Countdown to new Youth Workfare in England, Scotland and Wales – #YOBSS

From October 2017 young people age 18 to 21 in England, Scotland and Wales on it’s Youth Obligation benefit sanctions scheme (YOBSS) for 6 months without finding paid work, will be referred on a mandatory basis to:

Failure to attend will result in benefit sanctions.

Join Boycott Workfare‘s campaign against forced-unpaid-labour and sign up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary.


Workfare, Forced Labour and the new ‘Business and Community Wardens’.

Posted by Pete the Temp on April 19th 3015 on his blog at


Arriving at Finsbury Park station I came across a group of men people in high vis vests. Their vests read ‘Business and Community Warden’. I’ve learned to be suspicious of people who claim to be ‘public officers’ or ‘wardens’ so I went up to one to ask what they do. My mistrust quickly melted to sympathy. The man I was speaking to walked with a heavy head, sagging eyes and a narked expression.  His colleagues also looked seriously bored and disaffected.

He told me he is on a six month, 30 hour per week Workfare placement. The work is a compulsory condition for receiving his Job Seekers Allowance –  a meagre £240 a month to live off. Of this he has to pay his own travel (£88 a month) to get to and from his  unpaid work. That leaves him a grand total of £152 a month (or £38 a week) for food, bills, and any other services or contingencies needed to maintain his home and his health. I don’t imagine his weekends are particularly lively.

The frown on his face crept over my own as he told me that he they do not provide food so many days he can’t afford to eat at work. One day he was ill with a virus and needed to miss a day. He was told that “that wasn’t good enough” so he worked through his illness. If he misses a day of work he loses 1 month pay. If he misses 3 days he loses months of pay.

I was left wondering how much time he and his fellow unemployed colleagues  were able to look for work while they stood motionlessly and reluctantly outside the station waiting for members of the public to ask them directions. They told me that they “have a list of things to do” including patrolling local supermarkets (they have been dealing with shoplifters for both Sainsburys and Tesco) but mostly they have to just stand there. Why do these supermarkets (who have already dodged so much tax) get free forced labour from some of the borough’s most vulnerable involuntarily unemployed? Was it not these same corporations who lobbied so hard against the minimum wage and are now cutting costs on their own security? If they are benefiting from this labour then why don’t they, and not the tax payer, pay the Job Seekers Allowance ?

“How do I complain?” I asked the Warden.

“Phone the number on my vest and speak to Courtney Bailey, he’s the boss”

When I phoned I got through to The Finsbury Park Business Forum. This is an odd place to be directing a complaint about a body of public wardens, regularly briefed by the MET to carry out low level police patrol and ‘counter terrorism’ duties as a kind of forced volunteer unit of para- police. The Business forum’s website says that one of their duties is to ‘lower the perception of crime’ at the station. In helping the police clear the area of ASBOs this can be seen as the civilianisation of social cleansing. Poor people forced to police poor people on behalf of business.

Courtney Bailey met my complaint by quickly becoming loud, aggressive and insulting. When I pressed him on the scheme he accused me of being “wrong in the head”, “full of it” and “one of those anarchists” (he was at least right about that last point).

“Name me one person who is has no choice to work for us?!” he shouted.

“I’m not going to name them because you might report them to the Job Centre and they could lose their benefits” I replied.

He hung up.

Read the rest of this article here:

Terminally ill face being forced to do work experience or lose their benefits

Cancer patients who have more than six months to live could have to do work experience or see their payments slashed

Terminally ill people face being forced to work to keep their benefits under draconian new Government plans, it was revealed yesterday.

Cancer patients who have more than six months to live could have to do work experience or see their payments slashed under the scheme by Work and Pensions Minister Iain Duncan Smith. And unlike fit and healthy job seekers, there will be no limit on how long those claiming Employment and Support Allowance are expected to work for free.

The Department for Work and Pensions initially said rumours of the plan, which could affect 300,000 disabled people, were “absolute nonsense”. A spokeswoman said: “No-one on ESA will be forced to do work experience.”

But she later admitted private firms paid by the Government to push people back into work will be able to compel disabled people to take placements or lose money.

Mr Duncan Smith’s plan has dismayed experts and fuelled fury over the Government’s “workfare” scheme that forces the jobless to work for their benefits.

Heart attack victim was told he must attend work scheme… as he lay in hospital

Agency called Colin Rogers as he lay waiting for a bypass operation in Broadgreen Hospital

DAYS after suffering a major heart attack and as he lay in a hospital bed wired to monitors facing a bypass operation, a Wirral dad was phoned and told he must continue a government work programme.

