Benefit claimants without a past or history wanted. Really.

A few thoughts:

I was at a thing last week which had a media session.

One of the speakers made a pertinent, but dispiriting, point.

The speaker said that it was important to make sure that people who received benefits didn’t have a problematic past if they decided to speak to the media – that those people didn’t have a history of fraud, or unsavoury behaviours that the rightwing might dig up.

It’s a line that depresses me. A lot of the people I interview have a past. Everybody has a past. My own past wouldn’t stand scrutiny at all. With the people I interview – there can be drug and alcohol problems, jail records, histories of broken relationships, a list of jobs started and lost – all kinds of things. Life is harsh. It gets a lot of people.

The main thing these people have in common is that they don’t have any money. They don’t have the sort of money you need to paper over cracks. They don’t have rich parents to live with when a job goes, or money for smart lawyers if they get caught dealing, or stealing, or whatever.

Point is – these people are utterly excluded from public conversation, for the very simple reason they don’t measure up in a spotlight. They’re thought to make the social security cause look bad. That angers me.

The political class, meanwhile, bursts with fraudsters – thugs, crooks, charlatans who flip houses and bullies who don’t declare properties and don’t pay tax, and all the rest. They get a free pass on it all.

Nobody tells that lot to avoid the limelight.

This is really starting to irritate me – the rules regarding who should and shouldn’t be heard.

Used and abused: inside a failed UK workfare scheme. Will Universal Credit claimants be pushed into schemes like this to make up labour shortfalls after Brexit?

The post below – based on Kyla’s story (named changed) – is an excerpt from a collection I’m working on.

The project collects interviews I’ve made since 2014 with people directly affected by benefit cuts and welfare reform.

This collection is being made possible thanks to a Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust grant. I’m posting extracts from this collection here as I work on it.



Workfare: how government gets something for nothing out of people in deep poverty

This article is about workfare – that failed (for workfare workers), but electorally-popular concept where benefit claimants must work for unemployment benefits.

Tory, coalition and Labour (and American, Australian and Canadian) governments have been keen advocates of workfare schemes for decades – even in very recent decades, when the widespread failure of workfare as a means of placing people in ongoing paid jobs has been extensively reported.

I’ve written about workfare in the UK and in America many times in the last five years.

To my mind, politicians persist with workfare schemes for one reason when it comes down to it: harsh workfare programmes, with their punitive street-cleaning and charity-shop workfare placements, and tough benefit sanctions for non-compliance, give politicians a chance to crack down on the unemployed for show. Governments are desperate to prove to welfare-skeptic electorates that people who claim unemployment benefits are made to toil for their dole.

Toughlove,” is the word that workfare’s advocates like to use when they talk about forcing people who are out of work into gruelling workfare jobs on the threat of sanctions.

A Clinton government would “end welfare as we know it,” pledged Bill Clinton on a campaign promise which led to the game-changing (not in a good way for the poorest social security recipients in particular) Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act with its exacting work-for-welfare conditions in 1996.

Clinton said that as though ending welfare as people knew it was a good thing. The reality was that PRWORA, with its strict time limits for social security eligibility and tough workfare and sanction conditions pushed thousands off welfare rolls and into dire poverty. Workfare schemes such as the Wisconsin (W2) programme and the New York (WEP) scheme became notorious for such exclusion, particularly as millennium recession deepened. Lockout from social security was no joke as escape from poverty through any type of paid work became harder.

Workfare’s champions didn’t care. They didn’t care where society’s poorest went as they were excluded from much-needed state support. No matter that society’s poorest went into dangerous and illegal activities such as selling blood and food stamps, skipping meals, shoplifting, scavenging and returning to violent partners to make ends meet. Social security is a numbers game for movers and shakers in the modern age. All that mattered and matters is that the number of people claiming support drops.


Workfare in the UK

This article is based on in-depth interviews with forced participants in a recent failed UK workfare scheme: George Osborne’s Help to Work programme with its Community Work Placements.

Community Work Placements – CWP – were workfare placements, mostly in charities, aimed at people who were long-term unemployed and thought short of workplace skills, whatever that meant. Actually, the people I interviewed on CWP tended to be older and short of decent work opportunities, rather than skills, but government didn’t talk much about that.

Neither did government talk much about learning from the failure of American workfare schemes, or about the dangers of imposing strict workfare schemes and benefit sanctions on in-need people in a recession.

