Sunday, 29 July 2012

Conservative Think Tank Fueling Attack on Benefit System

The following quotes are taken from Policy Exchange reports on Welfare Reform published throughout 2011.

Policy Exchange is a Conservative think tank that “has established itself not only as the largest, but also the most influential think tank on the right”. It has also been described as David Cameron’s “favourite think tank”. It's been run over the years, and still is, by a cadre of right-wing shitbags who've made full use of the revolving doors of power: the current chairman of Policy Exchange is Danny Finkelstein, who is also Executive Editor of The Times.

This will be a smack in the teeth if you’re a claimant, but essential reading to understand the ideology, rhetoric and method of attack the Government is employing as it continues to dismantle/restructure the benefit system as part of a global reimposition of work. Many of the think-tank’s recommendations have, or are, being implemented by the Government, particularly those centred on back-to-work Welfare reform.

One of the most disturbing proposals by Policy Exchange is this:

“…Work Programme providers should be allowed to put in place schemes and measures that act as a deterrent to claiming.”

And of particular concern is the introduction of data profiling; the complete outsourcing of employment support to the private sector; cross-benefit sanctions; electronic sign-in at jobcentres; and electronic tracking of jobseeking activity.

I urge claimants/anti-workfare campaigners/jobcentre staff (who will face massive redundancies), who are not aware of these reports, to read these quotes and then take a look at the ridiculous evidence Policy Exchange includes in support of its recommendations to Government.

No Rights Without Responsibility: Rebalancing the welfare state
Friday, 20 May 2011

“Evidence suggests that the requirement to move onto these [Workfare] schemes has been effective in increasing exits from benefits.”

“The ambition should be that job search becomes more like the typical 35 hour week of those in full time employment.”

“Those claimants who do not qualify for contribution-based JSA should be required to search for any work from day one of their claim.”

“Sanctions need to become a stronger tool for influencing the behaviour of those who fail to fulfil activity conditions. Instead of impacting on only one part of one benefit, they should be more closely related to total benefit eligibility.”

“…stronger conditionality for those without a [National Insurance] contribution record and higher benefit levels for those who have contributed.”

“…fast-tracking claimants to the Work Programme." 

Personalised Welfare: Rethinking employment support and Jobcentres
Friday, 16 September 2011

“We propose that more information (such as entire claimant history, qualifications and sanction history) should be made available to advisers to determine the most appropriate interventions. Advisers should also be given access to other information the government may hold on a claimant –through the NHS, the police and the justice system, for example.”

“…we propose developing a Jobseeker Classification Instrument (JSCI) … it can include things like family circumstances, language skills, ethnicity, living arrangements, country of origin, transport, workplace support needs, geographic location (especially remoteness from centres of employment), recent work experience, homelessness, criminal record and qualifications.”

“…we believe that the JSCI would be greatly improved by the use of profiling data.”

“…we believe that it would be prudent to divert people from the system in the first place. This could be done by increasing work search requirements before benefits can be claimed.”

“…we propose that, in the long-term, responsibility for employment support is transferred completely to the private and voluntary sector.”

“…all income-related, active job search claimants should be required to write a CV at the initial point of the application process and a national CV database should be created.”

“For a large portion of claimants we suggest using electronic sign-ins at Jobcentres on a fortnightly basis (with code numbers through Jobpoint stations, for example), perhaps at changing times for claimants without childcare responsibilities.”

“…claimants would have a permanent record.”

“…personal targets [for Jobcentre Plus advisers] linked to job sustainability should be used as the key basis for performance reviews and remuneration – rather like recruitment agencies or Work Programme providers in the private sector.” 

Something for Nothing: Reinstating conditionality for jobseekers
Monday, 17 October 2011

“We propose removing the [3 day] waiting period and replacing it with a Required Search requirement that stipulates that claimants have to actively seek work for two weeks to be eligible for benefit.”

…reviewing the types of activities that count as ‘jobsearch activities’ and requiring more of them to take place in order for a claimant to be eligible for benefit.”

“…Work Programme providers should be allowed to put in place schemes and measures that act as a deterrent to claiming.”

“Claimants who leave the Work Programme will, under current plans, recycle back on the main Universal Credit conditionality regime. We propose that a full-time workfare scheme is introduced for claimants in this position who have also been assessed as having attitudinal problems.”

“We recommend the introduction of a points based system. Under this system, claimants would need to build up a certain number of points a week”.

“A new system should be introduced that is capable of tracking and monitoring claimants’ jobseeking activity and flagging those individuals who appeared not to be undertaking sufficient activities to meet their points target.”

