As one door opens another closes

locked door

Anyone fighting the welfare ‘reform’ monster will be familiar with just how slippery it is. You think you have kept it at bay, and then it rears its ugly head to attack something else.

So, first, the good news. Since the ending of Mandatory Work Activity and Community Work Placements there appears to be no strictly mandatory work schemes currently operating in Dundee. Learndirect, who administered both these programmes, has quietly vanished from its office on City Quay, and Triage assures us that none of the schemes it sends people to is mandatory.

The less good news is that there is no attempt to inform people that they can say no to being sent on a work scheme without incurring a sanction; and within the DWP’s punitive regime we have been taught not to question instructions. The system still promotes a culture where people are expected to work for free to earn the right to get a job interview, and to ‘volunteer’ as part of their thirty-five hour a week jobsearch.

And the really bad news is that the DWP is spreading its tentacles into even more areas, and polluting what should be safe spaces. We have already commented on the way pressurised volunteering has drawn charities and community groups into their orbit. In March, Third Force News reported that ‘So called job coaches from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are to be placed in schools, social care settings, libraries, and housing schemes’. Dundee City Council seems determinedly complacent about the implications of this type of approach. Their website explains that they are ‘working closely with a range of partners including Jobcentre Plus’; their first suggestion for anyone affected by welfare ‘reform’ and considering looking for work is to contact a Jobcentre advisor; and their independent ‘employability’ service, Discover Opportunities, hosts a jobcentre ‘outreach worker’ twice a week. If they cannot see how important it is to keep services designed to advise and help separate from those set up to control and punish, then we would suggest that they try and imagine what they would think if they learnt about a similar system of state surveillance in some distant autocratic regime.

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4 thoughts on “As one door opens another closes

  1. Sadly registered social landlords, (housing associations) are increasingly willingly becoming part of the ‘discipline and punish’ regime, only to happy to wield the lash on behalf of the government. It comes to something when social landlords are more fearful of politicians than they are of their own tenants!

    I doubt that many social landlords would consider surveillance as a negative, but rather as a good idea, increasing their already excessive control over the lives of the people whose homes they provide.

    This situation will remain until such time as social housing is brought back into democratic control, either through tenants managing their own housing organisations, or as it once was in the case of local authority housing, through the ballot box at local authority elections.

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  2. Focusing on the bright side, I propose a placard design: Say ‘no’ to work schemes with a smile, not a sanction

    All the same, a Social Work Tutor proposes that burnout be treated as an industrial injury: Social workers need to be backed, not left to burn out
    If burnout’s a common outcome of the conditions we work in, why isn’t it treated as an industrial injury, asks Social Work Tutor
    .

    Claimant Conditionality is so arbitrary and disrepectful of individual differences that it can even lead to corporate homicide.

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  3. I’m in that situation now. Eviction case being called on the19th Sep. Reason, I was out of work for a short period so I had to sign on. It took them 9 weeks to pay me so my landlord slapped an eviction notice in place. I have always worked paid a pittance so not able to save ergo only one pay away from homelessness. Universal credit is to blame and the lack of training provided. Where does that leave me now. Homeless and jobless. And I’m a tax payer.

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