Workfare versus compulsory work: When is it right and wrong to mandate labour?

Richard Exell looks at the tricky issues dividing workfare (bad) from mandating paid work (good). Is there a line that can be drawn?


Cait Reilly is one of my heroes. Her challenge to “work experience” that gave her no alternative to working for a fortnight for just her Jobseeker’s Allowance has got the left in an uproar about workfare.

Workfare is wrong on four counts:

• It is unfair to unemployed people

• It is unfair to employees

• It doesn’t work

• It is based on a mistaken understanding of unemployment

Workfare is unfair to unemployed people because it makes them work in return for derisory wages. Working full-time in return for JSA of £67.50 a week (£53.45 if you’re under 25) can lead to pay rates under £2 an hour.

Even when an unemployed person is getting higher benefits (for children, partner, rent) it is very unlikely that the hourly rate will come near the minimum wage.

The benefit of that work accrues almost entirely to the employer – you don’t need to believe in the theory of surplus value to see this as exploitation.

Workfare doesn’t just exploit the participants. Where participants do economic work – work the employer would have needed to pay for otherwise – some people would have been recruited to do these tasks, or would have gained extra hours or overtime.

They lose out because now that work is being done free of charge. And all workers lose out because this competition undermines their pay and conditions. (This labour subsidy is also a threat to businesses competing with workfare employers – one day the business lobby is going to work out that workfare threatens the free market.)

Crucially, workfare is bad labour market policy. I often find that people whose instinct is to like the idea often have second thoughts when you point out that people doing a full week’s workfare don’t have time to look for jobs.

Four years ago the Department for Work and Pensions commissioned research into workfare in the USA, Canada and Australia, and found:

There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers.”

The government seems unable to give up the idea that there’s “plenty of work out there” and we need workfare to motivate unemployed people.

I’ve lost count of the number of times politicians (from all parties) have quoted from Beveridge’s report the line about his proposal being:

“…to make unemployment benefit after a certain period conditional upon attendance at a work or training centre.”

In my experience they never go on to quote his next sentence:

“But this proposal is impractical if it has to be applied to men by the million or the hundred thousand.”

When there are nearly six unemployed people chasing every job vacancy, it doesn’t matter how successful workfare is at motivating them, that is not the answer to unemployment.

So it’s great news that charities and businesses are getting cold feet about involvement in the government’s programmes. (See this article by my colleague Nicola Smith for a great exposition of the compulsory work elements of different schemes.) Is that it? Is it always wrong to make work compulsory? Is work experience always a bad idea?

I don’t think so.

For one thing, the benefit rules that require unemployed people to be available for work go right back to the Lloyd George benefit system and have always had widespread support from trades unionists and the Left more generally. The case law that availability is “not a passive condition”, that there’s an obligation to try to get work, has also been widely accepted.

For another, positive work experience can help people get jobs if it is well-designed. Paul Gregg, who advised the last government on conditionality, draws a distinction between two types of work experience programme.

On the one hand, there is the punitive approach exemplified by workfare, which he rejects.

But the other type is the “intermediate labour market” approach, which is aimed at long-term unemployed people and others with serious disadvantages, provide childcare and other necessary adjustments, include training and jobsearch support and ideally (crucially in my view) offer a wage rather than benefits.

He points out that the last government ran a number of smallish work experience programmes (like Work Trials and the Job Introduction Scheme) which had a good record of getting people into jobs.

The key point is that these programmes try to overcome the most crushing disadvantage unemployed people face in competing for jobs: their lack of recent relevant experience and the stereotypical or other inaccurate perceptions of many employers.

The future jobs fund – in my view, the best employment programme for a generation – embodied this approach. It was voluntary, it paid a wage rather than benefits and there were serious safeguards to stop it undermining the pay and conditions of other workers.

But would it have been unacceptable if it hadn’t been voluntary? Labour went into the last election with a promise to extend the FJF approach, but I doubt if it would have remained a voluntary programme and I think that would have been reasonable.

