ESG group currently hold a contract worth £4m over four years, for the government’s “work experience” schemes in the West Midlands. In reality, this represents yet another stick for the government to beat the unemployed with, as those who have been claiming Job Seeker’s for over six months are forced into working for free for companies such as Tesco, WH Smith and McDonald’s.
The government have recently announced that the Community Action Program will be expanded, pushing 1 million people into 6 months of forced unpaid work. This will involve an individual doing 780 hours of community service – over twice as much as the maximum sentence of 300 hours allowed for community service when convicted of breaking the law. The expansion of workfare programs flies in the face of evidence from DWP which shows that the schemes do not help people get into work, and may actually reduce people’s chances of finding work – all at a huge cost to the taxpayer, and workers whose jobs are threatened or lost to workfare placements, as well as claimants who face sanctions of up to 6 months without benefits if they fail to comply exactly with the demands placed on them.
Birmingham campaigner Nick Hart said:
the only people who benefit from these so called work placements are large high street chains who are being paid to take on unemployed persons to carry out the work which helps turn a large profit for their shareholders. This is a practice that hurts both those in work by driving down wages and conditions and those out of work by replacing paid jobs with the choice of taking part in these schemes or risking losing your benefits
Recent protests against the use of workfare have seen companies like Holland & Barrett and Pizza Hut pull out of the schemes entirely, and continued pressure on the companies involved will see these schemes crumble further.
You can read more about why we support campaigns against Workfare in this post. To find out more about Youth Fight for Jobs and their “manifesto for the 99%” please head to their website.