Colin Rogers, 58, from Irby, had been admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital and then transferred to Broadgreen, in Liverpool, after suffering chest pains. His wife, Carol, said she was later told he was moments from death as his heart failed and then specialists said he must undergo a quadruple heart bypass operation after he was taken ill on September 27.

Yet, days later – despite his wife informing the Job Centre of her husband’s condition and asking that this be passed on – as he lay in bed in hospital he received a call about his place on the Government’s Work Programme, delivered by public services company A4e. Colin, who had worked for Champion Spark Plugs until the factory closed and he was made redundant, was told by a manager from A4e that he was committed to the work programme he had been signed up and would have to continue it.

Colin, who came out of hospital a few days ago, said: “I couldn’t believe that they were ringing me because I had given my wife a list of people who needed to be told and she had contacted the Job Centre and told them A4e needed to be informed what had happened to me. So I was completely shocked and I said to the guy I couldn’t believe he was phoning me, that he was supposed to have been told that I had a heart attack.

“This guy was persisting about wanting to discuss the next plan of action but I said I was ending the conversation and put the phone down.”

Colin said within minutes of this a nurse, who had noticed his heart monitor, came and asked if there was a problem, but Colin said: “I didn’t want to say anything because I was embarrassed I was being phoned up like that.” He added: “But I was disgusted with what had happened. I want to work, but all I seem to be doing is fighting these people.”

Carol said: “He was not supposed to be stressed. It’s been horrendous, Even though my doctor said he may never work again, they are saying to us he has to finish the back to work programme.”

A spokeswoman for DWP said correct procedures had been followed. A spokeswoman for A4e said: “The telephone call that was made to Mr Rogers had been pre-arranged two months earlier, and when we rang him, we were unaware he had been taken seriously ill and was in hospital. The conversation was very brief and as soon as we realised Mr Rogers was in hospital, we ended the call. All correct procedures were followed, and no further contact has been made.”

TUC Side With Bosses To Back Tory Workfare Scheme

the void

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

In an astonishing and genuinely sad day for the trade uni0n movement, the TUC have teamed up with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to issue a statement supporting unpaid work.

The TUC have sided with the bosses to sing the praises of the Tory Traineeship programme.  This unpaid scheme can involve up to five months full-time work, sometimes for giant profit making companies like BT or Virgin.  The placements are used to ‘prepare’ young people to be Apprentices, although there is no guarantee that they will be offered even this at the end of the scheme.

Just like Margaret Thatcher’s despised YTS schemes, Traineeships represent a wealth grab by greedy employers.  Once companies recognised they had to pay young people…

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Fightback Against Byteback And Their Grubby Workfare Exploitation

the void


A computer repair shop in Bristol has become one of the first companies to be caught boasting about forcing people to work without pay on the latest workfare scheme.

Byteback IT Solutions were recently featured in the Bristol Post after being visited by George Osborne due to their involvement in Community Work Placements.  These placements involve six months full time workfare under the threat of benefits being stopped.

This is a wonderful arrangement according to the company’s director Andy Town who said: “We recycle old computers so if they turn it on and make it work, everyone’s a winner but if they don’t, there’s nothing to break and it hasn’t cost us anything,”

When challenged on twitter about this vile exploitation, the company claimed, in a now deleted tweet, that people on workfare are ’employees of the state’, as if it’s perfectly acceptable for private  companies to have their wage…

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Seetec and Ingeus: Most vindictive benefit sanctions happy Workfare and Work Programme providers

Statistics released today about the DWP’s Provider Direct destitution causing benefit sanctions hotline, show consistently that Seetec and Ingeus are by far the most vindictive benefit sanctions happy Mandatory Work Activity and Work Programme providers.

In a 5 week period Seetec made calls to sanction benefits of nearly 13,000 people (Weeks 18 to 22). In one week alone it called to make 4,417 people destitute (Week 20), compared to 2  by Prospects.

In a 5 week period Seetec tried to sanction benefits of nearly 13,000 people (Weeks 18 to 22). In one week alone it called to make 4,417 people destitute (Week 20), compared to 2  by Prospects.

Provider Direct“is used when a Work Programme participant has failed to participate in a mandated activity and you are going to raise a WP08 [sanction] referral.” (emphasis added)

Work ProgrammeMandation is a tool to be used to encourage participation in the work programme with sanctionable consequences for non participation.”  (emphasis added)

Mandatory Work Activity Providers “The Provider Direct service was introduced on 25 March 2013 as a way…

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Now unemployed people are sent on army training schemes

Symon Hill

Poverty and militarism feed over each other. Unemployment has always been good news for army recruiters in need of people desperate for a livelihood. So it’s no surprise that the recruitment of unemployed people has been formalised in a scheme in the English Midlands. Could this be a sign of the way things are heading? The government is already forcing unemployed people to carry out unpaid labour through “workfare” schemes. Will they soon be forcing them into army training?

