Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Changing faces

So Mark Hoban has gone.  He made absolutely no impact at the DWP, but apparently thinks he did.  He told his local paper in Hampshire, "I have turned the Work Programme around and I have delivered on what I was asked to achieve."  He is replaced by Esther McVey, who has an interesting background.  Aged 46, she's from Liverpool; solidly middle class (a family business in demolition), a law degree, and a career in television before founding her own business.  She only came into Parliament in 2010.  No doubt Cameron thinks she will have the presentational skills which Iain Duncan Smith so conspicuously lacks.  Also joining thee DWP as Minister of State is Mike Penning, a 56-year-old with a similar background to McVey (except he chose the army rather than television).
More interesting, perhaps, is the reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet, with the ineffectual Liam Byrne being replaced by Rachel Reeves as shadow work and pensions minister.  Reeves is not a great TV performer, but she knows her stuff and is a formidable intellect.  Don't expect IDS ever to debate with her publicly.
None of this makes any immediate difference to government policy, unfortunately.


  1. Hoban was about as much use as a third cheek on a backside! If he really is responsible for turning the WP around, then I'd hate to see when he really fails at something!

    McVey is being appointed for two reasons. One is that Cameron is probably spooked by opinion polls showing Ed Milliband having better support amongst the female electorate. Perhaps he feels a female MP like McVey can help turn this around.

    The second is as Historian rightly says is presentation. McVey was on TV for a while and hosted / co-hosted several including a low budget Ch5 talk show called Fives Company along with Nick Knowles and three other co-hosts. No doubt this gives her an edge over the hopeless Hoban and indeed Smith who both come across terribly on air.

    That said, even though McVey replaces Hoban, it'll merely be a change in style rather than any real substance. No doubt she (McVey) will continue to champion failing schemes such as the WP, Universal Credit, Universal Job Match and the rest of this sorry governments failing policies.

    1. Yes but sadly it is the people that have to participate in these inane programmes that pay the price,as I come to the end of my 2 year stint on the WP,the only thing that I have gained is a deeper insight into exactly how uneducated/ignorant our elected politicians are,replacing one idiot with a more presentable idiot,still ends with the same result.

    2. In terms of her media skills, she doesn't exactly cover herself in glory here: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2013/06/15/video-krishnan-guru-murthy-roasts-the-tory-minister-against-disabled-people-esther-oi-vey-mcvey/

  2. Perhaps the changes to the Shadow Cabinet are more informative than the actual govt. changes. I am glad to see Liam Byrne consigned to outer darkness. As well as handing the incoming Condems ammunition in the form of his "there is no money" note the man has been a disaster in his shadow post. He has been indistinguishable from IDS in policies and approach and persuaded Miliband not to oppose the atrocious retroactive legislation IDS came up with. Good riddance Liam.
    Let's hope that this is just the start of Labour remembering whose corner they were founded to fight.
    Meanwhile C$ news report on how the WP is failing (at great expense) to help the disabled (and, I might add, everyone else!).

  3. Imho, Mike Penning is the one to watch out for. He is fiercely loyal to his Tory paymasters and he seems convincing on TV.

    I used to work for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for HM Coastguard.. I was never involved with the HMCG service professionally but I know a fair few HMCG officers socially from all over the UK. There had long been a plan to “modernize” the HMCG service but earlier Shipping Ministers had kicked the idea into the long grass.

    Then Mike Penning became the Shipping Minister in 2010. He is a fireman by trade, who knows zilch about matters maritime. Nonetheless, Penning shoved the HMCG “modernization” plan through, with the upshot that the UK has now begun to shed around 100 HMCG officers out of around 250. Within the next 5 years, the HMCG service might as well be outsourced to India because the average marine casualty has no use for an HMCG officer with zero idea about the casualty’s location but this will be the result. Therefore people will die, needlessly, whilst the “new, improved” HMCG service will be withdrawn from the coast and its newbies will sit around near Fareham (in Mark Hoban’s constituency) gazing gormlessly at computer screens 24/7 The new HMCG service will occupy 30,000 sq ft of office space that had been earmarked for the Fire & Rescue Service originally, until Mike Penning and others scotched the Fire Service plans at the end of 2010.

    Penning rescued the Fire Service but he will scythe through the unemployed, the sick and the disabled because this is what his political paymasters now want him to do. Ignorance of his subject is no obstacle where Penning is concerned but he does seem convincing on TV, where he is miles better than IDS, Hoban & McVey put together.

