UK "forced labor" welfare scheme nailed in court

It's the stuff of dystopian fiction: welfare claimaints sent to work for no pay at profitable private companies, with costs born by the taxpayer. British courts are taking aim at the policy, the BBC reports.

Miss Reilly said that in November 2011 she had to leave her voluntary work at a local museum and work unpaid at the Poundland store in Kings Heath, Birmingham, under a scheme known as the "sector-based work academy". She was told that if she did not carry out the work placement - which, she said, involved stacking shelves and cleaning floors - she would lose her Jobseeker's Allowance.


        1. Exactly. I still can’t fathom why the British government thinks it’s legally or even ethically a good idea to tell these workers they should be happy with the gruel they’re currently getting.

          1. Where does the government (BTW, I’m neither a Tory nor a Liberal democrat) say that they should be happy with gruel?

            The current government (and the last Labour one) wants these kids to get jobs and get their lives moving forward. Getting a job and earning money will improve their lives dramatically – go on, disagree with me and tell my why it won’t.

            That’s not going to happen sitting on JSA and showing up at a Jobcentre every fortnight to sign a form. Taking steps to move towards employment – and being employable is the only way out of poverty and a life on benefits for many of them.

            What would you suggest instead?

          2. By institutionalizing forced/slave labor the government is not only fucking over the ‘job seekers,’ but also depressing wages in the sector in which forced/slave laborers are being coerced to work, thereby driving down standards of living for other workers.

            I would suggest the government get out of the business of forced/slave labor. This includes, in the US for example, prison labor schemes.

            And yes, I understand the difference between chattel slavery and forced labor.

          3. If companies are able to employ these young people why not actually hire them and pay them a working wage?

            Actually I think the answer to that question is inherent in the policy itself. It allows these companies to tap into a free labor pool and lets the taxpayers pick up the tab.

            I’m all for giving people a chance to get out of poverty and move toward employment, but as it is the policy seems to be discouraging rather than encouraging that since it doesn’t give companies any reason to pay these workers. 

          4. If companies are able to employ these young people why not actually hire them and pay them a working wage?

            That money is earmarked for bonuses for the top executives.

          5. @ S Elwro “If they could convince a company to pay them to work… they wouldn’t need work experience.”

            Yeah, you need to learn mad skills to be able to perform the expert tasks of “stacking shelves and cleaning floors”. *rolls eyes*

            Aside from that, why not place them in the said J-O-B that MWA has put these people in with the company paying the salary instead of the taxpayer? Regardless of skills, they’re still “employing” these people in the performance of a task, and they are being “paid” by the government – why not make it the private company who is benefiting from the performance of said tasks, otherwise known as “jobs”?

          6. The worst part of these schemes – and they have been proposed here in USA as well – is that they not only force the recipients deeper and deeper into poverty, but they also leave no time or energy for job-seeking.  The only thing missing is the company store.

          7. The company store’s been proposed – only providing money on smart cards, which are only accepted by certain corporate partners e.g. the big supermarket chains.

  1. Florida (perhaps all of the US, I’m not certain) has a similar scheme. If you’re able bodied and under 50, you have to work 30 hours a week unpaid to get food stamps. For most people, this works out to less than $1 an hour. The companies involved apparently get your services for free.

    1. I’ve never heard of this and I live in Florida.  Husband’s parents are on food stamps and as far as I know they haven’t been forced to work anywhere.

    2. Looks like it’s actually a federal requirement as part of the SNAP program.
      If I’m reading this correctly, participation in a work, workfare, or community volunteer program is a general requirement, but states set their own requirements in terms of hours. Florida and Massachusetts, to pick two search hits, both set that cutoff at 20 hours per week. The SNAP website itself is far less specific.

      1. In Australia you have to be doing Something to improve your situation. Volunteering where you learn new skills, taking Uni/trade school classes, etc., all count. Some people who don’t find their own things to do have to join Gov projects, one of them a few years ago built a huge boardwalk at a popular beach, a now very popular part of the local scenery. 

