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The Tories bring in workfare though they’ve proved it doesn’t even work

real crime is workfare, pic by Boycott WorkfareAs from this week, if you’ve been out of work for a year, you’re put through the Work Programme for 2 years and then if you emerge with no job, as many do, you’re into workfare disguised by the deceitful title of Help to Work. What this means was spelt out by Osborne at last year’s Tory party conference:

We are saying there is no option of doing nothing for your benefits, no something-for-nothing any more”.

This blithely ignores the fact that people are not actually getting something for nothing at present at all; you only get unemployment benefit (at the derisory level of £71 a week, the lowest in Europe) if you’ve contributed for a substantial period in national insurance contributions. You are certainly expected to try hard to get a job, but not punished if you can’t find one and certainly not denied the benefit you’ve earned if you’re 5 minutes for a job interview (as regularly happens now through ‘sanctioning’). Osborne then went on with his workfare prescription:

They will make meals for the elderly, clear up litter, work for a local charity. Others will be made to attend the jobcentre every working day.”

But does it work?

As it happens, the DWP for once did a proper control study to find out involving 15,000 unemployed people. Some were put through 26 weeks of ‘intensive Jobcentre Plus support’, some were subjected to the workfare ‘community action programme’, and the rest were put into a control group who didn’t have to do any of these things. Very significantly, exactly the same proportion of the control group (slightly under a fifth) found work as those forced to do community work. In other words, workfare made no difference at all. But the DWP and Osborne are still going ahead with this £300m exercise even though they know it doesn’t work.

But there two other aspects to this saga which are never mentioned, but very relevant.

One is that whilst the unemployed are expected to do all they can to get a job, the government (Osborne) are expected to do all they can through their economic policy to ensure the jobs are created to enable the maximum number of jobless people to get those jobs. Osborne however is deliberately prolonging austerity which massively restricts those jobs.

The other aspect is that if Help to Work is the rubric to require unemployed people to perform the duty of workfare, the Labour Party should introduce a Duty to Contribute to require the rich through specially targeted taxes to make a proportionate or progressive contribution, given their extreme wealth, to fund essential national needs such as the NHS, housebuilding, infrastructure, etc.

One Comment

  1. PoundInYourPocket says:

    Charities have considerable responsibilities as they serve the most vulnerable in society. Volunteers by definition do not get paid however they are (and need to be) highly skilled professionals. The notion that charities will eagerly soak up hoards of half starved and dejected forced labour slaves after their long term beating by the DWP is insulting and ludicrous. First they would need respite care themselves to recover from years of dealing with the DWP and JobCentrePlus, after which they would need more comprehensive training than that required for a MacDonalds job. I have an MSc and full work record but still have to apply AND train for a “simple” charity volunteer role. Does Osbourne have no concept of what charities do ? Perhaps they could be conscripted into the army where they could drive tanks with no training ?

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