There’s a proviso here. At a time like this, with mass unemployment, the number of volunteers for a high quality programme like the future jobs fund is likely to exceed the number of places, but at a future point we might find ourselves in a position where there are spare places and long-term unemployed people who aren’t volunteering.

My personal view is that it would not be wrong in such circumstances to make this sort of work experience compulsory.

“Work or full maintenance.”

Harry Pollitt’s old demand – one of the key slogans of the 1930s National Unemployed Workers’ Movement – suggests this position. This demand – either jobs or benefit rates that will lift us out of poverty – represents a clear working class understanding of reciprocity; if the market fails to provide jobs then we have a right to adequate benefits.

But that works both ways. If we can achieve a programme that guarantees a job with a decent wage the same reciprocity says we should take it or lose the benefit. A job guarantee would be a huge advance; this is a responsibility we should demand.

See also:

The information you need to end workfare – Alex Hern, February 22nd 2012

Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics – Izzy Koksal, February 21st 2012

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

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

2012: The year ahead for young people – Alex Hern, January 7th 2012

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52 Responses to “Workfare versus compulsory work: When is it right and wrong to mandate labour?”

  1. Anonymous

    Form a union. The right to be idle.

    Look at your list as to why its wrong, you’ve omitted the people who pay the heavy price for people like Cait Reilly to live the life of her surname.

    Workfare is unfair to unemployed people because it makes them work in return for derisory wages.

    So get a job. Workfare shows you can work. There are jobs out there, but it probably is stacking shelves at Tescos. Tough if you want to take money off other people and be idle.

    After all when Poly Toynbee realises that workfare works, perhaps you should take note.

    It isn’t unfair. They are getting free housing, free health care, free schooling for their kids. Free money for food. What’s wrong with working for those benefits for a while?

    The case law that availability is “not a passive condition”, that there’s an obligation to try to get work, has also been widely accepted.

    You’re not accepting it. There is work, they have been offered it, and they don’t want to do it. Stacking shelves is work.

    their lack of recent relevant experience

    1. Failure of schooling
    2. Lack of workfare for the medium to long term unemployed.

  2. Guest

    I think the answer long term is a “right to work” system where society will guarantee work for those who want it. i.e. if you register the state will find say 20 hrs work at minimum wage or above and you get paid this whether or not there is the work. Probably on top of benefits as if not there would be no benefit to the work.

    This puts the responsibility for ensuring there is work onto society and incentives the creation of jobs through either a relationship with the private sector or better still through the states active participation in the economy. Creating a bigger and more productive economy.

  3. Pamela Heywood

    Workfare versus compulsory work: When is it right and wrong to mandate labour?

  4. RiverviewLaw

    Brilliant piece by @RichardExell explaining that workfare is bad policy but mandatory work experience can be justified:

  5. Nancy Farrell

    RT @leftfootfwd: Workfare versus compulsory work: When is it right and wrong to mandate labour?

  6. clarebelz

    No one here is disputing that people should work where there are jobs available ‘LordBlagger’, but the point is that there aren’t enough jobs. In a situation like that, people should not be penalized when they are doing everything possible to find work. That said, where people flatly refuse to engage in looking for work or attending proper training programmes, there is something to be said for an element of sanction being applied.

    As I was corrected on other sites however, even the feckless need food. It is worrying that people who have never been in trouble before are commenting on sites saying that they would rather come off benefits and start thieving than to be forced onto unfair work programmes. If that is how they are thinking, it makes you wonder what will happen on the many sink estates that contain problem families. There are a few people like this on our estate, but honestly, they are so damaged psychologically either through alcohol or drug addiction, that it is unlikely that they will ever be well enough to work or mentally capable of it. Places in rehab are very hard to come by, as I found out from one particular woman. I used to work side by side with her; she had her own car and house, and had always worked, but her marriage broke up and she fell into addiction. She is completely destroyed now mentally, especially after a subsequent relationship where she was seriously physically abused. The amount of money that would have to be spent on her now to rehabilitate her completely would be enormous, and it would take many many years. I don’t think the government would commit themselves to spending that sort of money on people; it’s easier to punish them.

