It seems this Scottish council was using jobseekers referred to its course by the Department for Work and Pensions as a source of easy cash.

The list of fines [Image: Yvonne Lamont].

The list of fines [Image: Yvonne Lamont].

People on the course found themselves between a rock and a hard place – either they paid the fines for ridiculous offences like having their hands in their pockets, or they would be thrown of the course, triggering an instant sanction from the DWP.

While the Department appears to have done the right thing in this case, one wonders whether the result would have been the same had the course been run by one of the many private provider companies that the DWP employs.

Their methods are more subtle – they aim to spend as little as possible on the service they provide, in order to keep more for themselves – but the end result for jobseekers is the same: No help.

A North Ayrshire Council scheme designed to help out people who are searching for work has been lambasted for fining people who attend it for as little as tutting or having their hands in their pockets.

And the Department of Work and Pensions has now suspended referrals to the STRIVE programme pending investigation into the workings of the fines system.

North Ayrshire Council have hit back at the claims and have backed their programme but one person who attended the course, who wishes to remain anonymous, has hit out at the fines system and explained what it is like.

“Today was day two of the course and we were informed of a “fine” system they have in place that is mandatory.

“Now most of these fines are really cheap for things like hands in pockets etc… but checking your phone or having it go off outside of break time is an INSTANT £5 fine and if you don’t pay it on the spot you get kicked off the course….and since the Job Centre sent me there, getting kicked off the course is an instant sanction.

“One person got fined when their phone went off but only had £3 and had to borrow the rest from other people on the course.”

Source: Jobseekers on a North Ayrshire Council run course face fines of up to £7.50 for a number of things (From Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald)

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