Tagged: New Deal

British people stopped believing in the benefits system due to Tony Blair, researchers claim

The exact moment that the British public lost its faith in the benefits system has been pinpointed by researchers.

Tony Blair’s famous pronouncement in 1999 that welfare should be “a hand-up, not a hand-out” in reference to Labour’s New Deal policies coincided with a fundamental change in public attitudes towards benefits claimants, according to a paper published today by academics at the University of Bristol.

Using data from the British Social Attitudes survey, the researchers argue that around the time Mr Blair introduced his fresh approach to the benefits system, public opinion on the subject reached a “point of intersection”.

Throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, they argue, there was a widespread belief in Britain that out-of-work benefits were set at derisory levels, causing significant hardship for those who relied upon them. But by 1999 people had started to feel they were set too high – ushering in an era of benefit “scroungers” rhetoric which has continued to this day.

Attitudes towards unemployed people are clearly changing and hardening fast. Solidarity with unemployed citizens, poor people and welfare claimants has declined significantly in recent times,” said Dr Chris Deeming of the University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences, who led the research.

“The British public now sees work aversion and the declining work ethic as one of the main issues facing society. Coupled with this trend is a growing belief that out-of-work benefits are now too generous and act to promote the ‘dependency culture’,” he added.

> But who exactly believes this ? Certainly no-one who has actually had to live on benefits for any length of time.

Nor, you’d suppose, anyone who had close relatives of friends who had to survive on them.

Still, wasn’t it Sid Vicious who once remarked: “I’ve met the man on the street, and he’s a cunt” ?

The research also reveals that support for the welfare state among Labour voters has been in steep decline for two decades. In 1987, around 73 per cent of the party’s supporters agreed that the Government should spend more on welfare benefits for poor families, compared with just 36 per cent in 2011.

The study, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, is published in the journal Social Policy and Administration.

Source – The Independent, 25 Sept 2014

Students threatened with jail for telling ‘white lies’ on CVs

Students have been threatened with jail for embellishing their CVs amid growing concerns that graduates may be tempted to tell “white lies” to get ahead in the jobs market.

Fraud prevention officers have sent a new guide to every university in the country warning students of the consequences of inflating their degree grade, doctoring their employment history or making up personal references.

Some students have been jailed for six months for lying on job application forms, it emerged, but the offence carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in the most serious cases.

The disclosure came as figures showed a sharp rise in employment-related fraud, with prosecutions soaring by almost 60 per cent in just 12 months.

According to CIFAS, the UK fraud prevention service, 324 people were prosecuted in 2013 for all forms of fraudulent applications, including submitting false paperwork and withholding information. This compared with just 205 a year earlier.

It comes amid growing competition between university leavers for top jobs following a rise in the undergraduate population combined with an employment squeeze during the economic crisis.

A study last year showed that an average of 85 students were competing for every graduate job, with numbers rising as high as 200 in some industry sectors.

But Simon Dukes, chief executive of CIFAS, cautioned students against embellishing their CVs, saying “ignorance isn’t an excuse if you get caught out”.

> Although once you’ve got that job in politics, you can be as ignorant as you like. Ask Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVile, etc…

Speaking as hundreds of thousands of students prepare to graduate from university, Helen Kempster, consultant for the University of London’s Careers Group, said: “It can be tempting to tell a ‘white lie’ but this leaflet makes students aware that there can be serious legal repercussions.”

The guide – Don’t finish your career before it starts – says that making minor changes to CVs such as inflating grades and making up extra-curricular activities can be classed as “fraud by false representation“. It is punishable with a maximum 10-year prison sentence under the Fraud Act 2006.

The guide says one former student was jailed for 12 weeks after lying about his qualifications when applying for a job as a temporary teacher. He claimed to hold a master’s degree and submitted a certificate to the school, but his university confirmed he had never been awarded the qualification. He later admitted to buying it online.

In another case, a woman was jailed for six months after falsely claiming to have two A-levels and making up references.

The guide – the first in a series intended to educate young people about fraud – says that cases referred to CIFAS lie on file for six years, meaning applicants are flagged up if they attempt to apply for other jobs.

In the document, students are told: “Your dream job asks for a 2:1, but you’ve got a 2:2 – so you just make a little change on your CV. You’re worried you don’t have enough work experience – so you pretend your summer of trekking through Nepal was actually spent working at a local solicitor’s firm.