    3. This isn’t true, for under 50 or otherwise. I’m all for food stamps but also the facts and this simply is not a requirement. Maybe if you’re receiving cash assistance (I’m am not sure about this), although I doubt it, but not the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Some kind of work experience class is suggested, but not required. That’s not to say that Skeletor …er…um… the Governor wouldn’t love to throw everyone receiving any assistance into a work camp, but the only thing required right now is a drug test if you’re getting cash assistance which you only get if you have kids. And you know, that’s working out so great for the Florida taxpayer *sarcasm*

      1.  Hmmm… I accidentally simplified things in my original post but I did just look it up and it is similar to what I originally claimed. Is Food Assistance and SUNCAP not food stamps? Maybe that’s the confusion.

        1. Considering your other post, I don’t understand the requirements at all. All I know is that they are no where near 50, no kids, and have had continuous food assistance for over two years. I saw the Federal SNAP eligibility page and it says the same thing about working so I don’t get it.

  2. As I see it, the only thing wrong with what these people were made to do was, they were forced to work for private companies.  They should have been forced to work in places that would have benefited the public, like cleaning up parks or helping road crews or things like that.  People should have to work for what they get.  As for their not being paid, hogwash – they receive pay in the form of the welfare checks they were getting.  They were not being forced to work for nothing, they were being forced to earn their money.

    1. Woah woah woah, hold your horses! You’re starting to get into union job territory! Road crews working for the city are union jobs, unless your libertarian utopia also does away with unions as well as empathy.

    2. They were still being paid by the taxpayer rather than the firms gaining from the labour, so not much use to the politicians attempting to buy votes from the middle-class.

    3. Sadly, you’re making the same poor arguments that led to Giuliani’s Work Experience Program. 

      Work Experience Program (WEP), the crowning glory of the Giuliani administration’s welfare-to-work program, is premised on the idea that one must work for the little survival money one gets because it will “instill the work ethic” into the recipient.  WEP workers many times work alongside city workers who make real living wages doing the exact same thing.  Most of the jobs WEP workers fill were once salaried city jobs that were taken away in the early cutbacks of the Giuliani administration and reinstated as close-to-unpaid WEP jobs worked on by welfare recipients.  Many times the work does not provide real skills and, worst of all, since 1995 twenty-one thousand students have abandoned their studies at CUNY because of the WEP program. 

      According to the NYC Human Resources Administration Commissioner Jason Turner, the primary philosophy guiding reform comes down to creating a “personal crisis” in the lives of welfare recipients.  The fundamental idea is that poverty is the result of personal behavior, and falls right into place with simple line of conservative demagogues.

      This “tough love” approach toward the poor disregards people as individuals struggling with abuse, mental illness, addiction, or discrimination.  Rather, it sees them as a group leeching off the system, making it easier to impose the harsh, cruel rollback currently underway.  This tactic is a dehumanization of the undeserving and “unrespectable” of the undeserving and “unrespectable” in the view of the “new” New York.

    4. One problem is you are treating someone’s employment and welfare insurance, which they paid into for years and years, as if it’s some kind of benefit or privilege, like a million dollar bonus.

      1. Or even if they Haven’t paid into it (they’re too young), the rest of the population did. I’ve been on unemployment benefits, they suck, but they’re better than nothing, and as a now gainfully employed citizen I’m happy to help out people who are now in the situation I used to be in. Welfare to Work programs need to teach skills, not just allow businesses to have menial work done for little to no cost. 

    5.  You could make that argument. Of course, they are not being paid more than a small fraction of the paid staff that they are replacing, whether in the public or private sectors. They may not be working for exactly nothing, but they would be working for a very small fraction of the minimum wage. As they would also be likely to eat more because they are working, and travel to work, they would also have higher living expenses, which would almost certainly not be repaid, so they would be financially worse off than if not on the program.

    6. Yeah…  She was working already.  In an unpaid job in the field for which she went to school.  Which would likely have turned into a paid job eventually.  And she was working part time at a manual labor job, as well.  She did everything right.  The government turned her into a serf who does manual labor with no opportunity for escape.

      1. Exactly. Lots of people work their way up from the bottom of the ladder, starting as interns, trainees, work experience types. If they’re good workers, a good boss finds a way to keep them on. A good friend of mine who’s now in politics started out volunteering a few days a week, then they got him to come in more and more, started paying him, paid him more, casual became contract became permanent.

        Now the labour laws in Australia forced his employer to actually pay him because of the length of his efforts, perhaps that isn’t true in other places?

    7. People should have to work for what they get.

      What, even super-rich people? Good luck with that fantasy.

