Tagged: future Labour government

Labour Pledge New ‘Work Support Programme’ For Disabled Benefit Claimants

A future Labour government would introduce a new ‘Work Support Programme’ for unemployed disabled people, in a bid to reduce the number of people claiming sickness benefits.

Analysis of figures uncovered as part of an investigation into government spending reveals that the coalition has overspent on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by around £8 billion, claim Labour.

This comes at the same time as figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that the number of people claiming ESA has risen by 50,000 in just six months.

Labour say this is due to the ‘failure’ of the controversial Work Programme, dubbed ‘workfare’ by its opponents, in helping sick and disabled people into work. Only around one in twenty ESA claimants who participate in the scheme find secure and lasting jobs, while the overwhelming majority find themselves back at the jobcentre and trapped on benefits.

Labour would ‘improve the employability’ of sick and disabled unemployed people, says the shadow minister for disabled people Kate Green MP, through the introduction of a specialist programme designed to support them into work.

>  Phrases like ‘improve the employability’  always send a shiver up my spine. And it sounds like business as usual should Labour get in… the poor are the enemy – punish them !

The ‘Work Support Programme’ would help support ESA claimants regarded as being the ‘furthest from work’, say Labour.

The programme would also utilise ‘existing resources’ from underperforming government schemes, such as the Work Programme and Work Choice, and then make use of those ‘resources’ to reform the discredited Work Capability Assessment (WCA). Labour say they want to ensure that the WCA ‘provides a gateway to back-to-work’ support, rather than a barrier.

The majority of sick and disabled openly say they would welcome the opportunity to work, if they are able to, but many claim that employers discriminate against them in favour of healthier, more abled-bodied job seekers.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s shadow minister for Disabled People, said:

Thousands of disabled people who want to work are being failed by the Tories. The Work Programme isn’t working for disabled people, with just one in 20 finding jobs, while this Tory-led Government slashes specialist support in job centres.

“The Tories’ failure to help disabled people into work comes at a huge cost to disabled people in every corner of the country who are being let down and to taxpayers who are facing an £8 billion bill.

“We must bring down social security spending and doing that requires a new approach to tackle the root causes of these costs directly. That’s why Labour will give disabled people the support they need to find a job.

“Our Work Support programme will bring hope to thousands of disabled people who have been let down by David Cameron’s government.”

No further details were available at the time of publication.

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  09 Oct 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/labour-pledge-new-work-support-programme-disabled-benefit-claimants/

Labour To Hand Lucrative ‘Workfare’ Contracts To Smaller Companies

A future Labour Government would consider handing lucrative Work Programme contracts, dubbed ‘workfare’ by opponents, to smaller businesses and charities in a bid to cut back on the number of large providers involved in controversial back-to-work schemes.

>  Small providers will then proceed to grow into big providers (re-employing all the crap staff from the ousted providers along the way) and we’re back to square one.

And whoever provides it, workfare is still forced labour.

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves MP said that she plans to “challenge the status quo” of Government commissioned Work Programme contracts by opening up the scheme to smaller providers.

 Back-to-work services could be devolved and decentralised away from Whitehall, by allowing local governments and social enterprises to develop and outsource schemes better tailored to the meet the needs and requirements of locally unemployed people.

Ms Reeves told the Financial Times that new providers may be required to pay their employee’s a living wage if they wish to bid for contracts. She said that existing providers should be worried by her plans but acknowledged that they come with potential “cost implications” for a future Labour Government.

Some of Britain’s largest charities recently announced that they were to boycott a similar scheme to the Work Programme. Hundreds of charities and 13 councils signed a pledge to boycott Community Work Placements, which form part of a new Help To Work Programme, where the long-term unemployed are required to meet with a Jobcentre adviser every day, attend training or commit to six-months “voluntary work” in their local area. Failure to comply could result in benefit claimants having their payments docked or stopped completely for a pre-determined length of time, otherwise known as a ‘benefit sanction’.

Opponents of back-to-work schemes, like the Work Programme and Community Work Placements, say they amount to a form of forced labour because of an ever-existing threat of sanction for non-compliance, as well as gifting employers with free labour enabling them to escape hiring paid workers and keep wage costs down.

Unemployed people taking part in these schemes claim their benefits have sometimes been cut for ridiculous and over-zealous reason, such as failing to turn up to a placement because of being in hospital or delays to local bus services, as well as other reasons.

Labour will have to go much further if they are to satisfy opponents of these schemes, who say they would accept no less than complete abolition of all “slave labour” programmes, and the end of private company involvement in social security benefits and the welfare state.

> They’ll have to go a damn sight further than they ever seem likely to, now that the extent of their ambitions seem limited to being the Tory-lite party.

 Source –  Welfare News Service, 24 June 2014
http://welfarenewsservice.com/labour-hand-workfare-contracts-smaller-companies/

North East Labour MPs to rebel on welfare cap ?

Several North East MPs will either defy a party whip or not be at the House of Commons when Labour is told to vote in line with the coalition for a new cap on how much can be spent on state benefits.

Ed Miliband has told his MPs to back a Budget plan to cap welfare at £119bn, ending a situation in which benefit spending is increased to match the number of claimants.

While party leader Mr Miliband is keen to avoid looking soft on welfare, across the North East, MPs have called for the party to proudly stand up for low income families.

Easington MP Grahame Morris said he will not be voting for the cap. He told The Journal: “I cannot vote for the welfare cap. By implication it plays to the Tory strategy of divide and rule demonising those on benefits as the undeserving poor.

“It conveniently ignores the fact that two thirds of the welfare budget goes on pensions that people have contributed to during their working lives. Another substantial slice goes on supporting those in work on low wages.

“Once again Labour must differentiate its position from the Tories. It is shameful of the Tories to seek to set the working poor against the disabled. There are better, fairer ways to limit benefit spending for example by limiting the £20bn taxpayer spend on housing benefits which goes to private landlords through the introduction of rent controls.”

Gateshead MP Ian Mearns said he will not be in the Commons for the vote as a result of select committee business, but would not have voted for the cap.

He said: “Inherent in this is a further reduction in real terms of benefits over time. If the economy has another significant downturn this limits the capacity of the state to respond to genuine hardship.

“And let’s not forget that only about 3% of the benefits bill is for jobseekers’ allowance, the biggest single pot is for pensions.”

And Blaydon MP Dave Anderson also hit out at the plan. He said: “The welfare cap is just another piece of the Coalitions jigsaw to make the poor, the weak and the disabled pay for the failures of big business and global capitalism.

“This vote comes in the same week that Lloyds have been exposed as continuing to exploit customers over the disgraceful PPI misselling scandal. It is these rogues and many others like them who should be carrying the can for economic failure and not the most vulnerable in our country.”

It is thought other MPs will not be in Parliament for the vote, avoiding the need to rebel. Some 20 MPs nationally are thought to be ready to vote against the cap.

Labour has said that since much of the cap on spending does not include benefits linked to increased unemployment, it is happy to accept the changes.

The party has hit back at claims that there is little to differentiate its economic policy from the coalition, insisting a future Labour government would “make different choices”.

> It’s what the present Labour opposition is doing right now that really matters. And it doesn’t seem to be doing very much at all, apart from trying to make out it’ll be tougher on the poor than the current bunch.

Does ‘Red Ed’ really think that’s the way to win votes ?  If he does, he’s going to be disapointed.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves, said Labour would support the Government when voting on the welfare cap, but insisted the party would also “take tough decisions” over future spending if in office after the General Election.

Source – Newcastle Journal, March 26 2014