Well done to the BBC for showing up the Coalition government, whose work programme providers have been cooking the books.
The evidence was revealed in a 5 Live investigation, that discovered job seekers on the work programme are being encouraged to declare that they are self-employed – when they aren’t – in order to get more money in tax credits than they would on Jobseekers’ Allowance.
In fact, that isn’t even true in all cases, so these claimants are being led right down the garden path!
The Employment Related Services Association, the organisation that represents work programme provider companies – and, by the way, why is it that these business-representing organisations are getting such an easy time of it when worker-representatives like trade unions are still considered to be scum? – says its members haven’t been doing anything wrong. It would, wouldn’t it?
But people interviewed by 5 Live freely admitted they had been told to claim tax credits as self-employed people, even when they had no feasible job ideas or could not possibly turn a profit. They said they thought it was fraud.
And that’s what it seems to me – that they’re cooking the books.
Let’s remember that these work programme providers get their money from the government – the same Coalition government that has made great play of “strivers v skivers” rhetoric (claiming to be on the side of the strivers – working people trying to pay their own way in the world, against the skivers – layabouts hiding behind closed curtains where they waste their days watching the Jeremy Kyle show and claiming benefits that they don’t deserve from the state).
Not only are they actively encouraging people – who want to work and pay their own way in the world – to become, in the language of the government, skivers; these companies are actually, themselves, skiving.
They receive small attachment fees for every job seeker assigned to them, right? But they also get far higher fees when they manage to get someone signed off JSA altogether and into work. Self-employment is work. By lying that these people are now in work, they are taking money from the government under false pretences.
And they are also skewing the government’s employment figures. How can David Cameron stand in front of every MP in the House of Commons and have the bare-faced cheek to say a million new jobs have been created, when any number of those jobs could be fake?
Once again, we see that this government and its structures are all about presenting only an appearance of propriety, while secretly getting a hand into the till and removing as much cash as possible.
I wonder how many MPs currently at the Department of Work and Pensions will be getting jobs with these work provider companies after they leave Parliament?
It all amounts to another reason people should sign my e-petition to end corruption in Parliament by stopping MPs from receiving any financial benefit as a result of the decisions they take (other than their MPs’ salaries, of course). If you haven’t signed it yet, please, do it now! If you have, check that your friends have, too – and ask them to get their friends to sign it, in turn. Spread the word!
One last thought: I heard on the radio today that the proportion of pensioners in poverty since 1997 has halved, to 16 per cent. That’s an impressive achievement for the Labour government that was in power from that date until 2010. Its members clearly wanted to reward people who have worked all their lives, paid their taxes and supported British society.
What are those pensioners – who are being courted by the Conservatives, because senior citizens are more likely to vote than any other part of the population – to make of a government that is actively trying to hoodwink the current working-age generation out of the prosperity provided by a proper, working life?
Are today’s pensioners totally selfish, “I’m all right, Jack” types who think that this is nothing to do with them, and there will be no need to rock the boat as long as they’ve got their money?
Or do they understand that, as far as the UK’s prosperity is concerned, we really are all in it together, and the working-age population need the support of their elders – otherwise there will be too few people in work to pay the cost of their pensions!
It will be interesting to find out.