  3. Nope. There may be more than one state that has such a setup but it is definitely not universal.  And if it weren’t for the work going to private companies, I’d be all in favor of it.  The times I’ve been on unemployment, I’d much rather have had *some* kind of job even it it was just helping pick up roadside trash.

    1.  If you’re unemployed and looking for work, your “job” is to /find a job/. And that can be a full-time effort if you’re doing it right. If you’re being forced to work, presumably during the hours most jobs would be interviewing, how the heck are you supposed to actually find one? That’s what I don’t quite understand. Unless you’re willing to take Interview days off (When I was looking for this job, it wasn’t uncommon for a single interview to end up as an 8 hour day, with the 2 hour interview in the middle of it. Hard to work another job without pay while you’re doing that… and you’re stealing that job from someone else in the meantime! It’s crazy)

      1. I’ll wager the rationale was something like “people have to maintain their skills and their resume won’t have unsightly gaps.”

        Which is a nice idea in theory. Whether this is the way to actually *accomplish* that goal is another question entirely.

      2. I believe the maximum number of hours you are required to work each week is 30 which is specifically designed to leave some time at least for job hunting.
        You are allowed to take any and as much time as necessary for interviews so long as you have proof from a potential employer.

        1. 10 hour a week out of the standard 40 hour work week? Good luck with finding a job with that kind of commitment. Hundreds of studies in the 50s and 60s proved over and over that the average worker has 40 hours of productive labor in them a week. If you want someone to be serious about finding a job, they need a lot more than 10 good hours a week to focus on it.

    2. “Times” what are you lazy?

      I only got unemployment once in my life when I was out of work for a few months, and I happily took it because I have been paying taxes in various forms since I was a child working and purchasing things for decades. Unemployment is one of the most crucial forms of social benefits there is, and on the other hand our taxes pay for scores of other things that aren’t needed (breaks for corporations) or are otherwise despicable (war making at elite businesses behest). Unemployment benefits keep people functioning in society, while at the same time contributing to the economy. It’s beyond stupid to want to do away with something like that, or have people “picking up trash” when they could be actually looking for a decent job that will get them back up and contributing to society and the economy. Jobs programs should be voluntary and used by people who actually need them. In your world a person with a particular skill would be mopping a park bathroom instead of using that time to get a job in their field. Ridiculous. Looking for work IS work.

      1. Unemployment benefit has been abolished in the UK and replaced with a Job Seekers Allowance. The government now requires proof of job seeking activity. Job Seekers Allowance has two parts each of which pays exactly the same in benefits – contributory which is based on national insurance contributions and income-based which requires no national insurance contributions. After six months or a year (I forget which) claimants will be shifted from contributory to income-based. JSA regardless of the number of years of contributions they have made. The government could very easily assert that many or even most claimants are funded by taxpayers.

        1. The government could very easily assert that many or even most claimants are funded by taxpayers.

          You have to prove that you are searching here as well. I believe the requirement was 3 applications a day when I was unemployed. Whether any of these people has paid directly into this particular benefit doesn’t concern me, they have all paid taxes and contributed to society in other ways, whether this is the particular benefit that helps or not doesn’t bother me.

          1. About 15 years ago, I was on unemployment in Canada. I entered a program wherein a non-profit took me on as a contractor and topped up my benefits. They got my expertise at a hugely discounted rate, I got loads of experience, and the government knew it was at least getting something back for the money. Not sure if this still exists, but hope so. There should be more programs like this. 

          2. Now that sounds sensible. Mrs. Reilly has a geology degree and they were going to have her cleaning floors for “job experience”. Not sure how doing unskilled cleaning labor has anything to do with job experience or skills. Humility and character building? Certainly. This is more like cheap forced labor and not much else.

          3. Beveridge, the founder of the modern British welfare state believed in eugenics and that the middle classes should be supported to have more children and to that end he sought to combat five evils – squalor, ignorance, indolence, want and disease. If I were being cynical I would say he was interested only in keeping the ‘underclass – those who couldn’t hack it’ on the right side of starvation and revolution to support the ‘productive classes – those who could hack it’. Almost by definition if you require assistance your function in society is to support those who don’t. It is a policing and maximisation of resources of a type but one which is neither desirable nor the one you are seeking. The whole of our present legislation needs to be torn up and rewritten. We have progressed no further than the Poor Law distinction between deserving widows and sturdy beggars.

