Who will ‘Help to Work’ really help?

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The government’s latest draconian measure – to drive people who have been living off the state for more than three years into all the nonexistent jobs that ministers insist are waiting for them – was launched today. (Monday)

Help to Work forces jobseekers to sign on every day, commit to six months of voluntary work, or sign up to a training scheme (the last two effectively removing them from the government’s unemployment figures without getting them a job) – or face having their Jobseeker’s Allowance docked for increasing lengths of time.

It’s clearly a scam to fiddle the joblessness statistics but, dear reader, you’re intelligent enough to have worked it out before you even started reading this.

Of course, voluntary work must be offered without coercion – otherwise it’s slavery – and for this reason leading charities have already announced that they will boycott the mandatory work placement part of the scheme.

Particularly disturbing – and we should be grateful that they highlighted this – is the fact that this aspect would lead to jobseekers doing more than double the 300-hours’-maximum community work than convicted criminals, who are ordered to carry out certain tasks as punishment for their offences.

The Guardian used the government’s own data to prove that Help to Work does not increase anybody’s chances of getting a job, and is more likely to put people off signing on for the benefits to which they are entitled – a ‘punishment’ effect that the government is desperate to play down.

Esther McVey, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme in support of the scheme, said instead that it would be particularly useful for “people who have been away from the marketplace and the workplace for long periods of time”, and specifically mentioned those suffering from mental illness.

All right then, let’s ask this:

How well would this scheme fare in trying to find a job for a man aged 60 with no academic qualifications worth mentioning (left school at 14 and has lied about further education achievements), whose working life consists of a failed Army career that lasted less than six years, followed by irregular stints selling arms, working in a property company and selling gun-related magazines, in between periods on the dole. He has been funded by the taxpayer continuously since 1992 – a total of 22 years ‘parked’ at our expense. There are concerns about his state of mind, with fears that he suffers from paranoia and delusions.

Could Help to Work really find a job for a man like this?

Let’s hope so – because, if there’s any justice, Iain Duncan Smith will be looking for a job after next year’s general election.

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24 thoughts on “Who will ‘Help to Work’ really help?

  1. Big Bill

    One wonders what magistrates will do when confronted by JSA claimants in the dock who, on their being found guilty, they’d normally sentence to community service but can’t because they’re already doing twice as much as the longest sentence the courts can hand out. Was there any consultation with the magistrature about this potential problem, I wonder? Will magistrates now as the only available alternative find themselves forced to send people to jail with all the costs that entails? How will this be handled by the courts?

  2. Joanna

    what exactly the distinction between criminals and the unemployed who are law abiding citizens?!?

  3. jray

    I have mentioned this before,but what will the cost be,I draw about £10.20 per day benefit,daily Bus Fare £5.20 to sign on,it has already been hinted at that this all that will be required,but the DWP will pay for it,not Training though. CWP? Will they have the proper Liability Insurance? We are not Employees or Volunteers,Health and Safety? First Responders? COSH requirements,Welfare/Break Areas? As on the WP it will be done as cheaply as possible,without regard for actually achieving any results that will improve the chances of employment. If you add up all the costs of achieving nothing it dwarfs the cost of JSA,they are expecting 200000 to participate? the off flow from the WP since the 2 year mark has exceeded that many times over.

    1. JK

      A Freedom of Information request to the DWP indicates that Help-to-Work folk will have their travel expenses reimbursed if they live too far away from their Jobcentre to walk. I don’t actually know how far away you have to be to qualify for this help.

  4. hayfords

    I think the purpose of offering the choice of attending benefit offices every day or taking six months community work has another purpose. It will disrupt people working in the black economy and claiming benefits as well. I know from several sources that in the catering industry particularly there are large numbers of people working for cash in hand and claiming benefits. The changes will make it very difficult to work and claim benefits. I do not know about non metropolitant areas, but it is very common in London.

    1. Barry Davies

      So you are saying this is to stop a handful of people abusing the system, and that the vast majority have to suffer for what is really not a problem in reality.

    2. paulrutherford8

      I think that the majority of unemployed are genuinely looking for work. However, if there are a few working ‘cash in hand’ in the catering industry in London, I’m fairly certain there are none doing that here in Pembrokeshire. Any who are working cash in hand here are very unlikely to be signing on in any case.

