Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Fact and fiction

The party conference season is always depressing, but this year it's frightening as well.  I've taken to avoiding the BBC's news and politics output altogether.  So what are the important issues which are not being talked about?  
Outsourcing (or privatisation - in the public mind they're the same thing) should be in the forefront.  It is in the clamour about the NHS.  As private companies move in to pick up contracts it's pointed out that i) many are American and ii) many MPs have financial interests in them.  But creeping privatisation is happening in lots of areas.  The academy chain AET has gone into an arrangement with accountants PriceWaterhouseCooper to outsource all its non-teaching staff.  It won't stop there.  
There's a great piece by Patrick Butler in the Guardian which shows that outsourcing is about driving down costs by cutting wages.  Around 5.4 million people now work in outsourced public services, and it's being driven, particularly in the "care" sector, by the cuts to local authority budgets.  That's how this government has achieved its aim, by pushing the responsibility back onto local councils and then claiming that it's their fault.
How is that veteran of outsourcing, the Work Programme, going?  Swimmingly if you believe the government.  But the Welfare News Service site did an excellent analysis of the figures showing just how badly it's letting down the unemployed.  A4e, of course, spun it frantically.  "A recent report by Europe Economics, an independent research company commissioned by the Employment Related Services Association, has also estimated that around 100,000 jobs for the long term unemployed would not have taken place without the programme and that £18 billion in value to the UK economy is likely to be generated by the Work Programme."  Neither of those figures bear examination.  
Let's hear some pearls of wisdom from Leo McKinstry of the Express: "Under Work And Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith the Government has rooted out abuses, introduced tough sanctions, ensured that work pays more than the dole and tackled the housing benefit scandal where jobless claimants could live in luxurious accommodation courtesy of the taxpayer."  In any field except journalism and politics this would be regarded as symptomatic of delusional illness.
If you have thoughts on the conferences relevant to this blog, please comment.  (I don't promise to publish unless you stick to the rules, basically be relevant, literate and polite.)


  1. Historian,off subject,but desperate..I am long term unemployed,4 Years,I have been offered a position that I want,the JCP have assured me that I will be sanctioned if I do not accept,the problem being that for the first Month I will need help with transportation costs and 2 new sets of "uniforms" plus shoes (management) I have asked my adviser and they will only help if I have health problems or a mental disability. I have looked at the DWP site and can find no reference to any grants/funding for over 50/healthy Any feed back would be welcome and appreciated as I have a meeting tomorrow with them and would like to be at least a little informed,thanks

    1. Have you been on the Work Programme? Is the provider eligible for an outcome payment? If so, contact them, they should help.
      Try your bank for a loan or overdraft. I know that's not the best way to start a job, but if you can prove you've got the job it may be willing. Of course, avoid payday lenders.
      If you've definitely got the job, is it possible to speak to your employer about an advance on your first salary?
      Others may have others ideas.

    2. If you are on the Work Programme they may pay for your uniform. The dole no longer pay for uniforms/safety gear or transport, unless your place of work is more than 90 minutes.

      Have you got anything you could pawn?

    3. Finished the WP a year ago,MWA and so on,I suppose that I could just not sign off for a Month,bit dodgy though,I was under the impression that the JCP had some sort of fund that they could access on a case by case basis.

      The employer does not know I am on JSA,when I interviewed he seemed funny about JSA claimants,can't really explain it,just his attitude,but really need this job..Thanks for the advice

      I would rather walk the 9+ Miles than let A4E get paid.

    4. Not much more to add to your awful Catch-22 situation I'm afraid. Except to perhaps suggest offering to pay for your uniform by offering to pay via instalments, say £10 per week or month.

      As for transport, do you know any friends or neighbours going that way at that time? Offer to pay them petrol money or their favourite tipple in your local when you can afford to do so.

      Sorry I can't be of genuine help.

    5. Anonymous - JCP advisors have access to something called the Flexible Support Fund. It can be used for a range of things, including uniforms etc. It's entirely discretionary rather than an entitlement, but there's no harm in asking and mentioning it by name.

      Good luck


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