Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Hate on the Dole: George Osborne to Make Unemployed “pick up littter.”

with 14 comments


‘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.

We note,

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.

Important Update.

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.’

Written by Andrew Coates

September 30, 2013 at 10:34 am

14 Responses

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  1. I wonder where the staff to deal with people visiting the office every day will come from. I also have some dread for the people who have to receive meals made by slave labour.

    Geoff Barr

    September 30, 2013 at 10:46 am

  2. Totally agree Geoff.

    It’s easy to see how expensive this will be, though Osborne claims that it will be paid out of furthter cuts – get rid of paid carers and put in the unemployed no doubt.

    I came back from the big TUC demo in Manchester late night.

    There had been leaks about this all weekened, but even I was not prepared for just how vicious and potentially stupid it is.

    Who will be employed to supervise these gangs of litter pickers? Who will seriously let the unemployed ‘cook meals’ for the elderly?

    No doubt they think their friends will make a tidy profit out of it (SERCO and G4S no doubt), but the risks are incredibly great.

    Andrew Coates

    September 30, 2013 at 10:52 am

  3. Read on Facebook: getting the long-term unemployed to cook for the elderly and help round their homes.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Andrew Coates

    September 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm

  4. Do we not have people properly employed who sweep up litter, remove wall daubings and help prepare food for disabled and old folk? Local authorities do these jobs, although they are largely subbed out to private contractors, with all which that implies in respect of terms and conditions. But — and this could not possibly have been thought of by the Tories, could it? — such firms could stop employing ‘normal’ workers and replace them with unemployed people sent down by the Department of Work and Freedom. Extremely cheap labour, undercutting even the meagre minimum wage. And what rights would these workers have? Would they have a grievance procedure against management?

    Dr Paul

    September 30, 2013 at 12:40 pm

  5. […] here and here […]

  6. Osborne’s speech included a new reference in his work-for-nowt plan.

    Apart from the tasks already listed he said, “They will do useful work……working for a local charity.”

    Any Charity accepting this forced labour should be boycotted and put out business.


    Andrew Coates

    September 30, 2013 at 5:09 pm

  7. So the unemployed are to be treated the same as criminals who have been ordered to do community service? And I’ve been claiming JSA the past two months (after studying law at university) and looking for work literally takes up all your time, how are these people gonna find work when they’re doing 30 hours community service??


    September 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    • At least we’re not going to scrub the streets with toothbrushes.

      As the government refuses to take any notice of the failure of their own pilot schemes, and no doubt the advice of anybody with a gram of common sense, it looks unlikely that this will step backwards from this.

      Andrew Coates

      October 1, 2013 at 10:40 am

  8. Human rights article 4,(1) No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.(d) any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.
    Is it any wonder the government is wanting to renege on the human rights issue (Abu Qatada fiasco) by getting their way, the future for the ordinary British citizen will not be very good.
    They will have us all working for next to nothing in no time.

    How come they can justify jobs, when millions cannot get back into regular employments anyhow? Can someone answer that.

    How can the government say we have no money, yet they spend billions on armaments, answers please.
    Are we a corporate resource to be employed for corporate benefit, never and not likely to be.

    What they propose is really disgusting.
    Social welfare was created to support the poor and not the other way around.


    October 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm

  9. This has already been done! Four years ago I was unemployed and sent to a government “work scheme” run by Sencia. For weeks 35 of us sat crammed into a room with not enough desks, and two working computers between us. Then we were sent on “work placement” for 11 weeks, under threat of having our benefit stopped.
    They said to us “you won’t be sent anywhere that there isn’t the chance of a job at the end of it”
    They then went on to place us in chasrity shops and Ethel Austin, a firm that was already going into liquidation.
    Sencia were getting £400 per week per person from the government.
    The firms and organizations we were farmed out to were getting £70 per week per person…we were getting £70 per week dole.
    It ended up that there were 8 of us stuck for 39 hours per week in a back room of the PDSA, sorting rags..with an hour of “till experience” per week. (I had worked on tills for 30 years, but apparently I would still benefit from this!)
    There were similiar numbers of people stuck in stock rooms of Ethel Austin, the British heart Foundation and other places. There were far too many people for the work that needed to be done, because they were getting paid to have us.
    We stood around bored for 8 hours a day, didn’t have time to do any real searches for work and were all turfed out the minute our placements were up, as they took on the next lot of not just FREE labour…but labour they were getting PAID to have…the whole thing was a sick joke.


    October 2, 2013 at 7:20 am

  10. Didn’t the Tories also seriously suggest making the unemployed sign on daily? If I heard that one correctly, they are even more stupid than I thought.

    The main reason why the German unemployed have to sign on, as a rule, once every three months (though those unemployed for longer than one year are then repeatedly forced to go on pointless courses, which removes them from the stastistics for a while), is because of the lessons of the Weimarer Republic: having millions of people queuing at the dole office every day Is A Very Bad Idea Entirely if you don’t want something like an unemployed workers’ movement to come about (or them joining the KPD). Better to leave them to rot on their own at home in front of idiot-making private television with the threat of an occasional unannounced home visit to check you are actually at home and not doing work on the side, on holiday, having fun of whatever kind.


    October 8, 2013 at 1:02 am

    • It would be a stupid idea in Ipswich for that very reason.

      There are enough arguments and fights with the security guards as it is.

      Andrew Coates

      October 8, 2013 at 10:13 am

  11. But they did seriously suggest this, didn’t they? Not just the “40 hour week compulsory Jobclub attendance” which I definately read about.


    October 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm

  12. Osborne can get fucked. I’m not doing it. I refuse. I’ll claim Hardship instead. As for daily signing, I’ll believe it when I see it. There aren’t even any public lavs at my local Jobcentre. I’d just stand there and piss myself LOL

    Landless Peasant

    February 17, 2014 at 6:34 pm

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