum wage, and affected workers have got an average of £300 in back pay.  One of the guilty employers is described as a "national retailer", but is not named.  Why not?

Update:  Today, Saturday, the odious Express tells the story in its own disgusting way.  "Hit squads to force workshy back into jobs" is the headline.  It goes on: "At the heart of the Government’s reforms is frustration at a generation of lifelong layabouts, immortalised by fictional Frank Gallagher from TVs Shameless", and there's a photo to illustrate these workshy people.  As we've said before, it suits the government to have its actions portrayed in this lying way, and no recourse for the long-term unemployed who are being traduced.


  1. Hobans comments about forcing people to sign on more than once every two weeks, it could be once a week, or everyday. My question is..will they pay for my travel there, when to get to the job centre and back costs me £5 a day, thats £25 a week (or a £18 weekly pass), that I would have to find out of my giro. What if I cant afford to go there will I be sanctioned.

    The words "claimants targeted by an intensive approach were much less likely to stay on benefit." can be read two ways.. They got a job.. or They got kicked off benefits or left because of the treatment of them.

    1. "Hit squads to force workshy back into jobs" Just another load of BS to make them sound like they are tackling unemployment.
      I would love to find out where these jobs are going to appear from, as in the area I live in there is a lack of jobs and opportunity, in an economy in which the demand for labour is dwindling.
      It would be better to set up training centres all over the UK, were you could access training to qualifications in demand by employers, but be paid the same amount as you get paid on JSA. There should also be an entitlement to secure a first NVQ Level 2, including post-employment training to gain the qualification if required and a more unitised and sector based approach to NVQ training.. The £3-£5 billion getting wasted over 5 years on the work programme, would be better spent in this type of way.

  2. I was under the impression that the WP was supposed to provide support and training,that was one of the main reasons JCP,DWP handed them all those massive contracts? But like the Olympics the JCP is now suppose to clean up the WP's mess.As for sanctions for not complying? nothing new there.

    1. I have Been on the work programme from jan 2012, when I was sent there I was suffering from Depression as i had helped my father with the last 12 months of his life, He passed Dec 2011, I was also Diagnosed in 2005 with neck damage, chronic detieration of the spine, It was descibed as, It also said I would struggle to do manuel work, I tried a career change but could not find a job, so had to go back to manuel work, as my kids were 2&3 at that time, I also had a relapse in 2010 and 2 more to date, I have had 3 neck scans in total, as the condition affects my hands arm & neck, Ive had two hernia operations, which affects my bladder control, I was signed of for 2 years in 2005, But went back to work as all people want to provide for there family and society as a whole, I was not fit for work, But because of the situation ,I was in ,In 2005, I would discribe myself , as one of them Galloping Horses that end"s up dyeing!, so I said I was fit for work, I even had a DEA, Who said i was not bad enough to recieve ESA, On my Inicial asessment, At A4E, i Told my adviser, Leigh O Regan, who also suffered from a spinal condition, she could not believe I had been sent as fit for work, and contacted the DWP, Who she said she was told to mind her own Business, she referred me to the money advice lady who looked at my paper work which I still have and told me to apply for ESA, In Feb 2012, But because I was feeling down just went through the motions I signed on til march 2012 on , JSA, BuT Then went away with my wife, as I was 50, And she was trying to cheer me up, I went along with it, When I came back I had another relapse, so applied for ESA on line and saw my docter and local disability association who also wrote to my Docter, on my behalf, they gave me ESA buT Stopped it in jan 2013, and told me to sign on JSA Again but I have appeeled, I never had my last scan and Diagnosis until 15 april 2013, Also in 2012 my mothers kidneys had packed in, and I have been helping her cope with life at the age of 73, going to Dialsis 3 times a week various operation, and all this time I have been on the work programme, when I went in Jan/feb 2012 I had a up to date CV, And qualifications for manuel work, which I was told in 2005 I would struggle to do, I asked If they would help me to get retrained, they said there was no money available, on my last appointment, on the 17/3/2013 I had a new advisor I have had 3 different advisor"s on the last three appointments, who know nothing about me, I have asked them about there Duty of care towards me, and my tailor made help, they have done nothing to help me back Into work, I have been diagnosed with radioculpathy arthritis secondry, and was told on my last visit, to start living and get a job, I am Devastated, I think im in a dream, and someone will wake me up, I have complained A4E rang me on 16/3/2013, I said I was not happy with them, they have now sent me a questionaire through the post, I dont realy want anything to do with them? but I think that is what they want , Its Cognative, Ian Duncan Smiths plan the final solution. Please dont print my name I have even been to mind who told me to go and seek advice?, thats why I went there!, I am sorry about some of the spelling and Grammer, Regards ~S

  3. The One True Elg31 May 2013 at 10:01

    ''Up to 5 specialist advisers will be based in individual Jobcentres dedicated to working with people not in sustained work after 2 years on the Work Programme.''

