By soiniciulacht on
Those of us who have followed the ‘debate’ on Welfare reform have been shocked at the scale of lying, stereotyping, abuse and misuse of statistics and the bare faced chutzpah of DWP.
The latest in example in the series comes from The Daily Telegraph:
The mandatory work activity scheme, which forces people on the dole to do community work, is to be doubled
The scheme offers a month’s full time work to unemployed people who in the view of Job Centre staff are not “pulling their weight”. Whitehall sources described the scheme as “a kick up the backside” or a “big push for people who are struggling”.
Mr Grayling refused to be drawn on the details of the announcement.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “We will be giving more details about our plans next month. But it is the case that Job Centre Plus staff have said this has proved to be an enormously valuable tool in trying to focus people on their job search.”
Job Centre staff decide who goes on the scheme. They say it has proved popular – in the past year 18,000 unemployed adults have gone onto the scheme.
Next month Mr Grayling will say that the scheme, which for those on the dole who are aged over 24, is going to double in size.
Mr Grayling is also understood to be looking at forcing people who miss two fortnightly job interviews to go on the scheme.
Detailed statistics of the scheme, which was started last year by Mr Grayling as part of a “carrot and stick” approach to benefits, will be published next month.
They are likely to show that half of the people referred for a month’s activity were coming off benefits, or were not turning up and having their benefits as a result.
Ministers like the scheme because it stops benefit claimants from working on the black market at the same. One source said: “They can’t do both.”
At first sight this may, to many, seem reasonable, indeed some of it is. I have no problem with those who miss fortnightly benefits signings being subject to action, based as it is on objective criteria. The scheme, however, has drawbacks which have been pointed out before, and which the DWP answered in their normal manner ie arrogantly.
Report by the Social Security Advisory Committee under Section 174(1) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 and statement by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in accordance with Section 174(2) of that Act
15. The Committee, along with some respondents, set out a concern regarding the intention of the scheme, likening it to a punishment, rather than a supportive employment programme.
16. The Government does not accept this position.
64. The Committee had concerns regarding what they saw as the discretion of advisers to impose sanctions.
73. we are aware that there are certain disadvantaged groups that are disproportionately more likely to receive certain sanctions.
4.17 Evidence from the Department’s Equality Impact Assessment and DWP research shows that ethnic minority claimants and those with a learning difficulty tend to be disproportionately sanctioned for not actively seeking employment.
5.3 Most respondents are concerned by the level of discretion proposed for Advisers. Several respondents are very worried at the prospect of disabled people being referred to mandatory work activity without proper safeguards being put in place around unrealistic expectations of what they could do. Others point out the potential to adversely affect people with complex needs, including people who are homeless or disabled, and question whether Jobcentre Plus staff would have sufficient training and guidance to be able to deal with this type of client. Two further respondents note that the criteria for referral (including lack of timekeeping skills and/or lack of interpersonal skills) could include people with certain ‘invisible’ disabilities such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, autistic spectrum disorders, and mental health problems such as bipolar disorder.
The committee came up with only 1 key recommendation: