Government ‘trying to stigmatise job seekers’, says trade union

Labour and Unite have slammed the government's new mandatory Community Work Placement scheme, reports Rob Edwards.

Labour and Unite have slammed the government’s new mandatory Community Work Placement scheme, reports Rob Edwards

The government’s latest measures aimed at the long-term unemployed came into effect today, drawing the ire of trade unions and opposition ministers.

The new mandatory Community Work Placements, known as Help to Work Schemes, require that jobseeker’s allowance claimants do six months work placement or risk losing their benefits.

But far from tackling the appalling level of long-term youth unemployment, currently standing at 80 per cent, the programme has been slammed for being akin to ‘slave labour’ and for ill equipping jobseekers in basic literacy, numeracy and computer skills.

“Under David Cameron’s government nearly one in ten people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance lack basic literacy skills and many more are unable to do simple maths or send an email,” said shadow minister for employment Stephen Timms MP.

“Yet this government allows jobseekers to spend up to three years claiming benefits before they get literacy and numeracy training,” he added.

Labour by contrast say they would introduce a Basic Skills Test to assess all new claimants for Job Seeker’s Allowance within six weeks of claiming benefits.

Those who don’t have the skills they need for a job will have to take up training alongside their job search or lose their benefits.

“Labour’s Basic Skills Test and our Compulsory Jobs Guarantee will give the unemployed a better chance of finding a job and will help us to earn our way out of the cost-of-living crisis,” said Timms.

While falling way short of making full-employment an aim of a future Labour government, the party’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee aims to assure every young person out of work for more than 12 months a paid starter job, or face losing their benefits.

The Compulsory Jobs Guarantee will also apply to adults aged 25 or over who are out of work for two years or more.

Many trade union leaders would characterise Labour’s alternatives as a half-baked solution – many steps short of real job creation, and still wielding the threat of benefits withdrawal.

Criticising the coalition’s proposals, however, Unite the union’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner said it was “outrageous” that the government was “trying to stigmatise job seekers by making them work for nothing”. “Otherwise they will have their benefits docked,” he added.

“What the long queues of Britain’s unemployed need are proper jobs with decent pay and a strong system of apprenticeships for young people to offer them a sustainable employment future.”

3 Responses to “Government ‘trying to stigmatise job seekers’, says trade union”

  1. Sparkyboy

    What is stopping anyone who can’t read and write properly, or do maths, or use IT from getting up off their unemployed backside and taking one of the many free courses for adults that are around?

  2. jray

    In most cases the JSA claimant is not allowed to do courses,as they will not be considered looking for work and face sanctions,bloody silly!

  3. Luke Blakey

    “getting up off their unemployed backside ”
    They may only do this at the initiative and permission of the jobcentre. This can only be with the preferred (cheapest/crap) provider and provide only level 1/0 qualifications, so numeracy, lv1 food hygene,etc. I’ve they believe you, and you allow them to think they come up with the idea, they may fund you to do a level 2. Maybe.This does not necessarily mean that you could get a course with your local authority adult education college. There always a cheapo crap provider which they prefer and where you will only mix/ be in classes with other jobseekers (some of whom yes will be disruptive). The staff will also be crap.
    They might make a special exception for you and fund you for a Level 2 & 3 intensive course ie Accountancy, and when I say that I expect its for only accountancy. As long as this is for less than 9 months. You still need to make all other requirements, answer and read their letters and waste half a day a week going to see a bloke who will either tap one button to tell the computer to pay you or do something else equally as low value added task that takes twenty mins and adds to the queue.
    There is a conception that jobs are advertised at jobcentres, that advisors read case notes, that advisors receive training to do so, that advisors actually remember you are coming (these are ‘appointments’ with a ‘professional’ remember) and actually prep before, that advisors ask sufficient questions to work out if you dropped out of school at 13 with nothing or took the equivalent of 6 a-levels at six form. In 9/10 cases that’s just not the case. and that is a 9/10 chance every two weeks.
    Got a degree? HA HA HA HA HA. Your better travel back to your uni and talk to them. The jobcentre is not the place to be if you have in anyway tried to get ahead. and if you did manage something, don’t worry, the JCP will make sure they take it away from you.
    Of course giving funding, permission, space and time for one of these ‘free courses’ does not mean they won’t screw up every over two week period, loose things, move advisor on, forget you exist etc. Funding does not mean they actually allow you the time off to do the course. That’s entirely different. It is a week by week decision open to three grades of different advisors/staff and the chances are you’ll have one week with a new advisor that knows nothing about your case and they have the same power/authority to screw you. In the course of a proper qualification how many duff advisors will you get? Each of whom have the power to start a 6/12/24 month stop which takes at least six weeks to contest/ overturn/ get a non apology for and takes even more time in the building doing paperwork.

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