  4. Has anybody else been asked by the JCP ,why they have not taken advantage of what the WP has had to offer regarding training? During my signing on,a specialist Adviser came over and posed this to me and informed that "We are no longer letting you people have a free ride" I replied "What training? free ride?" I asked if training would be available through the JCP,but this was never answered,reminds me of the WP,accusations,but no solutions.

    1. Sick of the Work Programme9 October 2013 at 11:48

      One of the main criticisms of the Work Programme has consistently been about the lack of training on offer. Also- how disrespectful of the Jobcentre worker to have referred to people who are out of work as 'you people!' I would be tempted to complain to the Jobcentre manager, as that is no way to address anyone. Depending on the political affiliations of your local MP, it might also be worth contacting him or her about the way you have been treated and how poor the Work Programme has been. If you wish to contact your MP, you can find his/her contact details here: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

    2. Anonymous9 October 2013 07:33:"why they have not taken advantage of what the WP has had to offer regarding training? "

      A4e (and all other providers) are private companies, and I have on record A4e stating "We do not fund training".

      What little they do provide is inane, worthless, and the most basic of numeracy, literacy, and only then, when it can be provided at zero cost.

    3. I'm a little confessed. What exactly is the definition of training when it comes to the WP? I only ask because I've been on 2 courses at my local A4e that were run by 2 different colleges. I got certificates for both courses, but they don't exactly amount to much in the grand scheme of things. Also, where does it state that the providers should be offering training for jobs? It would be nice to know, because if the providers are supposed to offer training at the bare minimum, then they surely have failed in my local office, too. My guess is, that during your induction, they are supposed to ask what you'd like to do and then put you on to the appropriate training course to get the skills you need for that job.

    4. Elephant in the room(training) no real definition in the WP contracts or on any WP Provider website,they tend to hide behind the :Black Box" method of delivering training,but I have noticed if the WP Provider can secure outside funding (ESF,ect) they will usually have a preferred "training provider" that is in some way attached financially with them.

  5. Brace yourselves! I have just returned from the JCP,new "clerk" I was asked why I have not allowed access to my UJM account,I replied that I initially was told that it was mandatory and this turned out to be untrue(LIE) and felt annoyed about this,has it become mandatory? "You really should give us access" is it mandatory?....Can I see your job search? yes..."I can't accept this it is written out,you could of just written this"...Last time I was told a screen shot was not acceptable and it had to be written out...."How can I verify that you applied for these,you need to let me access your UJM account"...Is it mandatory? "As I cannot verify your job search,I am raising a doubt"

    Part 2 shortly

  6. Part 2..I was given 2 forms to fill out,I requested to see a Manager,48 Minute wait and the JCP Manager and the District manager were there,I explained that I felt this doubt had been raised in retaliation for not allowing access to my UJM account(I remained polite) I asked them to pull up my file,as I have been unemployed for almost 3 years I have never missed an appointment,or failed to do anything that has been mandated,I have followed the directions that were given to me about searching for employment..."We are unable to let you have access to an IAD or printer,the 2 we have are for Universal Credit " in the end I was allowed to use the IAD(it would not load UJM,but I went in through Google) the Printer was shot,so I showed them my UJM "My God,you have applied for over 800 positions,I have never seen this many" Benefits restored,"Clerk" pissed off!

  7. Hi guys /. girls.. I know this is a little off topic but I'm really quite upset at the moment and don't know where else to go for advice. I have just been refused a claim for JSA. I got a job with an energy firm six months ago and when my probationary period ran out last Monday I was told that I 'wasn't the right fit' for the company and was let go. Eight of us were taken on at the start of the six months and only two were given full time jobs at the end of it.

    Annoyingly, I was only a week over the six month limit for making a rapid reclaim so had to start the process from scratch. When I went to first sign I was told that because I had been asked to leave my last job I wouldn't qualify for JSA for 26 weeks. I tried to explain that I hadn't been fired, I just hadn't been taken on at the end of the probationary period but the adviser simply wouldn't listen and became very defensive.

    I asked to speak with his manager but was told that he / she wasn't available and due to my 'aggressive nature' [I really am a very calm and docile person and didn't raise my voice- only was adamant that I believed the adviser was wrong] all future correspondence with the Jobcentre would have to be in writing. In short, I was banned. I understand they will be writing to me to tell me a different jobcentre I will have to visit to claim National Insurance Credits for the 26 week period.

    Does anybody know what, if any options are open to me?

    Thank you in advance.