  5. Tasha Tyler-Harris

    I have a debilitating anxiety disorder which is massively exacerbated both when I am put into situations in which I feel/am rendered helpless, and when faced with hostility. This has kept me from working for some two years now. I’d love to hear from Esther McVey how exactly forcing me to go to a place I do not want to go, under constant threats and pressure of being forced to starve and ending up on the streets, in which I will be resented by the employees whose hours have been cut to create my ‘non-job’ will be of any benefit to my mental health.

    ATOS put me in the WRAG…so this is very likely to be my future. But apparently, according to her and the DWP (I assume she has a pHD in Psychiatry hidden somewhere), this will ‘help’ me because I am just being ‘difficult’ and they have decades of experience of both medicine and of dealing with mental illness so they MUST know what’s best.

    1. ghost whistler

      I feel exactly the same. I’m in the WRAG for similar reasons and this sort of nonsense is just more stress, and for what?

      What happens when someone finishes their placement? What guarantee of work exists for them? Or are they placed straight back into another placement?

  6. thoughtfullyprepping

    There is so much talk of this black economy.
    Sure there will be some who are running successful multimillion national companies that are drawing dole at the same time.
    Happens every day in Narnia and somewhere called cloud cuckoo land.

    I wonder why it is that people with time on their hands (no job) are scowled at for digging someone else’s garden for a few quid cash in hand to supplement the £70 odd quid they are living off.

    After all if they are paying their bills, not running up huge debts, and AT LEAST TRYING to get by despite the governments best efforts at destroying their lives, the odd job guy should be applauded not pillared by some posh boy in a suit.

    1. Fabio P.Barbieri

      The general idea is that if they can work for their neighbours for a few quid in hand, they can work for Poundland and the like for nothing (remember that make-work scheme that was quashed by the courts one year or two ago?), which will drive wages down for everybody else and make everyone (directors and above, of course) quite happy. Because we know that to impoverish and weaken the workers is the path to a healthy economy.

      1. thoughtfullyprepping

        In 1990 the people went to the streets to protest the disgusting poll tax brought in by the Tories. 24 hours of people power and the politicians ran hiding behind Thatchers skirts and it all went away.

        What ever happened to that once proud nation?
        The one that clanked when it walked?

        Just when did that nation become totally subservient wet sheeple?

    2. paulrutherford8

      Its the people running multi-million pound companies who are avoiding paying UK tax that are the greatest drain on the economy imho.
      If signing on & claiming unemployment benefits you accept a meal from someone who you help by, say, walking their dog while you pass an hour or two, and don’t declare it, you are technically committing fraud.
      But if you avoid millions of tax… ?

  7. Debra Walker

    If stopping people working while claiming benefit then they should work on catching those who do this and punish the employers ,zero hrs contracts make claimants frightened to sign off and gives the employers free hand to abuse workers real rights.The whole scheme stinks and will achieve nothing but to cost the tax payer more money .

    1. Fabio P.Barbieri

      They hardly have the time to do what they do. They have been reduced in numbers for decades. Many of them are incompetent, because the low wages offered attract only the bottom of the market, and competent people leave as soon as they can. Many are first-generation immigrants, with only approximate ideas of the language, the country and the laws. Every stupidly complicated scheme proposed by generations of Tory and Labur state secretaries has broken down, in good part, thanks to their imbecilic hiring policies: you can;t start a gigantic,innovative computer scheme with users many of whom don’t use English at home.

  8. Fabio P.Barbieri

    Thank you for the stiletto-blade blow at IDS at the end. I hate the man so much it is almost a relief to be able to laugh at him, even maliciously.

  9. jray

    @Mike.being a bit of a Jobsworth I have been calling Insurance Companies enquiring if my (fictious)Placement Business, Employers Liability Insurance would cover workers that have to participate in compulsory labour,CWP..The answers were quite remarkable 1 stated that “In no way would we be able to afford that complicated amount of insurance” Three agents stated that current Employers or Public Liability would not cover this activity. One agent was surprised that he had not heard of this programme,I explained it to him,including that G4S was the main contract holder,his company actually provides some Insurance for G4S, He would not comment further,but was very concerned that their was no understanding within Companies/ Charities/Sub Contractors that the CWP workers would not be covered under their present Insurance,he compared it to a Motor Policy,you must be a named Driver or have your own Insurance to be covered,I asked if it would cost more than the £134 I was quoted over the net “It will be in the £10s of Thousands” Their are to many variables,will everybody be tested for Drugs and Alcohol? Will they be checked without warning? What type of work will they be doing? and so on. I will want to see a specific policy naming CWP conscripts as being covered and what work will be covered. Kill them with their own rules!

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