CWP was rough. It wasn’t tailored to meet people’s circumstances and needs. Some participants I spoke with were older people who were pushed into hard physical work from which they gained nothing, except confirmation of their own suspicions that they were being punished. That “work” included walking around with charity collection buckets in freezing cold weather, or standing all day to sort and clean donated clothes in charity shops.

CWP was memorable for the two reasons that such blunt workfare schemes so often are.

The first was that it was launched at great cost (£300m) with a shifty and strident politician (Osborne) banging on in the foreground about long-term unemployment being a fault of a widespread benefit claimant sense of entitlement (“no something-for-nothing any more“), rather than the economy.

The second was that it failed spectacularly. Launched into jobcentres in 2014, CWP was shut down just two years later after falling short most of the way along of its own modest targets for workfare placement companies to place 15% of CWP “graduates” in jobs. CWP was ditched not long before Osborne was.

Continue reading

More about the DWP’s totally pointless You Must Attend The Jobcentre Every Day regime…

I met yesterday with a couple of guys I know who sign on at a jobcentre in the Bracknell-Reading area.

One of these guys said that he is on a daily jobcentre-attendance regime for about 13 weeks. He said that has to go to his jobcentre every day, sit at a computer for half-an-hour and click about looking for jobs. While he and five other JSA claimants do this, a couple of jobcentre staff hang round and keep an eye on the group. When the half-hour is up, this guy is allowed to leave. He told me that he’d done this for about four or five weeks now. He said the jobcentre had told him that when his group of six claimants had finished their 13 weeks of the daily attendance regime, another six people would be selected and slotted in to do the same thing.

I’ve written about these daily job-centre attendance exercises before. I give this to you as another example of the pointless and amazingly unproductive exercises that people must take part in at jobcentres. I suppose that it is possible that thousands of long-term unemployed people find work this way, but I am also prepared to call this now and say that is it not. The people in our group yesterday were pretty sure that they knew what Daily Attendance was all about: it was about keeping a very tight grip on JSA claimants and also about breaking people’s days up so that nobody could organise a bit of cash-in-hand work on the side:

“I’m on 13 weeks. What we do is – we sit in front of [the] monitor. We’re meant to do supervised jobsearch for half hour a day. So there’s two of them there – two members of the jobcentre staff. One of them is the adviser, well, they’re both advisers, I suppose, and they just stand around talking about things general like – their home life, what goes on in their lives and everything else. Nothing really serious about jobsearch, I can assure you of that. And all we do is just sit around on the monitor and do jobsearch – apply for a few jobs if there are any. After the half hour has passed, they say – well that’s it. You come back tomorrow…

“What happens was – I asked them today what happens, because there are six of us doing this. I said what happens after we have all come off [the daily attendance] and she said another group starts for another 13 weeks. So with all six of us, when we’re all finished, that be just before Christmas, they get another six to do another 13 weeks, the same as what I am doing.”

As I say, I suspect that these regimes yield pretty average results as far as actually placing people in work is concerned. On it goes, though. I wonder if this is the sort of thing that the DWP means when it tells me that jobseekers are provided with tailored support.

It can be really hard to get welfare rights advice

At about 9am yesterday morning, I turned up at the Newham Citizens’ Advice Bureau to queue for a 10am-1pm Gateway drop-in session. The plan was to meet this young woman there and to hopefully get some direction from the CAB on her benefit deduction and rent arrears problems, and maybe a longer appointment later.

The problem was that even at 9am, the queue was already closed. I know I should have made my way there earlier. The woman at the desk told me that the CAB could only see eight people at the 10am-1pm drop-in yesterday and that those eight had already been chosen (appointments are allotted on a first come first serve basis). Some days, the CAB sees 12 people, but  yesterday, it was only eight. That was the end of that. The woman was pleasant and as helpful as she could be about things, but said that our only option was to come back at the same time next week (and make sure to queue earlier), or to try the Freemasons Road drop-in today (and queue early there, too).

Anyway. I realise that people already know it can be hard to get advice because of the demand, or because law centres have closed and so on. People talk about that a lot. They tell me they’re sent from one CAB to another. Jobcentre advisers at the Kilburn jobcentre were actually telling people to go to the local unemployed workers’ group for advice at one point, because that group was very good at sorting people’s problems out. It’s always worth pointing out how quickly the window can close otherwise, and that the demand means people in dire straits must be turned away without advice.

