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Tag Archives: Work Programme

Two Birds, One Blog – Journey into Politics

I am a bit perturbed by the attitude of or current government. It is true, the area i come from has been predominantly Labour for quite some time now and growing up my personal political views may have been coloured by growing up in a not majorly but non-the-less Labour family. However, growing up, i did the normal childish things and ignored the back and forth and posturing of PMQ’s, rolling my eyes whenever my great gran or gran would change the channel from cartoons to a room full of boisterous and yelling old men. Leave it up to the old people and go harass the cat, that was the routine.

A decade and a bit later, i have come to my political awakening. What once was the realm of the older generation has been passed onto me. It’s been a slow start to be fair. Primarily setting up this blog to document my time on the Work Programme to let others know about how these companies run and how they treat their “Customers”, but in light of the events over the past couple of weeks, in relation to the Welfare Reform Bill, NHS Reform Bill and indeed, the Work Programme, it has become apparent that my little blog about how the WP is run is clearly a tiny part of a much bigger machine.

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Failure to Notify Voluntary Sector Associate of Client’s Criminal Past

I tweeted last night about how i was contacted by someone i know works in the Voluntary Sector and whose charity has been subcontracted by a Work Programme prime. She was in a one to one meeting with a Customer. This Customer, when asked if he had any criminal convictions admitted that he had been convicted of rape and had told the Prime of that fact.

Naturally the advisor couldn’t raise an issue there and then, however, no where on the Customer’s case notes, both on paper and on the Primes’ computer database did it say that Customer had a criminal history and if it had not been for the Customer’s honesty, no one in the charity office (mostly women incidentally) or any of the vulnerable clients who visit the office (the charity does more than Work Programme activities) would be aware of this fact.

After the meeting, the advisor raised issue with the Prime’s local manager and even they seem to be surprised at this lapse of communication. He did however tell her that a full investigation will be launched and assured her that her staff and the charity’s clients safety were top priority.

This particular charity works with some of society’s most vulnerable people, taking a wide range of clients, from the elderly and long term disabled to younger people with no where to go and who need help. If it had not been for this Customer’s honesty, i would dread to think about what could have happened.

I will post more as the investigation continues.

For now, i feel it isn’t necessary to name the Prime involved till their investigation is complete.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Work Programme

 

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So I’m a Job Snob?

I am angered and upset.

According to the Employment Minister, Chris Greyling, I am a “Job Snob”, defined as a person who is able to work, but is particular in which vacancies and jobs interest them. I.E. Selective. Well, forgive me for having an idea about which career I want to excel in. This doesn’t mean I’ve been passing up opportunities for other types of work. My daily job search ranges from Cleaner vacancies to Web Design (even though I can do it, I have no qualifications to go with it). With this broad range of search, time and time again I come up with the same barriers which stop me from actually applying to some posts, the top three being:

1) MUST HAVE OWN CAR AND FULL UK DRIVING LICENSE NO POINTS. I don’t know how to drive.
2) ENHANCED CRB REQUIRED. Now this one is strange, because in my experience, CRB costs are usually met by the employer. However more and more jobs which require CRB are asking for the payment to be met by applicant. I can’t afford it.
3) Not enough hours compared to the cost of transport to get to work making my potential wage suffer OR the location of the job is within my 90 mins travel to work area, but would mean having to get three buses or two buses and a train, which would mean I’d spend a hefty amount of my potential wage on transport costs and would be no better off.

Luckily, however, my town is pretty much central to three other major towns in my area and the city which is only one bus ride away.

To get to the main point of why I’m writing this.

Chris Greyling has branded anyone against the Mandatory Work Activity, Workfare and Work Programme a job snob. He is confident in the fact that he has many high street retailers working with him on providing work placements for thousands of unemployed people, yet large national companies and charities are beginning to leave the scheme, what’s now a trickle could become a flood. Tesco have asked for clarification that the schemes are actually voluntary in response to vast public pressure to get the company to leave the Workfare scheme.
Critics of his schemes have compared them to “Slave Labour” , an accusation Greyling has vehemently denied, maintaining his stance that the work placements will help thousands of people back into work and is aiming to increase such placements to 100,000 by the end of the year, whilst failing to realise that a DWP Report into other schemes like the ones under way in the UK are more likely to REDUCE the likelihood of gaining employment.

