The deplorable Community Work Placement

The following was written by someone that wishes to remain anonymous. Any comments made on this post will be shared with the individual that wrote it, thank you. 

This here and this here have been sent to me through Twitter, they also contain important information regarding CWP. 

I was told to report to the Provider for CWP recently. Needless to say I shant be attending this pointless and draconian scheme. They can sanction me if they want, I’m used to fighting them.

The staff are rude and uncaring and basically tell you that if you don’t like it then you’ll get sanctioned or signed off. Why these people carry out the governments orders I don’t know. What kind of people are they?

You have to start straightaway and go to a charity for 30 hours a week for 6 months which is a long long time. Many of the placements break down and you wont necessarily get a choice of where to go. On top of that you have to report to the providers office for 4 hours a week and sit there on their computers. They know you can do this at home or at the library, but they make you go there and sit amongst others who pop out for cigarettes and reek of smoke. No say, no choice. All lumped in together and forced to stay there.

If they can’t find you a placement straightaway you have to attend their office 30 hours a week and sit on their computers. Its like being a prisoner, you are not allowed to leave, apart from half an hour for lunch. This is bad for your eyes no doubt but they don’t care and they know it doesn’t take that long to look for a job either. There are no facilities for keeping food in a fridge while you are there all day. This is a health and safety breach and you could be ill. There didn’t seem to be anywhere to eat either while there. The offices are usually open plan and small. There was nowhere to put coats and umbrellas either. A real squeeze in there. 

They just don’t care, they bark out orders and rules. 

They know you don’t have to sign their paperwork either, so why do they ask you too if its not compulsory?

I have also heard that the insurance at the charities is not valid, you should ask to see everything, that’s if you agree to go on it in the first place once you find out the horror that awaits you.

Those on CWP should ask to see the policy, they should check the wording before they agree to attend. If an individual is not insured, which it is more than likely that they wont be, then they can refuse to attend, without it resulting in a sanction. Everyone should be concerned about this, people are being forced to volunteer for 6 months and if anything was to happen to someone while they are on a CWP, then all hell would break loose when this insurance flaw came to light. 

This will have big repercussions if they do not have the appropriate insurance. We should be demanding that charities withdraw from the CWP scheme, not just because it is a draconian and punitive scheme that is exploiting and forcing people against their will to either volunteer or face destitution by threat of sanction, but also because they are without the correct insurance and are therefore committing an illegal offence.

The idea is just to make life hell for you, whilst they make money from the government. They also threaten to report you to the jobcentre if your late too. This does nothing to help people into work and the charities signing up for this should be ashamed. 

Voluntary work is just that – voluntary, not forced.

  

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7 thoughts on “The deplorable Community Work Placement

  1. Just yesterday I met someone who has to go to an office several bus journeys away, in order to sit at a computer for 30 hours a week to do jobsearches on a system that doesnt accept many of his search terms. He knows he will likely be sanctioned if he turns up late. As the drive is across South London he has to give 2 and a half hours for the journey there, in case of traffic meltdown. The journey plus the 30 hours gives him very little time in the week to look for a job effectively on a computer that works.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting article. We in Wales have been challenging a charity’s use of CWP conscripts on a similar insurance ticket, and have pursued it through our union, the IWW. So far our investigations have proved somewhat inconclusive, as some correspondence from the charity seems to state that they do have insurance, as they are covered for people on training, or work experience schemes, which I would think the DWP would categorise CWP. Certainly the charities and primary contractors running these schemes need challenging, and if possible, bringing down, (as well as IDS, the idiot responsible for them). Just how to achieve this I don’t know, but it does need to be some kind of mass action. The more these completely horrendous schemes are exposed the better. It is possible for us to gain the upper hand, but only if the vast majority of us get together and organise opposition to these schemes and the organisations profiting from the use of forced labour.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting article – speaking as someone who used to be at the mercy of DWP’s draconian sanctions regime, you have my complete sympathy. I would like to offer the following suggestions as possible solutions to the problem of these draconian placement schemes which may have an impact: –
    1. About a year ago I too was faced with the prospect of ‘volunteering’ for a local charity on similar terms – though I was on the shorter MWA instead of the CWP so it wasn’t quite so bad.

    2. Following a post on Boycott Workfare (which originated I think with the Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty who are quite a powerful anti-poverty campaign group), I took the following action: –

    (I) I sent a letter to both the Manager of the shop I would be placed in and the Head Office of the charity highlighting the fact that, as a ‘customer’ of the DWP, I would not be coming to the charity as a volunteer but was being forced to attend in order to continue to receive benefits and that if I failed to do this I would face the threat of sanctions.

    (ii) I followed this up by initiating various conversations on the charity’s Facebook and Twitter pages (ie those visited by the public) where I asked whether, given the fact that I would not be attending the placement voluntarily but against my will and faced the threat of sanctions – which would place me in significant poverty – if I did not comply, this was the sort of behaviour which the charity, which has previously been praised and even won several awards for its efforts in tackling local poverty, really wanted to be associated with?

    The charity’s response was quite illuminating. Put simply, and to cut a long story short, following several replies I had from both the local charity shop’s Manager and senior members of the Management team at Head Office, it emerged that the charity was completely oblivious to the fact that the ‘volunteers’ which the DWP was sending were not in fact volunteers at all but forced conscripts – largely because the DWP had told them that all MWA participants were volunteers and that they were thrilled for the ‘opportunity’ of gaining crucial work experience at the charity and were not at all bothered that they wouldn’t get paid for it!

