Indefinate mandatory workfare for the ill and disabled from Monday.

(62 Posts)
Darkesteyes Fri 30-Nov-12 22:44:13

On Monday 3rd December (which is also international day of the disabled person) ill and disabled people become officially eligible for mandatory workfare.
If unable to do it they could face having to live on £28.15 a week. Inhumane.

picketywick Sat 01-Dec-12 11:53:50

Yes, very inhumane, on the face of it. Some think questions will be raised in Parliament. We will see.

AnyaKnowIt Sat 01-Dec-12 11:58:07

Sickening! angry

AnyaKnowIt Sat 01-Dec-12 11:59:05

The phrase "for community benefit" is oblique; since February the DWP has stopped answering freedom of information requests about where people are being sent to work – even when instructed to do so by the information commissioner – because it fears the MWA scheme will collapse under the weight of public protest if details are released.

Says it all really sad

kiwigirl42 Sat 01-Dec-12 12:13:31

I am in the process of applying for benefit as have been fired due to spending between 4 and 7 days per week in bed with severe migraine.
This really frightens me. If I could work, I'd have kept the well paid job I had that I loved and had worked towards for years.
How can I work when I can't even look after myself most of the time or my child?

Hate Hate Hate the Tories.

alcofrolic Sat 01-Dec-12 14:01:34

This article was on the same page as a report about Madonna's conical bras being sold for £48000.

.....on the same page as it was reported that some people will be expected to live on £28.15 a week.


neuroticmumof3 Sat 01-Dec-12 22:00:28

Things like this put the fear into me big time. I have bipolar and may be about to leave my (much loved) job due to this. My eldest son has aspergers and is so depressed he hasn't gone outside for 9 months. We simply would not be able to meet their conditions. Makes suicide look like a viable option tbh.

picketywick Mon 03-Dec-12 12:56:51

yes darkesteyes. Victoria Derbyshire (Radio 5-Live) did an item on the
compulsory unpaid work for disabled. (Monday 3rd)

It seem a vindictive Coalition idea. Perhaps some of the Liberals may object.

This makes me so angry and sad, I honestly can't believe the depths to which this government has sunk.

I actually wonder if they can get away with this or whether it could be challenged under EU laws/regulations. It seems like a human rights issue to me.

This is what the Tories do. Roll on the next election.............

Xenia2012 Mon 03-Dec-12 15:06:36
LoopsInHoops Mon 03-Dec-12 15:12:11

The figures in their document are shocking.

ParsingFancy Mon 03-Dec-12 15:17:09

Oh this is where this thread got to. Sorry, this is the one I was really looking for to post this (I posted on the ShoeZone workfare thread):

So, topically, today I received a letter from the DWP setting out the new sanctions regime for disabled people on ESA.

"From 3rd December 2012, the law is changing and you could lose more money, for a longer period of time if you do not:
• attend and take part in work-focused interviews
• carry out work-related activities that your advisor asks you to do, without a good reason"

Sanctions are cuts of up to £28.15 per week (from payment of less than £100), up to four weeks. However, sanctions start after you agree to comply with their demands. During the period you are contesting the demand - for example because it's unsafe for you - ESA is stopped completely.

The sanctioned person can appeal, but this is taking upwards of a year for ESA awards, so it's hard to see sanctions appeals being faster.

The House of Lords criticised the DWP for giving so much power to individual JobCentre clerks, who have no competence to judge what is medically safe and absolute discretion to sanction.

There is simply no meaningful protection for disabled people.

ParsingFancy Mon 03-Dec-12 15:20:28

The sanction is a cut of £28.15, rather than reduction to £28.15. Although since ESA is £56.25 for under 25s for the first 13 weeks, that could come to the same thing.

ParsingFancy Mon 03-Dec-12 15:23:52

Don't get too excited by an election: workfare and conditionality for the disabled is a Labour plan. It's been in the pipeline since ~2006 with the Freud Report, and was obliquely supported by Nick Clegg in the Lib party conference before the Liberals where in govt (I was listening carefully).

Dawndonna Mon 03-Dec-12 15:30:31

This sort of thing makes me feel physically sick. God help any politician that knocks my door next May.

ParsingFancy Mon 03-Dec-12 15:33:07

One of the huge holes in workfare is legal liability for workfarers' health and safety - they don't seem to be covered by employment legislation because they are not employees.

So are JobCentre staff legally liable? No one seems to know.

This is going to be an much larger issue with people known to be unfit to work. Employers do specific risk assessments on staff with health issues because they would be legally liable.