I am not against the idea of Work Experience for young people. Any teenager or school leaver who willingly approaches an employer and asks for work experience should be given that opportunity. I am not against the idea of Volunteering. People who want to better themselves by Volunteering for local and national causes should be hailed as honourable and valuable members of their communities. However I am against the idea of people working for their benefits. Being paid what the need to live on for doing the same job as an employee of a company for less than minimum wage. Every story, anecdote and newspaper article I read of peoples experiences on Workfare bring images of Victorian-esque poverty, family’s forced to live in one room of a house because they had the “luxury” of a spare room and were made to move. Disabled people being hidden away for their own safety and dignity due to high media propaganda that paints these people, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our society, as benefits scroungers, someone on the train the other morning actually said “If you can move your arms, you should be able to work”. That is ultimately the way we are headed and it won’t be the romanticized, abridged, HD ready Dickensian poverty we see on TV.

Finally, I ask, what is the government doing to actually create jobs in the UK? All I have seen for the past six month’s is an attack on people claiming benefits and the NHS, I haven’t once seen anything to actually create a job in local or national press. At the same time, I wonder that if companies like Tesco, Argos, Matalan and Burger King can find space for Workfare “Customers”, then why not offer these people a job instead of throwing them back into the system at the end of their placement? Or are you reaping the benefits of a conveyor belt of unpaid staff?

I dunno. Confusing.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Unemployed Life, Welfare Reform, Work Programme

 

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First “Appointment” Reccolections 2

I’ve had time to think about other things that left me feeling confused after my first “Appointment”. I have to admit, the Data Consent Forms were pretty much all i focused on that day and i have only just now remembered the rest of the induction. See my post, Wondering… where i ask an important question about networks of security and what provisions are in place to safeguard the Mentally and Physically Disabled on the Work Programme.

So, back to the induction.

For the first part to this tale of adventure, please see Double Agent:A…lmost.

The fourth red flag for me was the lack of a tour, which was promised at the start of the meeting. Not only would it show us where the toilets and water machines were, but it would also give us a clear idea of where the fire exits were, not just by waving your hand and saying “They’re over there” at the start of the meeting. This is also a breach of Health & Safety Regulations, now i think about it. I should have pulled her up on it.

This leads me onto the discussion of workshops and opportunities available to us whilst on the Work Programme. Sat in the middle of the table was one lonely, dog-eared, coffee stained catalogue of workshops. “Feel free to browse as i talk” She said. “Sure” we all said. It didn’t move at all. I can see the benefit of taking part in a workshop aimed at quitting smoking. I can also see the benefit of having workshops revolving around budgeting and penny-pinching. However, attending a workshop to battle alcohol and substance abuse borders on the dangerous edge for me. Luckily, the advisor said straight after “We sign-post the serious cases onto relevant organisations if the constraint is too serious for us to handle”. Sure mate, Alcoholism and Substance abuse is this area’s biggest problem, i cannot see a group of employment advisors successfully getting a hardcore alcoholic off the drink or a heroin addict off their “Constraint” as you put it in a couple of weeks to make him job ready. Thankfully, after looking into it, they mean it when they say they “sign-post” clients to get proper help if the problem is too big to handle.

We were advised, that since the number of referrals to the WP has increased so dramatically over the past few weeks, we would only have this advisor for the first four weeks for assessment. Then we’ll be shipped off to another advisor in the office after the four weeks were up.

During this explanation, i watched a workshop in the room next to me, i have no clue what it was about, however those moreish Lindt truffles were being handed out as rewards. The snide little voice in the back of my head whispered, “You see, it has it’s perks, welcome back to Middle School”.