    Only 5 per job centre when a majority of claimants are going to come off the WP with no work? I doubt they can withstand the workload, especially if they intend on having job seekers attend more regularly.

    I wonder whether this ''Hit Squad'' is anything more than tough talk and the reality will be a return to what New Deal was originally under Labour.

  4. If this intensive 'help' is so good and so necessary, why the hell is it not IN PLACE of the WP? Or is it as we all suspect just waffle and cheap window dressing to make it look like a failing DWP is actually doing something?

  5. Sick of the Work Programme31 May 2013 at 12:33

    I find it repugnant that language such as 'hit squad' has appeared in the DWP's official press release- the original meaning of 'hit squad' of course refers to a group of people hired to carry out an assassination! Apart from the use of language, I find the continued stance of blaming 'the unemployed' to be disgraceful at a time when there is clearly a lack of jobs.

    As for the waste of public money which is the Work Programme, its whole design is based on keeping claimants standing still, whilst also blaming them for not having a job- there is no investment in providing vocational training or in sending people on courses which would enable them to get valued qualifications and therefore hopefully improve their prospects.

  6. Not directly related to the above article but IDS is proving to be comedy gold.

    In a BBC interview about so-called 'benefit tourism', he said what I think is my all time favourite quote from a politician,

    '...the figures are not obtainable but there is pretty good, real, serious, hard estimates'

    1. are you laughing at his grammar?

  7. "claimants targeted by an intensive approach were much less likely to stay on benefit." (Telegraph)

    Did you notice how they didn't say they entered employment? Harass and stress people enough and they might decide the measly allowance isn't worth it, as long as the JCP can show it's decreasing the amount of people signing on they don't care whether it's by getting them jobs or bullying them out of signing on.

  8. I've read it 2 or 3 times and it appears a bit confusing and contradictory to me, especially around the sanctions.
    Doesn't say an awful lot for the PBRs experiment either.

    "end-of-term report...progress"

    I know a few, and who for some time, are absolutely convinced that they have finished it, and are no longer on the wp. Their reports and how the wp has 'helped' them will be interesting! Panic!

    "We always knew that there would be some who would require further support after the wp."

    Is that 'some' as in only about 97% of the able-bodied, and only about 99.5% of the cured who require further help?
    I don't think the 2nd year's wp's 'success' will make much difference to the figures, possibly only half as 'successful' as the 1st year's, - low hanging fruit effect etc.

    "extra £30m will be available to pay for extra training and specialist help to prepare them for work"

    Isn't that just about 30 pounds each on average?
    If 'extra training and specialist help' is so cheap - even for the hardest to help - then why is the wp costing £££billions?

    I think the problem with small pilots/trailblazer is that no matter how successful they are, they simply don't scale.


  9. Of course the Torygraph has no evidence to back this up because a) it would prove the WP was a waste of money even more and b) the WP hasn't reached 2 years yet.

  10. Regardless of when the WP figures are published, this Goverment will mot listen. "Making Work Pay" for the WP providers is more like it.

  11. Regrettably in light of the regular stream of facts coming out of the DWP in the form of whistle blowers, copied internal emails etc, it is reasonable to assume that this new "tough regime" is going to be aimed at claimants who are considered to have some kind of vulnerability: physical, mental, educational or in some cases practical (unstable accommodation).

    So, it will amount to little more than state sponsored harassment of a vulnerable section of our community. In combination with cuts to legal aid funding it will probably be successful if removing many thousands of these sort of people from the benefit statistics and force them to the doors of charities of last resort.

    Will the coalition get away with this? Of course, because nobody cares. Harold Wilson once remarked that the Labour Party was a moral crusade or it was nothing. Well, there are hundreds of thousands of people, including children at the mercy of pay day lenders, loan sharks, and dependent on food banks because they are hungry.

