Those leaving the Work Programme can expect very little help and a great deal of bullying and intimidation
As the first of the unemployed begin to leave the government’s failed Work Programme, sceptical about returning to the tender clutches of Job Centre Plus, those who have been unemployed for years are now reporting that they are being bullied by Job Centre Plus staff who have been ordered to be “tough and uncompromising”.
The failure of the government’s Work Programme has become almost legendary. Despite monumental efforts to spin the policy as being successful, the fact still remains that less than 5% of those who have been on the Work Programme have ever found and kept a job.
TheOpinionSite.org suggests that no one should be surprised at this vindictive approach that is sadly typical of this Conservative led government which seems to delight in gaining political capital from victimising ex-offenders, those over 60, those on the sex offenders register (now over 50,000 people) and the disabled.
Indeed, the new Job Centre Plus policy – announced by minister Mark Hoban – is symbolic of a government that is only interested in helping the young, has no interest at all in those who have strayed from the extraordinarily narrow path laid down by the current and previous administrations and is determined to play to the middle classes in the vague and desperate hope that Conservative votes can be gained.
In a clearly politically motivated statement, Hoban said:
“The Work Programme is getting some of the hardest to help claimants into work despite a tough economic climate.
We always knew that there would be some who would require further support after the Work Programme, which is why we’re introducing this intensive and uncompromising regime.
We’ll be stepping up the pressure on claimants, who will be expected to attend the Jobcentre more frequently, with rigorous monitoring to ensure they are doing everything they can to find work.”
Claimants will be expected to undertake training (even if unnecessary), join unpaid schemes and do anything else that will make the government look good, regardless of whether it is beneficial to the long-term unemployed the government are supposed to be helping.
If claimants do not comply, they risk losing their benefits for up to 3 years; a ridiculous policy that is bound to drive some people to crime, particularly theft and burglary.
Weekly signings will become common and some people – possibly the majority – will have to visit the job centre every day; although this will produce no practical benefit to the unemployed person as each daily appointment lasts for only 10 minutes.
The government hopes that the moves will impress the voters and convince them that ministers are taking action against so called “scroungers”.
In short, those leaving the Work Programme can expect very little in the way of help and a great deal of bullying and intimidation instead.
TheOpinionSite.org contacted the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) in the hope that some light could be cast upon these extraordinary measures that are quite clearly political in nature and have nothing whatsoever to do with getting people back into work.
Regrettably, nothing sensible was forthcoming and we were referred back to Hoban’s statement with no explanation being given as to exactly how the new measures were supposed to assist people to find work.
The DWP instead spoke about “support”; the same word that is used by probation officers when they actually mean “restriction” or “control”.
However, on condition of remaining anonymous, one DWP source did tell us that the measures are in fact not so much designed to get people back into work as to make it so unpleasant for them on benefit that they will simply opt out of the benefit system altogether, even if that means turning to crime or some other way of making money in order to survive.
The source also told TheOpinionSite.org that the government was not even remotely interested in helping those over 60 to find work, principally because the likely tax take was irrelevant when compared with the amount of tax that a 24-year-old would pay over the course of their working life.
Although this may make perfectly good fiscal sense, it exposes the callous nature of the Conservative led government which David Cameron insists is a government for everyone.
Meanwhile, as usual the Liberal Democrats are intent on saying nothing.
Whilst the nasty and vindictive former (and failed) leader of the Conservative party, Iain Duncan Smith – now the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – continues his vendetta against the poor and the unemployed, Nick Clegg and his cohorts have more important things on their minds as they prepare for their summer holidays.
Conservative backbenchers, also looking forward to getting away to their holiday homes in Northern Cyprus, where they are exempt from tax, have likewise made it clear that they have no interest in the unemployed or the poor and would much sooner introduce policies which benefit their banker friends – especially those that are inclined to donate to the Conservative party.
Over the next few weeks, take a look at your local job centre and take note of the increasing number of people who, after two years of “intensive” activity on the Work Programme, are still unemployed; not because they don’t want to work and not because they are lazy but because they either have criminal records, disabilities or are simply too old for any employer to consider as a practical possibility.
When governments start writing off hundreds of thousands of people who, often because of punitive and politically driven policies cannot find work, all those who are employed should become increasingly worried.
The new Conservative party paradigm seems therefore to be a very simple one:
“If you are working, middle-class, under 40 years of age, have a mortgage and two children, then we like you. If on the other hand you are over 60, unemployed, single, have no children and live in social housing, we not only don’t want to know you but we actually wish you didn’t exist at all.”
Nothing illustrates more the demise of “compassionate Conservatism” than the new post-Work Programme regime which – as confirmed by the DWP source who was brave enough to speak to TheOpinionSite.org – is designed not to get people back into work, not to support them in any meaningful way or sense, not to help them rejoin the community and be a productive member of society but is instead designed to make life so unpleasant for them that they would rather turn to crime and the black economy than suffer the bullying, the threats and the sheer indignity that comes with being a person that the government has turned against purely in order to secure votes at the next general election.
We know that government ministers read TheOpinionSite.org regularly. We therefore implore them to think again about the Draconian regime that faces those who, after two years on the Work Programme and two years of doing their best, are still out of work.
If any government is prepared to drive people towards crime purely for the sake of political gain, that government does not deserve to be in power.
If that same government is prepared to openly hurt those who cannot defend themselves and to do so purely for political benefit, that government not only deserves not to be in power but should expect to be in opposition for very many years, particularly if that administration’s objective is solely to make the rich richer and the poor poorer – and more submissive.
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