#UniversalCredit fact: Work Experience is mandatory and not “voluntary”. #workfare @TheCanaryUK

Update: ‘#UniversalCredit #Workfare: 253 benefit sanction referrals to April 2018‘ 20/8/18

Section 16 (3)(e) of the Welfare Reform Act (2012) includes powers to make undertaking Work Experience and a Work Placement a mandatory benefit sanction based requirement for Universal Credit claimants. Even so, the myth that ‘work for benefits onlyforced-labour workfare no longer exists still persists, take for example a Canary article that states:

Jobcentres no longer force unemployed people to work unpaid
Source: Canary – ‘The DWP will pay out almost £2m after breaching thousands of people’s human rights‘ – 4 August 2018 (emphasis added)

Being forced to do work unpaid by the DWP takes many forms, a cursory look at the campaigning websites of Boycott Workfare and Keep Volunteering Voluntary substantiates this. But to avoid any doubt, when benefit sanctions apply purely because a claimant does not ‘start and try‘ forced-labour in a supermarket per the DWP sanctions policy quoted below, then the Canary article needs correcting for lacking accuracy. [1]

“Secretary of State can mandate the claimant to apply for, attend & start a work experience placement as part of a work preparation requirement…

K5123 Work experience

If the claimant fails to …

2. start the work experience, a low level sanction could apply if the claimant cannot show a good reason for the failure.

Example 1
Nicky notified of the start date, time and place of a work experience placement in a supermarket.
She fails to turn up to start the placement as she says she didn’t fancy working in a supermarket. She didn’t think it would be for her.
The DM considers Nicky does not have a good reason for not starting the work experience and imposed a low level sanction. The DM considers it would have been reasonable for Nicky to have at least tried the placement before deciding it wasn’t for her”
Source: DWP – ‘Chapter K5 : Low–level sanctions‘ – Undated – Last update 26 April 2018 – Accessed 06/8/18 [emphasis added] – Archive copy of K5 (pdf )

Charter Against Workfare
A Statement of Principles
(For any workplace based scheme for benefit claimants)

“First, it must be entirely voluntary.

Secondly, there should be real training so that people go away at the end with skills that are relevant to their future employment prospects.

Thirdly, those concerned must have employee status so that they are protected by health and safety and equal opportunities legislation.

Fourthly, they must be paid the rate for the job—not benefit-plus—and,

finally, projects must have trade union approval.”

Unemployment – Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 14th December 1987.

Many messages have been sent to Canary, the article author  and its Editor-in-Chief, but so far (11am 9/8/18) the article remains inaccurate and therefore this post can act as a draft complaint to complaints@thecanary.co and or complaints@impress.press[2] – noting that the canary site does not offer any meaningful comment facility for it’s articles – save for a ‘hidden'[3] for-profit privacy invasive facebook option at the foot of the article page under “Facebook Comments“. [4]

Even with these grumbles, Canary’s coverage of the refunds for workfare conscripts is appreciated and it’s practice of linking to all source materials. Would have also preferred the author to have used the term workfare when referring to ” unpaid work”, rather than only using it as a topic ‘tag‘. Use of the term #workare can help put all forms of unpaid labour for benefits only in it’s historical context, such as the past Asda and Tesco Supermarket work experience workfare scandals of 2011/12 that mirror the exact same August 2018 DWP sanctions policy quoted above.

“Work Experience for JSA Claimants

14. Where you are providing support for JSA participants, which is work experience you must mandate participants to this activity. This is to avoid the National Minimum Wage Regulations, which will apply if JSA participants are not mandated.”
Source: ‘Mandatory unpaid work – the evidence‘ – latentexistence.me.uk – 29 February 2012

Video: C4 News confronts Grayling with proof of mandatory work experience


Tesco Job Advert Offering ‘JSA Plus Benefits’ Causes Outrage On Twitter




[1] The IMPRESS Standards Code

1.1. Publishers must take all reasonable steps to ensure accuracy.

1.2. Publishers must correct any significant inaccuracy with due
prominence, which should normally be equal prominence, at

the earliest opportunity.

1.3. Publishers must always distinguish clearly between statements

of fact, conjecture and opinion.

1.4.Whilst free to be partisan, publishers must not misrepresent or
distort the facts.
“It is also important to note that a story may mislead through the omission of a crucial fact, or facts, as well as through the inclusion of inaccuracies.”
A further Universal Credit FOI request has been submitted substantiating the benefit sanctions that apply to work experience generically and for ‘traineeships’.
[2] A formal complaint will be made if article is not corrected by Friday 10 August 2018

[3] Hidden in so far as few people will scroll to the bottom of a website page to locate a means to comment on an article,  when facility comes well after the article and other unrelated [5] intrusive adverts and content. Would suggest to Canary that a comment function should be immediately below an article. The Canary site is based upon wordpress, which also has integrated comment facilities that would not need a 3rd party to use and can be configured to respect individuals’ privacy-by-design.

Why Canary use of facebook comment facilities may be because:

“Privacy Policy

At CML we collect different types of information about our users for four main reasons:

  1. To provide personalised services unique to individual users.
  2. To help us to monitor and improve the services we offer
  3. To sell advertising space on the site, the income from which is used to support us in our mission to build a new media and distributed to our writers based on our values.
  4. If we have permission from the user, to market services to them.

There may be other privacy policies that apply to certain services we provide. Please read these when you register or subscribe for these services on these sites.

Logging in using social networking credentials

If you log-in to our comments using a Facebook log-in, you are granting permission to Facebook to share your user details with us. This will include your name, email address, date of birth and location. This may also allow us and Facebook to share your networks, user ID and any other information you choose to share according to your Facebook account settings. If you remove The Canary app from your Facebook settings, we will no longer have access to this information….

Some of our webpages use plug-ins from other organisations (such as the ‘Facebook Like’ function). These other organisations may use information about your visit to our websites on their pages. If you browse these pages while still also logged in to your account with us, information they collect may be connected to your account on their site. For more information on how these organisations use information, please read their privacy policies.”


Screenshot_2018-08-06 The DWP will pay out almost £2m after breaching thousands of people's human rights The Canary annotated

[4] Facebook comment

“You are totally wrong on your view that “Jobcentres no longer force unemployed people to work unpaid”. Please post a correction asap.

Esther McVey the “Secretary of State can mandate the claimant to apply for, attend & start a work experience placement as part of a work preparation requirement”
Advice for Decisions Makers Chapter K5: Low level sanctions

The Child Poverty Action Group gives advice of avoiding universal credit “work experience” benefit sanctions.

How can you avoid a work preparation sanction?

“‘Work preparation’ is specified activity which you are required to undertake which makes it more likely that you will obtain paid work, or more or better paid work. It could include going on training courses, drawing up a CV, undertaking work experince and taking part in a work-focussed health assessment.”

Law on mandatory work experience as a ‘Work preparation requirement’ in the Welfare Reform Act 2012http://www.legislation.gov.uk/…/2012/5/section/16/enacted “


[5] Related articles?