    I know that Labour Party researchers and MPS read blogs like these so if somebody is reading this then listen up, and listen well - if you don't, so to speak, pick up the sword and start speaking up for the weak, the vulnerable, and the oppressed then what is the point of the Labour Party? What is the point of it?

    1. The One True Elg1 June 2013 at 15:09

      There's no point in the Labour party no matter what it does unless it gets elected and therein lies the problem.

      The Conservatives can do this because the public is supportive of a ''tough'' approach, whether it's effective or not. The reason Labour treads on egg shells on the welfare debate is because of this majority. What's the point in sticking up for the vulnerable if you can't get into office and actually change the situation?

      The left says Labour is as bad as the Conservatives these days. That's not Labours fault, that's what happens when the mood of the voting population shifts to the right, Labour has to adapt to that or they won't get into office then what was the point in the moral crusade anyhow?

      You might say, maybe if Labour stuck up for the vulnerable then people would realise the true problem. But that's not how this works, how this works is politicians say something, the media interprets it and gives it to you. If Ed Milliband said tomorrow, he'd reverse the cuts to Welfare and help the vulnerable, most of the press interprets that as ''Labour promises to give larger handouts to drunkard scroungers for their flat screen tellies and sky TV.'' whilst a minority report it for what he actually said. This is how our democracy works and it's how the public mood was skewed to the right, with exaggerated anti-welfare rhetoric. If Labour go on the offensive with Welfare they won't get elected, it's as simple and as unfortunate as that.

      However, if they wait until the societal problems caused by the coalitions policies reach a critical mass and some sort of trigger event creates the scandal required to change public perception, then Labour will be able to run with it. As it is now, things aren't bad enough. The public wanted things to get worse for welfare claimants and that's what happened.

      I apologise for the off-topic Historian, but I feel this needs to be explained, Labours apathy isn't the cause of the problem nor would any zeal on this issue on their part be the solution, it'd probably just make things worse. The question shouldn't be why aren't Labour highlighting this, the question should be how do you counter the right wing press and their coverage of welfare? That's the root of the problem.

    2. You seem to be assuming that Labour actually wants to stick up for those who need the provision of welfare. Once upon a time, maybe, but it hasn't been the case for a while. Certainly the last government put in train a lot of what the current government is doing. They find it impossible to say too much now, simply because the Tories can say, "You started it."

    3. The One True Elg1 June 2013 at 15:57

      You might be right. In fact, you probably are. But this is why I think things won't change until there's a sea change in public perception. Labour has demonstrated it's willing to expand government, that's what happened with Pensions and Tax credits, the problem is the people they give the money to as far as the public are concerned. I think Labour will change tact if the public stops falling for the scrounger rhetoric.

  12. I have been unemployed for 13 years. In that time I have been mandated to attend New Deal 25+ four times, Flexible New Deal once and I'm coming to the end of my 2 years on the Work Programme next month.
    What did New Deal 25+ and Flexible New Deal offer me, in the main nothing at all, the majority of activities consisted of group job search sessions and employability training which were compulsory, attendance was monitored and enforced with the threat of sanctions. These sessions ran daily for the full day and focused on aspects of job searching: CVs, application forms, covering letters, interview technique and so on. Some focused on related topics such as self-confidence and motivation. The only useful part to me was the work placements whist on the second stage ‘intensive activity period’.
    What has the Work Programme provider offered to me, in the main nothing more than a sign posting service for already available free training, support and advice, that’s it. I have had 3 different advisors since starting in July 2011. I have monthly appointments with my advisor, which are merely a repeat of the last appointment. Same useless conversation, quick look at my job application tracker and a quick online job search, then booked another appointment for the following month and sent on my way.
    So that brings me right up to date. Aged 38, Not had a job since the year 2000. I could not find a job between 2000-2002 when I was aged 25-27 with recent work experience, so what real chance do I stand now aged 38 with a 13 year unemployment gap . The only recent experience of work I have is from the work placements I went on each year between 2002-2010 whilst on the second stage ‘intensive activity period’ part of New Deal 25+ and Flexi New Deal.
    The aim of all these programmes is to help you find a job, or get training or work experience you need to find a job. I have been asking for some training for 13 years and get the same answer 'no funding is available to the over 25s'.
    I would love a job and to be able to re-train, but the system that says it helps the unemployed, has been no help to me. As another year of unemployment goes by, my chances of ever working slowly diminish.