    1. There are two points here. Is a probationary period the same as a trial period? I suppose it depends on what you were told at the start of the job, but it's possible to argue, as they are, that it's not. You would need advice from the CAB or a law centre. As for being banned from the Jobcentre - I'm afraid the regime at the moment is about trying to penalise as many people as possible.
      I'm sure people on here have some thoughts on the subject!

    2. From personal experience it has become apparent that a lot of the rules are twisted against the claimant,advisers distort what the facts,not by outright lying,but rather by withholding information and then springing it at a later date. While waiting to sign on I always show up early and have noticed an increase in the number of people being given a sanction doubt,while sitting there I hear all sorts of contradictory advice given to claimants and I have also noticed a much more aggressive and provoking attitude from the advisers,at the same time there has been an increase in G4S security,who's main purpose seems to ensure that mobiles are shut off and people remain quiet.

      I agree with Historian,consult with the CAB,keep a journal of all interaction with the JCP/WP including,time,date and names,when ever I am directed to do something,I have the adviser put their name and sign it,some refuse,but I note that and it has saved me in the past.

      Good luck!

    3. Sick of the Work Programme11 October 2013 at 06:35

      What happened to you re. leaving your job isn't that different from what happened to me. I wasn't kept on at the end of my fixed-term contract working in a school due to allegations of not fitting in etc (I later found out that my job immediately went to a relative of a member of staff from the school, so this is likely the real reason why I wasn't kept on). I should have actually taken legal action for unfair dismissal because, as someone on a fixed-term contract for a year, the law stated that I was entitled to receive clear reasons in writing as to why my contract was not being renewed. However, if I had taken legal action for this I would have needed to have got on with it quickly, as cases for unfair dismissal had to be brought within a few months of leaving. The government has now changed the law however, so that cases of dismissal can only be challenged when someone has been working somewhere for at least two years, although in cases of discrimination it is still supposed to be possible to take action regardless of the length of time employed.

      Where JSA is concerned, I'm afraid it's too late for you to do this, but I simply informed the Jobcentre that my fixed-term contract had come to an end. I think they probably contacted the Council to check, but I'm sure the Council HR department did not say anything negative, as of course my employment had not even been ended in accordance with their own procedures (when I made an enquiry with the Payroll department not long after I had left the school, it even seemed as if they weren't aware that my employment at the school had finished!)

      I echo what historian has said about seeking advice from the CAB. Although I would have avoided telling the Jobcentre the circumstances of my contract coming to an end if at all possible, it seems unfair that they can claim 'it's your fault' when you weren't kept on at the end of a probationary period. After all, probationary periods were never supposed to be there as a guarantee of a permanent job, but to give both parties the opportunity to see whether the job was right for them?! There may not be anything you can do where your previous employer is concerned, but I am not sure that the Jobcentre has acted legally in denying you JSA.

  8. Thank you for your reply. I agree that probationary / trial period is a grey area but it seems to be a very common practice at the company. It's minimum wage for the probationary period but is very well paid if you are taken on at the end of it.. so it's very much in the company interest to keep staff levels turning over.

    If anyone here does have any other thoughts / suggestions it would be appreciated.

  9. I have been "let go" from 2 companies in the past because my face didn't fit - nothing to do with conduct or performance. As long as the company follows the correct procedures with notice and pay they are not bound by law to give a reason for ending your employment unless you have worked there for 2 years or more. You can, however, claim unfair dismissal in some cases such as discrimination and there is some good advice on the ACAS website regarding this.
    With regards to JSA my understanding is that to refuse your claim they would have to prove that you were fired for misconduct or some other circumstances that you brought about yourself. I would definitely appeal against the decision if this was not the case.

    1. Sick of the Work Programme12 October 2013 at 02:32

      It is also my understanding that they can only refuse to pay JSA if the claimant gave up employment without good reason or lost it through misconduct. Not being kept on by the employer at the end of a probationary period for 'not fitting in with the team' would fit in with neither of those. The OP might find the following useful:


      There is a link to an appeal form on the page, as well as a link near the bottom of the page to the 'Jobseeker's Allowance leaflet', which seems to be confirming what we have said about JSA only being permitted to be withheld if an individual has given up employment without good cause or lost it through misconduct.

      The OP might also be interested in this page, which confirms that JSA might be sanctioned if you 'left your job voluntarily or lost your job due to misconduct', neither of which applies to the OP. http://www.turn2us.org.uk/information__resources/benefits/working_or_looking_for_work/jobseekers_allowance/jsa_sanctions_-_turn2us.aspx

      I'm sure the OP has a strong case for appealing but might still like to contact the CAB for confirmation of this and perhaps advice on the best wording to use on the appeal form.


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