We recently reported that Work for Your Benefit providers can sell workfare participants to businesses. This post is focused more on the amounts of money the working “slaves” will receive and the providers income; another post will be for the mistreatment and other concerns.
We are using the figures mentioned in Jobseekers Allowance isn’t enough!
Whether or not longterm unemployed people should have to commit forced labour as a condition of claiming benefit is an ongoing debate, however, the higher tier Jobseekers Allowance divided by National Minimum Wage works out at roughly 11 hours.
If jobseekers are to do forced labour to receive benefit then they should do a maximum of 11 hours of work per week. Of course, the entire workfare scheme needs to be scrapped.
Is it slavery?
There are worse forms of slavery but this significantly meets the definition criteria.
Everyone has a right to social security – and such payments are designed so low to discourage those who dont want to work. Being completely honest… if I was getting £160 per week in benefits, and I had to work 30 hours or so more to get that after deductions… its not about being lazy but there wouldn’t be any point in working. The country would also be bankrupt as everyone would exploit it.
Therefore if Jobseekers Allowance is below the “poverty line” that is fine. As soon as you start working for your benefits you are a worker (even if you aren’t employed by the person you work for and exempt from National Minimum Wage under such terminology).. being paid below a “minimum level” (subsistence) becomes an issue.
There are two different amounts for a minimum level…. the “poverty line” (lowest at £112) and Minimum Income Standard (highest at £145 – same as the 18-21 NMW rate for 30 hours). Which ever figure you use, the Training Allowance is much less than the “poverty line” and considerably less than the National Minimum Wage designed to protect people from working for unfair wages.
Taken from Flexible New Deal
Seriously ill and disabled people are being pushed into finding work without any help or support, a charity has warned.
Citizens Advice said it had “grave concerns” about how sick and disabled people are being assessed for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
The allowance was introduced in October 2008 to replace incapacity benefit for new claimants, and to give more support to people who may be able to return to work.
But the charity said that since the allowance was introduced, its advisers across England and Wales had been reporting high numbers of seriously ill and disabled people who were being found “fit to work” under the new work capability assessment.
People who were found to be fit to work included those with advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, as well as people with severe mental illness, and some who were dealing with acute short-term health problems, such as waiting for open heart surgery. Overall, 69% of people who were assessed for the allowance were refused it.
In its report, which is supported by 18 other organisations, including Macmillan Cancer Support and the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the group warned that the medical test people undergo to assess their fitness to work does not account for the complexities of many illnesses and disabilities.
It said it was also hearing numerous reports of hurried medicals, where vital details were missed and unjustifiable assumptions were made. It added that the assessments did not place enough emphasis on the impact of mental health issues on people’s ability to work.
The charity said that failing the assessment could have an enormously detrimental effect on people. It said people who failed were told they must find work, and they could also be put on jobseeker’s allowance, which it said was a less supportive benefit, while in some cases they may receive no benefits at all.
Citizens Advice also warned that the stress of the test and the prospect of having to fight unfavourable decisions at a tribunal put considerable pressure on people, and risked making it harder for them to return to work.
David Harker, chief executive at Citizens Advice, said: “The current test to determine eligibility for ESA isn’t working. We are seeing cases where the Government’s aim of moving people into work is being totally undermined. Seriously ill and disabled people are being severely let down by the crude approach of the work capability assessment.”
Taken from Yahoo! News UK
Jobcentre Plus staff feel many people who pass work capability assessments are not fit for work, according to a study by the Department of Work and Pensions published yesterday.
They believed this was especially damaging for clients with mental health problems and exacerbated their symptoms.
Work capability assessments decide whether people are eligible for one of the two levels of employment support allowance (ESA) or jobseeker’s allowance, which is worth £25 less than the lower level of ESA.
ESA replaced incapacity benefit in October 2008 for new claimants, with the work capability assessment introduced at the same time, and early evidence has shown that more people have been deemed fit to work under the new regime.
Neil Coyle, director of policy at the Disability Alliance, said he sympathised with jobcentre staff’s frustration. In his experience, many were unable to deliver support they felt clients needed because the assessment made them ineligible for ESA.
The study also confirmed a large backlog of appeals against work capability assessment decisions.
