Workfare For The Sick & Disabled

I’m a bit angry and normally I wouldn’t write in this kind of mood, but I think something needs said about this straight away.

Remember when Philip Davies MP came under fire last year for suggesting disabled people work for less than minimum wage? Do you remember how everyone, even members of his own party (Conservative if you hadn’t guessed), called him a prat and ignored him? Well, it seems that some of the coalition took him seriously.

Today’s Guardian leads with the story that disabled people might be forced to do unlimited unpaid labour in exchange for benefits;

I’m sure you’ve all heard about workfare. It’s the governments welfare to work ‘experience’ programme in which they force those who are claiming JSA to work full-time stacking shelves at a successful retail store (with no guarantee of a job at the end of it all) for nought but bus fare. As JSA is such a pitifully small amount, it means that people engaged in workfare are earning a whopping £1.50 an hour, paid by the government, not the shops they are staffing, for doing the same work as someone else earning over minimum wage.

The government seems to think that CV’s that don’t state 6 months compulsory shelf stacking at Tesco are the reason that unemployment is rife in our country. Not the fact there is on average 1 vacancy for every 5 unemployed people. In reality all they are doing is giving major retailers even less of a reason to hire staff. Why would you hire someone to work for over £6 an hour when the government will provide you with someone who will be forced to do the job for free?

Initially it looked like this scheme was simply being directed at those on JSA (which was bad enough) but now it has been shown that they are planning to roll it out to those ESA claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) too!

The WRAG is for people who cannot currently work because they are too sick or disabled, but may, in the future be able to do some paid employment. It is not for otherwise fit and able to work people with disabilities and it’s not for people with a cough that will be gone in a fortnight. I’m in the WRAG simply because where I cannot work at the moment, there is a slim chance that one day (which could be a decade or more away) my condition will improve and I’ll be able to work. Also one should bear in mind that ATOS assessments to decide which groups people are placed into are very often found to be incorrect. Many in the WRAG should actually be in the Support Group, but have been poorly assessed.

Still, they are planning to force people like me to start working unlimited hours of at one of their workfare providers, if we don’t our benefits will be cut or stopped. Of course if we do then we will presumably be booted to JSA as we ‘prove’ we are capable of some work.

NAWRA says “This proposal is very worrying. There are completely inadequate legal and medical safeguards – bearing in mind that these are people with long-term health problems and disabilities, often serious ones. Compulsory, unpaid work may worsen some people’s health, with the consequences of the DWP’s savings being passed on to the NHS at greater cost. If jobs are there to be done, people should get the rate for the job, instead of being part of a growing, publicly funded, unpaid workforce which, apart from being immoral, actually destroys paid jobs.”

Disability Rights UK adds,  “…it is questionable whether genuinely disabled people should be under mandatory and often inflexible systems when the focus for many should be on managing health conditions or rehabilitating after an accident or injury.”

The RCPSYCH also raises concerns about “the capacity of relevant members of staff in Jobcentre Plus and work programme providers to make appropriate decisions about what type of work-related activity is suitable for claimants with mental health problems”.

I shall let you know if I get drafted into workfare. I will try and grab some pictures as I lean forwards in my wheelchair and vomit all over a Poundland. Or I will grab some quotes from customers as my PTSD gets triggered and they get to watch me having a flashback, I may even punch one as I try to fight for my life. Or I may even try record the reactions from staff as I sit for hours in a staff room crying and screaming in agony with my bowel obstructed downing Oramorph. It’ll be great.

If, like me, you don’t think workfare is a decent, humane or even possibly legal idea and you fancy doing something about it then there is a government e-petition you can sign here. You can contact your MP and ask them to lobby against it. You can also follow Boycott Workfare’s website or twitter feed.

  1. “Still, they are planning to force people like me to start working unlimited hours of at one of their workfare providers, if we don't our benefits will be cut or stopped. Of course if we do then we will presumably be booted to JSA as we 'prove' we are capable of some work.”

    Just like being ordered to attend a questionnaire performed by a suit with a pen proves mobility. Its a no win situation, you attend and 'prove' you are able, or you dont attend as you are *not able* and get left destitute by DWP. Its a rigged table with an entire govt acting as the bent croupier. Illegal and a breach of the UN human rights charter surely? In any bet you place, there has to be a win scenario, failing that the bet is void. In this scenario, its heads u lose, tails u lose.


  2. I wish there was a way to 'like' comments, that was brilliant x


  3. thanks for share.


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