Posts Tagged ‘Welfare to Work’

Private Eye on Allegations of Fraud at Seetec

February 23, 2015

I found this article in Private Eye’s edition for 30th May – 12th June last year (2014). It’s about fraud committed by yet another welfare-to-work company, Seetec.

Welfare-To-Work

Seetec no evil …

Urgent questions are being asked at the Department for Work and Pensions over a failure to investigate properly allegations of fraud by Seetec, which has various DWP contracts to help jobless people find work.

Officials assured two whistleblowers last autumn that the department would investigate claims that Seetec had been artificially inflating the number of jobs it was finding for its disabled clients through the Work Choice Scheme – and pocketing the profits.

The two former Seetec employees claim that the company would offer Work Choice clients as “free” labour to charities and other host organisations. Seetec would then pay their wages for the next six months, while telling the DWP that the salaries were being paid by the host organisations. They alleged that Seetec profited from the scam because the amount it received from the DWP – thousands of pounds for every client who “completed” six months’ work – was far more than it paid the clients. (Seetec only had to pay for 20 hours a week at minimum wage to secure payment from the government for a successful outcome).

Three organisations the whistleblowers said were unwittingly used by Seetec in the scam have confirmed that they accepted disabled job-seekers as “volunteers”, even though it was made clear that there would be no jobs available at the end of the six months.

The DWP now says it has completed its “investigation” into the claims and that Seetec – which as the last Eye reported is the worst-performing of the eight Work Choice contractors – has been exonerated of any wrongdoing. However, neither of the two whistleblowers was interviewed by DWP investigators, even though they offered to give evidence.

Asked how it could give Seetec a clean bill of health without gathering evidence, a DWP spokesman claimed there was no reason to interview the whistleblowers because they had supplied all the necessary information in emails. In fact they had provided no detail at all. The email sent by one of the whistleblowers to the DWP last year (and passed to the Eye) includes only a 100-word summary of the allegations – just four sentences.

“As I understand it, the information they provided was investigated,” said the DWP spokesman. The investigators found there was “not fraud” he said, he said. Seetec itself declined to comment. But Margaret Hodge, the no-nonsense chair of the Commons public accounts committee, is now demanding answers from the DWP’s permanent secretary, Robert Devereux. Watch this space.

If Seetec were committing fraud, they were hardly the only company. I’ve reblogged several pieces from Private Eye reporting cases of fraud by the welfare-to-work industry, including an examination of the conditions of their contracts, which concluded that they could only succeed through bail-outs.

The loan by company of claimants to charities as unpaid ‘volunteers’ also confirms the view of this blog and others, especially Johnny Void, that these schemes only exist to provide cheap labour to industry and depress real wages. And as Johnny Void has also pointed out, you are far more likely to get a job on your own than through the welfare-to-work companies.

This whole industry needs to be stopped. Now.

Private Eye on the Dodgy Foundations of the Troubled Families Programme

February 17, 2015

I also found this article in the 27th July – 9th August edition of Private Eye criticising the government’s Troubled Families Programme. This was an initiative to tackle the problem families that feature so much in Tory propaganda and the pages of the Daily Mail. They’re the type of neighbours for whom ASBOs were invented, and whom Gordon Brown famously declared to be ‘feckless’.

The problem is, as the Eye reveals, there simply aren’t that many of them to require the massive amounts the government wishes to spend on the programme. Coupled with the fact that the contractor hired to carry out the programme is G4S, with its superb reputation for quality. Here’s the story:

The government’s Troubled Families Programme is itself troubled after coming under sustained attack from critics who argue that it’s simply blaming people who are poor rather than tackling anti-social behaviour.

Ever since it was launched by the unlikely figure of community secretary Eric Pickles, experts have criticised the foundations of its claim that there are 120,000 “troubled families” whose behaviour costs the country£9bn. They point out that the 120,000 statistic is based on an estimate of families with multiple disadvantages, not antisocial behaviour, and that nobody can come up with figures to justify the £9bn stated.

Just as well, then, that extra help is at hand. Under a £200m outreach service run in conjunction with councils and companies delivering the Work Programme, six firms will be staking their own money on their ability to turn troubled lives around under the government’s second big payment-by-results project.

Troubled families and local authorities in Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington are especially fortunate to have assistance from a company that specialises in managing and co-ordinating the provision of services “to support workless people into meaningful, progressive employment”. Step forward, fresh from its triumph at the Olympics, G4S.

