Tagged: Help To Work

35 Hours JobSearch: We Publish the Mad DWP Guidelines.

Ipswich Unemployed Action.

35 hours a week jobsearch tool-235 hours a week jobsearch tool-1

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From JJ.

Read closely: it is a ‘time and motion’ study designed to trap people in a remorseless set of tasks for 35 hours a week.

“Phoning employers may take one or two hours per day” – that’s an awful lot of nuisance calls!

Application forms – one to one and a half hours. That’s a lot of slow-paced filling-in.

Jobsearch on-line up to two hours a day – that’s a lot of time-wasting when you’re already registered with ULM and other sites.

And so it goes, in mind-bogglingly meticulous detail.

Down to competency based application forms, researching ‘volunteering’ and ‘work experience’.

Work Coachy is looking at your every move!

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Is this How Jobcentres Operate? Beyond Belief Barely Covers it…..

 

> From experience, I’d say its EXACTLY how Jobcentres operate…

Ipswich Unemployed Action.

From written Parliamentary Evidence just out (Hat tip  NB).

John Longden –Personal Adviser

A Statement on events witnessed by me at Salford Jobcentre Plus and Rochdale Jobcentre Plus between 2011 and 2013

Summary

1.0              Managers at both district level and in the local office created a culture which encouraged staff to view the customer (benefit claimant) as an obstacle to performance. The Jobcentre operations became wholly performance led. Sanctions of customers were encouraged by managers daily, with staff being told to look at every engagement with the customer as an opportunity to take sanction action. I was personally told by a manager to “agitate” and “Inconvenience” customers in order to get them to leave the register. The staff performance management system was used inappropriately in order to increase submissions to the Decision Maker and therefore to increase sanctions on customers. Senior HR managers condoned this behaviour by refusing to issue…

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David Cameron sued by unemployed man over freedom of speech

An unemployed  man is suing Prime Minister David Cameron for £1 million in a battle over freedom of speech.

Jobseeker Harvey Stone claims he was unlawfully prosecuted for sending the government an email protesting against their treatment of the unemployed.

The father of one, of  Holten-le-Clay, Lincolnshire, says his struggle to find a job has been made infinitely harder after he sent a “protest email” to the government over George Osbourne‘s “Help to Work” scheme, and was charged with a criminal offence as a result.

Mr Stone, who is married with a 16-month old daughter, says he was charged with an offence under the Malicious Communications Act 1988, after sending the email, protesting against the Chancellor’s controversial plans to make the unemployed perform unpaid labour.

The family man, who says the Tory leader has “allowed his government to discriminate against and criminalize the unemployed“, through the much-criticised policy, claims his human right to freedom of expression has been violated.

He has now launched a High Court bid for £1 million in damages, claiming his reputation and future chances of gaining employment are in tatters as a result of the furore.

In a writ lodged at London’s High Court, Mr Stone’s sets out his case, saying:

Prime Minister David Cameron has allowed his government to pursue a course of action designed to discriminate against and criminalize the unemployed, breaching the Human Rights Act 1998 Article 4, the prohibition of slavery and forced labour.

“This prompted a protest email from myself, for which I was arrested and charged under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.”

Mr Stone claimed that the arrest and charge breached his human right to free speech, and caused loss and damage to himself and his struggling family.

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. The negligent actions of David Cameron’s government could lead to a criminal record for myself making it hard to find a job,” he said.

Mr Stone is claiming £500,000 in lost future earnings and a further £500,000 for damage to his reputation, “and the stress his government has caused to myself and my family, as I try to support my wife and my 16-month old daughter.”

Emphasizing the gulf in status between himself and the Prime Minister, Mr Stone also adds in the writ: “I have no money…I am unemployed, do not own property or anything of financial value and have to support my wife and daughter on benefits.”

He concludes: “The issues raised are of general public importance. Only too often the litigant in person is regarded as a problem for judges and for the court system, rather than the person for whom the civil justice system exists.”

Mr Cameron’s lawyers have acknowledged receipt of the claim against him but his defence to the action was not available from the court. Mr Stone’s case has yet to be tested in evidence before a judge.

Source –  Grimsby Telegraph,  11 July  2014

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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PCS Union and ‘Help To Work’ changes

> You might find these extracts from the PCS union website of interest regarding the latest ‘Help To Work‘ nonsense….

This circular provides an update on the new increased conditionality regime from the end of April, and advice for PCS branches.

The Government is introducing increased conditionality measures from 28 April 2014 for JSA and lone parent claimants, and for or UC claimants from summer 2014. Although some measures will be phased in up to December 2014.

> “some measures will be phased in up to December 2014” – at the very least, I should think. I suppose this refers to the fact that the scheme is launched before they’ve actually got anyone on board to run it.

Advisers have now been re-branded as “Work Coaches” and Job search review/Assistant Advisers are now to be called “Assistant Work Coaches”.

> If in doubt, give everyone pointless new titles – it may give the impression that you are doing something. Work coaches – I ask you ! I really hope the ex-advisers are cringing at the prospect.

PCS has concerns that the department does not have adequate resources in place to cope with the new levels of work. The new measures appear to be aimed at ‘frustrating’ claimants off benefit, something the DWP was recently criticised for in the recent select committee report into the role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare state.

> ‘frustrating’ claimants off benefit’ – well yes, we’ve already figured that out. The trouble is, there’s no use PCS  moaning when so many of their  members seem quite happy – even enthusiastic – about enforcing these tactics. Now they’re really going to find out what ‘work‘ is all about.

SR13 Conditionality

This covers five elements of Day One Conditionality, Weekly Work Search Reviews, Quarterly Work Search Interviews, English Language Requirements and Increasing Lone Parent Conditionality.

An additional 12 minutes has been assigned to the initial new claims interview to complete the day one conditionality and English language requirements.

Day One Conditionality

Claimants using JSA Online will receive a message outlining Day One Conditionality Claimants will be required to demonstrate “positive job-seeking behaviours” from day one of their claim to benefit.

Day One Conditionality introduces an expectation for the claimant to create a Profile and Public CV in Universal Jobmatch; or create a CV and email account that can be used for employment purposes, if the claimant is not yet able to create a profile and Public CV within Universal Jobmatch.

These requirements and can be mandated by issuing a Jobseeker’s Direction, Conditionality is subject to a phased introduction between 28 April 2014 and 31 October 2014.

Increasing Lone Parent Conditionality (ILPC)

From April 2014 changes will apply to lone parents who are entitled to Income Support (IS); or claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG)

Currently lone parents who are entitled to IS must attend regular Work-focused Interviews (WFIs) once their youngest child reaches the age of one. From April 2014 the frequency and duration of WFIs for this group of claimants will be determined by Advisers.

Work Related Activity (WRA) is also being introduced for ESA (WRAG) and IS lone parents with a youngest child aged 3 and over. From 28 April 2014 an easement in regulations has been introduced to prevent more than one sanction being applied in any two week period

Weekly Work Search Reviews

Weekly Work Search Reviews are subject to a phased introduction between 28 April 2014 and 31 October 2014. This applies to 50% of the live load, excluding Work Programme participants and claimants receiving support from the Help to Work Package. Claimants should be selected at Work Coach discretion. Claimants may be moved on and off Weekly Work Search Review. The 50% ratio is reviewed and monitored across each District.

English Language Requirements

A screening aide will be available to assist Work Coaches in identifying claimants whose English language speaking and listening skills are below E2. Once identified, the Work Coach will mandate the claimant to a provider assessment, using the Skills Conditionality referral process.

If any Day One Conditionality activity is appropriate to the claimant but their English Language is a barrier to them completing it, the English Language barrier would need to be addressed first. The DWP recognise that individual claimants will learn at different speeds, often with varying starting levels of spoken English. The average length of time they take to complete English Language Training is expected to vary between 7 and 20 weeks.

Quarterly Work Search Interviews

Twenty minute Quarterly Work Search Interview are being introduced to review the claimant’s jobsearch activities in the previous quarter, including updating the Claimant Commitment and widening jobsearch activities.

> Widening jobsearch activities ? Dont like the sound of that much…probably means having to apply for even more jobs you know you wont get in order to hit increased targets.

Help to Work (HtW)

Equal numbers of claimants are expected to be assigned to each of the three Help to Work Package measures:

> The word ‘assigned’ appears to suggest that we wont have any say in what we get stuck with. No doubt our Work Coach will have targets for each option and you’ll just get stuck with whatever they’re not meeting their targets on.

Mandatory Intervention Regime

This is the current support for claimants who have completed the Work Programme. The first 8 weeks of the Mandatory Intervention Regime (MIR) is known as the Assessment Phase. During this 8 week phase Work Coaches can decide to place the claimants in Daily Work Search Reviews or Community Work Placements. Claimants can only be allocated to Community Work Placements or Daily Work Search Reviews during the Assessment Phase

> Work Coaches can decide to place the claimants – yep, you dont get a choice.

Daily Work Search Review

The claimant will be required to attend the Jobcentre daily for up to 13 weeks to review jobseeking activities of the previous day and provide a labour market declaration signature.

Every 4 weeks the claimant’s attendance schedule must be changed.

Claimants are entitled to reimbursement of travel costs incurred to attend additional WSR. To enable claimants to attend Daily WSR, it is accepted that payment in advance, particularly in the form of weekly bus / rail travel tickets and passes may be appropriate.

> Every 4 weeks the claimant’s attendance schedule must be changed – ???

Community Work Placements

External provision will consist of a work placement that is of benefit to the community for up to 30 hours a week and supplemented by up to 10 hours jobsearch. If the claimant is still in receipt of JSA/UC after six months they will be transferred to MIR.

> If the claimant is still in receipt of JSA/UC after six months they will be transferred to MIR. – where your Work Coach can decide to place the claimants in Daily Work Search Reviews or Community Work Placements. Back to square one, in other words.

PCS Concerns

Although a meeting is planned for 24th April, PCS has not yet been consulted over key issues such as appropriate resourcing and the health and safety risk assessment.

There should also be consultation with trade union sides at district and local level, as well as consultation as part of the risk assessment process. PCS has pressed that this is made explicitly mandatory; given reports received that district management are going ahead with changes without engaging with the unions.

The Group Executive Committee (GEC) has raised concerns over the department’s capacity to deliver the additional work and cope with the increased footfall of up to 60%. 620 WSD staff will be leaving Job centres in June through the VES scheme with no one to replace them.

> Oh dear, oh dear… more claimants, fewer staff. Can anyone see the flaw in this plan ?

However DWP believe that current staffing levels are appropriate, as jobcentre staffing was due to be reduced by 10% which matches the numbers needed to deliver SR13 and HtW. The re-grading of the CSM post also delivers a significant cost saving. The GEC have pressed DWP for more staff, and believe jobcentres are at a crisis point in terms of staffing, workloads, safety and space.

The introduction of further attendance brings in an even stricter conditionality regime. The GEC is deeply concerned for the safety of PCS members facing the brunt of the public’s anger at this policy.

> Damn right !

Reports have been received that attendance times should be changed on every occasion, in order to ‘frustrate claimants off benefit’ which bears a resemblance to the hotly denied and lambasted ‘Botherability’. Group Officers need to be informed if this message is being relayed in offices, reps should challenge management locally and escalate.

> A different time every day ? you can just imagine the planning meeting – “hey guys, how could we make this situation even more chaotic ?

PCS opposes further attacks on benefit claimants

PCS believes that SR13 and HtW are not intended to offer further help to claimants, as the introduction of further mandation and attendance is clearly aimed at trying to set claimants up to fail. It is part of the politically motivated agenda the Government has of vilifying benefit claimants, rather than offering genuinely tailored support.

The DWP received criticism from the Select Committee in January over their off-flow target based approach, however, these new measures are politically driven policy which civil servants have been instructed to implement.

> But they don’t have to implement them. The old ‘Nuremberg Defence’ (I was only obeying orders) was never a valid one. But for fuck’s sake – PCS, YOU ARE A UNION. YOU CAN TAKE ACTION. Stop your members taking it out on the ‘customers‘ and take on the government instead. You may need to grow a spine first, though.

PCS campaigns against the stricter benefit and conditionality regime, we believe our members are best placed to help benefit claimants when they are given adequate time and discretion to truly identify the support needed, not by fostering hostility through draconian and punitive practices.

> So do something about it !

Branches are asked to ensure they are fully involved in consultation and the risk assessment processes, and issues are appropriately escalated. The introduction of the new measures should be phased until October and December 2014 to ensure there are appropriate resources and systems in place. There should be no ‘big bang’ approach. Risk assessments should be used to identify for a potential increase in CSMs and G4S security guards.

> a potential increase in CSMs and G4S security guards – hey, more government cash for G4S… now who would have expected that ?

Source:      PCS website      24 April 2014

http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/department_for_work_and_pensions_group/dwp-news.cfm/help-to-work-and-sr13-conditionality

Chaos At The DWP As Bungled Help To Work Scheme Attempts To Launch

the void

Unlike Help To Work, the new Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign has already been a huge success. Unlike Help To Work, the new Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign has already been a huge success.

Despite wildly optimistic claims from the DWP, today’s launch of mass workfare seems to be in chaos behind the scenes.  With barely any information yet available on the scheme it appears that the flagship Help To Work programme has no-one actually running it, no guidance for companies involved and no real plan to deal with the huge influx of claimants to Jobcentres from daily signing.

According to the BBC a mere 70 so-called charities have signed up to provide placements on the scheme which will involve forcing unemployed people to carry out 780 hours of unpaid work.  For ‘Help To Work to be successful, these charities will need to accept hundreds, or possibly thousands of placements each.  Predictably the DWP are not saying who the charities are.  So far the only voluntary sector organisation…

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Workfare Starts Today – Slave Labour Britain Is Here

The coalition government’s ‘Help To Work’ scheme comes into effect from today, Monday 28 April 2014.

Under the new scheme unemployed people who have been out of work for longer than two years, and who have completed the Work Programme, will be expected to undertake tough new requirements in order to continue receiving benefit.

 Claimants may be required to take part in unpaid community work placements, such as clearing up litter and graffiti in their local neighbourhood, enrol in local gardening projects or restoring war memorials.

Community work experience placements will be for 30 hours per week and could last up to six months. If participants have failed to find a job by the time the six months are up they could find themselves being recycled back onto the programme, in what could become a never-ending cycle of work for your benefits.

> How are you expected to find a job while serving a 30 hour sentence each week, when you couldn’t when you had more time to look for work ?

The long-term unemployed will also be expected to visit their local JobCentre every day to ‘sign on’ and will receive up to fours hours intensive job search coaching for each week they are on the ‘Help To Work’ Scheme.

> I don’t think Jobcentres would be able to cope with the numbers just signing on each day – forget 4 hours ‘intensive job search coaching’ ! Which in any case would actually amount to 4 hours trying to sanction you.

Failure to comply with the strict new regime could result in jobseeker’s losing their benefit for four weeks at a time or longer for repeat offenders.

According to the government, jobseeker’s with learning difficulties will also receive educational support to improve their literacy and numeracy skills.

Sick and disabled benefit claimants in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will not be required to take part in the scheme.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“A key part of our long-term economic plan is to move to full employment, making sure that everyone who can work is in work.

“We are seeing record levels of employment in Britain, as more and more people find a job, but we need to look at those who are persistently stuck on benefits.

“This scheme will provide more help than ever before, getting people into work and on the road to a more secure future.”

Secretary of State of Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith said:

“Everyone with the ability to work should be given the support and opportunity to do so.

“The previous system wrote too many people off, which was a huge waste of potential for those individuals as well as for their families and the country as a whole. We are now seeing record numbers of people in jobs and the largest fall in long-term unemployment since 1998.

“But there’s always more to do, which is why we are introducing this new scheme to provide additional support to the very small minority of claimants who have been unemployed for a number of years.

“In this way we will ensure that they too can benefit from the improving jobs market and the growing economy.”

The move has come under heavy criticism from both Labour and the unions. Unite’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner describing the new scheme as a form of “forced unpaid labour”.  He  told the Independent newspaper:

“This scheme is nothing more than forced unpaid labour and there is no evidence that these workfare programmes get people into paid work in the long-term.

“We are against this scheme wherever ministers want to implement it – in the private sector, local government and in the voluntary sector.

“The Government sees cash-starved charities as ‘a soft target’ for such an obscene scheme, so we are asking charity bosses to say ‘no’ to taking part in this programme. This is a warping of the true spirit of volunteering and will force the public to look differently at charities with which they were once proud to be associated.

“It is outrageous that the Government is trying to stigmatise job seekers by making them work for nothing, otherwise they will have their benefits docked.”

Labour’s Stephen Timms added:

“Under David Cameron’s government nearly one in ten people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance lack basic literacy skills and many more are unable to do simple maths or send an email. Yet this Government allows jobseekers to spend up to three years claiming benefits before they get literacy and numeracy training.

> Yes, we’re a pretty ignorant lot, us unemployed – obviously we wouldn’t be on the dole if we weren’t thick.

What proof is there actually for these kind of claims ? 

“A Labour government will introduce a Basic Skills Test to assess all new claimants for Jobseeker’s Allowance within six weeks of claiming benefits.

“Those who don’t have the skills they need for a job will have to take up training alongside their job search or lose their benefits.

> Here we go – Labour so eager to prove that their stick is as least as big as the ConDems.

Labour’s Basic Skills Test and our Compulsory Jobs Guarantee will give the unemployed a better chance of finding a job and will help us to earn our way out of the cost-of-living crisis.”

> Yes, but unless there are actually more proper jobs to apply for, you can have all the mickey mouse qualifications in the world – you’re still limited by the number of vacancies.

Whilst the number of available job vacancies have increased significantly in recent months many area’s of the country are still witnessing a severe shortage of jobs, with the North-East of England and parts of Scotland fairing the worst.

> See, the problem is that it’s all very well saying the number of available job vacancies have increased significantly in recent months , but no-one breaks down the numbers.

How many of these jobs are actually full-time ? how many part-time ? How many are zero hour jobs ? How many are dodgy ‘self-employed’ leaflet distribution jobs ?

As someone who needs a full time wage, I know all too well that the number of these is all too small a percentage locally.

This is in stark contrast to area’s in the South-East of England where the number of available jobs are greater than the numbers of people looking for work.

However, figures due to be released on Tuesday are expected to show that competition for jobs has fallen to a new low of 1.42 jobseeker’s for every advertised job vacancy. This will no doubt come as good news for the coaliton government.

> If anyone actually believed it…

However, those figures are also expected to show that the average advertised salary has dropped by £1,800 over the last twelve months, providing more fuel to Labour’s  ‘cost of living crisis’ argument.

Sourc e – Welfare News Service  28 April 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/long-term-unemployed-expected-to-work-for-their-benefits-in-launch-of-new-government-scheme/

Mass Workfare Begins Next Monday … Or Does It?

the void

bhf-workfare With less than one week to go until the launch date of the DWP’s woefully misnamed ‘Help To Work’ and details of the programme are still shrouded in secrecy.

‘Help To Work’ is the mass workfare scheme announced by George Osborne at last year’s Tory Party conference.  Those leaving the Work Programme without a job – which is almost everyone – will either have to sign on every day or be forced to work for no pay for a ‘community’ organisation for six months.  The whole package is expected to cost almost a third of a billion, with most of that money lining the pockets of private sector profiteers running the scheme.

The problem is no-one knows who those providers are yet, including the DWP themselves.  A response to a Freedom of Information request dated  April 10th said that the tender for ‘Help To Work’ was still ongoing.  The DWP…

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