So I'm planning letters to the local JobCentre and the workfare-user asking where I go for the risk assessment prior to working...

Darkesteyes Mon 03-Dec-12 16:53:18

Bloody hell Parsing im sorry to hear this. Its fucking disgusting. So if you cant do something because its unsafe they then STOP YOUR MONEY COMPLETELY. How the fuck can this be legal. Its inhumane and what will happen is you will get people who ARE too ill try and struggle to do it and it will cause workplace accidents. Which the Government AND the Dwp will have caused.

Heathen Mon 03-Dec-12 21:31:15

Anyone notice that there are 342 (and counting) posts on today's thread about the Will and Kate pregnancy and only 18 on here, since Friday? And only 3 posts on the thread about the new primary school curriculum being full of errors. It seems to me that there's a link to be made here in how much this bunch of pyschopaths we call a government has been able to get away with. Voices in the wilderness...

Darkesteyes Mon 03-Dec-12 22:26:34

Heathen i was thinking EXACTLY the same thing.
I think people have been fed the celebrity culture/reality show diet for so long that they cant (or in the case of people like my Daily Mail reading parents) dont want to see the bigger picture.
Another example of this is the way the victims were blamed when the truth about Savile came out.

PseudoBadger Mon 03-Dec-12 22:36:38

Parsing - the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (section 3) does cover non employees.

ssd Mon 03-Dec-12 22:50:27

thanks for posting this, its absolutely disgusting

edam Mon 03-Dec-12 23:00:29


This government makes very little attempt to hide its hatred of the disabled and sick. They are not embarrassed by ATOS ordering the terminally ill to start looking for jobs. Not embarrassed when someone dies shortly after being thrown of disability benefits by ATOS. Not embarrassed by the fact the work programme has been shown to be worse than useless - fewer people on the programme got work than those left to their own devices.

They don't actually give a stuff about whether this persecution of the sick is inhumane and worse than useless. As long as they get a few friendly headlines in the Mail about how everyone on disability benefit is a skiver, they are happy.

Corygal Mon 03-Dec-12 23:06:01

Repellent. Let's hope the JobCentre clerks are human beings and don't enforce it - or will they be forced to make their customers beggars by targets?

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Mon 03-Dec-12 23:14:38

As the parent of a child with a disability I am not opposed, in principle, to the notion that people with disabilities should be supported to work where possible provided this is accompanied by proper support, a full understanding of the impact of their disabilities on their capacity to work and, most importantly, education of the public and of employers so that they understand the part they play and the accommodations they have to make to integrate people with disabilities into workplaces effectively. And I do not think that the kind of intemperate, irrational opposition such as that displayed by, for example, edam above is at all helpful in coming to an understanding of what is wrong with the current approach and what is needed to make it actually work for those who might be able to participate in the workplace, with the right support.
it seems to me that in placing decisions in the hands of job centre employees - who will not, with the best will in the world, have the capacity to understand complex disabilities and conditions - and in not educating employers and the public about their obligations to help people integrate, the government is dooming this to failure which will have dire consequences for those falling foul of the system.

Kormachameleon Mon 03-Dec-12 23:19:19

Gosh this is so worrying
I am in the process of applying for ESA and DLA due go being so unwell I just can't work.

I don't know know what to do I'm so scared by this

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Mon 03-Dec-12 23:24:04

You need to get to the bottom of the facts. Perhaps Citizens Advice would be a good place to start, and I've found if you do a bit of research and crystallise your questions, government departments are quite good at getting back to you. I wouldn't assume everything in the Guardian is gospel, they have printed some scare stories about what is happening to SN provision which gave me some sleepless nights until I was able to check them out and find they were outright lies.

HotheadPaisan Mon 03-Dec-12 23:33:47

Karlos, what were the lies about the SN reforms?

cory Tue 04-Dec-12 08:41:30

If you were a doctor and had told a patient that going back to work would endanger their life and the patient was subsequently registered as fit for ATOS and then dropped dead at work, could you report them to the police for manslaughter or something?

edam Tue 04-Dec-12 13:48:18

karlos, there is no need to be rude. I don't see what is intemperate or irrational about thinking it is wrong to throw terminally ill cancer patients off disability benefits and demand they find jobs - which employers are going to be keen to recruit someone who is terminally ill, in the middle of recession, exactly?