From this is appears that the Troubled Families Programme has been launched not because there is an actual need for the programme, but to satisfy the ideological and propagandistic needs of the Tories. As well as provide a nice little earner for the welfare-to-work companies.

Tory unemployment policy is based on the principle of ‘less eligibility’. Poverty isn’t due to economics and poor circumstances. It’s due to laziness and poor character of the unemployed themselves. Hence all the stories in the Daily Mail about problem families, and areas of high unemployment riddled with crime and plagued by drugs. The criminality and drug problems in those areas aren’t due to lack of job opportunities and poverty. No, they are the results of the immoral character of the people themselves, who prefer the squalor and misery of their lives to one of honest and respectable toil. and if people like them don’t exist, or exist in much smaller numbers, then it also casts doubt on Tory welfare policies as a whole. Without them, there is much less justification for harassing the disabled and ordinary unemployed. In order to keep up this façade that unemployment is all down to the anti-social bad attitude of the unemployed themselves, the government needs to be able to point to a large number of such ‘problem families’. And these clearly are invented through exaggerated and massaged statistics when they don’t exist. Hence the inflated statistics.

It also shows just how much of a scam the welfare-to-work industry is as well. I’ve posted a series of blogs on the repeated scandals of the welfare-to-work firms overcharging the government, to its marked indifference and even, it has been alleged, support and connivance. Private Eye has argued that the economics involved in government outsourcing means that these firms are only commercially viable through such fraud. It would appear from this that the Tories know this too, and so are desperate to give work to the private contractors in order to maintain the profitable illusion that private enterprise really is more efficient than government bureaucracy.

Quite apart from the fact that these companies may also be able to offer lucrative directorships in their turn, when the terms in power of certain MPs come to an end.

Aspergers, Severe Depression and in the Support Group; But Still DWP Apply the Pressure

February 17, 2015

Kate Belgrave over on her blog describes the case of ‘Sean’, a man whose mental health problems – aspergers and severe depression – are so severe that even ATOS has recognised he cannot work and placed him in the support group. Nevertheless, this gentleman, who finds it extremely difficult making telephone calls, let alone going out and meeting strangers, has received a letter from the DWP inviting him to attend meetings about getting him into work. ‘Invitation’ here isn’t quite the right work. As Kate herself notes, behind the reassuring words that it’s all voluntary, there’s a real threat. She writes:

Here is a letter received very recently from a DWP “work coach” by Sean* (name changed), a Northamptonshire man who I’ve known and written about for several years. He has Asperger’s and severe depression.

Sean finds day-to-day life very difficult to handle (he struggles to leave his house a lot of the time). He actually finds day-to-day life so challenging that even Atos agreed that he shouldn’t have to work. After a face-to-face assessment for his WCA about two years ago (I attended that assessment with him), Atos placed him in the support group for Employment and Support Allowance. As many of you will know, people in the ESA support group are neither required to work, nor to look for work. That’s the whole point of the support group. It’s an acknowledgement (a grudging one, I suspect) by the system as we have it that some people simply aren’t in a position take a job. From Benefits and Work: “the ESA support group is for claimants who the DWP consider to have such severe health problems that there is no current prospect of their being able to undertake work or work-related activities.” Once you’re in the support group, that should be the end of that, at least until your next assessment.

But here is this letter all the same. Disturbing reports of other people in the ESA support group getting letters like this, or calls to attend work-focused interviews, now abound. Sean received this letter out of nowhere and it scared the hell out of him. I imagine that scaring the hell out of him was at least in part the point of the exercise. The DWP doesn’t like people with mental health conditions to feel too secure.

She considers this new strategy to harass the disabled as Cameron tries to divert attention away from the embarrassing revelations of massive tax avoidance by the rich and members of the Conservative party. She sees this as part of the wider desire of the Tories to end disability benefit completely due to the utterly fallacious attitude that considers that absolutely anyone and everyone, no matter how ill, should be out working.

I have been thinking about all of this as Cameron has tried to divert us from stories about his tax-dodging mates with stories about people with drug problems who are on benefits. It’s all very interesting, you know. I have long believed that this government and others like it want to eliminate all disability benefits. They want people to believe that everyone can work and always work if they’re given enough of a shove. I think this government particularly wants everyone to believe that people with mental health problems are dragging the chain on purpose – that all anyone with a condition like severe depression needs is a nice cup of tea and a gentle (and then less gentle) kick in the pants to get going. The fact that someone with a severe mental health condition receives the sort of letter you see above tells you everything you need to know about the direction we’re travelling in. Atos was hired to ram home the entirely baseless theory that a lot of sick and disabled people on benefits were fit for work. The next stage will be about ramming home the entirely baseless theory that all sick and disabled people on benefits are fit for work.