Coyle said the backlog was likely to get worse because the government intends to push all remaining incapacity benefit claimants through work capability assessments. “It’s worrying, not least for those of us who foot the bill because appeals are very expensive,” Coyle said.
The study, based on in-depth interviews with more than 70 staff and customers, found considerable delays in having a work capability assessment and this limited the scope of work-focused interviews. These take place between nine and 13 weeks after a client has made an ESA claim and are aimed at supporting claimants into work.
Some people had received no assessment by the time of their third interview.
Benefit delivery centre staff, who process claims, reported that there was an incentive in the system for appeals because it allowed claimants to continue claiming ESA, as opposed to jobseeker’s allowance, until the appeal was heard. Several staff were acutely concerned about the extra costs this entailed.
Minister for disabled people Jonathan Shaw said: “This research was carried out some time ago soon after the benefit was introduced and we have made considerable improvements since then. We continue to see where improvements and changes are needed to ensure that ESA is working as it should be.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said the work capability assessment was currently being reviewed to ensure that it was accurately identifying people for the most appropriate benefit and work was underway to streamline the appeals process.
Taken from CommunityCare
Figures have been released today which claim to show that the number of people unemployed in the UK has fallen and show a jobless rate of 7.8% with total unemployment standing at 2.45 million for the three months to January. So down 33,000 on the figure for the previous three months.
However a quick look at the ONS data reveals the smoke and mirrors. The number of people in work actually fell in the quarter, by 54,000 to 28.86 million. So how is it that both the number of people in work and the number of people out of work fell, did I miss a plague, a famine, a third world war? For only a massive reduction in the population could cause this surely.
Well no actually the ONS has the answer “unemployment and employment were both falling because of a rising number of people being classed as economically inactive. This category includes students and those on long-term sick leave, as well as those who have stopped looking for a job.
Ah, so that’s it, unemployment has fallen because people have stopped looking for a job. FFS!
Long-term unemployment, covering those out of work for more than a year, rose by 61,000 to 687,000 a massive quarterly rise of almost 10%!
The lesson is – with this government – always read the fine print.
Taken from Red Rag
Older workers are languishing on the dole after losing their jobs in the recession and not being able to find new ones, unions have warned.
The TUC is concerned about a “steady rise” in the number of people over 50 who are unemployed for more than six months, saying their skills and talents are going to waste.
The union organisation said it will be studying new jobless figures to be published on Wednesday for any sign that older workers are still “trapped” in long-term unemployment.
Last month the number of older people out of work for longer than six months increased by 3,000 to 229,000, while those out of work for more than a year jumped by 11,000 to 134,000.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Every job loss is a human tragedy, but when people are out of work for over a year they risk being permanently scarred by joblessness.
“Long spells out of work can increase the likelihood of mental health problems and relationship breakdown and devastate entire communities.”
He added: “People who have been unemployed for a long time have a much lower chance of finding work again. There is a real danger that the UK’s older working population is being left on the scrapheap.
“Government investment has kept unemployment well below the levels reached in previous recessions, but there can be no room for complacency.
“The government should extend its job guarantee for young people to anyone out of work for 18 months to stop people getting mired in semi-permanent joblessness.”
Taken from Morning Star
A top financial expert has revealed that greedy tax dodgers are now costing Britain a massive £123 billion a year.
Tax Research UK director Richard Murphy produced the new figure as campaigners demanded an end to public-spending cuts and a reversal of the jobs massacre in tax offices.
He unveiled research results showing that tax avoidance amounts to £25bn per year, while deliberate organised tax evasion adds a further £70bn. An additional £28bn is owing to the Inland Revenue in unpaid tax debt.
Mr Murphy counterposed this starkly against Britain’s deficit this year of £178bn, which the government is using as justification for a public-sector jobs cull and a programme of widespread spending cuts.
The expert was loudly applauded at a Tax Justice event in Westminster on Wednesday night as he attacked the “lunacy” of closing 200 tax offices and cutting 20,000 jobs in revenue and customs.
Many of those in the audience were public-service union PCS activists from tax offices, sitting alongside Labour MPs who are demanding an end to job cuts.
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady added that 54 British billionaires had a combined fortune of £126bn in 2006.