    If the current legislation forces certain groups of the unemployed (and seriously disabled) into workfare (I wish IDS would stop lying like he did on the ‘Today’ programme on BBC Radio Four, about the mandatory nature of these programmes, which are NOT just for the young unemployed, and DO last for more than four weeks), they should pay the appropriate rate equivalent to JSA, which would mean people would work around 10 hours a week, leaving them plenty of opportunity to look for permanent work, and make the most of additional training courses that should be offered to them. If the schemes were administered like this, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that.

    Certain people who comment on various sites state that those on workfare also receive free housing and council tax on top of JSA. The fact is though that so do a large majority of working people, and in most areas JSA,HB, and CTB do not amount to working 40 hours at minimum wage. Therefore working for 10 hours in return for JSA is largely fair. And, it should not be an endless placement of stacking shelves either; the way that could affect the free market as stated in the article above, and evidence of working peoples’ hours being cut is very concerning. Even if this was not the case, whilst plenty of people work stacking shelves (nothing wrong with that), long term placements where individual is working for less than minimum wage, just isn’t ethical and it is soul destroying for them. Rather, the original ideas, whereby placements are community based, is a much better option, but not when people will be forced to work alongside ex offenders on ‘community payback’ schemes, which is what the Community Action Programme documentation states, as well as it being ‘open ended’. Also do participants get holidays during the rolling 26 week programme? The government documentation regarding that says nothing about people being allowed a break.

    The government need to rethink their whole approach of these schemes. Where applied fairly and appropriately, work experience that is tailored to a claimant so that they can do something they enjoy whilst being paid for it, gives them a sense of dignity and self worth. What is happening now however, is making people miserable.

  7. TracyFishwick

    Couldn't agree more with @RichardExell piece on #workfare vs. compulsory work: (inc. ref. to @InclusionCESI FJF eval)

  8. Liz Sewell

    Brilliant piece by @RichardExell explaining that workfare is bad policy but mandatory work experience can be justified:

  9. Dave

    Workfare jobs aren’t real jobs.

  10. Ben Singleton

    Brilliant article from Left Foot Forward on programmes for the unemployed. Let's develop a scheme that actually works!

  11. Redshift

    If every major company had a rolling programme on workfare that is reducing the number of jobs available because they are getting free labour to do tasks they would normally pay for.

    There are few jobs out there and ‘any experience’ isn’t necessarily going to help a lot of people. In my local area, a lot of the jobs going are care work which you need specific qualifications for, despite it paying badly. There are not necessarily even crap jobs to take up.

    I was unemployed for over a year despite having two degrees. Of course, I was a bit picky at first, but after a month or two I was very much willing to take anything. The problem is I actually did worse at getting the lower paid jobs. Perhaps employers thought I would leave because I was over-qualified. I had experience of bar work, of working in fast food places, etc – the typical low wage labour roles from taking part-time jobs whilst studying. I couldn’t even get them.

    The more qualified, better paid jobs I actually got interviews for almost every time, but they were infrequent. I continued applying for low paid jobs but I didn’t even get responses. The job centre increased my mandatory number of applications, which didn’t make much difference to the amount I was doing anyway – all it meant was I’d very occasionally when there were no new jobs up I’d have to put in an extra application to something that I was totally unsuitable for – like a wedding day organiser for example.

    The job centre after some time put me on a programme after 6 months because I was under 25 at the time. This was pointless. They tested my literacy and numeracy which will come as no surprise given my qualifications I got the top level on. After that, it was just enforced time wasting on a weekly basis for 13 weeks. This part was basically pointless unless
    a) you couldn’t read or write or had little-know mathematical ability (and as much as there were many people there who weren’t particularly well educated only a small minority was in this category – why did I need to do this?)
    b) you hadn’t done a proper CV before (a significant minbority of people but surely this can be easily assessed before you start the bloody thing!)

