Friday, 5 October 2012


The fight back against workfare continues on Oct 20th when tens of thousands are expected to march on London against austerity. As people march for a future that works, Boycott Workfare will be taking action for a future without forced unpaid labour.

The growing resistance against exploitative government work schemes is rattling the arrogance of workfare’s architects and profiteers. Retailers have withdrawn from workfare due to pressure from campaigners; warnings of “imminent contract failures” are being made by Work Programme charities. Neither Workfare nor the Work Programme is working.

Any of us could be subjected to forced unpaid work through the government's back to work schemes, so it's in the interest of all of us that we fight back. At the end of the day, workfare is an attack on the work and welfare of the unemployed and employed. It not only provides a source of cheap labour to profit-making companies but it also undermines the pay and conditions of those already in paid work.

Join Boycott Workfare in London on Oct 20th and let’s shut down the profiteers exploiting the unemployed.

Meet 2.30pm at Oxford Circus.

Bring game face, banners, noise and fight back!
WORKFARE SHUTDOWN! Facebook event:

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Income Management for Liverpool’s Destitute?

Liverpool City Council’s (LCC) Citizen Support Scheme (CSS) will replace Crisis Loans and Community Care grants on the 1st of April 2013. One of the scheme’s proposals is to abolish cash payments in favour of food vouchers and utility pre-pay cards. Liverpool City Council offer no clear justification for abolishing cash payments other than it being part of, what they describe as, “holistic support”.

We see it as control over the poor.

Until April 2013, Crisis Loan and Community Care grant recipients will have the autonomy to purchase the items they require from the stores they choose. The CSS will remove that autonomy and replace it with restricted, and potentially monitored, methods of payment.

The Australian government has been trialing what could be the eventual conclusion of ‘reforms’ to the UK Social Fund: Income Management for the poor. 

Income Management is a policy which "quarantines" 50 – 70 per cent of Centrelink payments onto a BasicsCard. This card can only be used to buy "priority items" at government approved stores.  

Income Management targets people in poverty with punitive measures that encourage the treatment of welfare recipients as feckless, and would fit neatly into the UKGov’s tales of fraud, criminality and disorder allegedly rampant in the districts of Blighty. Personally, we call those tales survival, but it makes no odds to the privileged-in-power intent on wiping out welfare on behalf of their Capitalist chums.

CSS is punitive, demeaning, and a potential precursor to a UK-version of Income Management; we also see similar control measures being put into place in other areas of welfare, particularly relating to disability & back-to-work welfare.

On the 3rd of October 2012, think-tank Demos released statistics from a new poll, sponsored by Mastercard, that alleges a majority “support government control of how people spend benefit payments”. No doubt this think-tank propaganda will be used to justify the creeping introduction of yet more mechanisms to roll back the social contract and pave the way for neo-liberal privatisation.

For what it’s worth, LCC is ‘consulting’ the public on its draft policy. It closes on the 9th of November.

If you're interested in combating Liverpool City Council's proposed Citizens Support Scheme, email

Monday, 1 October 2012

Marks and Spencer Riding the Workfare Train

Whilst speaking with people at a recent Poundland picket, it was brought to our attention that Marks and Spencer have also been dipping into the workfare labour pool. A shopper let on to us that her son has been workfaring at M&S for nout, as part of State's fraud-ridden back-to-work schemes. This backs up recent doubts over M&S’ Marks and Start programme that allegedly ‘helps’ the homeless, lone parents, young people and the long-term unemployed back to work by teaching them how to stack shelves. Yes, the hallowed work ethic is re-installed in the marginalized by forcing them to repeat the same actions over-and-over again as part of a bus fare & butty placement. 

The M&S story was first posted by @revpaulca on twitter on the 27th September:

Marks and Spencer started publicising the creation of a 1000 new jobs at their new logistics centre in Castle Donington and their partnership with Remploy, supporting disabled people into employment. Marks and Spencer then delightfully conflated job creation with employment opportunities for the disabled, and since then have refused to respond to questions regarding how many will benefit from their 'inclusivity' programme, named Plan A.

After 4 weeks of 'pre-employment' training, "a review takes place between you and your team leader to decide if a role in the warehouse is right for you." That review sounds like a no-guarantee-of-a-job interview and that pre-employment training sounds like workfare. When pressed on this M&S responded by saying:

The 1000 jobs might be, but the workfare isn't.

M&S have also been tapping into the homeless labour market through their Ready for Work programme, run by Business in the Community, which they help to set up in 1982. And, unemployed single parents are being funneled into M&S' aisles via the Gingerbread charity.

What this all comes down to is: through various schemes, M&S have been riding the workfare train for some time now by targeting disadvantaged groups who, faced with the prospect of loss of benefit, are forced into unpaid labour. As separate pieces of a whole, these 'placements' & 'programmes' may seem 'harmless' enough, but their combination across multiple sectors and industries add up to a significant pressure that is being used to drive down wages and simultaneously normalise the exploitation of the unemployed.

Loyal customers will, understandably, be horrified to learn M&S is exploiting the unemployed, and we will do everything we can to let as many people know that their pre-packaged meals come with a forced labour price tag.