            Our friend S Elwro understands the founding principles of the British welfare state.

            All governments claim to accept and follow the principles of Beveridge while at the same time introducing Byzantine levels of complexity to hide the unpalatable application of its policies. They may not go so far as to support eugenics but they seem to do little to disagree with the fundamental direction of support.

  4. I agree with the sentiment that this program is only valid if the work is a community-oriented work instead of a job-displacing free labor position at a private firm. I’d even go further and say that the amount of work should be limited to the value of the benefits provided – the government should have to “pay” a fair “wage.”

    1. In this case, there’s also the issue that this program is supposedly a ‘job training/work readiness’ thing. As constituted, the work being done is supposed to be providing some advantage in getting a job.

      Whether or not you think that’s a good plan, it’s a second standard that a given job posting would be required to meet under the scheme as it was intended to operate.

    2. Er, that’s called “being employed by the state”.

      I agree with you that that’s a much better idea than “workfare” — but let’s call a spade a spade here.

  5. The only thing that was “nailed” is that the process followed was incorrect and the she was not told what the consequences of not attending would be. For example: Sector Based Work Academies (the Poundland stuff) are not mandatory. 

    The actual JSA legal mechanisms behind mandating people to work were not ruled on – and have not changed.

    On a non-legal point: I don’t know the details behind her case, but someone doing voluntary work to get work experience in an area they are qualified for (the museum) is not usually a candidate for this kind of thing. It’s down to her personal adviser to decide that.

    1. Yes, sadly the ruling was about the incompetence of the government in writing legislation, and in the ability of civil servants to understand and follow it correctly, not on the sheer outrageousness of the legislation in the first place which was tacitly admitted to be acceptable.

    1. Yes… voluntary work – which this person was doing of her own accord with the museum. But I doubt you meant that… you just hadn’t thought it through or read the article.

      Also she is getting paid Jobseeker’s Allowance – paid by the tax payer..Many of these young people have no work experience and nothing to put on their CVs that demonstrates they can do a job at all. Many of them don’t want to bother getting that and would rather just claim JSA indefinitely. Hence the occasional need to mandate someone to do work experience – also known as “mandatory work activity” (which isn’t done trivially and isn’t some grand scheme to make money for large corporations)

        1. Have you ever read the law regarding Mandatory Work Activity in the UK?

          I doubt it… but you should.

          Referring someone to MWA is decided by a Personal Adviser in a jobcentre – in conjunction with their manager – and is based on the personal circumstances and background (work history etc) of the person on JSA. Are they going to benefit from work experience is the one and only question on the table.

          Unless you think every PA and their manager is in on some vast conspiracy and is keeping quiet about it… you’re simply talking rubbish.

          1. Are they performing work that is valuable to the company they are working for? If yes, then they should be paid for it (as in, some of the value which they have added to the organisation should be shared with the person adding the value) and if no, they shouldn’t be there at all.

            It’s absolutely not a conspiracy on the level of the PAs and their managers, but forcing people to work for free is a repellent practice that is only possible in a society (and a legislature) dominated by corporations. It’s not a conspiracy, but (for example) the Confederation for British Industry rarely kicks up a stink about this kind of scheme…

            You have mentioned repeatedly that you see no problem with a scheme that (by effect rather than design, admittedly) creates a free labour force, with which it is inherently impossible to compete; remind me again why they shouldn’t get the mandatory minimum wage for performing a job which, prior to this scheme, would have paid it..?

          2. It’s not a free labour force. MWA was not created, nor is it meant to be used, as cheap labour for companies.

            If it’s happening in some cases, then those need to be raised and addressed by DWP managers and the companies involved (possibly through revoking their contracts)… something I would wholeheartedly support and encourage.

            It does not change the fact that the scheme addresses a basic need: work experience for young people who often cannot get out of bed before 3pm and haven’t had any kind of time structure (other than showing up to sign on every fortnight)  since they left education.

            I should also point out that MWA is controversial within the DWP and industry. Most companies DO NOT WANT to be seen as some exploiter of cheap labour – they DO want to be seen as helping young people get work experience. So do their staff who actually have to organise, manage and train these kids) .

            They aren’t drooling at the prospect of slave labour.