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A4e Fraud-Shop Picket & Communications Blockade

Today, claimants & anarchists targeted workfare racketeers A4e at their Liverpool fraud shop, conveniently housed in the same building as scumbags Avanta, Working Links and the JHP Group. The picket stood its ground, handing out hundreds of JSA & Liverpool Claimant Network leaflets to claimants and passers-by as part of a continuing series of actions —not just against high-street profiteers of workfare, but also the State-funded implementers of the failing Work Programme— that ties in with the Boycott Workfare National Week of Action.

As A4e staff piled-out every 15 minutes for a smoke, some of them were throwing daggers towards the picket; in particular one A4e adviser who had the gall to shout at the picket, “I work with kids with learning disabilities”, as if this would somehow instantaneously dissolve the reason the picket was there, whilst simultaneously justifying A4e’s exploitation of claimants on the Work Programme. Solidarity is of key importance in the fight against workfare, but there are some staff who seem beyond worker-claimant solidarity. With that said, binary opposites will not help build solidarity over top-down divisions, and we must work to foster working class unity, whether employed or unemployed; waged or unwaged.

As with previous pickets, the owner of the building eventually appeared and started making stuff up to get us to move on: this time it was smoking in the vicinity of the entrance; last time, he announced that he “owned” the pavement and we were trespassing. The building owner and his tactical machinations are way beyond the reach of working class solidarity.

The picket of A4e Liverpool was once more accompanied by a national communications blockade, which was still gathering pace by late afternoon. The comm-bloc involved people phoning, faxing & emailing their workfare grievances to A4e Liverpool and A4e head office. This form of action is particularly effective in disrupting the exploitative flow of A4e’s operations, and at the time of writing this, A4e’s was ‘unavailable’, further disrupting the operations of a company who’s motto is, gut-wrenchingly, “improving people’s lives.”

There is now a growing catalogue of grievances against A4e being accumulated through connecting with claimants outside Jobcentres & work provider premises. By picketing, we are encouraging claimants to share stories about their experiences, and time and again they revolve around the fact that the Work Programme is exploitative and isn’t helping claimants find jobs. We must keep up these actions to reveal the on-the-ground accounts of bullying & coercion that A4e flippantly sweep under the carpet along with a growing public recognition that these companies are acting fraudulently, despite what A4e spin says.

This all contributes to a message being sent to A4e and implementers of the Work Programme: 

If you exploit us, we will shut you down!

The next A4e Liverpool Communications Blockade is on Friday 13th July:

Monday, 9 July 2012

Combat Workfare - A4e Liverpool Communications Blockade - National Call Out

So far, action against workfare has focused on the high street providers. These high profile actions will continue as the campaign goes on. But we also need to be hitting the implementers of workfare & the work programme, such as A4e.

A4e is the best example of everything that is wrong with workfare, workfare providers, and the culture of greed that drives the workfare industry. Investigations for fraud were launched in February 2012, and not for the first time.

On Tuesday 10th July, we are asking everyone to make their voice heard. Whether you are in Liverpool or not, call A4e and complain about their involvement in the work programme.

The aim is to shut down their phone lines as much as possible on this day in order to cause them disruption. They may not listen to individual complaints, but they will take notice when they can't do their day-to-day activities for the sheer volume of calls coming in!

Tel: 0151 243 3670
Fax: 0151 236 1991

A4e head office fax number: 0114 275 4632

A4e Chief Executive Officer:
General A4e e-mail:

Send free faxes via:
Send secure email via:

If you use Twitter, also feel free to make your complaints to these accounts:

@LouiseSDuncan Development Director - active
@JoelAWms Wales Development Director for A4e – m-active
@JustineZwerling A4e's international department - secure
@AniaMendrek Operations manager - active
@A4eJoBlundell Group Development Director for A4e - inactive
@Masonic53 A4e Director of Disability Strategy m-active
@AllanAllison Business Developer for A4e - inactive
@ByrneJen Strategic Director - Justice at A4e - inactive
@robharvey Research Manager at A4e active
@JontOC – Director of Strategy & Policy at A4e – v active/will respond

Visit the A4e Liverpool Communications Blockade Facebook event for more details:

Visit Boycott Workfare for more details on the National Week of Action Against Workfare:

Friday, 6 July 2012

Holland & Barrett Exit Workfare

"At Holland & Barrett, we take our responsibilities as a retailer and employer very seriously, and any possible compromise to the safety of our staff and customers from opponents of our work experience scheme is treated with great importance.
This factor, together with the planned introduction of a new full time, salaried apprentice scheme, means that the 60 people currently undertaking the work experience scheme will be the last to complete the eight week placement. After this time Holland & Barrett will not participate further in that scheme."

"Compromise to the safety of our staff"? A Parthian shot to cover the fact that H&B were using unpaid workers.

Well done to everyone who applied pressure to these scoundrels. Direct action works!