    1. Anonymous1 June 2013 12:12 Are you me.. Your story is almost exactly the same as mine, We are the ones let down by the schemes, we want to work, they blame us rather than companies not wanting to hire us. I didn't even get any work placements, 3 times with a4e Now

      I have a funny feeling I will be sanctioned next signing on day for not having the government gateway account. They find a mistake on my claim from 2010, so I had to go and resign my jobseekers agreement. I think they are going to say I agreed even though the person I saw said there was no change. And other people were being asked for their gateway Id numbers. Been worried since friday, If I am sanctioned I will have lost trust in the DWP staff.

      I do everything right, Yet I am getting scared they will trick me and effectively bully me

    2. I have signed up to UJM but tell the JCP that I have not,but will if given access to a computer,they have 2 but both have been "out of order" for 5 Months,the response? never mind.

    3. The Anonymouse

      Read the full statement below regarding UJM.

      Signing up to Universal Jobmatch is mandatory
      On 1 March 2013 PCS, the trade union of Jobcentre staff, released a statement saying that the website will become mandatory on Monday 4 March 2013. From Monday you may be forced to sign up to the Universal Jobmatch and threatened with sanctions if you refuse to do so. When this happens, it is important that you protect your rights and privacy when creating an account.
      Do not give access to your account!
      Even if you sign up to the website, you do not have to let Jobcentre or DWP monitor your activity on it. PCS' statement makes this clear:
      If, and when, a claimant signs up to UJ, they will be encouraged to give DWP access to their account. However, it is absolutely clear from a legal perspective that the claimant does not have to tick the box to give DWP access to their account, and can provide alternative proof of UJ sign up and use, e.g. screenprints
      Your advisor will most likely pressurize you to give them access to your account. It is important that you do not do that. Giving them access will make it much easier for them to find a reason to sanction you in the future. Avoid this as much as possible! Read and follow the advice below.
      Do not authorise DWP to view your account on the website
      Signing up to the website is a two step process. First your create a Government Gateway ID, then you create an account on Universal Jobmatch using that ID. In the second step, you have to fill in a form on the website. It is important that you do not tick a checkbox labelled I authorise DWP to view my accounts, including job search activity, feedback and notes. You do not have to do that - click on the question mark next to it to confirm that it is not required.
      Have you given access to your account already? Revoke it
      Even if you signed up to the website and and authorised DWP to view your account, you can still change that. Log in to the website, click on the Profile link in the top right corner of the page. You will see a form identical to the one you used to sign up. Scroll to the bottom, untick the I authorise DWP… checkbox and Save.
      Do not sign paper forms allowing access to your account
      You do not have to sign any paper form asking for access to your account like this one. Department of Work and Pensions wrote here:
      The letter referred to in your request is not a nationally approved Universal Jobmatch (UJ) product. We have therefore requested all Jobcentre Plus offices refrain from using locally produced products and as a result of this, documents of this nature should no longer be in circulation.
      The Terms and Conditions of the website say:
      2.3 You agree not to:
      2.3.12 share your login credentials to the site with anyone else;
      This applies to all forms and other ways of sharing your login details to Universal Jobmatch.

    4. Hi I am in the same position.

      Recently graduated with an MSc in Science and I am 34. I have gone through years of this and coming to the end of my WP. I was getting help in the city and now since it came out to the country. I have had next to nothing and I feel my calls for getting experience IN A LAB!!! has been falling on deaf ears.

  13. I assume many people will have seen this - the evaluation of CAP and OCM trailblazers (the latter in effect being the "hit squads" - unfortunate language again from DWP). Some soft outcomes suggested, but neither approach made a difference to job entry rates, which is hardly surprising given the state of the job market. You'd have to be a committed supply sider to believe it would or even could work, which unfortunately describes current political thinking.

    There does seem to be an assumption in some parts of the blogosphere (but not here) that this means CAP is dead. I wouldn't necessarily assume that to be the case juse because it hasn't been mentioned, and I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see a round of procurement for this, although at a relatively smaller scale than originally envisaged - maybe 20% of WP leavers, although just speculation on my part.