            There is also a voluntary work experience for young people on JSA – which a lot of effort is expended on. Typically MWA comes into effect when someone needs w/e (due ot no work history) refuses voluntary w/e and all offers of help, and is chronically unreliable about their appointments.

            Again, that’s a decision made by a PA and manager.

          3. MWA was not created, nor is it meant to be used, as cheap labour for companies.

            Do please prove that. Because it certainly looks like it.

          4. And that excuses them from paying the going rate for the work why?

            All the controversies regarding MWA and The Work Programme more broadly would simply go away if the people doing the work were simply paid properly for their time.

          5.  @google-a578c884c524d05cfe595b9f50bf3032:disqus
            The other complainant is a 40 year old out of work driver, and when have companies been so worried about work history when hiring people to clean floors?

          6. Navin Johnson:
            “The other complainant is a 40 year old out of work driver, and when have companies been so worried about work history when hiring people to clean floors?”

            The other complainant was a ‘Very Long-Term’ unemployed person – not some guy who’s just been made redundant.

            And people hiring to clean floors DO look at a work history – all employers do. 

            And despite your disparaging tone generally cleaners go into all sorts of sensitive areas in offices. Work history/criminal records all come into it.

          7. @google-a578c884c524d05cfe595b9f50bf3032:disqus

            “disparaging tone”

            lol. I see what you tried to do there. Cleaning floors* is definitely honorable work, but it has absolutely nothing to do with giving Mrs. Reilly realistic work experience or skills, unlike her volunteer job which was. And it is B.S. to suggest that experience and background checks are such a big deal. Maybe ask much of your immigrant workforce.

            *I have done much harder and dirtier labor myself.

          8. We might want to excuse them from paying the “employee” wages if the company would not have hired the additional help but for an interest in providing work experience to the employee in the name of the public good. How one would prove that would certainly be nightmarish, but if you mandated that all cooperating employers paid all MWA employees, you’d have significantly fewer opportunities for MWA workers to find that experience due to the expense incurred by the employing entity.

          9. ACME doesn’t want to pay Jane to sweep the floor.
            ACME fires Jane.
            Jane signs up for JSA and is forced to sweep ACME’s floors for free in order to get her benefits.

            Any more questions?

          10. I knew there was a conspiracy to deny in here somewhere.
            See: too many people would have to know about it, surely *someone* would come forward and blow the whistle.

          11. The simple existence of the scheme is a wealth transfer from taxpayers to private companies. It doesn’t require a vast conspiracy; it simply requires a sufficient craven government.

      1. Why don’t the increasing educational achievements which successive governments announce each year create an ever more work-ready pool of labour?
        We are becoming better educated and less able to work apparently.

        1. It’s because Eastern European scroungers are sneaking foxes into our babies’ bedrooms!

          Isn’t that the answer to every labor question in the UK?

          1. I read the Daily Mail religiously, and I can tell you that Eastern European scroungers are sneaking CANCER into our cribs.

      2. Also she is getting paid Jobseeker’s Allowance – paid by the tax payer

        All citizens are tax payers, including her. Maybe they can refund the taxes she has paid throughout life that go to fund things she may not like: Military, monarchy, tax breaks for billionaires…etc. etc..

        1. If she was getting JSA contribution based you may have a point. I doubt she was… she was almost certainly getting JSA income based because she hasn’t paid enough NI contributions. In fact, I very much doubt that she’s paid a penny in taxes. 

          NOTE: This bit is general and not in relation to the person in the article:
          You’re also making ridiculous comparisons – when does the tax payer’s obligation end? Supporting an indolent person who will not work, and will accept no  help taking steps to make themselves ready for work.. and do so indefinitely?

          1. I very much doubt that she’s paid a penny in taxes.

            I didn’t realize that payroll taxes were the only form of taxation you had over there….. 

            Supporting an indolent person who will not work, and will accept no help taking steps to make themselves ready for work.. and do so indefinitely?

            Yes, support those rare cases indefinitely. It’s better than the alternatives. I would rather people buy food and services with their government checks and put money back into the economy, than have the higher costs that criminality brings be carried by the taxpayers. Society? How does it work? 

            As for the rest, you’re just fabricating something that’s been shown to be a complete and total myth anyway: That people don’t want to work, or will remain unemployed most of their lives.

