• Community Work Placements in Haringey - who's proud to be working with G4S?

    No Benefit Sanctions, No WorkfareWhile the government would like to keep their names secret, the companies involved with running the recently launched Community Work Placements seem proud to publicise their involvement.

    G4S won the contract for six regions across the country and was "delighted" to announce its involvement with the schemewhich consists of six-month, forced, unpaid work placements for unemployed people.  (The placements need local council and charity participation in order to claim to be of “community benefit”.)

    But, being as they are the world's largest security company, G4S isn't bothering itself with the day-to-day business of sorting out placements for workfare conscripts. Instead, they have teamed up with "top-performing placement brokers" in the six regions for which it has a CWP contract. One of these regions is West London.  This is the one that covers Haringey and, of the five partners it has here, only one, Urban Futures, appears to have an office in Haringey. They have expressed similar delight at their involvement with the government's newest forced labour scheme.

    We have tried to figure out exactly what Urban Futures do, but their website, with all its talk of employment, training and apprenticeships, manages to hide the fact that they are fully signed up to a programme that threatens some of the most vulnerable people in our community with destitution and abject poverty.

    Urban Futures may or may not be a lost cause, but we want to find out the names of the local charities and community organisations that they are using to fulfil their part of the CWP contract.

    We have been talking to the people going in and out of Urban Futures' Wood Green offices. So far, the only confirmed partner is North London Hospice. According to personal testimonies, they have taken on a number of workfare conscripts in their Wood Green shop, and possibly others.  

    Many of us in HSG were really disappointed to hear about this. North London Hospice provides a service which places value on the quality of life of local people. Its complicity in this workfare scheme seems totally at odds with its main aims.

  • Picket of North London Hospice Shop - against their Scrooge-like workfare scheme

    This Saturday, 6 December, 12.30pm. Join us on a picket of North London Hospices shop on Wood Green High Road (Turnpike Lane end).

    Haringey Solidarity Group continues its support for claimants referred to Urban Futures as part of the hated Community Work Placement scheme.

    On a weekly basis, claimants tell us the shameful way in which they are treated by Urban Futures, the local organiser of the CWP scheme and the way in which they are then forced to spend 30 hours per week hanging around in a charity shop rather than using their time constructively creatively or in any other way they choose.

    Claimants and HSG have been campaigning against NLH's participation in the scheme for almost 3 months precisely because NLH is Urban Futures' largest partner, providing some 50 placements. We believe that if we can persuade NLH to pull out of the scheme, life will become pretty difficult for Urban Futures and the CWP scheme in the local area as around 20% of Urban Futures' placements are with NLH. They would find it very difficult to replace them quickly hitting them financially, providing some relief for claimants and raising serious questions over the whole project.

  • Short film: 'Community Work Placements': exploiting the unemployed

    'MAKING WORK PAY' is a hypocritical euphemism used by Iain Duncan Smith and the government to justify cuts in welfare benefit payments and make claiming increasingly difficult. With this completely false statement comes no assurance or intent to increase and legally enforce a minimum wage significantly, in line with the massively inflated costs of rent, food, utilities and travel.

    Community Work Placements actually undermine job security and the minimum wage. They do not create jobs, they create an excuse for less scrupulous employers to take on free labour and get paid by the Government (tax payer) for doing so. Along with this the increase of zero-hours jobs means the job market has become extremely precarious for many.

    You can see other films on similar issues on YouTube.

  • Urban Futures - make workfare a thing of the past

    Workfare is forced labourWe 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:

    1. Placements must be of clear and demonstrable benefit to the community.
    2. Placements must give work experience and develop skills.
    3. Support for claimants should include appropriate help and workplace training.
    4. Work placements must be supervised with tasks similar to those in a normal working environment.
    5. No more than 25% of the placements they arrange should be in charity shops.
    6. Provider must establish claimants’ current job goals.
    7. Placements must not displace existing jobs.
    8. Claimants must start placement within 20 working days of Jobcentre Plus (JCP) referral.
    9. Urban Futures occupied: Six month workfare no way!

      No future for bullying at Urban FuturesToday members of Haringey Solidarity Group and Boycott Workfare paid workfare provider Urban Futures in Wood Green a visit. Fifteen people occupied the office with banners and a soundsystem – challenging Urban Futures on their treatment of claimants and speaking to people on enforced jobsearch about their experiences and sharing info on their rights.

      We'd already heard that the managers are aggressive and bullying towards claimants, so expected the same. But the short occupation revealed the nasty attitudes throughout the staff team – about ten staff tried to hassle people out and came out with some revealing lines, taunting a number of us that we should "get a job" (yawn). When one of us replied that he had a job, they replied, "I can't believe you have a job, looking like that."

      Staff tried to make sure claimants didn't access info on their rights. They confiscated leaflets and tore them up, and blocked doors to claimants inside the job search rooms. They grabbed phones and bags off people and tried to take the banner too.

    10. Video: Urban Futures occupied - six-month workfare no way!

      Reel News footage of our Urban Futures occupation as part of the Boycott Workfare week of action against workfare. 

    11. Why North London Hospice should keep its word and pull out of workfare

      The story so far of our continued campaign against the hated Community Work Placement scheme and the ongoing participation of North London Hospice

      Boycott Workfare - Real Jobs NowIn May last year, the Department for Work and Pensions launched its latest workfare scheme for the long-term unemployed – Community Work Placements (CWP). Previous schemes met with outrage when corporations, like Tesco and Poundland, were seen to be increasing their profits through the use of the free labour of the unemployed. These schemes were rightly understood as a taxpayer subsidy to employers in much the same way that in-work benefits paid to the low-paid act as a subsidy to employers who pay rock-bottom wages. Consequently, CWP focuses on charities, although private companies can take advantage. The majority of those on CWP are placed in charity shops, where they have to work 30 hours per week for six months in return for their benefits, under threat of sanctions.

      CWP serves several functions:

      • those responsible for the scheme claim that the unemployed are engaged in worthwhile activity whilst giving something back to the community
      • the threat of sanctions intimidates and disciplines claimants with the intention that they will do exactly as they are told without objection, no matter how reasonable
      • those old friends of the government, G4S, who forever have their snouts in the trough line their pockets handsomely at the expense of those with nothing. Yes, G4S runs contracts covering half the country, including Haringey. The idea that claimants on this scheme are putting something back into the community is contentious. The fact that these bastards are taking loads more out is beyond question.
    12. Workfare: challenging Urban Futures in Ilford

      A couple of us from Haringey took a trip to the Urban Futures office in Ilford this morning. We were there to protest the use of the Community Work Program, talk to anyone attending Urban Futures who maybe on the scheme and to inform local people as to why we were there.