This view of the aims of the Tories, and the true aims of the welfare-to-work industry, is confirmed by the fact that massive amounts of government funding have been paid to them to get people back to work, and not to support real needs the sick and disabled.

The article’s entitled Severe mental health condition in SG? Tough. We think you might be fit for work even if Atos didn’t. It’s at http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/02/severe-mental-health-condition-tough-we-think-you-might-be-fit-for-work-even-if-atos-didnt/.

And she’s absolutely right. Clearly, Sean and his wife, Maggie, are severely ill people, who should not be placed under this additional stress when even coping with what other people simply accept as part of normal, everyday life is extremely difficult for them. It shows how punitive and persecutory the Tory mentality truly is. Worse, it also shows how informed medical opinion, and even the decisions of ATOS, based as they are on pseudoscience and mummery, are casually dismissed when it interferes with a policy based on nothing but class prejudice and spite.

Private Eye on G4S Demanding Sanctioning of Benefit Claimants

February 16, 2015

Private Eye also had this story in their edition for 27th July – 9th August 2012. It reports G4S’ demands for 7,000 claimants to be sanctioned, an extremely hypocritical stance given that G4S was claiming money from the government for providing security personnel at the London Olympics, who didn’t actually turn up.

Work Programme
Bad Behaviour

G4S also has its hands on contracts with a combined value of £183m to help the unemployed find jobs running the government’s Work programme in the North West, South East and Yorkshire.

Figures obtained under freedom of information law by the Corporate Watch campaign group show that during the first eight months of the programme G4S asked benefit offices to “sanction” 7,780 claimants. G4S wanted these claimants’ benefits stopped because, it claimed, they had failed to turn up or do as they were told on their employment schemes.

So while G4S still wants to pocket its multi-million pound management fee for failing to find workers to provide security for the Olympics, it wants thousands of unemployed people to lose the dole for alleged misbehaviour.

As Johnny Void in particular has pointed out, the Work Programme is deeply exploitative. Its purpose has less to do with actually finding people work, as supplying a free workforce to industry, and create the illusion that they are actually doing something to help the workers.

No-one should be sanctioned for failure to comply with the scheme. After all, you are far more likely to find work yourself, rather than through one of the welfare-to-work providers.

The scheme should be axed. Now.

Blair and the Corporate Penetration of New Labour

January 29, 2015

I also found this very revealing remark about Tony Blair and his very right-wing conception of the what the Labour party should be in Lobster 45, in an article on Demos by William Clark. Demos is the ostensibly left-wing thinktank, that actually aims to extend the power and influence of big business in the Labour party. One of its members is Lord Stevenson, formerly the chairman of Express newspapers, if I recall correctly. He described in the article as a friend of Peter Mandelson, and was supposedly recruited by Blair in 1996. In a 1998 interview with Sunday Times, he states that Blair

… always wanted to make Labour into an alternative party of business. There were some big businessmen who were always pro-Labour: Lord Hollick and Chris Haskins for instance. Blair wanted to meet the others, so I organised evening where he could meet friends of mine. People running FTSE companies … Blair has involved businessmen to a huge extent … In fact he has almost delegated power to them. I think there is a legitimate question about the extent to which that is actually right.

He was also chairman of the recruitment company Manpower, which ran Working Links, the welfare-to-work company.

Among the other members of Demos was Graham Mather, a director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, who declared that he wanted ‘to get government out of providing schools and hospitals, cut taxes and give vouchers to the poor. He was also a member of the Institute of Directors, where he stated that he wanted ‘the advance of markets into government itself’. According to the article, he saw himself as part of a ‘priesthood of believers in the market’ pushing for libertarian right ideology against the ‘threat … from socialism’.

The connections between Blair’s New Labour, Stevenson, Graham Mather, and many others like them probably explains why so many of Labour’s front bench don’t attack the government and its policies with the venom they deserve. They don’t press their point home, even when the Coalition present open goals, because essentially they stand for pretty much the same thing.