          2. Fabricating? Yes well… don’t bother addressing the actual issues and realities. Just accuse me of lying.

            I can cite that frequent and generational use of welfare benefits (as you suggested was a problem) in this country is rare, and that the bulk of the population will rely on it at least once, so very few people should have the balls to lecture welfare recipients. I imagine it’s not very different in the UK. If you can prove otherwise, then please do.

            I’ll ask you the same question I’ve asked others: What do you suggest should happen instead?

            I answered this. Give them benefits regardless and let them decide how to use their time. Offer useful programs on a strictly volunteer basis. You cannot even remotely argue that Mrs. Reilly’s scenario makes sense and is good for society.

          3. The government does seem to want things both ways. Their general position on hypothecation of taxes (regardless of their name) is that it cannot, does not and should not exist. Hypothecation of taxes restricts the responsibilities of governments. We all pay into one pot and all suffer and benefit as a result.

          4.  @google-a578c884c524d05cfe595b9f50bf3032:disqus

            At this point you’re just simply repeating yourself and some pretty incoherent, and unconvincing arguments for continuing bad policies. You’re selling, nobody’s buying.

          5. I would rather people buy food and services with their government checks and put money back into the economy, than have the higher costs that criminality brings be carried by the taxpayers. Society? How does it work?


      3. Many of these young people have no work experience and nothing to put on their CVs that demonstrates they can do a job at all.

        If by “many” you mean “an incredibly small proportion”, I’d buy that.

        Most human beings are not thrilled at the idea of being useless layabouts.  I know conservatives think they do but I suspect this is just projection.

  6. Here in Ireland, we have a similar scheme called JobBridge, the problem is, companies no longer bother tending for ‘normal employees’.. and just scrape the barrel listing the vacancy with JobBridge instead..

    You get the basic unemployment assistance + €50 (euros).

    Politicians are currently trying to groom the public towards the notion of ‘no pay’ employment, as in, you’re payed with experience..

    I wouldn’t have a problem with the scheme for very basic work, but the jobs tendered for this scheme crosses a lot of lines, well earned expertise, minimum wage legislation (EU & IRL), Unions, along with University Graduates more or less expected to do a ‘degree level’ job, for free.

    You only have to visit: to realise that there’s very obvious displacement taking place.

    Expensive country to live in, a basic, bring home wage, after tax, is often less than what you’d get from intentionally making yourself idle and collecting the various benefits.

  7. Workfare undercuts fair wages. If a company can get “free” labour, it certainly isn’t going to hire at minimum wage.

    Then there’s the issue of involuntary indenture. From Miram-Webster dictionary “a contract binding one person to work for another for a given period of time”. Workfare removes any choice. You go where they tell you, when they tell you and do what they tell you. IN a legitimate job, if you refused, you are disciplined, perhaps fired. And then you can dispute it under labour laws. You don’t have that under Workfare. If you don’t, your benefits are terminated or suspended. Period. In some places, there is no dispute process, other than to have a gov’t supervisor review the case.There’s more, but those are the two main problems with Workfare.

  8. Bears strong resemblance to America’s policy of free-stuff socialism for capitalists accompanied by darwinian capitalism towards individuals.

  9. It’s telling that she was told to give up her volunteer work at the museum for this. Meaning it’s not about getting the unemployed to do something constructive, it’s about free labour for corporations.

    Tories I am disappoint.

    1. Tories I am disappoint.

      What about them? They certainly are evil corporatists, but this was just a flagship “New Labour” policy being enacted.

      1.  Tories = Lib Dems = New Labour

        The only difference is in how hard they push wrong/evil policies and whether they at least try to offset some of the damage they cause in the process.

        So you are right in that it was a new labour policy, but new labour policy isn’t far off Tory policy, so you can call it Tory policy too.

  10. “We have no intention of giving back money to anyone who has had their benefits removed because they refused to take getting into work seriously. We are currently considering a range of options to ensure this does not happen,” said a spokesman for the DWP.

    I demand that the DWP be made to eat those words.

  11. What a damn shame, people are being told they actually have to go do something useful while living off the public purse.

    This woman is annoyed that her volunteer work is being interrupted (Shouldn’t she be out seeking a real job based on the name of the welfare program in question?)

    Unless that volunteer work is likely to lead to a job, I don’t see the problem here.

    It’d be better if the work was in the public sector, most welfare offices could use a good scrub and people on welfare seem to have a bit of time on their hands.

