Cameron and Osborne want the unemployed to work for £1.78 an hour

Alex Hern reports on David Cameron and George Osborne’s savage undermining of the minimum wage.

Under a government scheme set to begin in 2013, the long-term unemployed will be required to do at least six months of community work or lose their benefits.

The Guardian reports:

Cameron said anyone unable to find sustainable employment will be required to undertake at least 26 weeks community work lasting 30 hours a week in order to secure continued receipt of Job Seekers Allowance.

The scheme will be piloted in four areas before it is planned to go nationwide at broadly the same time as the introduction of the universal credit in 2013. The former Labour work and pensions secretary James Purnell had proposed something similar in 2008, but it did not become law.

Ministers have alighted on 30 hours since they say this will be enough to familiarise the unemployed with the world of work.

Under the current rate of Job Seekers Allowance, this means unemployed people will be paid as little as £1.78 for an hours work, less than 30 per cent of the minimum wage.

The coalition’s new work programme already compels the unemployed to do unpaid work to keep their benefits:

From June job centre advisers can instruct claimants to undertake work placement activity. Participants are expected to spend up to 30 hours a week, for four weeks, on their work activity placement and will be required to continue to look for work.

A list of businesses receiving free labour under the work boost scheme was made available under the FoI act, and includes such upstanding community organisations as Sainsbury’s and Asda.

This is the first time such work has been explicit government policy, however, and the first time claimants have been required to work for such a length of time for no pay. It’s introduction follows the same line of reasoning that so many Conservative MPs have voiced in recent months: that over-strong worker protections are the reason for unemployment.

Louise Mensch claimed:

“The left think they’re helping working people by providing more rights, but all that actually happens is you create poverty and despair, because jobs go to your competitors who have fewer rights for workers.”

Osborne stated that:

“We also respect the right of the unemployed to get a job and not be priced out of the labour market”

Philip Davies argued that for disabled people:

“…the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.”

Now Cameron is arguing that the best way to get people employed is to force them to work for a third of the minimum wage. Does he not remember the lessons of the NMW’s introduction in 1998?

As the BBC reported two years later:

The Tories have even been forced to abandon their opposition to the wage because it has not had the expected negative effects and they do not want to enter an election arguing against it.

Having won an election supporting it, the Conservatives now seem to want to undermine fair pay at every opportunity.

UPDATE: Sainsbury’s has been in touch to say that although its Golders Green store is on the list of participating employers given by the DWP, it has no knowledge of the branch being part of the scheme. We retain the link to the list for the benefit of readers, but urge caution.  

See also:

Why won’t the government walk the walk when it comes to unpaid internships?Gus Baker, November 8th 2011

Tories leave rural workers stuck in the mudHuw Irranca-Davies MP, November 3rd 2011

Back the Apple: We must fight for farm workers’ wagesMary Creagh MP, October 25th 2011

Tory MP: Disabled should work for less than minimum wageShamik Das, June 17th 2011

Right’s dodgy youth unemployment attack on minimum wageDominic Browne, April 13th 2011

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93 Responses to “Cameron and Osborne want the unemployed to work for £1.78 an hour”

  1. Claire

    The Tory solution to joblessness: Let's pay people £1.78 an hour out of taxpayer's pockets: http://t.co/3aUutdJU #pmqs

  2. Chris Tully

    The Tory solution to joblessness: Let's pay people £1.78 an hour out of taxpayer's pockets: http://t.co/3aUutdJU #pmqs

  3. BerthaBerserker

    The Tory solution to joblessness: Let's pay people £1.78 an hour out of taxpayer's pockets: http://t.co/3aUutdJU #pmqs

  4. HHLimbo

    The Tory solution to joblessness: Let's pay people £1.78 an hour out of taxpayer's pockets: http://t.co/3aUutdJU #pmqs

  5. 2012: The year ahead for young people | Left Foot Forward

    […] rights act. Her solicitors argue that the element of coercion involved renders this programme, and others like it, […]

  6. "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) | Left Foot Forward

    […] new work program” without addressing the fact that this is the same work program that forces people to work for just £1.78 an […]

  7. Spark+Mettle

    The Work Program is the government policy to make the unemployed work for as little as £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  8. Shan Kelly

    The Work Program is the government policy to make the unemployed work for as little as £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  9. Richard Brooks

    The Work Program is the government policy to make the unemployed work for as little as £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  10. keith ferguson

    Cameron and Osborne want the unemployed to work for £1.78 an hour | Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/TVQp7Cru

  11. Juli C

    The Work Program is the government policy to make the unemployed work for as little as £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  12. Shan Kelly

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron and Osborne want the unemployed to work for £1.78 an hour http://t.co/mDEdUiwh

  13. Larry Southpaw

    The Work Program is the government policy to make the unemployed work for as little as £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  14. Richard Brooks

    Really wish Cam would stop boasting about his work program. It will make people work for as little as £1.78 an hour. http://t.co/nNAnHnJq

  15. seuss

    The Work Program is the government policy to make the unemployed work for as little as £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  16. Izzy Green

    The Work Program is the government policy to make the unemployed work for as little as £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  17. BevR

    The Work Program is the government policy to make the unemployed work for as little as £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  18. Kyron Hodgetts

    Hopefully the work contract will be better than the work programme: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 We don't hold out hope. #pmqs

  19. Lizzy

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  20. Atos Victims

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  21. Duncan Hall

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  22. neilrfoster

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  23. Glen Sakkadas-Hunter

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  24. Eugene Grant

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron and Osborne want the unemployed to work for £1.78 an hour http://t.co/8nRxWWYN

  25. Simon P. Hughes

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron and Osborne want the unemployed to work for £1.78 an hour http://t.co/8nRxWWYN

  26. BoycottWorkfare

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  27. Nick H.

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  28. seuss

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  29. Wendy Norton

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  30. mellonicoley

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  31. Ξ۞Ξ۞Ξ۞Ξ۞Ξ۞Ξ۞

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  32. Denis donovan

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  33. IRejectFPTP

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  34. Samantha Johnston

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  35. Legal Aware

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  36. Steven2011

    So would I, Christineredmond. Expecting people to work for effectively nothing is morally wrong and impractical. It is also very stupid in the sense of persuading those small numbers of unemployed people who are lazy that work is better for them and for the rest of society.

  37. The 12 practical problems of localising public sector pay | Left Foot Forward

    […] Cameron and Osborne want the unemployed to work for £1.78 an hour – Alex Hern, November 10th […]

  38. Naveed Akhtar

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  39. Brnch Sec Ruth H

    And now Cameron defends the Work Programme, the programme that forces poor people to work for £1.78 an hour: http://t.co/vzLi2Cb6 #PMQs

  40. the last internationalist

    Rid the immigrants? Wtf? Think you might be looking for “goose step forward”, it’s a different site for the less mentally gifted.

  41. European Socialists present their action plan on youth unemployment | Left Foot Forward

    […] replacement for the new deal, the coalition’s work programme, has not received the same […]

  42. Sweeney Todd

    Ironic as if youære unemployed currently they wonæt let you volunteer for over 16 hours a week even if you drop it immedietly to get a job. Funny how people suddenly get labelled as lazy scumbags by some as soon as they’re made redundant.

  43. The information you need to end workfare | Left Foot Forward

    […] first reported on this scandal in November, and awareness has grown since then, with anger hitting a tipping point last week. Since then, the […]

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