It’s possible that trouble accessing advice and support services excludes people from other support options, too. Here’s an example: last week, a helpful reader of this site sent me information about several funds that the young woman with rent arrears might apply to for help with her debts (that advice was much appreciated). It seems that applications to one of those funds can only be made by professional support workers, or the CAB, though. You see where I am going with this: you might struggle to get into the CAB, but you can’t access some of the help on offer unless you get into the CAB.

Jobcentres will sometimes try to use that sort of concept in a perverse way to actively deny people their rights: they’ll insist that JSA claimants can only be accompanied to appointments by “official” advisers, or supporters from recognised organisations (this is incorrect, as it happens. People can take a family member, or friend). One of the East London jobcentres recently tried that on with me and someone I was accompanying: staff there tried to take the line that only recognised support workers were really allowed. The security guards at that jobcentre were wrong to say that, but they absolutely wouldn’t let me in.

Anyway.  I suppose the point I’m making is that I spend a lot of time with people who are facing eviction and/or dealing with debt problems, jobcentre problems, sanction problems – the works. They really need advice from people who are expert in a range of fields: housing, benefit entitlements, debt relief and debt management, and legal aid rights and entitlements. People come to my site from time to time to say that they have tried the CAB and to ask if I can recommend anyone else who can help. Mostly, I have absolutely no idea what to suggest.

Week of action against workfare and sanctions 25 April – 2 May

Any MP or prospective MP who thinks that workfare and working for nothing is so bloody great should try it. For years at a time. They can report back after that.

The rest of us will continue to fight workfare, because we know it is rubbish. It’s about forcing people to work for meagre benefits in jobs that should be properly paid. All sorts of jobs are now being done by people who are on workfare and who must do those jobs to get their benefits. I wouldn’t feel too comfortable about this even if you’re in employment. Your job could be a workfare “role” soon. Look at the range of jobs that people on workfare are involved in at this charity.

From Boycott Workfare:

“No workfare. No sanctions. Whoever wins we will resist!

Boycott Workfare is holding a week of action in the week before the election.

“We need your help to expose and challenge workfare and sanctions policies and the political lies that underpin them.”

Read the rest of the post here and find out more about taking part in the week of action to fight workfare and sanctions.

Could these meetings be more patronising: inside a first group meeting for people signing on

This is a report from a new JSA claimants’ induction meeting I recently attended.

When people sign on in this part of London, their first meeting at the jobcentre is held in a group with ten or so other new claimants. They don’t start with a private, one-to-one session with a jobcentre adviser. They’re flung into a group for induction. There’s no privacy. At all. People hate it. The guy I went with to the meeting below didn’t even know his first meeting would be held in a group. People are told it happens because staff don’t have time now to cover everything in the one-to-one meetings that come at a later date.

I also wonder if these group meetings are done to totally discourage people from continuing with their JSA claim at all. This one I went to was a classic of screaming dysfunction:

It is late on recent Thursday morning at one of the north west London jobcentres and I’m sitting in a new JSA claimants’ group meeting, watching the jobcentre adviser in charge of the session totally lose it with one of the new claimants (there are about 12 new claimants and an adviser crammed into a very small and rather dark side room). The jobcentre adviser and the new claimant bloke are having a full-on shrieking-match, which they’ve been working towards since the session started. I’m guessing that the louder parts of it are now reverberating around the jobcentre.

The new claimant guy – let’s call him Mark – obviously can’t take being patronised, or tolerate bullshit in any form, and has decided to come out swinging (metaphorically on this occasion). And fair enough, too. I know for a fact that if I was siging on, there’s absolutely no way in this world I could put up with the high-handed, JSA-claimants-are-on-the-make-and-must-be-kept-in-line presentation that we’re stuck in front of today. If I had just lost my job, this thinly-masked institutional hauteur would be needling me to the brink. It is anyway. The adviser’s address is full of You Lot Better Pull Finger directives such as: “If you have no commitments… we’d expect a lot more effort from you. And to be honest, you should expect a lot more effort from yourself.” The adviser chucks in plenty of poorly-disguised sanctions threats, too (even though nobody’s actually signed on yet): “The less effort we feel that you’re putting in [to find work], the more chance there is of your jobseekers’ allowance being affected,” and “the more vague your information, the more chance that your jobseekers’ allowance may be affected,” etc, etc. This pitch starts to work on your brain like nails down a chalkboard: “Your Jobseekers’ Allowance May Be Affected.” On and on it goes and my word, it grates. Without a doubt, the assumption from the get-go is that people sign on to sponge. Continue reading

Being treated well when you’re on workfare is a bonus. Don’t expect it.