From 2012: Another Workfare Company Guilty of Fraud

January 29, 2015

I’ve posted up several pieces recently on fraud by the welfare-to-work companies, and the way the system is actually designed so that it is highly vulnerable to such crime. The National Audit Office was well aware that the system would almost certainly fail, and suggested ways in which it needed to be bailed out. An article from a previous issue of Private Eye that I posted up yesterday stated that five workfare companies had been reported to the police for fraud. The charges, however, were eventually dropped, either through sufficient evidence to secure a conviction, or because it was deemed ‘not in the public interest’. Private Eye in their issue for the 13th – 26th July 2012 published this article about fraud by yet another workfare company, the Real-Time Training Group.

Workfare
The Real Steal

Yet another company has been using the government’s lucrative skills, training and workfare contracts as an easy way to gain large amounts of taxpayers’ money in return for, er, not delivering.

The latest to join the dubious ranks occupied by A4E, Working Links et al in cashing in at the expense of those seeking to improve skills or find work is the Real-Time Training Group (RTT). It has just gone into administration amid allegations of fraud and wrongdoing, leaving staff unpaid and apprentices and those on skills courses in limbo.

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) declined to respond to reports that an RTT audit had found irregularities and that the agency was seeking to claw back money wrongly claimed for “successful” work and training placements. A spokeswoman would only confirm that it had terminated the company’s contract, believed to be in the region of £3m.

Castle Donington-based RTT, which names various members of the Barton family (John, Jennifer, Michael and James) as directors and company secretary, claims to have been delivering “world-class training and learning” thanks to contracts with the Department for Work and Pensions and funding the European Social Fund as well as the SFA.

One insider told the Eye that course have been run by people who have no qualification to do so; “learners” have been signed up for courses on the basis that they would obtain qualifications and licences to work, for example in the security business, when RTT was not entitled to provide them; that others had been incorrectly assessed for basic numeracy and literacy qualifications so that they take more courses than necessary; and that people who did not meet the usual criteria had been signed up to qualify for hard-to-employ enhanced payments of up to £1,000 per person.

He said he was instructed to forge papers for the “Train to Gain” programmes aimed at improve the skills of those in work, when those recruited were all job-seekers.

The Eye tried to put these allegations to RTT by email and by phone. But reply came there none.

Private Eye also posted up a piece, which I’ve also blogged, pointing out how poor the standards of companies like Working Links and A4E were in the educational courses offered to job-seekers. These were actually far below the standards of the vast majority of this country’s schools, as assessed by Ofsted. This is another piece of evidence showing that private industry does not lead automatically lead to higher standards, as well as showing the massive potential for fraud in the welfare-to-work sector.

From Private Eye: Welfare to Work Companies and the Profits of Workfare

January 28, 2015

pauline-pens

The mad jobcentre manager from the League of Gentlemen, who delighted in humiliating claimants, while doing everything she could to stop them from actually getting a job. This is definitely case of life imitating art.

In their issue for the 24th January – 6th February 2014, Private Eye published this story about how changes in government legislation could allow welfare-to-work companies to earn more from placing their unemployed clients in workfare than from actually finding them a paying job. The article ran:

Welfare to Work
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 (CWP), thousands of benefit claimants will have to do six-month’s workfare for charities and community organisation lose benefits. 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 potentially sign unpaid workers to their own businesses and be paid by taxpayers for doing so if they can show that the unpaid role has a “community benefit”.

Payment will also be incremental: work companies will get 20 percent 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 finial 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 only 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 work unpaid than they do to help people find real jobs.

A few days ago, I posted up another piece from the Eye reporting that several members of one of the workfare companies had been prosecuted for fraud. They altered the figures of the numbers of people for whom the company had found work. The companies only get paid for their results, and the government actually expected most to fail when they set the scheme up. Now it also seems that workfare is almost deliberately structure to keep people in unpaid work.

This will, of course, come as absolutely no surprise to anti-workfare campaigners like Johnny Void. Void has made clear many times, along with other left-wing blogs and those by the unemployed themselves, that workfare is basically just a modern form of slavery. I have myself posted blog pieces pointing out the similarity between workfare, and the compulsory ‘voluntary’ work put in practice in the Third Reich, the Reichsarbeitsdienst, and the use of slave labour in the Nazi concentration camps and Gulags of Stalin’s Russia. This article suggests that the similarity is not accidental. Workfare really is slave labour, to exploit the unemployed.

As for the charities named in the article, Oxfam, Scope, Marie Curie and Shelter are to be congratulated and praise for their principled stance against this exploitation. The opposite goes to the Conservation Volunteers, the YMCA, the Salvation Army, and Groundwork UK. They have been named repeatedly by bloggers like Mr Void as exploiters. For this, they deserve nothing but contempt and opprobrium.

