Back in days of digital yore (25 Nov 2015), many pronounced the quiet* ‘scrapping of workfare’**.
What seems to have been be missed from these apparently wonderful headlines, was that the DWP had introduced Universal Credit (UC) and under Section 16 (3)(e) of The Welfare Reform Act (2012) ‘work for your benefits’ workfare was integrated into UC, just as it was for Jobseekers Allowance in The Welfare Reform Act 2009, Part 1 Social security “Work for your benefit” schemes etc.
In April 2017 the DWP announced the introduction of the Youth Obligation Benefits Scheme (YOBS) that includes workfare on an unprecedented scale, allied to scrapping automatic entitlement to UC Housing Costs/Benefit for 18-21 years olds.
“So for those aged 18-21 we are introducing a new Youth Obligation that says they must either earn or learn. We are also abolishing the automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18-21 year olds”
Source: Chancellor George Osborne’s Summer Budget 2015 speech – 8 July 2015
So far there has been a very muted response to YOBS, save for the occassional tree falling in a forest. Even reporting YOBS forced unpaid labour, does not even merit use the word workfare these days. Who would have thought the Guardian would send workfare down a memory hole? Maybe it was an April Fool?
“This coming week sees the beginning of the derided Youth Obligation scheme – a carrot-and-stick approach for 18- to 21-year-olds on universal credit.
Those involved are expected to take part in an intensive activity programme from the first day of their claim, be referred to training, and encouraged to take up an apprenticeship. A compulsory work placement awaits if they are not on either after six months.”
Source: Guardian 01/4/17
The extent workfare will be used within the new locally devolved Work and Health Programme (WHP) in still unknown. The WHP is replacing the current Work Programme (WP), which includes workfare and will have conscripts until 29 March 2019.
Edit: The DWP’s provider guidance to the Work and Health Programme (WHP) confirms contractors will have delegated powers to arrange compulsory zero wage work placements (workfare) and facilitate benefit sanctions for anyone who refuses. Section 55 of the 2012 Welfare Reform Act includes mandatory workfare placements for sick and disabled people, as a form of ‘work related activity’. Referral to the WHP is for claimants of Universal Credit (UC); or Jobseekers Allowance (JSA); or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA); or Income Support (IS).
* Department for Work and Pensions’ settlement at the Spending Review 25/11/15
“Total spending on employment will be reduced, including not renewing Mandatory Work Activity and Community Work Placements, but introducing a Work and Health Programme for the longer-term unemployed and those with health conditions.”
Note: Whether not “renewing” workfare contracts is the same as scrapping workfare may seem pedantic, but as shown above, workfare was never scrapped. Especially as the DWP’s unpaid work experience scheme has arranged 500,000+ work placements since 2011 and is being expanded under YOBS, continues under WP and in all likelyhood will be part of WHP. This information was widely available and accessible on 25/11/15.
Workfare Abandoned! Mandatory Work Activity and Community Work Placements Both To Be Scrapped. 25/11/15
“The DWP has announced the end of two major workfare schemes, Mandatory Work Activity and Community Work Placements. This is good news, and shows that persistent campaigning, resistance and exposure has yielded results. But will they return under other names? We have cause to celebrate the end of these life-wrecking and expensive abominations, while the struggle against forced unpaid labour continues…” 25/11/15
Workfare quietly scrapped 25/11/15
Workfare Abandoned! Mandatory Work Activity and Community Work Placements Both To Be Scrapped 25/11/15
Workfare very quietly abandoned? 25/11/15
DWP scraps mandatory ‘work for your benefits’ scheme without fanfare 26/11/15
“The Government’s main welfare-to-work scheme, the Work Programme, continues, however.”
Why no fanfare to the end of workfare? 27/11/15
“Hence, as has been said repeatedly over the last few days, the devil really is in the detail.
So we wait with bated breath for further information on what this new ‘Work and Health Programme’ involves and whether we’ll see a return in workfare under a different name………”?