“After all, no one really checks, right? It’s just a little white lie, right? Wrong. It’s fraud.”

Two years ago, the careers service Graduate Prospects launched a new degree verification service to allow employers to easy check grades following claims that ex-students are deliberately lying on CVs and inflating their qualifications.

> Interesting – and what about us poor mugs in the real world ?  We get sent to ’employability‘ schemes who aren’t at all shy about changing our CVs for us.

One I did under New Deal  actually combined two jobs I’d done (for two different employers) into one, on the grounds that it “looked better“, and for an encore gave me a couple of hobbies I don’t have.

Anothe place changed my date of birth… although as they only made me 6 days younger it was probably a misprint rather than attempted fraud.

Of course, both of these CVs were consigned to the bin the moment I walked out the door. But if I had sent them out, would I be committing fraud ?

And who’d take the rap if I was ? Me or the poverty pimps that changed the information ?

I think I can guess the answer to that…

Source –  The Telegraph,  02 July 2014

Labour’s Workfare Plus A Sandwich Scheme Could Be The Most Exploitative Forced Work Yet

You know, if the Greens really got their act together, they could clean up at the next general election. Who else is left for us to vote for ?

the void

miliband Ed Miliband pretended he has a real job as he announced his latest forced labour scheme.

Labour’s workfare plus a sandwich scheme is no better than the Tory’s current workfare and is every bit as badly thought out.

Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee takes the worst elements of almost all previous welfare-to-work style schemes and has rolled them all into one giant and hugely expensive fuck up. Possibly hundreds of thousands of people are to be forced to work in part-time temporary jobs with wages pegged at the minimum wage or face their benefits will be stopped.

Many people in these compulsory jobs may find themselves worse off then someone on current Tory workfare schemes.  The jobs will only be for 25 hours a week, meaning those over 21 will receive just £156.70 under current rates.  For the vast majority of claimants, who have rent to pay, this is likely to…

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Local government UK councils benefit from half a million hours of unpaid labour

Scores of UK councils have benefited from more than half a million hours of unpaid labour through government back-to-work schemes, a series of freedom of information requests has found.

The FOI requests filed by the group Boycott Workfare, which campaigns against workfare schemes, found 62% of the 271 councils that responded had used unpaid workers on government schemes during the past two years.

Boycott Workfare, which says unpaid schemes such as work experience and mandatory work activity (MWA) exploit tens of thousands of unemployed people, found Newport council had used 112 people, mainly in its street cleaning and rubbish collection department for about four weeks at a time.

Scarborough council has used 120 people through the MWA scheme since 2011. Seventy one people completed the placements, all in the parks department.

Bexley borough council in London has taken more than 100 unpaid placements, including 71 through the mayor of London’s unpaid work scheme, which is funded by the European social fund. One person was offered full-time employment (!)  and 15 an apprenticeship.

The council said most of these placements were in library services, where 35 paid jobs were lost after services were merged with neighbouring Bromley in 2012.

Of the reported 1,929 placements, only one in 14 led to jobs according to Boycott Workfare, though this figure did not include apprenticeship placements.

Northumberland county council said it had put 44 people into unpaid work in its council services during the past two years.

“These work placements are intended to be positive experiences, not punitive and must be of community value and not replace anyone’s job,” the council said.

Boycott Workfare said half of council placements were part of the voluntary work experience scheme. But nearly 300 placements were on MWA, where the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can compel people to work without pay for a month or have their benefit cut for up to three years.

A further 300 people were sent to work for councils through the Work Programme, with placements lasting up to 26 weeks.

Since February 2012 the DWP has resisted a series of rulings from the information commissioner that it should make public the locations of people sent on government employment schemes, saying the data was commercially sensitive and a public outcry could damage the schemes’ operation. A high court hearing on the matter is expected to take place in the spring.

“data was commercially sensitive and a public outcry could damage the schemes’ operation.” But aren’t we always being told that if we’ve done nothing wrong we have nothing to fear ?  What are they scared of ?

Boycott Workfare said it was “disturbing to find so many councils putting local people at risk of destitution by using schemes that threaten people with up to three years’ benefit stoppages.

“Workfare doesn’t help people find work and councils aren’t offering people jobs at the end of their placement. Instead local authorities are clearly using workfare in an attempt to plug the gaps left by government cuts to public services.”

The group said a six-month employment scheme due to start this year would extend this trend of unpaid work in councils and charities.