    Even 20% would be a challenge though, and perhaps impracticable. The evaluation refers to the difficulty in securing placements, something that I suspect will be more difficult now than it was then, due to effective campaigning against organisations suspected of acting unethically or of replacing paid workers with coerced workfare participants. Even if it's 20%, the number of placements would be in the hundreds of thousands - difficult to provide those, and extremely difficult to do so without displacing jobs, damaging tax revenue and harming employees.

    Finally, I suspect that the cost of this may well mean the end or scaling back of the flexible support fund, which would have the effect of reducing scope for early interventions for those relatively close to the job market. Again, just speculation, but it would be unfortunate if this reallocation happened.

    As for Labour - I believe we can expect something next week. The Compulsory Job Guarantee has been floated often enough to feel like a fairly firm policy, but apparently there will be something about social security out soon.

  14. Like Anonymous (1 June 2013 12:12) I'm on WP, and I'm just over a month and a half away from finishing. In my case, I was told that I was going to get a new advisor after the last one got transferred to another branch. As a result, I haven't had a 1-on-1 appointment in nearly 3 months. The last time I saw the advisor, he declared that I was "Too old and the wrong gender" for the type of work I was looking for (Admin work). Needless to say, when I mentioned this to the jobcentre, they were shocked, to say the least.

    By the way Historian, if you think this seems familiar, I'm the same bloke who had a similar experience with A4e back in April 2010 (and by the way, I was the one who was told "Get a job, and you can buy an iPod".

  15. little article dunco's backround, motives, and his Easterhouse "epiphany":

    more like this please!

  16. just to provide a little balance... the work programme was very helpful to me. i was placed with a4e, drew up an action plan with an advisor who was firm but fair and within 3 weeks had secured an interview at a local factory. it was only a vacuum packing fish gig but hey, a job's a job. 1 year later and im supervising twelve people and...

    okay... enough of the fantasy. i graduated in 2010 and got a masters in creative writing from a respected uni [at least in my chosen field] in 2011. i've done copywriting for tkmaxx and grosvenor group.. that all dried up last year and i was sent to a4e after six months on the rock and roll. first interview i was told to remove my degrees from my cv as they were 'holding me back'... through gritted teeth i accepted. like most people on these schemes i just want to get in, keep a low profile and get out without a sanction. it really is like running a gauntlet in that fashion.. there is misdirection and doublespeak and trap doors hidden everywhere with the big sanction bogeyman waiting to catch you if you put a foot wrong.

    anyway... about 4 months in i was told to attend an interview at a local fish packing factory. i attended of course, and was successful in the interview. it was 37.5 hours a week, i was assured, on minimum wage but enough to keep me in ink and cigarettes so enough to keep me writing and happy.

    a4e signed me off, paid for my first weeks travel... and then it hit me. my second weeks rota at the new job and i was in 1 day week. a 3 and a half hour shift. now keep in mind it was costing me 7.40 a day in travel expenses. my manager advised me that this was to be expected.

    i phoned a4e... and they 'signposted' me to citizens advice bureau. great.

    i quit, went to reclaim dole, only for a4e to contact jcp, after themselves getting in contact with the factory, notifying that i had left paid employment.

    immediate six month sanction.

    fantastic. two years ago i was happy, independent,and really thought i was going places. even on the dole times were tough but it never really got me down. now everything is dark and hopeless and i don't have enough money for toilet paper.

    thank you a4e for improving my life!

    1. I would ask for an appointment with the manager the Jobcentre you use, as this sounds like you are been harsly treated regarding getting santioned.
      You have to argue the fact that you have been offered the job under false pretenses, ie interviwed for a full time 37.5 hour job, when it actually turned out to be a 1 day 3 1/2 hour shift. I mean who is their right mind would sign off to take that job. You need to get this point across to the Jobcentre. I hope you are going through the sanction appeals process, as you should not of had your benefits stopped for what has happened.

  17. My sanction is being appealed. In the meantime I'm up bright and early 4.30am (no closed curtains at my place IDS) to try to get to a local food bank before they run out

  18. We must not forget that many are also being hit by Bedroom Tax while this new Jobcentre regime is in place. Yes people will be forced to sign off as they will all be making appointments to see their GP for Depression. I guess thats the plan to keep the unemployment figures fiddled.


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