Private Eye on Workfare Exploitation: Nice Little Earner

Serf Work

Russian serfs at work – a system Cameron and the Coalition wish to bring to Britain with workfare.

I found this article on how the government is using Welfare to Work to supply cheap labour to big business, rather than get people into work, in last fortnight’s issue of Private Eye.

Nice Little Earner

Welfare to work companies could end up earning more taxpayer cash by placing people into unpaid community workfare than into work, under the government’s latest scheme for the unemployed. The companies could even profit from recruiting the unpaid workers themselves.

From April, through the new Community Work Placements (CWPP, thousands of benefit claimants will have to do six-moths’ workfare for charities and community organisations or lose benefit. They will be expected to do 30 hours of unpaid work a week up to a total of 780 hours – which is more than double the 300-hour maximum offenders serve on community pay-back.

It is all part of the controversial £300m “Help To Work” package, which is aimed at the hundreds of thousands of people who leave the government’s dismal Work Programme without a job.

Favourites to run 18 schemes across the country include the scandal hit A4E and Atos, the least favourite outsourcing giant among disabled people, as well as charities such as the Conservation Volunteers, Groundwork UK, the Salvation Army and YMCA. Tender documents, however, reveal payment conflicts in the scheme that may make it as wasteful a way of getting people into work as the Work Programme itself. And with CWP, workfare companies could potential sign unpaid workers to their own businesses and be paid by taxpayers for doing so if they can show that the unpaid role has “community benefit”.

Payment will also be incremental: work companies will get 20 per cent of an agreed fee at the start of any placement, a further 20 percent when someone has been on placement or in paid work for over 12 weeks, and a further 30 percent after 22 weeks on workfare, work or a combination of the two. They only receive the final 30 percent if the claimant finds a permanent job lasting at least six months. This creates a built-in disincentive to find people temporary work before completion of at least 22 weeks on CWP – companies will earn on 40 percent of the fee otherwise. They not only lose the final 30 percent of the fee for failing to secure a permanent job, but miss out on 30 percent of the fee if a temporary job ends before 22 weeks and the company is unable to move the claimant straight into other short-term work or a work placement.

As previous studies have shown, the voluntary sector has no real need for hundreds of thousands of unpaid workers. Most charities do not have the capacity or skills to employ chaotic individuals dubbed the “hardest to help” – and many are opposed to what they see as the exploitative nature of forced unpaid work, which puts others out of employment.

Many major UK charities, including Oxfam, Scope, Marie Curie and Shelter, have said they will have nothing to do with workfare. The tender documents themselves make it clear that the Department for Work and Pensions itself does not expect to pay the full 100 percent in the vast majority of cases – it does not expect more than a fifth of participants to find a permanent job. Community work placements seem more designed to force people to worki unpaid than they do to help people find real jobs.’

Which is exactly what Johnny Void and others, including myself, are also saying.

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13 Responses to “Private Eye on Workfare Exploitation: Nice Little Earner”

  1. andy griffin Says:

    I think their strategey is glaringly apparent and has been for some time now.

  2. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political.

  3. Paul Smyth Says:

    Reblogged this on The Greater Fool.

  4. che Says:

    Didn’t the British abolish slave labour ?
    Now ther’e bring it back

  5. john keen Says:

    It is a supply and demand world, if supply is low and demand high then the price of supply is high, if supply is high and demand is low then the price of supply drops.
    This is true for goods or services but not for Employment, the principles are reversed.

    It follows therefore that where an Employer is concerned high unemployment is desired and the more desperate the unemployed the better the market is for the Employer.

    So it is a good plan to insist on greater “efficiency” from existing Employees and emphasise that without it “losses” will occur, it is ALWAYS a good plan to get as much as possible with as little as possible thereby decreasing costs and increasing profits.

    If an Employee becomes less “efficient” it is a chance to replace them from the high numbers of unemployed who would be more than greatful for the work and since demand vastly outnumbers supply then the new Employee will work for less money thus improving profits further.

    The problem with high unemployment occurs when the unemployed can survive without employment, not that they can live as well as someone employed but can ACTUALLY LIVE.

    What an Employer needs to make sure that an Employee will accept lower wages is to make sure they CANNOT LIVE without employment.

    Employers NEED Employees to be desperate, to keep them concentrated on “getting by” and keeping their employment with “encouragement” to do better or the Employer will have to make “cuts”.

    It is claimed by the Government that more people are in employment today than there ever was, an easy statement to make that means NOTHING, there are more people in the country today so no big trick there.

    In short it is in the interests of BUSINESS that the Austerity cuts are placed on the unemployed, NOT to encourage them back to work but to ensure ALL Employees will accept less while having to do more.

    The western Employee is up against new Economies from countries where labour/land/energy is so incredibly cheap that it pays extremely well to have items manufactured there and imported here therefore in order to compete it is the Employers thinking that employees HAVE to be cheaper here.

    One economy that did well over the last sixty years (untill a recent geological disaster) had a policy of high import taxes for anything it could build in country and therefore could compete with larger economies, it always seemed odd to me that this situation was workable but it was EXTREMELY successfull and i suggest THIS is what is needed as protection from these new economies.

  6. Voice of reason Says:

    You know if they make being poor a crime and have harder punishments, then won’t people actually turn to real crime, instead, as it is easier than staying on benefits or out of desperation from being unjustly sanctioned. I wonder what the real crime figures are. I say lets go back to bartering between ourselves and leave them with their useless walls of gold.

  7. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  8. jaypot2012 Says:

    Another disgusting policy that will fail whilst costing the taxpayer millions and leaving people destitute! Eventually, they will want all people to work for nothing except for the few that they need to pay, and if we let it happen then its our own faults.
    We should also target the companies that are taking on Workfare staff – especially Atos and G4E – and I’m disgusted with the Salvation Army!
    Good excuse for the Salvation Army is to state that you are gay, you won’t see them for dust 🙂

  9. jaypot2012 Says:

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal.

  10. Graham Hughes Says:

    So will the Conservation “Volunteers” be changing their name?

  11. Private Eye on Workfare Exploitation: Nice Litt... Says:

    […] Russian serfs at work – a system Cameron and the Coalition wish to bring to Britain with workfare. I found this article on how the government is using Welfare to Work to supply cheap labour to big …  […]

  12. jray Says:

    I heard from a Council worker”The Council is already in partnership with XXXXX delivering the WP,it has not made money,but they can now assign people to perform community/Council jobs as soon as they finish the WP” So they save money by reducing Council staff and also claim the outcome payments…When will the Trains start rolling?

  13. amnesiaclinic Says:

    I like the idea of doing as much bartering as possible and definitely blacklisting any company or charity having anything to do with this. There seems to be quite a movement taking off in the US of community gardens where people work together cooperatively and organically to produce good food for schools. hospitals nurseries but could be expanded into teaching basic cooking with fresh food and veggies for Food Banks etc etc. We need to help ourselves become independent and self sufficient leaving them with their useless walls of gold as Voice of Reason says!

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