The government is pumping £3billion worth of contracts into the hands of private companies, even though their own research found that there ‘is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. In fact it actually reduces employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience’. * Companies getting this money are:
A4E (presently under investigation for falsely claiming funds for getting people into work, when they did nothing of the sort)
ATOS (dealing with people on ESA or disability benefits)
G4S (formerly Group 4) infamously awarded the contract for promising to send a ‘field operative’ within two hours if claimants are non cooperative, and responsible for providing security in prisons. [They also let everyone down badly at the Olympics!]
Ingeus: Owned by fat cat city financiers Deloitte. They have promised six month forced work placements as part of their Work Programme regime.
SERCO, who run prisons here and in the USA and have been caught out using unpaid staff to replace their own staff.
And REED IN PARTNERSHIP, reported previously in Nerve, for riding rough shod over artists and musicians and forcing them into compulsory job clubs and low paid work.
These companies when not delivering the work program themselves have a whole raft of smaller employment agencies. All are generally paid on outputs. In some cases to the tune of £4,000 for every person they get ‘into work’ or off benefits. Or as much as £13,000 for every sick or disabled person they get ‘into work’.
What people struggling to get by on benefits need, is genuine support that looks at their skills, respects them as individuals offers them genuine training or jobs, not this mass funded scam that punishes people for the economic crisis, whilst offering free labour to huge private corporations.
*A comparative review of workfare programmes in the United States, Canada and Australia carried out by Richard Crisp and Del Roy Fletcher published in 2008.
Dan is a business adviser, who works independently and has delivered business advice to clients on the work programme. ‘I had three people sent to me over the past two months, who had recently had heart attacks and were now being pressurised to come off benefits, two were going back on the cabs, which they believed were the causes of their heart attacks (i.e. working over 80 hours a week, just to make enough money to pay the bills). Another guy was going back to carpet fitting, despite him having serious problems with his knees, which forced him out of work in the first place. These work programme agencies are sending people to us, believing we will play the game. The vast majority of people sent don’t have viable ideas, nor the skills or finance to get a business going, in fact they would fall flat on their face straight away if they set up a business. But the agencies don’t care about this, we’re getting pressure to get these people off benefits and set them up in business, when in reality they need some genuine support rather than getting them all stressed up. Luckily we have support from our organisation and we refuse to play the game.
Rachel had three A levels and worked for five years in the benefit agency, she resigned because of stress, and after a stint on the sick, she volunteered to come off and told the job centre ‘I would take any paid job, even cleaning or working in a café, just something that doesn’t take up much of my brain’. They put her on the work programme, where she is forced to attend group and 1-2-1 sessions. Rachel says, ‘the work programme really broken my confidence. I felt like it didn’t matter who I was or what I’d done or wanted to do, or what qualifications I had. I wasn’t treated as a person. They are now threatening to stop my benefits, unless I work for free in Poundland. Rachel said she was really depressed and was thinking of just stopping her claim and disappearing.
Jane had a masters degree, she had been applying for jobs but was still sent to A4E. ‘I told my adviser, what I wanted to do, I had been applying for jobs, and didn’t need help,’ but they still forced her to attend A4E offices. ‘They put me in a room with loads of other people and we weren’t treated as individuals, with our own skills, our own histories, they didn’t seem interested. I had never felt so humiliated. I had more qualifications and skills than my PA (personal adviser). I felt sorry for the other people there, no one wanted to be there, it was humiliating. I went home that first night and cried, I felt they treated me like I was no-one.’
MH — with anonymous liverpool.