    That programme was pointless and a big waste of time but I guess inoffensive. It was run by a charity. No enforced labour – although you could choose to work for another charity (e.g. a charity shop) for a couple of weeks if you wanted for JSA + £15 a week.

    Now under Labour at that point if you were under 25 you might be lucky enough to go on the Future Jobs Fund. Get some proper experience and an actual wage! Even if only for 25 hours a week for 6 months. Excellent scheme!

    Oh no, not under the Tories. Instead I was put on the Work Programme. Inspire 2 Independence – Private Company, Flashy Name. The month I was enrolled, I heard nothing. At which point I got a letter saying I had an induction. The induction involved guess what? Another fucking literacy and numeracy test! Want to patronise me more you fuckers? Pointless again – but this time someone was making profit out of it – out of taxpayers money! They had also cocked up and double booked two sessions so we had double the amount of people in the room we should have. Pretty uncomfortable – and probably breaching health and safety….

    I rang several times after that because I was meant to be having a one-to-one. Two months later I finally had one, where the ‘advisor’ clearly only knew very basic things about getting a job (like how to do a CV, turn up properly dressed in interviews, etc).

    Another month passed and I finally got a job. Pretty good money and something that is suitable for my qualifications – it just took time because there is less jobs about.

    The question is – do you really want to pay parasites like this to NOT HELP ME get a job, when the money can be spent on job creation itself?! The really sad thing is that technically speaking I’ll be one of their figures of success because I was on the programme! But they did fuck all!!!

  12. Richard Exell

    My post – when is it right and wrong to mandate labour?

  13. Anonymous

    What’s not real about them?

    1. You work
    2. You get paid in return. Not a huge wage, but look at the perks. Thousands of pounds of perks. Free accommodation – not taxed. Free schooling for your children – not taxed. Free heath care – not taxed …

    ie. You work, you get paid.

    If they are highly skilled then there are people out there who will employ them. Employment has risen. We have lots of migrants finding work. There are lots of jobs there. Evidence abounds.

    Because there are people who can’t do the high-earning, highly-skilled jobs – but can do the semi-skilled and unskilled work.

    Only employable if they generate more savings or profits than they cost to employ.

    The real purpose of workfare in my view isn’t mentioned by you.

    Primarily it gets the longer termed unemployed into the habit of working. Getting up, turning up, on time, and putting some effort in. Given that we have large numbers of families where no one has worked, I think that is a major beneficial effect. Far better than turning up at some education into work program. There the main beneficiaries are those employed by the state on large wages, large pensions, to effect change or what ever the jargon is of the day.

    It would be better if those were all let go, and the money used to employ them redirected in one of two ways.

    1. Reducing the cost of employing people. NI

    2. Reducing the taxation on investment, which skews the risk reward ratio enabling more risky projects to be undertaken. If 50% of the profits disappear to the government who took no risk, and no effort, and then took the biggest “something for nothing” steal going.

  14. Fran Parry

    My post – when is it right and wrong to mandate labour?

  15. Newsbot9

    Start with the internationally understood definition of slavery. The government programs don’t cross the line, they bulldoze it.

  16. Newsbot9

    Of course you can’t possibly stand the thought of people not contributing to your stock portfolio, or the fact that wages values hasn’t fallen fast enough in comparison to capital to you.

    Workfare does not “show you can work”. It shows that the government can compel work.
    You’ll be stacking shelves at Tescos on it rather than Tescos hiring someone to stack shelves, after all.

    Thanks for arguing that Workfare is work, though.

  17. Newsbot9

    You get JSA. The legal minimum for *work* is the minimum wage. There should be no work which does NOT attract it, outside a narrowly-defined exception for the charity sector.

    It’s nothing to do with the longer-term unemployed, you’re put in these programs based on the opinion of JSA staff, and it’s often used to punish people who don’t suck up enough.

    And of course you want to dismantle everything poor people use. Yes, yes, as usual. Gotta open up those markets, never mind the inefficiencies or which countries are doing well, the share portfolio is more important.

    And keep pretending there are lots of jobs. Well, there are…in Germany. Brain Drain. Your hatred for this country is astonishing.

  18. Elliot Folan

    @MisterMonday I think you need to read this And actually talk to people on workfare (I have) don't just muse about it.

  19. Pa_wilson

    This scheme is voluntary. You do not need to go on it. If you want, you can sit at home all day, brain melting watching daytime TV, no hope, no prospects, no qualifications, no experience OR you can get out and meet people in a work situation, change your routine, find out what a job is really about, gain experience you can put on a CV and maybe even impress the company so much they might offer you a job. And you still have your benefits, you heve nothing to lose – you just need to stick out the course!

    There are many, many young people in this country who have left school who could benefit from this scheme. It is NOT designed for someone with TWO DEGREES! Someone with those quailfications should have the intelligence to form his own company. The companies who support this scheme do not necessarily have paid positions that they would advertise, particularly in this economic climate, and if they did, they would go to someone with far greater experience.

    The Welfare State needs to change. The only RIGHT you have in reality is the one to starve to death if you don’t earn enough to eat. Under Labour far too many people’s “earnings” became the charity wages paid by us, the suckers who work full time, and who are forced to contribute to support generations of workshy who expect to have the RIGHT to Sky TV, Broadband, Playstations, cigarettes and booze, all for the difficult task of turning up at the Job Centre once a week.

  20. Ed's Talking Balls

    ‘Cait Reilly is one of my heroes.’

    Bloody hell, you set the bar low!

  21. Blarg1987

    I think we have a problem now where there is high unemployment it is a employers market, where some groups may lobby goverment for schemes such as workfare.

    If buisnesses keep saying they take risks etc they should be emplying people and paying them a wage, the risks is training them and paying them the reward being another productive member of staff.

    I kno alot of companies say East europenas have a hard work ethic etc but lets be honest, if there was a country where the avergage wage was a million pounds a year, every lived in a 10 bedroom house and the average working week was 15 hours a week and they came here recruiting people for 30 hour weeks, could afford a 5 bedroom house and would be on half a million a year I am sure we would all jump at the chance and be willing to do unpaid over time etc.

    Bottom line is that the goverment should tell buisnesses to employ people at a fair wage, and also start creating demand in the economy through direction i.e. 25% of all public service vehoicles to be eco friendly by 2020, thereby rrwating a market in the UK car industry which could lead to exports and create jobs and growth.

    The idea of letting the markets create demand has been shown to be poor as no industry will invest in anything unless they know they can make a return.

  22. Pa_wilson

    “no industry will invest in anything unless they know they can make a return” … er, DUH, you ever studied Economics, or Business Studies, or Sociology, or Psychology or just Human Nature? Of course they won’t. And neither will you. Otherwise, just go out into the street, hand all your possessions to the first passerby and hie thyself off to a Monastery. If you want the government to dictate how business and society in general runs (what is a “fair wage” BTW?), go to North Korea. They do such a good job of it.

  23. Pa_wilson

    So what about those who do not want to work and do not register? They still get supported, do they? Where do these guaranteed well-paid jobs come from? For any produced item, there is a maximum cost for any given selling price and if it only takes one person to make it, you run at a loss if you employ two at the same wage. Oh, sorry, you are saying just register, and even if there is NO job, you get the extra pay? Will you deduct that from YOUR pay packet every Friday, please, cos I will not.

  24. Pa_wilson

    Sorry Redshift, I have little sympathy. Took me 10 years, with a BSc and MSc to finally land a full time job and I’ve now been rising through that industry for 20 years. I did anything to keep occupied, manual labour, farming, volunteer work until the right opportunity arose. You appear to expect someone to come along and GIVE you a £40,000 a year job, as you while away your time on course after course as a perpetual student. Get out there and DO something, even for nothing, and you might be amazed how your life can change.