I spent several hours today with a group of people who are just about to finish their first six-month stint on 30-hour-a-week workfare Community Work Placements (CWP). CWP began last year as part of George Osborne’s pointless, punitive Help To Work scheme. With CWP, people on JSA are forced to work for 30 hours a week for six months in charities and local organisations. They have no choice. Refuse to work for free – you’ll be sanctioned.

The people I spoke with today have spent the last six months at Haringey charity Embrace UK where they have worked on – among other things – data sorting and entry, administration, sexual health advice for young people (no DBS/CRB checks – I wrote about that here), youth development schemes (ditto), presentations for new arrivals and homeless groups, marketing support, IT development and radio production. This is a huge range of jobs for which people should be properly paid. The fact that so many tasks are now being done by people who are made to do those tasks on workfare schemes ought to be of concern for everyone. I’ve said it before: paid work as a concept is under real threat as people who are forced to work for nothing carry out more and more jobs. As one of the men on CWP at Embrace UK said to me when we spoke late last year – people in so-called white-collar work may not be particularly aware that “their” kind of job is being done now for nothing. “They’ll have doctors and lawyers on workfare soon,” he said. You laugh, but you wonder as well. As I’ve said before as well, I think people who aren’t yet affected by these things have a vague (and snobbish) idea that workfare means a bit of weeding in public parks (a job that also should be properly paid, by the way). I don’t think everyone grasps the reach that workfare increasingly has.

Anyway. The people I spoke with this morning had one big question. They wanted to know what would happen to them when this first six-month placement ended. Nobody I spoke to had a paid job to go to (CWP = another winning government welfare-to-work scheme. Not). Their concern was that their nasty workfare-placement company Urban Futures would shove them into a new placement with another charity. They worried that the next place would be extremely unpleasant – that the work would be filthy and hard (which is no joke, particularly when you’re in your 50s) and the management cruel. There is reason to fear, if you ask me. I’ve spoken with people on CWP workfare at Haringey charities who are sent into the streets to do bucket collections. They must stand outside in all weathers with buckets and collect money. “I did a couple of days charity bucket collection down out the front of the shops,” a guy called Graham told me outside Urban Futures just before Christmas.

Another person I spoke to today had spent time on CWP at the Marie Curie charity shop at Highbury and Islington (Marie Curie, as we know, supposedly pulled out of workfare in 2012, but seems now to take people on CWP by – erm, accident. Marie Curie no longer answers my questions about this. Ahem. They’ll keep. More on them soon). That person (aged in their 50s) had to “steam clothes and stand on the shop floor putting clothes out. You were on your feet all day, with the manager pushing us to work harder and harder.” Continue reading

Jobcentre to claimants: if you want benefits help, ask the local group that campaigns against us

Here’s more evidence of how totally jobcentres have lost the plot/jumped the shark etc:

The Kilburn jobcentre now tells ESA and JSA claimants who need help with their claims to seek advice from the local campaigning group that battles jobcentres. I shit you not. The Kilburn jobcentre is now so utterly unable to solve people’s problems that it tells claimants that a good bet is to get support from the group that regularly protests outside the jobcentre about the jobcentre.

So – we have a scenario where sometimes, the jobcentre staff call the police on the campaigning group when its members leaflet out the front of the jobcentre. Other times, jobcentre staff refer people to the campaigning group for the help that the jobcentre isn’t giving – ie the sort of jobcentre failure that often leads to the protests. What a world. It’s as though some staff at this jobcentre have decided that people will get the best advice in their battles against the DWP and jobcentres if they ask people who actively campaign against the DWP and jobcentres. And you know – although it’s weird, maybe it does make a certain kind of sense. The people at the unemployed workers’ group do have a great deal of expertise and give excellent advice and support to people who have problems with their claims.

