Unpaid labour for M and S, anyone?

M and S

So, Markies have joined the list of companies expecting people to work for free in order to win the privilege of a job interview: four weeks’ work receiving only unemployment benefit (paid out of the public purse), and just the promise of an interview at the end. And, of course, with lots of people working for free, they should actually need to employ fewer paid workers. The young graduate who told us of this offer from the jobcentre was far from impressed, but others will no doubt be persuaded that they have little choice, either through fear of saying no to the jobcentre – although this scheme is not actually mandatory – or through lack of other opportunities.

And last week we also talked with Paul, an angry and frustrated man with serious health problems, who had been on ESA and PIP but had had his ESA claim stopped when he went into hospital for six days. He had been made to reapply through the Universal Credit system, and had thereby lost hundreds of pounds in disability premiums. The ending of these premiums in Universal Credit is a major cut for disabled people that is rarely talked about. In Paul’s case this should also never have happened, because the original ESA claim should not have been closed.  Paul was already getting help to appeal, but we also came across a couple of people with complicated problems who weren’t getting help, who we sent to the Shelter drop-in.

And talking of limited job opportunities – the army was in the jobcentre again, carrying out their economic conscription.

3 thoughts on “Unpaid labour for M and S, anyone?

  1. Pre-UC era, I used to deal a lot with “hospital cases” as it gets quite complex with interaction of qualifying benefits etc. Chapter 55 of Disability Rights Handbook 18-19 is good on this and has timeline chart. The case illustrates how vital it is that claimants get independent benefits advice so as not to be wrongly routed down the UC route when they still have rights to (more generous) “legacy” benefits. Whilst the Scottish Government and local authorities are powerless to stop UC, they can ensure that advice provision throughout Scotland is adequately funded to deal with UC fall-out. I equate UC with a human virus which will take several years before it affects everybody and no cure. Until this fateful point “point Z/full 100% virus!) is reached, there will still be lots of clever ways for individual claimants to be protected from the worst of UC (as well as generic challenges via the courts, shall we say judicial review “crowd-funded” if legal aid not available?). However this requires political and bureaucratic leadership which as yet we have not seen from the Scottish Government, Parliament, local authorities or political parties.


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