“It’s time to change the conversation about extending working life from one about working “until you drop”, to one about a fuller working life, that means working as long as is necessary to create the future you want.”
Esther McVey and Steve Webb, Fuller Working Lives Ministerial Statement
What they mean …
Unpaid work, cuts to disability benefits and mandated ‘work-related activity’ are set to be at the heart of the latest DWP strategy aimed at bullying older people off benefits
Last week the DWP published Fuller Working Lives, a ‘framework for action’ for older unemployed people and the rhetoric is depressingly familiar. Under the guise of help and support it will be business as usual as older claimants are left at the mercy of the grasping welfare-to-work industry.
The report notes that around a million people over 50 are out…
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Unemployed lone parents could to be forced into mandatory unpaid work placements as part of fresh changes to benefits coming into force from the 28th April 2014.
Lone parents in receipt of Income Support who have a child between the age of 3-4 will be required to undertake ‘mandatory work related activity’ “to better prepare them for the full work-related requirements they will face when their child turns 5”.
The changes will also apply to lone parents in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ (WRAG) of the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Local authority childcare schemes will be made available to allow the changes to come into effect and help free up lone parents to partake in the new requirements. Up to fifteen hours of free childcare will be available for those affected.
Income Support claimants with a child between the age of 1-4 will also be required to take part in work focused interviews at their nearest Jobcentre. The time and duration ‘will be tailored to the needs of the lone parent’.
Failure to comply with the changes – without good cause – could result in lone parents having their benefits cut or stopped completely (sanctioned). The level of the cut will begin at 20% but could increase to 100% for ‘further failures’. However, only one Income Support cut will be permitted in a two-week period.
It has also been announced this week that jobseeker’s who have been out of work for over three years, and who have already taken part in the government’s controversial Work Programme, will be required to undertake community work placements for up to 30 hours per week. They will also be expected to spend 10 hours per week looking for work.
The DWP has given the example of “clearing up litter and graffiti in local areas” which has previously been reserved for community volunteers and criminal offenders.
> Which is a pretty good indication of how our betters regard the unemployed – criminals who need to be punished. For their own good, you understand…
My contention is that if you have to work for benefits, then they are no longer benefits – they’re wages, and wages below the National Minimum Wage at that.
In this instance, failure to comply will result in jobseeker’s having their benefits cut for four weeks which could extend to several months for repeat offenders.
New Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants will also have to wait 7 days before they become entitled for the unemployment benefit.
We have been informed that once a lone parent with a child over the age of 3 ‘volunteers’ for participation in the government’s ‘Work Programme’, that participation then becomes ‘mandatory’.
Source – Welfare News Service, 02 April 2014
This year’s five reasons for child poverty are predictably unemployment, along with low levels of qualifications, single parent families, having more than three children and ill health. Such is Iain Duncan Smith’s desperation to blame children being poor on anything other than not having enough money that this is his fourth re-definition of poverty in just three years. Previous reasons for poverty, which included step-parents, mothers with mental health problems, being disabled, and of course drugs, no longer make the top five.
The main thrust of the latest strategy is to tackle what is repeatedly referred to as ‘worklessness’ – as if raising children requires no effort at all. The measures to combat this great social ill – which can mean parents spending time raising their…
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A man went on a shoplifting spree after a foreign trip in search of work turned sour and he returned to Sunderland empty handed and in debt.
Sunderland magistrates were told how Ernest Bulmer Jenkins headed to Sweden last year hoping to find a job, but came home after a month to find his benefits had been stopped.
Because he had not been in touch with the authorities he was left with no income for seven months and was forced to borrow money to survive.
The 30-year-old has now been handed a three-month suspended prison sentence after turning to crime to repay his debts.
Prosecutor Jeanette Smith said Jenkins, , took £100-worth perfume from Debenhams on October 21.
He was arrested and released on bail, but on December 17, Jenkins pilfered £22.95 of meat from Hendon’s HJ Foodstores. Having been bailed again, he and two others went into Sainsbury’s in Silksworth Lane, on January 6, and took £410 of drinks.
None of the items were recovered, Mrs Smith added.
Bulmer admitted three counts of theft and asked for another three – relating to the theft of £285 from Boots – to be taken into consideration.
“Around eight or nine months ago, Mr Jenkins went to Sweden to stay with family members,” his solicitor Heather Bolton said.
“He was there for four weeks, but returned to Sunderland because he was unable to find work.
“He was sanctioned for not going to the benefits agency for that four weeks, the period when he was away. For seven or so months he’s had no income whatsoever.
“He was borrowing money from friends and acquaintances. He didn’t borrow from loan sharks, but he did have some pressure on him to repay his debt.”
The bench suspended the jail sentence for 12 months, and told Jenkins to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work. and he was told to pay £322.95 in compensation, due to his limited means.
Source – Sunderland Echo 11 Feb 2014
THE North East’s leading university has become embroiled in a pay row, after advertising unpaid “voluntary” teaching jobs.
On its own website, Durham University is offering what it calls a “voluntary development opportunity” for PhD students to design and offer “extracurricular seminars” for undergraduates in its Department of Theology and Religion.
The University and College Union (UCU), which represents academics, said unpaid posts undermined the principles of equal pay, exploited people able to work for free and discriminated against those who could not afford to do so.
UCU regional support official Jon Bryan said: “The advert says its requires applicants to devise and deliver courses without payment, which is completely at odds with the firm commitment Durham gave us last year that it does not recruit unpaid staff.
“The university needs to make a clear statement outlining its position on people working for free.
“We simply do not accept the defence that teaching for free is a development opportunity – clearly it is not available to people who cannot afford to work for free.
“Universities should be striving for excellence, not seeking to exploit those who can afford to work for nothing as free labour.”
However, a Durham University spokesperson said the seminars were set up in response to demand from its postgraduate students who wanted to broaden their teaching experience for their own professional development.
The spokesperson said: “Participation is entirely voluntary and feedback has been positive from both the postgraduates designing and delivering the courses and the undergraduates who take them; many said it improved their understand and appreciation of the subject area.
“A wide range of paid teaching assistant opportunities are also available within the department and our postgraduates have the opportunity to apply for these.”
Durham, one of the world’s top 100 universities, charges the maximum £9,000-a-year in student tuition fees and has been criticised by the trade union Unison for allegedly paying hundreds of its workers less than the living wage of £7.45 an hour while vice-chancellor Professor Chris Higgins picks up a salary of £232,000 a year.
Source – Northern Echo 22 Oct 2013