This might seem an odd suggestion at a time when regular soldiers are being made redundant due to army cuts. But let’s not forget that spending on warfare – or “defence” as it’s euphemistically known – has been cut by far less than many other areas of public expenditure. War is increasingly digitised and reliant on such tools as armed drones rather than large numbers of troops. The government’s policy is…

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Another Shambles At The DWP: Community Work Placements Fail To Launch

the void

g4s-workfare Despite a high profile launch of the latest mass workfare scheme two weeks ago, DWP documents confirm that in fact it hasn’t started yet.

The unpaid Community Work Placements are one element of ‘Help To Work’.  This is the latest draconian scheme concocted by Iain Duncan Smith as part of his increasingly desperate attempt to prove that unemployment is caused by unemployed people.  The £300 million initiative involves claimants sent on six month’s full time workfare for ‘community organisations’ under the threat of benefits being stopped.

The scheme is mired in chaos with sources at the beginning of the month saying that no-one who works in Jobcentres has “been told anything about it”.  This is confirmed by a DWP newsletter which says that “the first claimants will be referred onto Community Work Placements from the end of May 2014”.  It is even unclear whether daily signing, or mandatory interventions –…

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Help To Work? HAHAHAHAHA. More stories from the jobcentre

I went back to the jobcentre last week with the Kilburn Unemployed Workers’ Group

– just a few days before George Osborne’s already-discredited Help To Work scheme is rolled out. Thought I’d ask JSA claimants what they thought of the scheme. Only one person I spoke to had heard of it and she said she’d refuse to participate in it.

Help To Work looks like a shambles to beat all the others, including the work programme. A lot of people doubt that Help To Work will even get off the ground. You canread more about the government’s failure to find “partners” for the scheme’s workfare component here. With Help To Work, people who’ve been unemployed for the long term will apparently“take part in community work placements, such as clearing up litter and graffiti,” (that’s workfare), attend “daily signings at the jobcentre,” or find themselves in receipt of “intensive support to address their problems,” whatever that means. The DWP’s recent pilot study on Help To Work yielded extremely thin results, even by the DWP’s standards. “Here’s what happened,” the Guardian said last week. “Exactly the same number in the control group – 18% – found themselves jobs as those doing the forced community work. Just 1% more found jobs from the group with jobcentre support. In other words, workfare didn’t work.”


I’ve got a longer article coming out on all this later this week (it covers the utter failure of workfare schemes around the world), so more on that soon. For now – I’ve posted below two transcripts from long interviews with JSA claimants I did at the Kilburn jobcentre last week. I’ve been collecting these interviews with JSA claimants for the past three months (there are links to the others at the end of this post). I’m posting these latest ones to show again how utterly dysfunctional the jobcentre system is for people who use it. These places are a nightmare. They are certainly a nightmare as far as administration goes. I can’t imagine how they’ll cope with Help To Work’s mass daily signings-on and workfare-attendance coordination. JSA claimants already show me all sorts of pointless paperwork they receive but don’t quite get: jobcentre letters demanding attendance at we’re-not-telling-you-what-this-is-about meetings, sheets instructing people to attend work programme classes that they can’t afford the fares to, lists of numbers to call to chase sanctioned benefits, numbers to call that are never answered (I’ve stood with people for ages while they’ve rung).


So. Help To Work isn’t about helping people to work. It’s about scoring political points off people who are long-term unemployed. It’s about quick political win. There are times when I wonder if it’s about even more than that. I’ve actually reached the point where I think that Help To Work and schemes like Esther McVey’s latest wheeze for newly-unemployed people are about introducing more steps for already-struggling jobcentres to fail to administer properly. Those failures will lead to more reasons for sanctions. The more people whose CVs are lost, or whose workfare and signing-on obligations are confused or recorded incorrectly, the more people the DWP can sanction and throw off benefits. The thing is bollocks. If the government really wants to bag weapons-grade freeloaders, why doesn’t Osborne grab Kate Middleton and that prince when they get off the plane, and demand to know what they’ve done with their lives? Why isn’t Nadhim Zahawi in the stocks, explaining why he made taxpayers fork out to heat his horses’ stables? Why isn’t Maria Miller in jail?

Read Kate Belgrave’s interviews with two more Jobcentre users here: