The boss of Britain’s largest welfare to work provider believes that claimants are better off in low paid, insecure temporary work “rather than sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle” according to the Telegraph newspaper.
He also argues that the government have to get the “people who are technically unfit to work, back to work” and believes that the appointment of Maximus to carry out medical assessments will lead to a surge in work for his company.
Andy Hogarth runs Staffline ,which bought out A4E last month in order to become Britain’s largest provider of welfare to work services. He believes that if the government is to succeed in its aim of cutting £12 billion from the benefits budget it will have to get people off employment and support allowance and back into work.
“For a government looking to save £12bn from welfare one of the things they have to do is get the people who are technically unfit to work, back to work, which sounds a bit brutal on the face of it, and that is exactly what a lot of welfare groups are saying, but in reality they can work.”
According to the Telegraph, Hogarth believes that his company will get an extra 2.5 million people referred to his company over the coming years as a result of Maximus taking over the work capability assessment from Atos.
Hogarth appears to believe he is particularly suited to working with the sick and disabled claimants because of his own life experiences.
When he was in his thirties, Hogarth sold a successful business for an undisclosed sum of money and then spent a year at home with “deep depression”, finding it difficult to leave the house and splitting up with his girlfriend.
He overcame his depression by going back to studying and retraining in his mid thirties.
According to the Telegraph, Staffline has grown rapidly with turnover increasing from £100 million ten years ago, to £503 million last year and aiming to hit £1bn within two years.
Much of its income comes from placing “up to 35,000 workers each week in temporary jobs, such as food processing, factory assembly lines, and picking items in warehouses.”
Hogarth believes that jobcentres only work “if you are a well motivated guy”. And while some local authorities don’t approve of his company putting people in minimum wage temporary jobs, Hogarth thinks they are mistaken, explaining:
“I personally think they are totally wrong, I think a temporary job, even if it is just for a week, is better because it then gives you a step to better pay, rather than sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle.”
Hogarth expects to have to deal with “kicking and screaming” from claimants and from pressure groups and admits that “It is hard to justify to welfare groups the profits we make . . .” .
But he claims that only 20p in every pound they make is paid as dividends to shareholders.
Rather than simply being there to make money, Hogarth assures Telegraph readers his staff “are genuinely here to help people”. And, in a gesture that would delight Norman Tebbit, they generously “buy a lot of bikes so that people can get to work”.
In separate news ERSA, the umbrella body for welfare to work providers, says that the “backdrop of continued austerity and welfare reform” looks like offering their members a great opportunity.
The leases on many Jobcentre plus offices come up for renewal in this parliament and ERSA hope that the government will take the opportunity to privatise the whole jobcentre network and its services.
Which would, of course, mean many more Andy Hogarth’s having the opportunity to drag claimants “kicking and screaming” into a better life.
See the Telegraph for the full story.
Source – Benefits & Work, 26 May 2015
More and more tenants have been forced from their homes in the North after landlords took steps to take back their properties.
In parts of the region, possession claims have risen to their highest levels in over a decade – with the number rocketing by more than 70% in some areas in just a year.
MPs say they are are “deeply concerned” by the trend, and that for too long, in the face of a rising cost of living, “Generation Rent” has been forgotten.
“Many households in the North are really struggling with the cost of living – and one of the most significant issues facing so many families across the region is housing costs, whether they rent or own their home,” said Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell, Labour’s shadow economic secretary to the treasury.
“The steep increase in the number of tenants losing their homes across the North East is deeply concerning, but unsurprising in the face of rising household bills combined with falling real terms wages, and the prevalence of low-paid, insecure work for those who are in employment.
“Of course, many thousands across the region have been hit by the unfair bedroom tax, leaving many in rent arrears for the first time.
“For too long, those who rent their homes have been forgotten about – and this number is increasing.”
Nationally, the number of claims by private landlords were up 4.1% year on year in 2013/14, while social landlord claims rose 17.8%.
But in Middlesbrough private landlord claims jumped 71.1% – one of the biggest increases in England and Wales – and the number of both private (65) and social (573) landlord claims reached their highest levels since 2002/03.
