Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics

Izzy Koksal debunks Chris Grayling’s defence of workfare - or rather, his attacks on the critics of workfare.

 

By Izzy Koksal

Over the weekend, employment minister Chris Grayling attempted to defend his government’s workfare program; but he did so with smears, falsehoods and distractions. Nearly every point he makes can, and should, be rebutted.

He attempts to hide the widespread public outrage that there is about workfare by suggesting that it is ‘misguided left-wing commentators, newspapers, broadcasters, trade unions and lawyers’ who are the ones who are driving the campaign against workfare.

In fact, last week it was concerned citizens who used their Twitter and Facebook accounts to bombard Tesco with calls to end their involvement in government workfare schemes. Actions against workfare are being organised up and down the country for a national day of action on March 3rd.

Yet he is clearly too afraid to acknowledge that the campaign is supported and being driven by the public.

He goes on to claim that the groups he identifies as behind the outcry against workfare are harming the job prospects of the young unemployed.

I am one of the one million young unemployed people, and I have been involved in the campaign group Boycott Workfare – the idea that by challenging workfare I am harming my own and others job prospects is ludicrous.

By challenging workfare, we are saying that forcing people to work for no pay is simply wrong.

Not only is it wrong, but it may actually reduce young people’s job prospects – workfare placements reduce the amount of time that job seekers can search for a real paid job and forced labour is hardly a positive addition to one’s CV.

Workfare threatens those who are already in paid jobs as companies take on free labour from the Job Centre reducing the need for them to employ people or give overtime.

Grayling claims the work experience scheme is:

“An entirely voluntary scheme; no one is obliged to take part.”

However, the young person finds themselves quickly obliged/ forced to take part.

Once a young person has ‘expressed an interest’ in a work experience placement, they must complete the 8 week placement, with a one week grace period during which they can leave. After this first week, the job seeker’s attendance is then compulsory or else they face the threat of sanctions.

Furthermore, if a young job seeker refuses a work experience placement they may be considered for another of the government’s workfare schemes, ‘mandatory work activity’ in which the job seeker must work for up to 30 hours a week over a four week period or else face sanctions.

The coercion in this scheme is quite blatant – the DWP’s own documents make this quite clear, stating:

“Attendance will become mandatory.”

He goes on to emphasise:

“We won’t and don’t force anyone to take a work experience placement.”

However, under another government scheme, the work programme, private providers have the power to force young people to do workfare, this time for up to six months, or else face sanctions. In this instance then, the mandating of workfare to the job seeker is being outsourced to private companies at great cost to the tax payer.

Grayling then goes on to attack the Guardian and BBC as ‘work snobs’, highlighting the unpaid work experience that they offer. But here he confuses the issues at hand.

Yes, unpaid work experience placements or internships are an important issue that must be addressed as they prevent working class young people from entering the professions which now require you to have done an internship, but this is different from workfare, in which people are forced to work for their benefits.

The Guardian and the BBC have not signed up to the government’s workfare programmes and therefore are not complicit with taking on workers whom they know could face losing their benefits if they decided to withdraw from the placement. The Guardian and the BBC therefore do not employ forced unpaid labour, although their use of unpaid labour is still morally and ethically dubious.

Finally, Grayling is notably silent on another workfare issue highlighted last week; forcing disabled people onto workfare for an unlimited time period. Clearly, he cannot even come up with a botched argument to put to this indefensible act.

To be a little generous to him, Grayling does get one point right: He claims that if the government did happen to mandate people to work for a big company, they would not take the mandated labour. And this is increasingly the case: Waterstones, Sainsburys, TK Maxx, Maplin, and the 99p stores have all withdrawn from the government’s workfare schemes.

Grayling’s response to those concerned about workfare was not just a sickening read because of its patronising and smug tone, but because of the clear falsehoods that it contained. The real hypocrisy is a government who claims to be acting in the interests of young people, when in fact it is forcing them into unpaid work with the threat of destitution if they do not comply.

See also:

Tesco’s unpaid labour shows the flaw at the heart of workfareAlex Hern, February 16th 2012

Five reasons Clegg can’t stand on his social mobility recordAlex Hern, January 12th 2012

2012: The year ahead for young peopleAlex Hern, January 7th 2012

Why workfare won’t workStephen Evans, November 8th 2010

Alexander: Welfare reform is meaningless amidst jobless recoveryLiam R Thompson, November 5th 2010

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79 Responses to “Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics”

  1. Anonymous

    I am one of the one million young unemployed people, and I have been involved in the campaign group Boycott Workfare – the idea that by challenging workfare I am harming my own and others job prospects is ludicrous.