If the government's plans were actually about supporting people with disabilities into work, educating and assisting employers to make reasonable adaptations and educating the public, that would clearly be a good thing. But what is actually happening is not that at all.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 13:53:15

There is such a thing as gross negligence manslaughter but I doubt that would arise in these circumstances. If there was medical evidence that performing a certain task would cause someone's death, you could require them to perform it, but you can't make them do it. The person would have to do it themselves, and to that extent, the death-causing act would be voluntary on their part. I am talking about "voluntary" in the narrow sense that the criminal law would understand the term, you understand, I am aware that a person faced with loss of support could be placed in an impossible position by such a requirement, although i think it's very unlikely to arise in practice, not least because of the possibility of civil liability.

The Guardian caused me to panic because my little boy is on a programme of Applied Behavioural Analysis to help with his ASD which is part-funded by our LEA (at least until they amend his statement, which they will very shortly). The Guardian ran an article a few months ago which suggested that ABA could no longer be funded under the new SEN proposals. So I scoured the draft legislation - nothing there. Scoured the various government papers on the issue - nothing there. Emailed the journo who wrote the article - no response (unsurprisingly). Eventually I emailed the DofE who responded unequivocally that ABA could continue to be funded exactly as it is now. I was also fortunate to be able to consult some barristers with education law expertise, who put this and a few other scare stories about the new legislation to rest for me, thankfully.

It does cause me to smile wryly, though, when I read the Guardian yet again pontificating about the misconduct of other journalists. Rupert Murdoch may be a bastard, but I'm not sure he frightens parents of kids with ASD for fun. Scumbags.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 14:06:10

Thank you for that ref, PseudoBadger.

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974:
"Section 3 General duties of employers and self-employed to persons other than their employees.
"(1)It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."

Which could possibly cover a multitude.

For employees, however, specific duties are spelled out in section 2, eg
"Section 2 (2)(c) the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees"

But iiuc, workfarers are probably not covered by Employment legislation - which specifies things like hours worked, toilet and meal breaks, etc. In fact, I've seen complaints about toilet breaks and working conditions in previous workfare schemes. These will impact all workfarers but may have particular impacts on those with health problems.

PseudoBadger Tue 04-Dec-12 17:16:23

Actually section 4 would suggest otherwise " People in control of non-domestic premises have a duty (under section 4 of the Act) towards people who are not their employees but use their premises."

Workplace requirements are covered by regs such as the Workplace (Health, safety and welfare) Regs 1992

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 17:31:47

Mmm, the document you link to states on page 1: "'Work' - means work as an employee or self-employed person."

It's all going to be very murky, isn't it?

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 17:41:55

The Employment Rights Act 1996 includes an extension of the definition of a "worker" to include an individual
"(d)is or was provided with work experience provided pursuant to a training course or programme or with training for employment (or with both) otherwise than—
(i)under a contract of employment, or
(ii)by an educational establishment on a course run by that establishment"

But it's an extension limited to disclosure of information.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 17:49:03

Sorry, don't see the relevance of Section 4 of the H&S at Work Act?

That's a duty to ensure non-domestic premises "are safe and without risks to health". Says nothing about the risk of any activities being carried out.

PseudoBadger Tue 04-Dec-12 17:56:35

Sorry I misread your post - I thought you meant provision of toilets, break areas etc. Although employers or people in control of premises have a duty to anyone who uses the premises whether employees or not.
Wrt to adequate breaks etc I'm sure that risk assessments/H&S policies could be used to good effect to ensure adequate provision. Sorry, I'm typing in the car (not driving...)

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 18:12:58

Btw, I am very obviously Not A Lawyer, just trying to remember prevoius comments about pushing employment protections back to the 1870s, by someone who I believe is an employment specialist (don't know if law or HR side).

If an expert in this area comes along and says workfarers have the same protections to as employees under existing legislation, that will be great.

Although obviously they can't have the same wage protections and forms of appeal. And of course an employer terminating an employee is discharging them to the mercy of the welfare system; the welfare system discharging a claimant is doing so to... nothing.

PseudoBadger Tue 04-Dec-12 18:15:03

Wrt to people on Workfare not being employees - they are not there for leisure. Someone (DWP?) has required them to be there and that they should work. Therefore they are employees, and someone will be responsible for their health and safety and liable should any incident occur. Whether it is the organisation that pays them or the specific organisation that directs them to do work is a matter to be tested.

MrsEdinburgh Tue 04-Dec-12 18:22:27

It seems that the only way this workfare will stop is when unfortunately someone collapses, dies or endangers the life of others whilst on workfare...