  25. Pa_wilson

    Poor people. They live in places like Africa and starve to death on a daily basis. Not in brick houses with central heating, Sky tv, playstations and a daily supply of fags and booze. This scheme is to introduce unemployed youngsters (primarily) to work. They may never have experienced this strange device before. They are supported by the Welfare State, still get their benefits, but by experience find out what REAL workers do to EARN their way in life. This is not WORK, this is an opportunity to gain experience and skills in handling a work situation – their practical reward (or ‘wage’ if you like) is being able to put this on their CV. Newsbot9, you do not know how lucky you are. Go live in Somalia for a year with no job or income and see how you get on. I guarantee you will not come back. And it won’t be because you enjoy it so much.

  26. Chris Salter

    RT @leftfootfwd: Workfare versus compulsory work: When is it right and wrong to mandate labour? #ppnews #wrb

  27. Janet Graham

    RT @leftfootfwd: Workfare versus compulsory work: When is it right and wrong to mandate labour? #ppnews #wrb

  28. Blarg1987

    No Duh, if you read what I said carefully then you will know the state needs to create demand which would cause busnesses to invest but since we have a goverment that does not want to create demand we have buisneses that do not want to invest.

    All it takes is simple things such as the goverment saying to the house building industry start building houses now and make a litle bit of profit, not as much as during the boom times, or if they refuse to say the goverment will start itsown housing programme in 2 years with very little profit thus creating demand and forcing the developers to realise they either make litle profit now or no profit in the future.

    For the record after world war 2, Britains boom was started through state economic programmes also, you will find Economies like Germany and the North Europen states are weathering the financial crisis quite well through goverment demand, and investment.

    Goverment does need to lead and industry will follow as you have admitted above when you say industry will never invest unless they canmake a return :).

  29. Newsbot9

    You have no idea what it’s like to be poor. Your contempt for the people starving in this country is disgusting.

    This “scheme” is slave labour to benefit the pocket books of major companies. No more, no less. It’s work, and it’s replacing jobs.

  30. Newsbot9

    It’s “voluntary”. If you don’t agree, there are even worse, longer-term programs which you’ll be sent on. And no, it’s replacing time spent looking for jobs. Moreover, you have to pay out for the additional costs from the already extremely low benefits paid.

    People with two degrees WILL be sent on it. This is the reality – it’s a slave labour scheme, which has mandated numbers of replacements for workers. Not everyone or all degrees are suited to forming their own companies, and in this economy getting funding is near-impossible even for business graduates with good business plans.

    Of course you want people to starve. That’s entirely typical of the right. You don’t even know that JC+ visits are every two weeks, or the sort of poverty living on it causes. You’re a smug, evil 1%er.

    Typical slaver crap, in other words.

  31. The government’s got big plans for workfare – don’t expect them to back down easily | Left Foot Forward

    […] also: • Workfare versus compulsory work: When is it right and wrong to mandate labour? – Richard Exell, February 24th […]

  32. Redshift

    Ok, dipshit.

    I DID do volunteer work. I WAS actively looking for work. I didn’t mention it but I also had a job between my masters and my period of unemployment – it was a fixed term contract. Then again, I shouldn’t have to mention it since it wasn’t the point of my post (which was about how inappropriate the government’s policies are and how they are giving taxpayers money to crap private sector contractors).

    If I hadn’t have done volunteer work or actively looked for work I probably wouldn’t now have a job (which I stated in the article but you chose to ignore).

    I wasn’t a perpetual student – I did an undergraduate degree, followed by a masters in a related field. The same field I got a job in.

    I don’t expect a £40k job, I don’t know what left you that impression. I have a job of just over £20k and I’m pretty satisfied with that – for the time being at least.

    You seem to jump to some very fast conclusions based on your own bizarre prejudices of other people you don’t even know. I studied, worked, lost my job, was unemployed but tried very hard to find any work (as well as volunteering) and then found a decent job. I honestly don’t see why you are criticising that. I can only assume you’re an arsehole.

  33. Jodi Bailey

    RT @leftfootfwd: Workfare versus compulsory work: When is it right and wrong to mandate labour?