They certainly give people more help and support than they get anywhere else. Here’s an example: yesterday, I spent a long time talking with a guy called Tony (there’s a transcript from our discussion below). He hadn’t been able to find assistance at all until the jobcentre sent him to the campaigning group. He definitely needed help, too – he’s 60, unwell (he looked cold and very pale) and he is totally without income. He used to work as a mechanic and restoring cars, but then his health deteriorated and – yeah. This is how it happens. This is how it happens if you age and get sick and forget to get very rich first. Tony was thrown off ESA recently, when Atos found him fit for work. He appealed that decision and has been languishing in the no-man’s land that is mandatory reconsideration ever since (people who challenge a fit-to-work decision can’t go straight to appeal now. They must now wait for the DWP reexamine the original decision at its leisure – that’s mandatory reconsideration). Like most people, Tony has no idea how long he must wait to find out if the fit-to-work decision will be overturned.

In the meantime, Tony has absolutely no money coming in at all. To survive, he’s living with his mother and borrowing money from his brother (his brother, who is retired, turned up at the jobcentre yesterday morning when we were talking to loan Tony some change for phone credit). Tony was trying to find out the best way to hurry up the ESA mandatory reconsideration decision and/or to sign on for JSA. He’d traipsed all over north London (he’s 60, as I say, and has epilepsy and a heart problem) trying and failing to get help at a CAB. He went back to the jobcentre, which was when an adviser told him about the unemployed workers’ group.

“They were sending me from one place to another…then [the jobcentre adviser here at Kilburn] saw me sitting down and said “What’s wrong?” I said “they’ve taken me off ESA.” She said the best thing for me to do was to go to the [unemployed workers’] group. So they [the jobcentre] are saying themselves that they don’t have the people to help.”

He’s probably right about the jobcentre’s lack of staff. I spoke to another guy yesterday morning who was signing on for the first time (he works in removals for an agency and the work he had just ended. His agency could only offer him one day of work this week). His first sign-on session yesterday was due to take place in a group with 12 other people, because “there weren’t enough staff to do one-on-one assessments.”

So that is where we are at. Continue reading

We’ve stopped taking people on workfare placements except when we take them by accident…?


I was talking very recently with a group of people who are on a 30-hour-a-week workfare Community Work Placement (CWP) at at Haringey charity. Their workfare provider is the G4S subcontractor Urban Futures, finder of these 30-hour-a-week placements on which people must work or lose their benefits.

Anyway – one member of the group made a startling revelation as we spoke. This person said that until late December 2014, they’d been on a CWP workfare placement in the Marie Curie charity shop in Highbury and Islington.

The thing with that is – Marie Curie supposedly abandoned participation in forced workfare schemes a couple of years ago as a result of successful Boycott Workfare campaigns (shoutout to the Void here who reminded me MC had left).

So I rang Marie Curie and sent through some questions asking how somebody on CWP had ended up on a workfare placement in one of their shops when Marie Curie didn’t participate in workfare schemes, or take people on workfare placements.

The answer I got was intriguing.

Marie Curie’s media guy told me yesterday that Marie Curie does not support work placement schemes where people will lose their benefits if they do not participate – but that sometimes they ended up taking people on such schemes by… accident.


This bloke said that these accidents come about because disingenuous organisations and work programme providers come to Marie Curie and ask if the charity will take volunteers in its shops without telling Marie Curie that the “volunteers” are actually on forced workfare placements. He talked about the Highbury and Islington case in such a context. “We do try wherever possible to check if we are approached by companies or organisations that are offering us volunteers… but [if] they’re not quite honest with us….and if we do find that this is the case, we do end the relationship with that organisation… We will in many cases offer that volunteer a chance to volunteer with us, but under the deal that they won’t lose any benefits if it is not for them.”

He also said that sometimes, Marie Curie was “not made aware until after the volunteer has left that they were on one of these programmes.”

Intriguing, as I say. I must say that I struggled to imagine a scenario where a lot of people wouldn’t know immediately that someone was on a forced placement, because a) people on such a placement would talk about it and b) they’d be getting someone at the charity to regularly sign their attendance timesheets so that travel costs could be claimed, but it could be that I don’t have much imagination. It does all make you wonder, though. It has, for example, made me wonder how often these sorts of accidents happen and how many people turn up and stay on in workfare placements at organisations that have supposedly pulled out of workfare. At the very least, it makes me wonder how well organisations that have pulled out of workfare police their own anti-workfare policies and exactly how they do it. I think I’ll set aside some time on the weekend to do more wondering about all of this.