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 18:40:47

I doubt there is case law on the subject but I think it is overwhelmingly likely that the courts would hold that people present in a place of employment under workfare arrangements were employees for the purposes of the 1974 Act and related legislation. The possibility that someone would be directed to work where there was clear medical evidence to the effect that it would endanger their safety or that of others seems to me extremely remote.It is far more likely, in my view, that someone will be assigned work which is not within their capacity, leading to them being treated as though they have not co-operated and deprived of support. For this system to work in a way which is just, the assessment of peoples' capacities would need to be undertaken by expert (in some cases extremely expert) people; and that is likely to cost far more than it would ever save in benefit.
I am all for this happeneing, actually, however costly it is, because I think there are lots of pople with illnesses and disabilities who would like to work and who could, with proper assessment and help, and this would in turn lead to a gradual acceptance that people with disabilities and conditions are actually quite capable of useful contribution in the workplace, and a reduction in dependency over the longer term. But this is a massive cultural shoft and the government plainly are not committed to effecting it.

Leithlurker Tue 04-Dec-12 18:59:58

Bollocks to that Karlos, disabled people may have been gaining ground buy their own effort during the 80's and 90's even in to the early part of this centuray. Helped by both DLA which gave them more independence and ability to have their own transport, plus "Access to work" which surprise surprise both informed and assessed employers for suitable work adjustments, including equipment and covering travel costs.

Numbers of impaired students in higher education was going up, more publicly visable disabled people including people with learning disabilities, and complex support needs were living in their own homes, using community facilities.

A pretty good number of impaired people were actually in employment in all sectors, this outrage that people were "parked" for years has nothing what so ever to do with the choices and the wishes of the impaired themselves. People were parked due to a lack of jobs, a reduction in the help and the services that access to work suffered, and in particular a failing of the private work training and finding companies who knew what the government never wanted to hear. The main barrier to disabled people getting employment is employers who given the choice will employ those with no disability even if they are less well qualified and trained. Good simple, plain, old fashioned disabelism. Oh and when we get a legal frame work it is as quickly as possible is watered down and then got rid of, by I am ashamed to say a labour government.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 19:06:49

The notion that we are retreating from some kind of utopia where people with disabilities were getting access to employment more easily is laughable. less then 10% of people with ASD, for example, are in employment at all. I agree with you about disablism - that's precisely the point I'm making.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 19:17:47

I think you're essentially in agreement, Leith & Karlos*: if the aim was to create better access to employment for people with disabilities, we'd be putting pressure on the employers, not on the people with disabilities.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 19:34:57

yes, that's exactly what i was trying to say, stated a great deal more succinctly...

Leithlurker Tue 04-Dec-12 19:58:02

Parsing I will add to Karlos's compliment and say that the united nations should be contacting you shortly as indeed we ARE agreeing

Karlos I apologise I baulked at what I thought was your tone of "disabled people can and should work" a notion no one has ever disagreed with, but it has to be on the terms of the employee as that will lead to it being sustainable not a revolving door of jobs that dont last and benefits separated by long periods of ill health brought on by trying to do the impossible.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 20:45:08

"Parsing I will add to Karlos's compliment and say that the united nations should be contacting you shortly"


<frames and keeps as will never happen again>

<unless they're after my arse for starting a small war somewhere grin>

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 21:50:11

No job, anywhere, is "on the terms of the employee". Insisting on that will hobble us before we even begin. What is required is for employers and current employees to accept that many people with disabilities are capable of meaningful work and that certain assumptions about what is required of employees need to change. One bee in my bonnet, for example, is the insistence in work of all types however solitary that prospective employees should have certain social attributes - be chatty, smily, open to socialising with colleagues. There are plenty of people with ASD who would fail on these criteria but are actually perfectly capable of doing certain jobs.
To take a rather airy-fairy example, i was taught at college by someone who I'm fairly convinced had Aspergers. A period of adjustment on my part to some of his oddities of behaviour was required. But this was expected of me, quite rightly, as he was in fact a fantastic teacher (if hard to follow, because so incredibly clever) and the onus was on me to get my head round the ways in which he was different. I was richly rewarded for doing so. in many other walks of life, however, his behaviour would have caused him to be written off.

cory Tue 04-Dec-12 21:55:16

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 18:40:47
"The possibility that someone would be directed to work where there was clear medical evidence to the effect that it would endanger their safety or that of others seems to me extremely remote."

But correct me if I am wrong: does the current form of Atos assessment actually take medical evidence from experts into account? Is it not based on the observations of the official on the day? In which case it seems perfectly possible that somebody with, say, a life-threatening heart condition could slip through.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 22:01:14

This mandatory workfare is intended to be for people with life-threatening heart conditions.