  34. Dave

    They’re not real because – as I said – they’re removing a job from the market without removing a jobseeker from the market.

    Was that bit over your head?

    “Given that we have large numbers of families where no one has worked”

    That’s a fallacy. There is a PERCEPTION that we have a large number of families where no-one has worked; one that simply is not backed up by any figures.

    in which I pertinently link back here:

    Our numbers of long-term unemployed simply haven’t changed in decades – it may be a problem to address, but let’s address it once our children have jobs; not before.

  35. BoycottWorkfare

    A fair days wage for a fair days work is all we ask: #PMQs

  36. NE CP Commission

    A fair days wage for a fair days work is all we ask: #PMQs

  37. Shamik Das

    A fair days wage for a fair days work is all we ask: #PMQs

  38. Nick H.

    A fair days wage for a fair days work is all we ask: #PMQs

  39. mellonicoley

    A fair days wage for a fair days work is all we ask: #PMQs

  40. Emma Nicholson

    A fair days wage for a fair days work is all we ask: #PMQs

  41. kate painter

    A fair days wage for a fair days work is all we ask: #PMQs

  42. Work experience is now voluntary, but the government still forces unpaid work | Left Foot Forward

    […] Workfare versus compulsory work: When is it right and wrong to mandate labour? – Richard Exell, February 24th […]

  43. Pa_wilson

    Funny thing is, pal, that is just what I think you are, and your remarks about ‘jumping to conclusions about people’ back at you with knobs on. You whinge and complain about schemes and people who are trying to help you, expecting others to look after you cos you have “rights”. You don’t. In this world you have to help yourself and not rely on anyone else. And if that means doing a bit of manual labour to get experience without being paid, you do it.

  44. Pa_wilson

    Sure people with 2 degrees will be able to volunteer for it – they will not be ‘sent’ on it since it is voluntary – but it is not really designed for them. What is your problem about having to do positive action in order to get off benefits? You are supposed to be actively trying to get a job. Well if you have not managed to hold down a working post of any kind for a couple of years, you are not trying and in my mind ALL your benefits should be removed and you can starve if you like. I don’t want you to starve, what you do with your life is up to you, I just don’t want to pay for your food (and TV and fags etc etc). I am not totally evil, I am kind to cats.

  45. Pa_wilson

    “Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation.”

    And just how do you think this applies? You are not being force to work. It is just that if you do not try to gain employment your free food, housing, clothing etc may be curtailed. You can leave at any point, you can refuse to work, you can demand compensation for work (you already get that for nothing anyway), but what we are talking about is the scheme where you are fed, clothed and housed and if you wish to better yourself you can volunteer to gain experience in a work environment. This is nowhere near slavery.

  46. Pa_wilson

    Sorry mate, I repeat, if you want to see ‘starving’, go to any Third World country of your choice without any money and experience the REAL world, not the cushioned, comfortable, safe, artificial society we have in Britain. I don’t have contempt for the poor, just contempt for the attitude that so many like you seem to have. These voluntary posts do not replace jobs necessarily, they are often extra positions which are available BECAUSE they incur no extra cost and would NOT have been advertised as jobs that you could apply for.

  47. Dallior

    What is that shill on labour uncut blog talking about?, get rid of him, my grandparents would be totally ashamed of that type of rhetoric coming from a so called left organisation, makes one wonder wether people of his kind would like to just pen push in the background no matter who has power, enforced and underskilled labour is wrong and counterproductive, I will never vote labour again if the party continue to be all things to all men.

  48. Dave

    These temporary positions must by definition replace jobs:

    If there’s no work for the ‘workfare’ people to do, then they won’t get any work experience – and the whole thing is UTTERLY pointless.

    If there is work for the workfare people to do, then that’s a job they’re doing. Unpaid. Which the employer could (and should) have been paying someone to do.

    In either case they’re still on the books as jobseekers, they’re still being paid their JSA, and the economy isn’t helped one jot by the scheme.

    (nor are the jobseekers – they’re exactly where they began; on the dole)

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