    ===========

    You are harming other people. There would be more jobs if taxes were lower. For example, taxes on employment such as NI.

    The government needs NI and more to pay your welfare.

    Free health care
    Benefits
    Housing
    All those people employed by the state on gold plated pensions. They are going to demand you pay those.
    And at the end, they deem you worthy of a little cash.

    However, you are right, they aren’t acting in your interest. Neither is Labour. Neither the Lib dems too.

  2. Pulp Ark

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of… http://t.co/TK6rosYB #Clean_Politics #Chris_Grayling #cruel_Tories #muslim #tcot #sioa

  3. Julian

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/chNI9WIJ #wrb #spartacusreport #democracy #liberty

  4. Katherine Bavage

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  5. Yrotitna

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics, writes Izzy Koksal: http://t.co/w07DOv2h

  6. spencer bungard

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  7. Thomas Hemingford

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/chNI9WIJ #wrb #spartacusreport #democracy #liberty

  8. mushroom77

    RT @leftfootfwd: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/tHISjacy

  9. Lynda Constable

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  10. Pucci D

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics, writes Izzy Koksal: http://t.co/w07DOv2h

  11. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/zrEgLBR3

  12. David Gilmour

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics, writes Izzy Koksal: http://t.co/w07DOv2h

  13. NO TO WELFARE REFORM

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/chNI9WIJ #wrb #spartacusreport #democracy #liberty

  14. Martin Steel

    And from this morning: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics: http://t.co/w07DOv2h #workfare

  15. martinb216

    And from this morning: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics: http://t.co/w07DOv2h #workfare

  16. TherealBoyner

    http://t.co/rCx9Ma4C Chris Grayling and despicable #workfare

  17. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/chNI9WIJ http://t.co/Lm7VeDKC

  18. Cllr Paul Bull

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  19. simon coxon

    And from this morning: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics: http://t.co/w07DOv2h #workfare

  20. Martin Steel

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics, writes Izzy Koksal: http://t.co/w07DOv2h

  21. mellonicoley

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  22. Rowland Paul Hill

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/chNI9WIJ #wrb #spartacusreport #democracy #liberty

  23. TruthBeckons

    BRITAIN: Grayling's "job snob" smear is nothing compared to IDS using "intellectual" as an insult.

    Chris… http://t.co/ujGjQwmw

  24. mark holleran

    RT @leftfootfwd: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/oQJIFW7Y

  25. Kyron Hodgetts

    And from this morning: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics: http://t.co/w07DOv2h #workfare

  26. Kyron Hodgetts

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  27. Stephen Budden

    RT @consentmeuk: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/NWX9jxcj #doNOTconsent

  28. Bill Kruse

    Blagger, if you want to get upset about something, Google for Mode 4 immigration. The government are introducing foreign workers, Indians, into the country through transnational companies to work here for minimum wage and without paying NI or income tax. There’ll be no employers’ NI to be paid either. No menial job will be safe. This will be a calamitous blow to the economy and it’s this government, all the while preaching the virtues of decency and hard work, planning to do it.

  29. Anarcho Penguin

    @boycottworkfare cool response on chris graylings lies! http://t.co/oBpIrEz6

  30. Anarcho Penguin

    cool response to Chris Graylings lies about #workfare http://t.co/oBpIrEz6

  31. Samantha Wright

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics, writes Izzy Koksal: http://t.co/w07DOv2h

  32. Grafter

    I hope the author realizes this went on under the previous government. Just because it was for organizations described as charities, or for community projects, didn’t make it any more enjoyable or useful for the claimants. Threats of sanctions were used to ensure compliance.

  33. keith davis

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  34. Rev. Paul Farnhill

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  35. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/M2JZeSVS

  36. Skipton & Ripon CLP

    RT @leftfootfwd: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/M2JZeSVS

  37. Homerthestonerable

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  38. malcolm

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  39. Adam

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of #workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/v5Euzb31 #doNOTconsent

  40. Patrick

    I wanted to take on an employee, a young person, and train them, but Labour’s employment legislation deterred me.

    If an employee is not performing adequately, it’s very difficult to fire them. They can go to an industrial tribunal, with a vexatious claim, with no merit, and keep me tied up in legalities for months, sometime years. There have been cases of small businesses being bankrupted by these cases, or fearing the costs so much that they end up having to settle out of court, just to save the business.