I’ve also rung Urban Futures to ask how a CWP provider like themselves – just as an example – would view the sort of placement accident described by Marie Curie. It certainly would be interesting to know Urban Futures’ view of unscrupulous work programme providers who aren always entirely honest about placement motives. I don’t always have much (any) luck when I try to get hold of people at Urban Futures, but you never know. This could be the big moment. I’ll let you know if anything comes through.

In the meantime, stay on alert for any more – err, workfare placement accidents.

Update: Sunday 18 Jan: Urban Futures sadly didn’t return my Friday call, so we’ll have another go this week.

Daily signon and workfare: they don’t think of us as human beings

As we gear up for 2015 and an election that will be at least in part about abusing people who claim benefits and are out of work…

We went back to the infamous North Kensington jobcentre yesterday where people were complaining again about a jobcentre adviser there who they say abuses power. “Got some sort of vendetta against claimants…” one woman told me. “They [jobcentre advisers] don’t understand how we have to live – not pay our rent some days, or take from our gas money some days, only to be thinking to ourselves “do we have a roof over our heads? They are drawing money, so they don’t understand how we have to go through hardship.”

This woman, who has been unemployed now for some years and is getting older and worried about it, was especially angry about the daily JSA signon regime at North Kensington. She must travel to the jobcentre every day to sign on for her JSA and she must do this for three months.

Like most people I speak with, she says that being forced to travel to the jobcentre daily to sign on is ruining any chance she has of finding a job. Like most people too, she felt that the jobcentre was pretty much going out of its way to prevent her from finding employment. I have to say I agree with this line of thinking a lot of the time now. I certainly agreed with it on this occasion. There’s something very strange about the way these places are operating – if operating is the word. At its simplest – if the point of jobcentres was to find people jobs, there’d be a lot more action along those lines, rather than endless obstacles. There’d be phones that people could use to call employers (so many jobcentres have got rid of onsite phones. People have to call employers themselves, with phone credit they do not have). Signon sessions with jobcentre advisers would last more than five minutes and there’d be dedicated support for people who wanted it. There is not. Jobcentre advisers would ring employers on behalf of claimants and set up job interviews then and there. They don’t. I’ve seen none of that sort of thing at the signons I’ve attended with people. It all makes you wonder. It certainly makes me wonder. One thing I’ve started to wonder in particular is if jobcentres like to keep a group of people unemployed for the long-term so that they can channel those people to work programme providers and into useless work skills courses, and keep the lolly flowing in that direction. Those are big businesses, after all, and they need bums on seats.

This woman must attend the jobcentre every day at a different time. Nobody lifts a finger to help her find work while she’s there. And more than that – in her case, the daily signon regime seems actively to have separated her from a drop-in centre where she used a computer, worked on her jobsearch and seemed to get a bit of help. “I haven’t been able to go to my drop-in centre [since I started daily signon]. My drop-in centre is so helpful. I had use of the computer and advisers there. They are a world of good to me, but coming here [to daily signon] means that I cannot get there, because my drop-in centre is [open] from 9 to 12… [For daily signon], I have to come in every single day and I don’t know from one to another what time it is. Today, I came in at ten o’clock. Tomorrow, I’m in at 11.05am. The day after, I might go back to 9am or 3.30pm. I don’t know.”

My first thought was – why not excuse her from daily signon? Why not call the drop-in centre and set something constructive up? As it happens, I know the answer to these questions. Everyone does. People tell me that the point of daily signon is destroy any chances people have of organising cash-in-hand jobs and earning a few quid on the side. Can’t have someone on the bones of their arse finding an extra tenner here and there, and feeling a little less desperate. People might forget that grovelling is supposed to be their main job when they’re out of work. The truth is that daily signon affixes people to JSA and their jobcentre in a very twisted way. They can’t plan anything else. Any other activity has to be organised around that signon appointment and at the last minute. By definition, daily signon can’t improve people’s chances of getting out, because it locks people in. I think the same of the 30-hour-a-week community work placements that I’ll be posting on shortly (have been spending time recently with people on those workfare placements). The overriding impression I get is that these things are designed to keep people who’ve been out of work for a while exactly where they are. Continue reading