A

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Unemployed Life, Work Programme

 

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Very good information RE Work Experience, Manditory Work Activity and the Work Programme.

Ipswich Unemployed Action.

A new blow for the Government with its Work Programme, Community Action Programme, Mandatory Work Activity and Work Experience schemes as it has been suggested that the jobseekers being placed on mandatory placements through statutory legislation are in effect Crown employees.

Regardless of being assigned to the premises of an company (we prefer not to say employer in such context) or the street:-

  • there is no employment contract expressly written, verbal or implied between the worker and the company;
  • no payment in cash or in kind from said company;
  • jobseekers on the employment programme schemes are statistically employed; and
  • such appointment is exercised through statutory instrument (of an Act of Parliament)

Thus these workfare workers are employees of the Crown, an employee of the State and a public sector worker (regardless if you are operating in a private sector environment) – this is what workfare is all about, working for…

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Wondering…

I have been thinking something over since my group “Appointment”. I didn’t include it in my original blog about it, because i didn’t know how to tackle this kind of issue, as i’ve never had to tackle something like this before.

My view in creating this blog was primarily to focus on the Work Programme and how effective it is, however i’m beginning to notice that the WP is just a smaller wheel in a much bigger network of cogs (hence the gravitar lol).

Whilst waiting for my “Appointment” to begin, i noticed a young gentleman sitting next to an older woman. Nothing strange there. It wasn’t until this gentleman’s was called into the “Appointment” that i realised this woman was in fact the gentleman’s mother and his carer. As his name was called, he glanced at his mother, who uttered under her breath “I’m not allowed in, love, i’ll be right here, go on, you’ll be fine.”, the look of worry on his face was plain to everyone, but she smiled encouragingly at him and said he’d be fine once again.

We all got through the 10 minute “Appointment” without fault and left the building (something else that annoy’s me, we were meant to tour the office to find out where the facilities and fire exits were, we didn’t).

The reason why i am thinking a lot over this is because i know that in the past, people on programmes such as New Deal were assessed and given help based on their level of “Job Readiness” and so forth, with this, a culture of “Parking and Creaming” grew up, in which the “Customers” who were further away from being job ready were parked and not much assistance given and the “Customers” who were closer to be getting job ready were creamed for a faster result and pay-off. Apparently that won’t happen under this system as the providers are paid for a successful end result, i for one can see thousands being parked. Having worked with unemployed people being moved onto JSA from DLA, i’m wondering if there are any effective procedures in place to make sure that these people (many with hidden mental illness) are looked after and given the appropriate care whilst on the WP or if they should even be on the WP at all.

I’m wondering and i’m worried. If there are no provisions and networks of support in place for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, how far behind will they be before the Providers and the Government realise they’re lost?

Sorry if this makes no sense, as i say i’m constantly thinking about this and my minds all frazzled about it.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Welfare Reform, Work Programme

 

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Questions, Questions…

Since it’s still another two weeks till my actual one to one appointment with my advisor, I thought I’d fill my time in by producing a questionnaire asking WP “Customers” old and new what their experiences have been like on the WP. I am also doing this as views about the WP and their providers are varied and wide-spread around a number of sites, providing a questionnaire will bring many of these views in one place and allow us to see where the main flaws are currently in the way the WP is provided.

VERY IMPORTANT: The questionnaire is of course, completely optional, you DO NOT have to give your name, location or the name of the provider you are currently with or any other information in regards to the benefits that you receive.

Sorry, couldn’t resist adding an obvious “This is optional” disclaimer, though i mean what i say, you don’t have to give any information akin to that mentioned about, just your experiences on the WP.

Now, as a newbie in the “Customer” area, I only know of a couple of questions to ask so far. So I ask you, what type of question would you like to see on the questionnaire?

Send me a tweet @WorkEthic89 or email me, contact@alexworkblog.info, alternatively, reply to this post with the type of questions you’d like to see and answer.

Thanks

A

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Work Programme

 

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