    So I decided not to employee anyone. And I’m not alone in that decision. This is a classic case of well-meaning Socialist intervention backfiring and ending up with completely the opposite outcome to what was intended. Socialism destroys jobs; it’s the enemy of small business and wealth creation.

    Let’s take another example, in leisure. I belong to a chess club. A young person wanted to join. But in order for him to come along and play a few games of chess, we would be required to appoint a ‘nominated child welfare officer’ under undergo CRB checks. The result? No-one wanted to do this. So we can’t have any junior members.

    That’s the effect of Socialism in the real world. It’s tries to micro manage lives and organizations with more and more laws because it’s convinced that it has a superior moral agenda, but the implementation is flawed and the motives misguided.

  41. Alextalbot116

    I have e-mailed a letter to Chris Grayling which you can view on my blog The Politics of Dancing.

    http://alextalbot.blogspot.com/2012/02/open-letter-to-chris-grayling-mp.html

  42. Lamb769

    Patrick your a wonderful advert for cheap employers looking to exploit others. The only reason you find it difficult to fire someone is you choose to not follow the law. Or possibly you are so bad at recruitment. An employer is lazy, slow, kack handed, what ever the problem. Issue a written warning, show them how you want the job done. No improvement, final written warning. They are still too thick to learn, then fine dismiss them no employment tribunal in the country would even think twice about entertaining the case.

    The worker steals, fights, abuses others instant dismissial, they may try to bring a case but once facts are put in front of a tribunal they will not go further. All these vexatiouse claims you talk about, show us the stats for how many make it to the tribunal, as opposed to how many actualy make it through to be heard. In short Patrick be a manager not an owner

  43. Patrick

    Do own a business?

  44. Anonymous

    A fine article, Izzy, that takes the odious liar Grayling to task.
    What really makes me sick is the ability, of him and his organ-grinder ‘Iama Drunken-Spliff’ together, to sound so sanctimonious and pious about what they are attempting, when it really is thinly veiled slavery.
    If the billions of pounds in equity held in banking was released and put out as spending-money instead of being comfortably nestled in CEO’s bonuses, and thus effectively held by the millionaire class, of which this loathsome pair belong, then monetary injections and investments could be made into society by creating businesses and thus jobs; real jobs, of which there is obviously a shortage. The day thatcher created a monetarist society was a very bad day for society. Maybe that’s why the old bag herself denied the existance of society.
    However, I’m most gratified to see that many companies previously hoodwinked by the slimy salesmen of the workforce scheme are pulling out, which must frustrate Grayling to say the least. But we must keep up the pressure against this vile scheme and the vile government behind it.

  45. Anonymous

    You may be looking at the worst aspect of socialism, how does that compare with the capitalist oligarchy, the Toffocracy we now endure? Do you not currently hear the sound of a ‘superior moral agenda’ , with its flaws and misguided motives? This workfare scam is proof positve of a superior moral agenda, one that is motivated solely by freemasonic greed.
    If we are going to have a society in which ‘we are all in, together’, I would rather it motivated by the greatest good for the greatest number.

  46. Isaac Zohar

    And from this morning: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics: http://t.co/w07DOv2h #workfare

  47. Kevin Richards

    Got it wrong again Chris RT @leftfootfwd: Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics http://t.co/AV0QWLOF

  48. Blarg1987

    I thoguht that loophole was being closed witht eh introduction of a minimum wage of over 30K a year for any citizen outside the EU comming here to work?

  49. Blarg1987

    I think the problem is that it is not socilism gone bad but the power of the media, with regards to CRB checks etc, every time we here about a child abuse story all the papers demand to know what the goverment is doing to stop it etc, classic example being on the Daily MAil, when the teachers went on strike a child died sitting under a tree, this was an unexpected act, yet parts of the media blamed the teachers yet on the flip side not saying how many children may have been saved from death or serious injury on a school run.

    I think employment tribunals are a good step, but it is of interest to note that 50% are in favour of the victim and the other 50% are either dropped or settled outside tribunal so it is ahrd to know in all fairness how many claims are actually vexatious.

    I think tribunals were brought in as an alternative to increasing trade unions, although this might be a better alternative as having a workers union can talk to managment and any problems or concerns both management and the unions have can be discussed especially people who put in false claims at work as unions require evidence and another person to varify.

  50. Dr Marc Bush

    Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics, writes Izzy Koksal: http://t.co/w07DOv2h

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