Youth Obligation Benefits Scheme (YOBS) – #workfare

1) The Youth Obligation Benefits Scheme (YOBS)
1.1) Mandated workfare to start October 2017
2) 2016 Welfare Action Gathering proposals
3) Pledge against youth workfare (draft)
4) Definition of youth obligation
5 The future of forced unpaid labour workfare in England

1) The Youth Obligation Benefits Scheme (YOBS

Today Westminster’s Work and Pensions Committee expressed concerns about the DWP’s plan to introduce the Youth Obligation Benefits Scheme (YOBS) for 18-21 years olds. Of particular concern was mandatory workfare placements. During the 2016 Welfare Action Gathering a number of ideas got put forward to challenge YOBS, particularly it’s workfare placements.

Seems odd that very little attention is being given to the YOBS, even though automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit/Costs has already been removed from 18-21 year olds, which was one of YOBS related objectives.

“This instrument removes automatic entitlement to housing costs in Universal Credit Full Service for some 18 to 21 year-olds…Any losses at the individual level will be largely notional.  This is because the Government expect anyone affected will either secure an early return to work (day-one support from the new Youth Obligation will  help here) or return to the parental home.  From April 2017, the new Youth Obligation will provide intensive employment support for young people from day one of their claim. After six months under the Youth Obligation, claimants who have not found sufficient work will be required to apply for an Apprenticeship, Traineeship or undertake a work placement. In the longer term it is anticipated that removing automatic entitlement to housing costs in Universal  Credit will mean young adults on benefit will not leave home in the first place”
Source: ‘Explanatory memorandum‘ to ‘The Universal Credit (Housing Costs Element for claimants aged 18 to 21) (Amendment) Regulations 2017

1.1) Mandated workfare to start October 2017

Mandatory work placements will probably start until October 2017, after new YOBS conscripts have been on benefits for 6 months and not ‘earning or learning’.

2) 2016 Welfare Action Gathering proposals

Suggested actions and considerations, from the 2016 Welfare Action Gathering workshop on The Future of Workfare, specific to the Youth Obligation/Workfare for 18 to 21 years olds:

Undertake a Welfare Action Gathering dedicated to young people, whilst caution expressed about dividing people and anti workfare campaigning on generational grounds.

Organise direct action, campaigns and awareness with schools and colleges

The possibility that the Platform for Life programme, may be rolled out for young needing accommodation, but including a tenancy condition of accepting any job offer.

Tenancies should be time limited and linked to participation in work, further education or vocational training, with the aim of assisting residents into long term employment and independence, and thereby improving their prospects for a successful and healthy life”

Engage with youth workers and teachers/ educationalists

Learn from and look back at the 1985 schools strike against the workfare style Youth Training Scheme

Make creative use of social media, particularly used by young people. snapchat mentioned

Engage with orgs/groups working with and run by young people

With regards ‘voluntary’ Jobcentre Work Experience, being undertaken on the basis of fully informed freely given consent, reference was made to the DWP’s ‘viciously dsyfunctionalculture of threats, sanctions and coercion.

Issues affecting rural communities, poor transport and transport costs

The growth of zero hour contracts

Lower national wage rates for under 25 year olds

Engage with community councils and young people’s assembly’s

Investigate the place young people meet and get together, activist/campaign orientated discos mentioned

Look at how Forces Watch works with schools and Funky Dragon




3) Pledge against youth workfare (draft)

We the undersigned:

Are opposed to Youth Obligation mandatory work placements, sanctions and conditions.

Expect employers to pay wages for work experience placements, just like Pret and Mooboo Bubble Tea recently did.

Call upon charities and voluntary organisations to sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement.

Require Housing Costs under Universal Credit for 18-21 years olds to be reinstated.


4) Definition of youth obligation

“Young people, aged 18 to 21, who receive Universal Credit will be required, from April 2017, to participate in an intensive regime of support from day one of their benefit claim.
After six months they will be expected to apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship, gain work-based skills, or go on a mandatory work placement to give them the skills they need to move into sustainable employment.”

5 The future of forced unpaid labour workfare in England

The future of forced unpaid labour workfare in England (pdf)

View doc online.

Youth Workfare: Direct Action & Campaigning Against – Ideas from the Welfare Action Gathering Workshop

Conservative 2015 manifesto proposals (pdf) on youth workfare – view online.

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