Who have been found not fit to work by ATOS and awarded ESA as part of the Work-Related Activity Group.

In which they may be told to... work. At the discretion of a JobCentre clerk who has no access to medical info and wouldn't understand it if they had.

Yes, it really is that bonkers.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 22:11:30

In theory, of course, the "work-activity" is supposed to be "appropriate" for the sick person.

In practice... Did I mention the discretion of the JobCentre clerk? This is a regime of mandatory activity where the onus is on the sick person to make a case that they shouldn't have to do it. It's a recipe for disaster.

And that's before JobCentre staff start behaving like on this thread.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 22:13:45

I think we can take it as read that these assessments ought not to be entrusted to JCP staff - who I bet don;t wnat the responsibility anyway.
If there is to be no taking into account of medical evidence I very much doubt any employer will wnat to become involved. It's a massive potential liability. The whole notion is insane.

Darkesteyes Tue 04-Dec-12 22:14:06

Karlos it is workFARE they are mandating people on the ESA WRAG too. Not paid work that involves a wage.
Last year Tory MP Philip Davies floated the idea that disabled people could/should work for less than the minimum wage. IMO they were simply testing the water. When there wasnt much of a public outcry they realised they could get away with something harsher and here it is!

cory Wed 05-Dec-12 08:46:33

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 22:13:45
"I think we can take it as read that these assessments ought not to be entrusted to JCP staff - who I bet don;t wnat the responsibility anyway.
If there is to be no taking into account of medical evidence I very much doubt any employer will wnat to become involved. It's a massive potential liability. The whole notion is insane. "

I couldn't agree more whole-heartedly. But this is how Atos testing is currently done and has been for quite some time.

As for staff not wanting that job, staff are recruited to Atos with promises of better working conditions than at hospitals or surgeries- and you can see how for an overworked A&E receptionist or nurse the prospect of a job where you only have to fill in forms and not work night shifts or mop up sick must seem quite attractive. They get paid the same wages for work that from their pov is much easier than what they did before. There have been whistle blowers, both doctors and nurses, who have revealed the kind of instructions they were given by Atos both at the recruitment stage and actually on the job. They are specifically told they can only ask the questions on their questionnaire and observe the activitites that are on their list. Because it's tick box, there is nowhere they can add any specific medical concerns they may have. If you clock up enough points, you are automatically considered fit for work.

Leithlurker Wed 05-Dec-12 09:06:00

Karlos if work is ever to be available to the whole range of people with impairements then it must change and be flexible, you give a perfect example of what works for some i.e. restricted social contact. How is that to be achieved? Or how are those with variable health issues, chronic pain or fatigue, ever going to fit in to a work pattern dictated by the needs of the employer? They are just not. Employers want something done, impaired people are able to do it, but in a manner and a time scale that allows them to which is why it must be less of a set rigid pattern, and more of a discussion. Those with child care, or older workers would also benefit from getting rid of this notion that employers have the power over other peoples lives.

Jux Thu 06-Dec-12 21:31:59

This terrifies me. I get sick with fear over these things.

Darkesteyes Sun 09-Dec-12 23:17:21
BlameItOnTheChoirOfAngels Sun 09-Dec-12 23:20:24


Darkesteyes Sun 09-Dec-12 23:20:46
BlameItOnTheChoirOfAngels Sun 09-Dec-12 23:20:49

I actually have nothing else to say, nothing covers how I feel.

Pixel Sun 09-Dec-12 23:46:57

What is required is for employers and current employees to accept that many people with disabilities are capable of meaningful work and that certain assumptions about what is required of employees need to change

Or how are those with variable health issues, chronic pain or fatigue, ever going to fit in to a work pattern dictated by the needs of the employer? They are just not. Employers want something done, impaired people are able to do it, but in a manner and a time scale that allows them to which is why it must be less of a set rigid pattern, and more of a discussion.

Isn't all this exactly what Remploy has been doing successfully for years? They have been giving employment to people who have proved they are capable if they are only given proper support, and they have been turning out quality goods that are exported all over the world.
But first Labour and now the present government have been closing these factories down. It makes no sense to me.

zellka Sun 16-Dec-12 19:55:39

Surely making disabled and sick people do indefinate workfarewhen jobseekers are limited to 4 weeks is positivly discriminating against the disabled which is already illegal. I would think it could be challenged in the EU courts .

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