“Unless it is stopped, it will mean both more devastating welfare sanctions and fewer paid jobs for everyone,” it said.

The DWP said: “Most of these placements are undertaken voluntarily and work experience is successful in helping people off benefits and into work.

“Mandatory placements give jobseekers in need of more help the vital workplace skills and experience – especially if they’ve never worked before – to find work.”

“Claimants are expected to complete placements which are of benefit to the community, including helping charities. It is only right that people claiming jobseeker’s allowance take part in programmes to improve their skills.”

> Fine – then if it’s work at least pay them the minimum wage. Even New Labour’s New Deal fiasco used to pay you 15 quid a week extra.

Forcing people to work for nothing under threat of sanctions for not complying = slavery.

And talking of Labour, New or present, I dont hear any protests coming from that direction. Of course, it seems most likely that they, should they win the next election, will just continue along the same course as the present government – in the same way that the Tories are using measures brought in by New Labour, like sanctions, to such devastating effect.

Different arseholes, same old shit.

Source – Guardian, 03 Jan 2014

Work Programme – What Was The Point ? (Part 1)

Whoopee ! I have now completed my two-year stint on the Work Programme (WP).

Looking back, my initial reaction is: “what the hell was the point of that ?

It is pretty difficult to see  much point to it, either personally or on a wider level. A 2012 report found that only 18,270 people out of 785,000 people enrolled on the WP had held down employment for six months or more – a success rate of 2.3%.

Given that 5% of the long-term unemployed would be expected to find employment if left to their own devices the WP can be considered less successful than doing nothing at all.

“Less successful than doing nothing at all.”  That says it all, really.

Of course it was always doomed to failure, simply because it was based on unrealistic expectations – that the only reason people are unemployed is because they are lazy / stupid / feckless, and all they need  is a kick up the arse.

There was a fatal flaw in their plans – simply that there is  something like  2.5 million unemployed and only 500,000 vacancieas. You can kick  arses until your foot drops off,  you still can’t fit a quart into a pint pot.

Mind you, my expectations weren’t very high anyway.

Prior to WP was New Deal (ND), and in this city we had two companies providing it. I had the chance to sample both, and found both to be pretty useless.

When I turned up for my WP induction I amused myself by spotting familiar faces –  just about all of the staff  in this new organization were formerly with one or other of the two crap ND companies that preceeded it.

And that’s how it works. A new company wins a contract to provide  WP or ND or whatever, but doesn’t actually have any staff or premises. So they rent some cheap office space  and re-employ all the crap advisers from the failing companies they replaced, and so the vicious circle starts all over again. Its the same old people, same old ideas (or lack of), same old same old…

The new WP provider with all the old faces in our town was called Ingeus. I was never quite sure how it was pronounced (in-ghee-us ?  in-jhee-us ?) but it’s a suitably ugly name for an ugly organization.

All these WP providers are for-profit companies, and you, the unemployed, are commodities. You might be the most wonderful, talented, compassionate  person but your value to them is purely financial. Get you into a job, any job, get paid for doing so.

Getting paid being by far the most important part from their point of view.

It has been argued that payment-by-results whereby companies only get paid for finding people work has meant that they focus on the “easiest” cases among the long-term unemployed with the most “difficult” effectively sidelined.

The term “creaming and parking” has been used to describe this process. The Department for Work and Pensions have denied that “parking” is an issue, but then they would, wouldn’t they ?

A study by the Third Sector Research Centre at Birmingham University found  widespread “gaming” of the Work Programme by private sector providers. They argue that because providers are not paid until an unemployed person has been in work for two years it makes little economic sense to concentrate on the most “difficult cases”.  study also found that the largest private sector providers known as “primes” were guilty of passing more difficult cases onto sub-contractors.

Furthermore “parking” means that charities are not getting referrals under the Work Programme as such customers are not considered likely to result in a payment for the provider.

One interviewee told the study:

“It’s not being PC but I’ll just say it as it is … you tend to get left with the rubbish; people who aren’t going to get a job … If the [prime] thought they could get them a job, they wouldn’t [refer them to] someone else to get a job.”

I got parked.  At least I assume that was the reason why I heard nothing from Ingeus for a period of 10 consectutive months in the middle of my 2 years. It goes without saying that that was probably my most productive time on the WP.

When I returned it was with a bang…

To be continued…