Urban Futures – make workfare a thing of the past
October 8, 2014
We all know Community Work Placements aren’t about helping people find work. Instead, forced unpaid work and supervised job search treat the unemployed like criminals. Six months of workfare is more than twice the maximum community service sentence!
CWP forces claimants to work for 34 hours a week – most of the time doing pointless and menial tasks. And all for £72 a week – that’s about £2 an hour. CWP is forced labour.
Placements with no relationship to our experience or what we want, bullying and mistreatment, and pointless and menial placements – all under threat of benefit sanctions – are totally wrong.
But together we can fight them. Know your rights, name and shame placement hosts and get involved to help end all workfare!
Urban Futures: breaking the rules?
Urban Futures is making money out of making people’s lives a misery. CWP shouldn’t exist in the first place, but are Urban Futures even following the rules?
DWP guidelines state that:
- Placements must be of clear and demonstrable benefit to the community.
- Placements must give work experience and develop skills.
- Support for claimants should include appropriate help and workplace training.
- Work placements must be supervised with tasks similar to those in a normal working environment.
- No more than 25% of the placements they arrange should be in charity shops.
- Provider must establish claimants’ current job goals.
- Placements must not displace existing jobs.
- Claimants must start placement within 20 working days of Jobcentre Plus (JCP) referral.
In addition, many people who have been referred by job centres to Urban Futures have complained of bullying and initimidatory behaviour there. Members of Haringey Solidarity Group, who have been leafleting weekly at their head office, have also witnessed similar behaviour, as staff try to stop claimants from talking to us. And this week, we heard that one local job centre has suspended referrals to Urban Futures while complaints are investigated.
Know your rights
The government doesn’t publish info for claimants on our rights, but the DWP contract document is well worth a glance to find out the guidelines they’re meant to follow. It says:
- Claimants must be given adequate opportunity to make representations or object to a mandated activity, eg placement. Representations must be properly considered, recorded and reasons given if the claimant must undertake the activity.
- Restrictions on type of work claimant is seeking must be taken into account, eg religious issues, health conditions.
- Acceptable absences include job interviews, medical appointments and domestic emergencies and counts towards the 30-hour week (a claimant told us that she was asked to make up the time after time off for a hospital appointment).
- Placements should be appropriate to claimant’s desired employment sector and occupation type.
- Attendance and participation restrictions agreed with JCP must be honoured.
- Placements must be within 90 minutes travel time of claimant’s home.
- Part-time work and education count towards 30-hour week placement.
- The time span of a claimant’s CWP scheme is 30 calendar weeks.
We’re taking on workfare and having an impact
Since CWP launched, we’ve used public pressure to get placement hosts to pull out – just last week Traid cancelled its placements in Wood Green!
A week after George Osborne attempted to promote CWP with a visit to placement host Byteback IT, we convinced them to pull out too.
The government is worried that workfare schemes like CWP will “collapse” if the public finds out which organisations are willing to profit from forced unpaid work.
Do your bit to make it happen: name and shame the organisations taking CWP placements at boycottworkfare.org
Get support and get involved
Haringey Solidarity Group We’re taking action against workfare in Haringey. Give us a call or come to a meeting to share your stories about Urban Futures and get involved.
Boycott Workfare We expose and take action against organisations profiting from workfare and actively inform people of their rights.
Tags: debt / welfare benefits