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Published on February 23rd, 2012 | by Chris McQuiggin
Image © [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="565" caption="© payorivero"][/caption] Us vs. them. The normal hardworking citizen against the self-pitying, legion of scroungers. The squeezed middle subsidising the feckless layabout. The rhetoric from the Coalition has been clear. The right-wing media have taken up the clarion call. In a tough few weeks for the Government on the issues of banker’s bonuses, and Sir Fred Goodwin’s knighthood, we now see a re-emergence of the spectre of unemployment In a time when social media has the power to shape the news of the day, the prominent left-wing figures on twitter have grasped onto a new cause: the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) controversial Workfare scheme. It began with an accidental link on the official jobcentre website advertising an unpaid, 30-hour, 8-week placement working night shifts at Tesco. The outrage was immediate. The mob acted quickly. Britain’s largest private sector employer has buckled on the government’s flagship ‘back to work’ scheme. After days of unrelenting social media pressure and negative publicity, Tesco have requested that the DWP withdraw the threat of lost benefits from the Workfare program.  More beneficiaries of the scheme, such as Maplin and Matalan are set to follow suit. The twitter-fuelled outrage has raised an important debate on the morals of billion pound corporations using the youth unemployment crisis to gain access to free labour, but in this entire furore, has the bigger picture been missed? According to the Office for National Statistics, the current number of people out of work is over 2.5 million with almost a third of them being out of work for over a year.  In light of this, we must accept that in this scheme, there are clearly positives. Getting people of benefits has become a priority for this government. Legitimately and non-legitimately, more people are claiming benefits than ever before and this clearly isn’t sustainable. Already clashing with disability rights groups over the Welfare cuts, the Government has the mentality that it’s spoiling for a fight, and certainly Iain Duncan Smith, Nick Clegg and Chris Grayling’s recent comments give that impression. It’s clear that the left-wing twitterati are willing to give it them, although Ed Milibands silence has been deafening considering his recent eagerness to comment on whatever the current flavour of the month is. The sooner the Labour leader is able to articulate a clear outline on his parties strategy to fight rising youth unemployment the better. Let’s be frank though. Workfare isn’t slavery, and those using the tag should think clearly and carefully before chucking around the term. In some cases, it has proven to be a useful way for people to gain quick experience and get used to the work environment if they either have limited experience or are lacking confidence from a lengthy period of inactivity. However, it’s obvious that a radical and drastic overhaul is needed, with emphasis on getting young people into stable, paid employment, but in its current form Workfare is not fit for purpose. It is too easily exploited by the big businesses that are able to rotate desperate jobseekers in and out of the 8-week programs with little more than a promise of an interview. In some cases, part-time employees have reported that their hours have been cut, with managers eager to make the most of the free labour. The negatives of this scheme are clear to see and a vast rethink is needed by the DWP to ensure that the whirlwind of bad press and lost support doesn’t result in an expensive and costly full retreat. To use a tired old cliché, Workfare isn’t working.

1

“Workfare isn’t Working”

© payorivero

Us vs. them. The normal hardworking citizen against the self-pitying, legion of scroungers. The squeezed middle subsidising the feckless layabout. The rhetoric from the Coalition has been clear. The right-wing media have taken up the clarion call. In a tough few weeks for the Government on the issues of banker’s bonuses, and Sir Fred Goodwin’s knighthood, we now see a re-emergence of the spectre of unemployment

In a time when social media has the power to shape the news of the day, the prominent left-wing figures on twitter have grasped onto a new cause: the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) controversial Workfare scheme. It began with an accidental link on the official jobcentre website advertising an unpaid, 30-hour, 8-week placement working night shifts at Tesco. The outrage was immediate. The mob acted quickly. Britain’s largest private sector employer has buckled on the government’s flagship ‘back to work’ scheme. After days of unrelenting social media pressure and negative publicity, Tesco have requested that the DWP withdraw the threat of lost benefits from the Workfare program.  More beneficiaries of the scheme, such as Maplin and Matalan are set to follow suit.

The twitter-fuelled outrage has raised an important debate on the morals of billion pound corporations using the youth unemployment crisis to gain access to free labour, but in this entire furore, has the bigger picture been missed?

According to the Office for National Statistics, the current number of people out of work is over 2.5 million with almost a third of them being out of work for over a year.  In light of this, we must accept that in this scheme, there are clearly positives. Getting people of benefits has become a priority for this government. Legitimately and non-legitimately, more people are claiming benefits than ever before and this clearly isn’t sustainable. Already clashing with disability rights groups over the Welfare cuts, the Government has the mentality that it’s spoiling for a fight, and certainly Iain Duncan Smith, Nick Clegg and Chris Grayling’s recent comments give that impression. It’s clear that the left-wing twitterati are willing to give it them, although Ed Milibands silence has been deafening considering his recent eagerness to comment on whatever the current flavour of the month is. The sooner the Labour leader is able to articulate a clear outline on his parties strategy to fight rising youth unemployment the better.

Let’s be frank though. Workfare isn’t slavery, and those using the tag should think clearly and carefully before chucking around the term. In some cases, it has proven to be a useful way for people to gain quick experience and get used to the work environment if they either have limited experience or are lacking confidence from a lengthy period of inactivity.

However, it’s obvious that a radical and drastic overhaul is needed, with emphasis on getting young people into stable, paid employment, but in its current form Workfare is not fit for purpose. It is too easily exploited by the big businesses that are able to rotate desperate jobseekers in and out of the 8-week programs with little more than a promise of an interview. In some cases, part-time employees have reported that their hours have been cut, with managers eager to make the most of the free labour. The negatives of this scheme are clear to see and a vast rethink is needed by the DWP to ensure that the whirlwind of bad press and lost support doesn’t result in an expensive and costly full retreat. To use a tired old cliché, Workfare isn’t working.

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  • liberaleh

    you oik.

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