“And how much tax did they pay altogether?” she asked. “It was less than £15 million, which works out at an effective tax rate of 0.1 per cent for our 54 billionaires.”
Ms O’Grady suggested a new campaign against wealthy dodgers and off-shore tax havens under the slogan “shop a non-dom.”
She added: “Avoidance of fair taxes should be as unacceptable as any other anti-social behaviour.”
Taken from Morning Star
Members of Defend Welfare Newcastle (including benefits claimants) and Tyne & Wear Left Unity, were joined by a “Fat Cat” when they offered support to striking workers at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). By attending pickets, and a rally at Newcastle Monument, organised by the PCS Union during their strike on March 8th and 9th, they showed their solidarity with workers at the DWP, including Jobcentre staff.
In supporting the strike, Defend Welfare Newcastle wanted to highlight that attacks on the benefits system are also attacks on the workers who staff the benefits system, and that privatisation of jobcentres and the benefits system is bad for both DWP workers and benefits claimants. In conversations with the striking workers, members of Defend Welfare Newcastle told striking workers about a Claimants’ Union that was being set up on Tyneside, and stressed that this would defend claimants’ rights, and was not against ordinary Jobcentre/DWP staff.
Recent benefits changes force single parents to look for work once their child is 7 (and attend work-focused activity from when their child is 3), make sick and disabled people more ill with stress by forcing them off Incapacity Benefit/ESA and onto Jobseekers Allowance, and are even going to make people “work for their benefits” – for as little as £1.27 an hour.
The Public and Commercial Services Union were on strike in order to prevent their redundancy pay from being cut – which would make it easier for the government to make job-cuts. Many of the DWP workers are low paid – the basic wage of a clerical assistant is just 24p an hour above minimum wage.
Increased privatisation would lead to redundancies and poor conditions for DWP staff and less face-to-face interaction between Jobcentre workers and claimants (with even more use of call-centres). As has already been shown by the use of companies like Atos Origins, A4E and Work Directions, privatisation means mistreating (often vulnerable) people claiming benefits in order to make profit for private businesses.
One claimant, who attended pickets and the rally with the group said “I had really interesting conversations with some of the strikers, and hopefully gave them some moral support. I think it’s important when you’re defending yourself against attacks on your own situation, that you see the links with other people’s situations. I also took part in the International Womens’ Day celebrations at Monument, and handed out Newcastle Defend Welfare leaflets there, because welfare is a feminist issue, the recent changes have hit single parents particularly badly. It’s all part of the same system, all an attack on working class people.”
If negotiations are not successful, PCS members will strike again on March 19th.
Taken from Tyneside Claimants Union
Fresh fears of a “jobless recovery” resurfaced today as a labour market survey forecast slim recruitment intentions for the second quarter of the year.
The Manpower Employment Outlook survey, based on 2,100 employers, showed just a 1% rise in hiring confidence for the upcoming quarter, up from 0% in the first three months of 2010. The figure is calculated by subtracting the number of employers who plan to cut staff from the number who plan to take on new employees.
The small rise is in stark contrast to the more positive data recorded by Monster Employment Index, also published today, which revealed that the number of jobs advertised online rose by 12% last month compared to Janaury.
Manpower’s managing director Mark Cahill said: “The UK’s emergence from recession is certainly positive news, but there is still unprecedented confusion in the labour market, with rising levels of people claiming benefits and static unemployment levels, too.”
The utilities sector emerged as the most positive for job creation intentions, at 6%, swiftly followed by those in the finance and business services industry, at 5%.
The transport and telecommunications sector was the hardest-hit sector at -7%.
The public sector follows the national trend, reporting a 1% hiring intention.
Cahill said: “This [public] sector remains the UK’s largest employer, and therefore the importance of having the best workplace solutions is critical.
“Job cuts may be the fastest route to short-term cost-cutting but implementing innovative workforce transformations, such as those seen in the private sector, will allow for recurring savings and flexibility in the long-term.”
He called for the public sector to find new ways of working to improve effiency and deliver frontline services in a more cost-effective way.
In the first quarter of 2009, the hiring intention recorded by all industries in the Manpower survey was -5%.
Taken from Personnel Today