    1. Are you saying that you’re happy that the government is essentially providing free labour to for-profit corporations?

      No one is arguing that people should be employed.

      But you might want to look up the definition of slavery.

    2. What a damn shame, people are being told they actually have to go do something useful while living off the public purse.

      Unless that volunteer work is likely to lead to a job, I don’t see the problem here.

      Putting these two together, apparently none of the work volunteers do has any value to the public, so the only point is if they might earn some money for themselves. An interesting view of what “use” means to people who support programs like this.

      …most welfare offices could use a good scrub and people on welfare seem to have a bit of time on their hands.

      Plus they smell odd and have uncouth diction. Have you heard that some biologists say we might have common ancestors? Seems strange when they’re so different from us.

    3. This woman is annoyed that her volunteer work is being interrupted (Shouldn’t she be out seeking a real job based on the name of the welfare program in question?)

      Christ, what an asshole.

      Her unpaid internship was job training for her chosen profession.

        1. The no-bs explanation is, one of BB’s tags is “Christ what an asshole” and is applied to appropriate posts.

          I am not stating an opinion, just making sure you know what’s actually going on there.

    1. I can’t wait for child mortality rates to climb back up to 75%. I mean, after all, why should the NHS be covering these pathetic layabouts, huh?

    1. There’ve been a lot of trolls in contentious issue threads like abortion, but they’re typically so across the line that their posts just get disappeared completely by the modstaff.

  12. I think this is a symptom of a much deeper malaise here in the UK. The last few years have seen a slow and steady demonisation of a group of people often referred to as the long-term unemployed; a nebulous ‘social underclass’ vacuuming up taxpayer’s money and generally making life a misery for ‘hard-working families’. The UK public is now conditioned to a point where it is acceptable to ridicule and openly call them ‘chav scum’, ‘scroungers’ or similar, with no expectation of being brought up short or called out for this prejudice.

    It makes me uneasy that a part of society with effectively no voice can be hated so thoroughly in this way by all classes of society. When bad things start happening to social groups it doesn’t just happen overnight; there’s a gradual build up of disgust and intolerance, until it’s ok to make jokes about them, it’s fine to openly call them scum and that not be controversial. Then people don’t complain when rights are stripped away, benefits are slashed, and they are forced to work for free for private companies. 

    I think the welfare system in the UK certainly fails a large amount of people, and a way needs to be found to incentivise people into work, or back to work. This legalised slavery really isn’t it. Furthermore, a fair few people calling for benefit cuts, and sending ‘scroungers’ to work for free, will find themselves in need of benefits when the UK government’s next round of cuts sees them redundant and unable to pay their mortgages or service their loans. 

    1. Furthermore, a fair few people calling for benefit cuts, and sending ‘scroungers’ to work for free, will find themselves in need of benefits when the UK government’s next round of cuts sees them redundant and unable to pay their mortgages or service their loans.

      But, but, that’s different because I had a job, unlike these lazy layabouts that are content to live on welfare right out the door from school.

      OW. God damn, it hurt to think like that.

      1. I have to confess that sitting in the unemployment office, looking around, my first thought was “I don’t belong here!!!!”. Yeah… not my proudest moment, in so many ways.

        1. Well, really, nobody should be in an unemployment office. Everyone should be able to get a job. (Having a 0% unemployment rate is easier said than done, of course.)

          But that’s not quite what you were getting at, I know.

  13. Might I suggest an easy solution to this?
    All Government jobs be converted to this system.
    I am sure the PM and others would LOVE the work experience they are getting along with the small welfare check to keep them going.

    As with many things politicians do, when you force them to “benefit” from their ideas like the normal people must they get a new attitude about these things.

  14. This is now getting to be quite an old story, has taken a while to reach BB. The story has been called ‘workfare’ by its opponents, but it seems to me more like a form of ‘internship’. 

    Internship/workfare has grown hugely in recent years, and seems to me it’s a logical corollary to the minimum wage, which has damaged the old apprenticeship system.

  15. An important fact to remember when saying “Minimum Wage” and equating it the food-stamps-for-work in the US is that JSA is a qualifying benefit for free prescriptions, free school meals and most importantly the maximum housing benefit payments – this can be up to £400 ($625) per week. That can be £24k pa($37k pa) with JSA included. £15.70 ($24.40) an hour is far from slave wages.

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