Again from 2011: Private Eye on the Failure of A4E

January 21, 2015

I’ve published a number of pieces from Private Eye over the last few days detailing the colossal failure one of the government’s workfare providers, A4E. They were massively incompetent from the start, and the National Audit Office was also very much aware that the welfare-to-work scheme was so flawed that it was bound to fail, and need bailing out. Here’s another piece from the Eye from four years ago providing more information on the company’s staggering ineptitude.

Yob Creation
Working Beef

With the riots highlighting the urgent need for job opportunities for Britain’s disaffected youth, who can solve Britain’s unemployment crisis? Recent inspections by Ofsted suggest that benefit-busting private firm A4E, one of the government’s favourite welfare-to-work outfits, is not the answer.

Since the Eye first exposed A4E’s shortcomings last autumn (Eyes 1271 & 1272), the firm has been awarded five multi-million-pound contracts to run pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s Work Programme, covering East London, the East Midlands, South Yorkshire, the North West and South East. But three Ofsted inspection reports on A4E schemes are far from encouraging.

The reports rate performance on a scale of one to four; but A4E doesn’t score above a “3” or “satisfactory”. In other words, the company earning millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to help the jobless was never found to be “good”, let alone “outstanding”. Even when an inspection report into A4E’s management of 8,795 apprenticeships and work-based trainees on the “Train to Gain” scheme was said to be “satisfactory” overall, the trainees still often failed. The inspectors said: “Too many learners still do not complete their programme within the agreed time. The overall apprenticeship success rates have improved slightly over the last three years but are still low. To many learners do not complete their apprenticeship on time. Advanced apprenticeship success rates have declined.”

A re-inspection last year of A4E’s “New Deal” job-finding scheme in Northumberland found it had improved from “unsatisfactory” to “satisfactory”, but this still left many of the unemployed in difficulty. “A4E’s job entry rate increased slightly in 2009/10 but at 26 percent remains below contractual targets,” said the inspectors.

A4E’s work on a “Pathways” scheme in Leeds designed to help 7,000 disabled people on incapacity benefit was also found to be “satisfactory” even though the unemployed were still let down. “Outcomes for participants are inadequate,” found the inspectors, who said A4E’s job-finding skills were “unsatisfactory”.

Given the underwhelming results, why does the government put so much faith in busted benefit-busters like A4E.

In other words, if A4E was a school, it would almost certainly be placed in special measures, along with much media hoo-ha about declining educational standards. It isn’t, but I suspect the Eye’s last question was rhetorical. My guess is that they’re getting the contracts, despite their record of what can only be described as abject failure, because they are Tory donors, sponsoring events and providing support to the particular politicians.

In Private Eye this Fortnight: A4E Using Untrained Advisers Working with the Disabled

January 7, 2015

In the ‘In the Back’ section of this fortnight’s Private Eye, 9th-22nd January 2015, is the piece ‘Welfare Gap’. This reports the claims made by a former employee and whistleblower, Chris Loder, at an employment tribunal in Manchester, that the ‘welfare to work’ provider is using untrained or inexperienced personnel to deal with claimants with a variety of mental and emotional problems, such as the mentally ill, those with learning difficulties and people who are drug or alcohol dependent. According to Loder, he was recruited by A4E to work helping unemployed people find jobs in 2012. In February 2014, the Blackpool office started using untrained advisers to deal with clients with the above problems.

The article quotes Jessica Pilling, a former ministerial adviser with 14 years’ experience of working with the disabled, stating her concerns about the companies’ policy. She says, ‘The approach that you take with somebody with mental health problems when coaching them into work is not the same as someone without, and it’s incredibly dangerous to think it is’.

A4E, as might be expected, deny the charge, stating that its staff complete ‘safeguarding training’ and ‘have access to a dedicated safeguarding team’. It also claims to work with specialist partners so that customers are given extra individual support according to their personal needs.

I have to say, I’m highly sceptical of A4E’s claims. As many left-wing bloggers like Tom Pride and Johnny Void have pointed out, so much of the welfare to work strategy pursued by ATOS and now Maximus is basically pseudo-scientific, self-help woo. It’s stuff concocted by the type of alleged experts, who fill the government’s Nudge Unit, largely drawn from the rubbish now filling the self-help shelves of booksellers like Waterstones. It’s a train wreck waiting to happen. Not that this will deter the coalition, who are little more than hucksters ready to peddle any old rubbish, so long as they make a massive profit out of it.

Private Eye on Workfare Exploitation: Nice Little Earner

February 7, 2014

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.