Hate on the Dole: George Osborne to Make Unemployed “pick up littter.”
‘Community Service’ Osborne’s Solution to Mass Unemployment.
The Daily Mail exults, “Benefits will be stripped from the long-term jobless unless they work full time picking up litter, removing graffiti or preparing meals for the elderly.”
“George Osborne will today announce details of the US-style ‘work for the dole’ programme, starting within six months and affecting 200,000 welfare claimants.”
The Independent reports the crucail details.
200,000 people a year who have claimed jobseeker’s allowance for three years will lose benefits unless they take up one of three options after two years on the Work Programme:
- Thirty hours a week for six months of community work such as making meals for the elderly, cleaning up litter and graffiti or charity work, plus 10 hours of “job search activity”.
- Daily attendance at a jobcentre to search for work instead of a brief interview once a fortnight.
- A mandatory intensive regime for claimants with underlying problems such as mental health, drug addiction or illiteracy.
Although the benefit sanctions will be controversial, the Tories regard the “work for dole” scheme as an example of “tough love” and insist their aim is to help the jobless back into work.
Statistics released by the DWP today show that the performance of the Work Programme – which was already achieving less than doing nothing at all – is steadily getting worse.
By June 2013 a lower percentage of people who had been on the scheme for one full year had found a job which lasted at least 6 months – known as a sustained job outcome – than in the previous two months. In April 2013 14% of claimants who had been on the scheme for one year had found sustained jobs, by June this had dropped to 13%.*
Boycott Workfare rightly compares the plans to the punishments given out to those who have broken the law.
Unemployed people and campaigners have condemned George Osborne’s announcement that long-term unemployed people will be forced to work unpaid or face losing their social security as a criminalisation of unemployed people.
The maximum community sentence that a judge can hand out is for 300 hours, but claimants on six-month workfare schemes are already being forced to work without pay for 780 hours. The four-week Mandatory Work Activity scheme is already the equivalent of a medium level community service order that a person might receive if they were found guilty of drink driving or assault.
When a similar scheme was introduced in the US, thousands of jobs in the Parks Department were lost in New York alone – to be replaced with forced unpaid workers. Similar case studies have emerged in the UK, where workfare placements are already taking place in hospitals, council offices, charities and businesses.
What is the record of previous workfare schemes?
A pilot has already been tried.
Boycott Workfare commented on the results,
The preliminary results are from the trailblazer pilot, which tested CAP along with Ongoing Case Management (OCM) – “a more intensive a more intensive offer of flexible and personalised adviser-based support, as well as a set of mandatory activities, delivered by Jobcentre Plus through increased adviser interventions for six months”. These two schemes were tested with a control group continuing on standard job centre plus, and participants randomly assigned to the schemes.
Fifteen to 18 per cent in each programme strand had entered paid employment, become self-employed or were waiting to start work at the time of the survey, six to seven months after starting on the trailblazer. These job outcomes did not vary significantly between programme strands, nor did the types of jobs entered, take-home pay and hours worked.
For participants on OCM, those who reported receiving more personalised support to their individual needs were significantly more likely to be in work at the end of the programme. However, for CAP participants, neither attending a placement nor receiving jobsearch support were significantly associated with a job outcome around the end of the programme.
The majority of participants reported being in receipt of JSA at the time of the survey. DWP statistics published alongside this report found statistically significantly lower levels of benefit receipt for both CAP and OCM participants compared to the control group about six months after starting the programme.
The degrading sight of the Chancellor of the Exchequer announcing, with glee, that the out-of-work will have to clean the streets, wash the walls of scribblings, and cook for the old, awaits us today.
His Minister of Work and Pensions, Ian Duncan Smith, is said to be devout Catholic.
Not doubt that played something in the decision to make life hell on earth for the unemployed.
Johnny Void points out how the hard right Policy Exchange has manufactured statistical support for Workfare.
“The general public’s opinions on workfare have been grossly distorted by the nature of the questions asked in this survey.”
* The TUC said (26 September 2013),
Work Programme is still failing to help vulnerable people, says TUC
Commenting on figures published today (Thursday) by the Department for Work and Pensions on the government’s Work Programme, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
‘Despite the official spin, the Work Programme is still failing to deliver for many jobseekers.
‘Just one person in 25 is able to find a proper job after a year on the scheme, and disabled people have seen virtually no benefit since its introduction. Although there has been an increase in placements for those on those on the dole these improvements are starting to tail off.
‘The government is obsessed with punishing those out of work, rather than helping them find jobs. The best way to get to grips with our unemployment crisis would be to offer a jobs guarantee for anyone out of work for at least a year.’