The number of social landlord claims in Stockton-on-Tees also rose sharply, up 43.9%, from 253 in 2012/13 to 364 in 2013/14, while Northumberland also recorded its highest number of claims in more than a decade at 691.
“These figures have been released just over a year since the bedroom tax was implemented,” Kevin Williamson, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, said. “We have long warned of the stresses that the bedroom tax is placing people under, and housing associations are working hard to help their tenants.”
A spokesman for Northumberland County Council urged anyone affected by such proceedings to get in touch with their local authority, who may be able to offer support and advice.
“Possession proceedings will only be taken by registered landlords as an action of last resort.
“We would urge anyone who finds themselves in a position where they may be in danger of losing their home to contact the council’s housing options team, who can offer advice and support,” he said.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle 11 May 2014
> Sure sign that there’s an election just over the horizon – out they come, offering bribes like the sleazy fixers they are…
A former Tory candidate in the North East is leading calls for the party to increase the minimum wage – to give it a chance of winning seats in Labour heartlands.
The campaign urging Chancellor George Osborne to increase the minimum wage has been launched by Renewal, a campaign group dedicated to broadening the appeal of the Conservative Party and giving it a chance of winning seats in regions such as the North East where the party has very few MPs.
Mr Osborne yesterday hinted that a rise from the current £6.31 an hour to £7 was indeed in the offing.
Renewal director David Skelton finished a distant second when he stood for the Labourstronghold of North Durham in the 2010 general election.
Renewal has launched a review called “Renewing Capitalism”, which will look at new ways to create a competitive economic environment in which the consumer and the low-paid are protected, competition is cherished and anti-competitive, monopolistic behaviour is cracked down on.
It will also explore ideas to create wealth in parts of the country that have been struggling to share in prosperity since the 1980s – notably deindustrialised towns in northern England.
> Yeah… might have been better if the Tories hadn’t wrecked the north in the first place perhaps ? Might be good if they weren’t cutting funding left, right & centre.
Renewal is also considering ways of changing the face of the Conservative Party by bringing in more working class MPs, including by introducing bursaries to help people on lower incomes stand for election.
> This is a wind-up, isn’t it ? Its certainly not the Conservative party.
Mr Skelton, who was born and grew up in Consett, County Durham, said:
“The Conservative Party needs to come to terms with the fact that many people, particularly the low paid, don’t think that capitalism is working for them.
“We need to do more to show that capitalism can work for everybody in every part of the country. Being pro-market isn’t the same as being pro-big business.
“Where there are instances of abuse – in either the public or the private sector – Conservatives should come down hard to protect the consumer.”
> I think we know perfectly well what capitalism is likely to do for – and do to – us.
The review could be seen as a response to Labour leader Ed Miliband’s focus on the cost of living and attack on “predatory” capitalism. Labour is arguing that the benefits of economic recovery are not being shared by most people – and is highlighting the fact workers in the North East on average are paid £1,300 a year less than they were in 2010, once inflation is taken into account.
Some Conservatives argue that putting up the minimum wage, currently £6.31 an hour for over-21s, would help ensure that working people enjoy an increase in their standard of living as the economy improves.
> Yes, but it doesn’t create new jobs, so those in work earn a few more pennies, but the high unemployment continues, and those on benefits will continue to be the scapegoats for a situation they had no hand in.
Speaking recently, Hexham MP Guy Opperman said: “I am a well known exponent of the voluntary living wage and am very keen for an enhancement of the minimum wage now that the economic conditions are beginning to ease.
“There is an ongoing campaign to see if the Chancellor is able to make such a change when we get to the Budget in March.”
Recommendations about minimum wage rate are made by the Low Pay Commission, an independent body set up by the Government.
Mr Osborne has said he will not increase the minimum wage if it will lead to job losses but there is speculation he could announce a simultaneous cut in taxes paid by employers such as National Insurance, allowing them to pay staff more while staying in profit.
> The cut in NI contributions makes sense in the light of current policy, which seems intent on making it impossible for anyone to actually claim benefits anyway.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 17 Jan 2014