Council finance chief to investigate ‘workhouse’ scheme

Workhouse: A former bus depot in Blackburn which is set to become a workhouse for up to 10 inmates.
Workhouse: A former bus depot in Blackburn which is set to become a workhouse for up to 10 inmates.

The finance chief at Blackburn with Darwen Council is to consider more deeply the plan to turn a former bus depot into what could be a 21st-century workhouse, it seems, after a Vox Political commenter raised concerns.

Andy Kay said he did not disagree that, although a few people could be taken off the street by the scheme, it could be setting a precedent for the government to say anyone who claims housing, unemployment or sickness benefit must work in a workhouse or be homeless, in conversation with commenter Helen Pay.

“With what the government is doing already, this idea isn’t far-fetched,” she told This Blog.

“Andy didn’t know if the homeless people were going to be paid wages – but the minimum wage for a young person he looked up and is something crazy like £4. Would many people choose to sort recycling for £4 an hour?

“He also said about accomodation being paid for at housing benefit rates. So when I asked if these homeless people could then be paid the minimum wage and be topped up by the council paying housing benefit – which would be paid to the charity – to live on a recycling site, his attitude completely changed. He hadn’t considered this.”

She told us she had also found it useful, when Mr Kay said the bottom line was to help homeless people, to quote an idea she had submitted to the Royal British Legion: “To supply accommodation to homeless people that involved zero profit being made and was purely about helping people.”

She pointed out: “The ‘charity’ website of Recycling Lives even talks about these homeless people being farmed out to other companies and those companies paying the wages they would have paid – to Recycling Lives.”

Ms Pay added: “I also mentioned personal responsibility for future events – which he seemed to take on board.

“I said I hoped that if he investigated and found Recycling Lives was taking advantage of people that I would read in a newspaper article that Andy Kay had been a whistle blower and put a halt to this scheme.”

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15 Thoughts to “Council finance chief to investigate ‘workhouse’ scheme”

  1. Mike, as we know there is a drive from the Conservatives to mimic the Chinese model. It is important to note, however, that China is a big place and full of different Business models.

    That said the ones that fit with this scheme are those factories and production facilities in China that have on-site housing for employees. When you look at these sites they are enclosed and workers movements controlled. Suicide nets etc. are present and such facilities are very much workhouses of severe exploitation.

    Combined with sub human wages for the less able and often those with learning difficulties, the UK runs the risk of descending into a nightmare scenario.

  2. Neilth

    “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I’d suggest that this idea was that some practical help is needed but that the whole idea and its’ implications have not been fully thought through.

    The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again.

  3. Well done! I havn’t had time to check yet, but I think there was a problem with this charity and an unemployed person had a big dispute with them and went on strike.
    I could be wrong but something stirred after I read the original article.

  4. Teresa Parry

    Well done Helen. I’ve often thought the council do not do enough research before jumping into various ventures.

  5. AM-FM

    “Would many people choose to sort recycling for £4 an hour?”

    10s of 1000s are being forced to recycle for £0.00 all over the country Now, on MWA, CWP, Workfare, Work experience.
    Why would any “employer” pay £6.70 an hour when there’s an unlimited supply of free slave labour!?

  6. NMac

    Well done Mike. This was a very sinister project, bearing all the hallmarks of a return to the hated Workhouses. We have seen in the news during the last few years where several local government Tories have, in one form or other, bemoaned the demise of these appalling institutions. In my own home town the Workhouse didn’t finally close until just before the Second World War and I am sure there are Tories who would willingly bring them back, but they dare not say so publicly – …at least not yet.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Well done Helen, in fact.

  7. jeffrey davies

    well well well aktion t4 is still running now they have plans for the homeless sounds very familiar doesnt it jeff3

    1. Geoff Deakin

      Really Jeff3? To me it sounds very like a project to provide a safe place for the homeless. These schemes have been around for years and have made a huge difference to many homeless people.
      Had you any experience you’d realise you are talking utter sh***.

      1. Mike Sivier

        You undermine your point completely with the expletive at the end.
        As for the ‘workhouse’ project – let’s see what happens after the council has investigated this scheme, shall we?

  8. Noreen

    Five years is too long to (maybe) get rid of this party who are trying their very best to get Britain back to Victorian times when there was no NHS, no Welfare State and the poor/ill had no hope whatsoever of help apart from church charities if they were very lucky who had little to offer. The workhouse was where people went when there was no hope left and they knew that once there they would probably die there so would do what they could to avoid it. Surely we cannot wait until the next election to (maybe) oust this evil elite; thousands of people will have died by then due to cuts in benefits, social care, NHS and more (and maybe workhouses).

  9. This is rapidly becoming a dystopia. Brave new world and Logan’s run were supposed to be taken as a warning not a model

  10. bookmanwales

    Not sure if this is the same “charity” mentioned in article but they are more than just a small local charity
    http://www.recyclinglives.org/

    A major waste management company merely exploiting unemployed to provide free labour to their “corporate partners” ?

    1. Mike Sivier

      Yes, that’s the one.

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