Week of Action against Workfare

Over 3 days of events, hundreds of leaflets were handed out to people. Day 1 consisted of protestors outside Abilities in Poole (a provider of the govt’s Work Programme), then Poole Jobcentre, the High Street and later in the afternoon Prospects (another provider of the Work programme. On day 2 the protests moved to Bournemouth outside another Prospects office and then the Jobcentre. The 3rd and final (rainy) day was held outside The College in Poole due to their close association with Working Links a major national provider of the Work Programme which uses unpaid work placements. See also “anti workfare activists target Bournemouth and Poole College – Demotix” During the 3 days of action, a few songs were sung and hopefully a lot of awareness was raised with moments of humour especially a senior College official demanding “get of my land”!!!

A massive thank-you to all who helped and supported these events

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The action continues… via Boycott Workfare

Earlier this week Superdrug announced they would be pulling out of workfare schemes and the promise of demos taking place across the UK this Saturday must have helped! Unfortunately other high street chains are still profiting from unpaid work. What we are doing works! We are winning so let’s keep it up and let more businesses know workfare is wrong! Please contact the following companies today. If you’d like to use a standard letter, there’s one here. For more details about high street retailers using workfare – click here

Retailers like to claim these schemes are voluntary. One thing needs to be clear: the Work Experience scheme they refer to is not free of sanctions. It is workfare. Bullying and pressure from the Job Centre often coerces us into supposedly “voluntary” actions. We are rarely told that we have a right to choose whether to attend. Now that sanctions can escalate to three years, getting it wrong is not a risk many of us can afford to take.

Soon after the changes last year, the Guardian exposed that people who refused Work Experience were being sent on Mandatory Work Activity for standing up for their rights. Work Experience is only “voluntary” until you refuse.

Five things the government won’t tell you about Workfare via Left Foot Forward

1) Mandatory Work Activity doesn’t improve job outcomes but it does increase disability claims. According to a study published last June, it has no impact on employment and may even lead to those on the programme moving from Jobseekers’ Allowance to Employment and Support Allowance instead.

2) The Work Programme actively reduces the chances of people finding a job. Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showed that just 3.6 per cent of people on the work programme had found work on the work programme, below the contractual minimum of 5.5 per cent.

3) The Community Action Programme has no impact on how many people find work. Under this six month workfare placement, just 15-18 per cent of people found work – roughly the same percentage as those receiving standard JobCentre Plus support.

4) The rate of people on the Work Experience Scheme leaving benefits is the same as it is for people not on the scheme (see graph below). To quote the Center For Economic and Social Inclusion: “This [graph] appears to show that the youth work experience scheme has had no additional impact on the speed at which young people leave benefit, and may have actually led to them spending longer on benefit than they would have done. However, these figures require some caution – the stated intent of the Department has been to target work experience at those with the biggest barriers to work, who would likely have had rates below the average for all claimants.”
work programme graph

5) Workfare schemes haven’t helped people into work when the schemes have been tried in other countries. As the DWP noted in 2008: “There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers.”

end unpaid single stick no border temp

UK second last among G7 countries in ‘global race’ for export growth

Reproduced with kind permission of TUC – Trades Union Congress

The UK has experienced the second slowest export growth of all G7 countries since 2010, with only Japan faring worse, the TUC said on Monday 18th February as it published its submission to the 2013 Budget.

With the Chancellor identifying an economic ‘global race’ as the defining challenge of the government, the TUC report shows how George Osborne’s own strategy is causing the UK to fall behind its competitors.

Recent figures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) show that over the last two years export growth in the UK has been slower than five of its G7 competitors – the US, Germany, France, Italy and Canada. Only Japan, whose economy is still reeling from the 2010 tsunami and earthquake, is doing worse than Britain when it comes to exports.

The Chancellor cannot blame Europe for the UK’s economic woes as the three biggest Eurozone countries are all performing better on exports, says the TUC.

In terms of economic growth since 2012, the UK is ranked just 158th of the 184 countries monitored by the IMF.

Instead, the TUC believes that a combination of self-defeating austerity and a complete absence of a strategy to grow the economy are dragging the UK down.

The TUC Budget submission calls for an immediate stimulus to boost demand. This should include stopping damaging welfare cuts that are reducing people’s living standards – particularly those of low-income families – and reversing cuts in capital spending that have badly affected the construction and housing sectors.

But as well as an immediate stimulus, the TUC submission calls for the government to deliver a proper growth strategy, along with stronger tools to deliver it.

The Chancellor should start by introducing many of the measures championed by Lord Heseltine in his recent report ‘No Stone Unturned’, says the TUC. This should include an active industrial policy, led by a National Growth Council that would also include business and union representation.

The submission also says that the government needs to address another key blockage in the UK economy – a lack of lending to firms outside of finance and real estate. To address this problem the Chancellor should set up a publicly-owned business bank that targets growing industries, such as green technology and high-value manufacturing.

In order to work properly, a new business bank should have sufficient capital says the TUC, and suggests £40bn initially over four years. It should also have the ability to raise funds on capital markets.

The Budget submission also calls for more action to tackle growing pay inequality which, if left unaddressed, could result in most workers receiving no benefit from future economic growth.

The submission proposes tackling soar-away directors’ pay by forcing companies to disclose pay ratios between the lowest, median and best paid company staff, as well as introducing employee representation onto remuneration committees.

The Chancellor can also raise revenues by simplifying the tax system through the closure of tax loopholes, says the TUC. This should include aligning capital gains tax with the top rate of tax and strengthening the proposed General Anti-Avoidance Proposal.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The UK is currently gripped by two big crises – falling living standards and economic stagnation. For all the Chancellor’s talk of the UK paying its way in the world, his own strategy is dragging the economy down.

‘On growth, exports and investment the UK is falling behind its competitors in Europe and across the globe. In order to address this, the Chancellor must announce a change of direction next month.

‘He can start by taking up Lord Heseltine’s proposal for a new growth council and prioritising new infrastructure projects. It is far better to invest in improving our transport and energy networks than to pay for the costs of economic failure that high unemployment and falling wages bring.

‘But the Chancellor also needs to do more to help families suffering through the UK’s living standards crisis. With real wages falling since 2009, the government has heaped on the pressure by raising VAT, cutting welfare support and freezing pay for public servants.

‘Giving low-paid families a few hundred pounds in a tax break is no good if they are also losing thousands more in tax credits and when wages are failing to rise as the economy stagnates. Instead we need to see a reversal of benefit cuts and policies that can secure better wages, including measures to tackle soar-away pay at the top.’

TUC