Coalition caught out over ‘strivers v skivers’

Iain Duncan Smith may need to rethink his definition of 'scrounger' after it was revealed that work programme 'provider' companies have been cooking the books to make it seem that more people have moved into work than is the case - thereby pocketing large fees for services they haven't rendered!

Iain Duncan Smith may need to rethink his definition of ‘scrounger’ after it was revealed that work programme ‘provider’ companies have been cooking the books to make it seem that more people have moved into work than is the case – thereby pocketing large fees for services they haven’t rendered!

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.


  1. jaynel62 February 4, 2013 at 6:12 am - Reply

    Great Expose Mike – wonder how to find out just how many new ‘businesses’ are set up each month?

    • Robert Maguire February 4, 2013 at 9:22 am - Reply

      Pensioners are NOT alright Jack. Fuel and food prices along with being lied to by a coalition is making for a hard cold winter for pensioners. Along with the infirm and unemployed we now figur with the skivers and shirkers? Cameron is resonsible for dividing rhe population even further with salanderous statements and lies. He should resign now.

      • Dave February 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm - Reply

        too few people in work to pay the cost of their pensions? that’s just my point… national debt includes all future pension payments, nation insurance also pays the ‘pension’ even teachers are now forced to take out a compulsory 3rd pension(a scheme that will soon apply to all workers) just how many times over do we have to pay for this pension…???? as for fuel prices… David Cameron has solar hot water and solar panels to create free energy(along with the other 1% of the rich elite) I should imagine they couldn’t care less about the rest of us having to live with 30% increase in utility bills…

  2. fibrogirl February 4, 2013 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Its also worth remembering this is about to unravvle further – Under Universal Credit it will go from the numbe rof hours to the amount earned. under conditionality for instance a couple with children over the age of 12 will be expected to earn the equvilant of 2×37 hours as week at minimum wage.
    which i tihnk is around £400 ish a week

    The self employed person could be expected to seek more hows via paid jobs, they will have the number of job seeking hours set – so in theroy they would have to turn down work to attend job seeking activity.

    I foresee a very very big mess and more people being put in the position of frudulantly claiming..all made by targets, greed and unworkable ill thought out policies

  3. Roberta West February 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Good Article…keep up the pressure and good work. I’ve signed and am trying to encourage everyone and anyone to share and sign your most worthwhile e-petition.

  4. J. Cox February 4, 2013 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Anyone with half a brain knows Govnt lie to us all the time. At the next election we should all demand another box be added to the bottom of ballot paper saying “NONE OF THE ABOVE”.

    At the heart of this attack on Welfare Reform lies the attempts by insurance companies to decimate the Welfare State in order to make the British public take out private Income Protection Policies, which they then do everything possible to avoid paying out on.

    The ATOS Chief Medical Officer, Prof. Michael O’Donnell joined ATOS from the American company ‘Unum’, which was described as an “outlaw company” by the US authorities partly because it was regarded as a “disability denial factory”. This company has boasted of the profits to be made in Britain and been instrumental behind the scenes in every aspect of the current onslaught and dates back to Labour’s time in power at the Woodstock Conference 2001.

    • Mike Sivier February 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm - Reply

      That’s absolutely correct. It has been mentioned on this blog in the past but I’m perfectly happy for you to restate it here. Let’s keep information like this in the public eye.

    • Teddy Mcnabb (@McnabbTeddy) February 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      jcox this is what you rightfully refer to, i see all enemies of the vulnerable as one and the same, if i didnt i would be an enemy of the vulnerable & myself!

  5. john barry February 4, 2013 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    a4e is a complete waste of time and energy,it has lost all of its contracts,and sit people in front of computers and are asked to look for 4 or more jobs,in a 3hour period.

  6. Teddy Mcnabb (@McnabbTeddy) February 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    J Cox how right you are about labour [ Tories in Red Coats] & Unum 2001 with Wicks who died last year, Academies 2000, then in 2003 the Sheltered Housing ring-fencing scandal ,the impact is felt today effecting almost 1m vulnerable people, 2005 Freud WRB 2008 Remploy Wales , PFI Ballooned, nhs trusts and trust fat cats etc etc , by the way the Dutch Health Service was all but privatised in 2006, have a look at ex union “stalwart” ex-pm Wim Kok and the Unions, and how they assisted it, a Dutch bank has just been nationalised and it transpires the FNV [ Dutch Trade Union] gave the bank a 20 EURO Loan and the bank was heavily involved in , guess what?…. private healthcare, rank & file trade unionists are sick to death of the fat cat duke of yorks, who throw millions to a bunch of Tories, to betray them such as in the Pensions Robbery vote as they abstained, all in it together alright!

  7. Rod Millard February 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    “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?”

    None. They’ll all be told to declare themselves self employed…

  8. Sandra Parrish (@ShadowcatVA) February 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    I had been unemployed 3 years before I was put under the aegis of A4E . I had been with a previous similar company for a year before that. Neither did anything to find me a job. The snotty little bitch at A4E told me I could apply to be a cleaner. I was a professional legal secretary for 30 years. I don’t do my own cleaning that often. Anyway I did apply for a cleaning job only to be told I wasn’t experienced enough. For the previous two years I had been aiming to getting my own Virtual Assistant business off the ground. After the DWP screwed up my JSA, I spoke to the A4E self-employment expert and I filled in the various forms and applied to Tax Credits, which I got. I took the 30 hour option as it paid more. I also had a over 50 supplement which added £30.00 and I also took my personal pension which I had paid into for over 20 years. That yielded a lump sum which I used to pay off some debts and a mountainous £35.00 a week (and that will never rise). In less than two months they did away with the over 50 element.

    I have now set up my business but so far have earned only £50 in just over a year. I have no money for networking unless its through twitter linkedin or facebook and spent about 2-3 hours a day on those networks sifting through all the various notices etc. I find a lot of useful articles and read through them carefully.

    I am also taking four bookkeeping courses and also courses in Project Management, Website Design and a course through Hootsuite so that I can gain a certification from them to say I am a Social Media Expert so that I can offer those skills to future clients. I am spending almost 40 hours a week (including weekends) working. I feel I am self-employed even though I make no money but I do work. I don’t get any more money that I did on JSA., but at least I don’t have to trek into the Job Centre every two weeks and waste time every day searching for non-existent jobs. I am 58 so no-one is going to employ me when they can get 100 other people who now have more current knowledge than me although nothing has changed. I still apply for some jobs but know my chances of getting one are non-existent. Over the last five years I must have applied for around 2000-3000 jobs and had two interviews.

    I recently found out that my business is not registered with HMRC. My so-called adviser said that I only had to apply for tax credits.

    After I recently queried this because I thought I should be filling in a self-assessment form I was told that I wasn’t registered. Now I will probably be fined £100 for a penalty for late return.

    Sorry for the long rant but it hacks me off that A4E were hopeless. I could help out a lot of people starting out their business with their administration and that useless git had not referred anyone to me. If he was worth his salt he would do his job, and help out both me and others he has responsibility.

  9. Billy February 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Press taken in by government propaganda shocker

    Self-employment is not fraud. I get paid when I sell something, not according to how many hours I put in each week. My income is completely unpredictable, and I rely on tax credits to put a floor on it so I don’t become homeless while waiting for clients to pay what they owe me.

    IDS, like all Tories, would simply rather people like me stuck our small businesses where the sun doesn’t shine and cleared the field for the multinationals. That’s what this is about.

    • Mike Sivier February 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      The people who were saying it was fraud didn’t actually have any self-employed business to do, though. It was a scam by work programme providers to get them off JSA, so that they (the WPPs) could take the thousands of pounds per person bonus for finding them work (even though they hadn’t).

  10. rainbowwarriorlizzie February 6, 2013 at 12:53 am - Reply
  11. redangelas February 6, 2013 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Great article: totally agree with what you say.
    Also Sandra Parrish’s comments on being 58 and unemployed rang a lot of bells with me. I took early retirement to become a carer, and my finances were working out until the person I was caring for died, at which point I was aged 59. I was due a second pension at age 60, but for three months was going to have to live off savings, claim benefits or find work. I decided to sign on, and not having signed on since 1989, the mess that jobcentres are in these days came as a rude shock to me. I applied for jobs when told, so now at the age of 60 have a zero hours contract and a whole new career, in which I can start work at 6:30am, finish at 8:30pm and be paid for 3 hours 15 mins work, although, in fairness to my employer, I should point out that I get a lot of time off in between jobs, sometimes in convenient hour and a half chunks.

    Many of the jobs advertised on the government website were worse than mine, and some were clearly not jobs but agencies trying to get people on their books. My point is that I don’t feel I have been “helped into a job”. I have been bullied into accepting the first job I was offered. This is not necessarily to the advantage of my employer, as I may simply become another instance of staff churn.

    Whilst I sympathise with your petition, I don’t feel able to sign it. My problem is whether the term “commercial operation” applies to trade unions.
    If it does not, then presumably it equally does not apply to charities, trusts, associations and lots of other types of bodies that sharp teams of lawyers and accountants could devise.
    If it does there is a clear problem for the Labour Party if they are prohibited from passing legislation which is clearly intended to be for the benefit of the Trade Unions who make significant donations to them.

    • Mike Sivier February 6, 2013 at 11:38 am - Reply

      I don’t think it would apply to trade unions. Is a trade union going to lobby MPs so the government provides it with a contract at the taxpayers’ expense? Unions represent the interests of their members by trying to improve working conditions and ensure they get a reasonable rate of pay for the work they do – that’s not the same as pressurising the government for a contract which may not be deserved. A union would not directly benefit from legislation to improve working conditions so an MP could speak on that without fear of breaching the ban. The other organisations you mention may also be able to avoid the ban. It all depends on whether they are directly paying for an MP’s services.

  12. Editor February 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on kickingthecat.

  13. […] Didn’t we all discover, via a BBC 5 Live investigation back in February last year, that job seekers on the work programme were being encouraged to declare that they were self-employed – when they aren’t – in order to get more money in tax credits than they would on Jobseekers’ Allowance? […]

  14. […] Here’s a clue: “Jobseekers on the Work Programme are being encouraged to declare that they are self-employed … […]

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