    So, it appears that, not satisfied with treating its jobseeking ‘customers’ with contempt, DWP is also quite happy to deceive/lie to its placement providers as well. Needless to say, having received this information, the charity, to its credit, acted swiftly. Within 24 hours I was informed, via a somewhat stressed personal adviser at the job centre who summoned me in for an ‘urgent’ review meeting of my claim, that the charity had, now that it was armed with the truth about the DWP’s placements programmes, reviewed its policy and terminated both my own placement and, in fact, their entire contract with DWP!

    While my Personal Adviser was, understandably, gutted at the tragic loss of potential opportunities which this decision has made for the local community (!!), I regard this as a small success. It shows that this sort of organised,collective action – which Boycott Workfare does an excellent job of promoting – can be an effective strategy for combating the more excessively draconian aspects of current DWP policy. My experience has shown me that it is not necessarily the case that all placement providers are complicit in DWP cruelty – BW have recently compiled a large national survey of charities & other potential placement providers who, once they know the truth about this draconian welfare programme, have refused to have anything to do with it. Highlighting this issue with these companies, as BW have done, in an organised and systematic way, may well be the way forward.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pressure on the social media of those using the DWP’s slave labour schemes work. A charity that refurbished old computers withdrew from the scheme a year or so ago under the same kind of pressure described in the comment above. Name and shame those organisations using these schemes and their support of the dwp will crumble.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. FAO Jonathan Parker

      Although still involved in the 4 week Mandatory Work Activity scheme, The Salvation Army once said they would not participate in Community Work Placements.

      See this, though:

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am not surprised at this article.

    Things to know on this subject:

    REFUTED:
    https://wwwrefuteddotorgdotuk.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/signhere/
    DWP Providers say: “Sign here or face Benefit Sanctions” True or False?
    Posted on 23/02/2015 by http://www.refuted.org.uk

    Despite DWP providers, of mandatory Jobcentre schemes, often demanding participants sign documents like Action Plans, Consent and Personal Data sharing forms or face Benefit Sanctions, this is not likely to have any legal basis when a scheme participant is willing to undertake suitably mandated activities, but simply declines to sign documents.

    Recently the DWP wrote:

    “There is no mandatory requirement for individuals to sign specific forms when participating in Back to Work (BtW) schemes, including Help to Work (HtW) ”
    http://refuted.org.uk/donotsign/

    Despite this clear opinion from the DWP they recently sanctioned Peter Baker’s Jobseeker Aallowance, for declining to sign Community Work Placement documentation [Action Plan]. Peter challenged the original decision to sanction through the Jobcentre’s formal Mandatory Reconsideration (internal DWP appeal) process which he lost, he then lodged a formal appeal to an independent Tribunal.

    On 13/2/15 the Tribunal wrote to Mr Baker to inform him:

    “I have been advised that the Appeal’s Officer has revised the decision on your case and that the new decision is more favourable”

    the Jobcentre followed up with a letter dated 17/2/15 to explain it’s decision thus:

    “Advice has been sought from DMA Leeds who have confirmed a person cannot be sanctioned simply for refusing to sign documentation drawn up by the Provider.
    Work Solutions have confirmed that Mr Baker was willing to participate in the CWP scheme and a sanction is not appropriate.

    As such Mr Baker has not failed to participate in the CWP scheme and a sanction is not appropriate”

    Listen to Peter explain the process he went through after declining to sign a CWP Action Plan, including secret telephone recordings of Jobcentre staff:

    Background:

    Forum discussion http://unemploymentmovement.com/forum/community-work-placement-programme/11915-cwp-victim-wins-appeal-re-refusal-to-sign-action-plan
    Work Solutions sanction referral form: page 1 – page 2
    Jobcentre letter dated 17/2/15
    Tribunal letter dated 13/2/15

    Associated Freedom of information Act requests

    Signing providers community work placement (CWP) forms, like action plans – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/signing_providers_community_work
    CWP Participation – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cwp_participation
    Follow up to “Sign here, or face benefit sanctions?” – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/follow_up_to_sign_here_or_face_b
    Sign here, or face benefit sanctions? – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/sign_here_or_face_benefit_sancti
    CWP Provider form(s) and an unlawful decision to sanction benefits for not signing – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cwp_provider_forms_and_an_unlawf
    Signing providers community work placement (CWP) forms, like action plans – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/signing_providers_community_work
    Mandatory to sign CWP Action Plan? – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/mandatory_to_sign_cwp_action_pla

    Further,

    July 27, 2015 at 11:22 am | Reply

    Just write on any paperwork that Signing means “Only Signing to Working Links” subcontracting is not allowed, any such behaviour invalidates the contract and will lead to a claim of compensation for misuse of information and missrepresentation. No doubt there will be threats – Harrassment will then kick in. Claims of “Commercial in Confidence” will not be viewed by courts in a understanding way, nor will withholding the information on who in DWP signed off on such a contract who will be included in the court action.
    This whole thing is illegal from get go & DWP is aiding the concealment which makes them liable.
    Inability of supplying the contract is not an excuse under law.

    If you feel put upon i.e. “Harrassed” – lookup “thesanctionedjobseeker” via Google

    Long Story short – no one can be forced to SIGN a contract, a signature gained by duress makes the contract null and void. Also it then falls under fraud, which includes the civil servants who autherised/forced the signing of the contract by threat of sanctions [gross misconduct in a public office as the provider is commiting fraud] that includes the bosses up the food chain.
    Of course, by threat, Harrassment kicks in. No need to explain what a person has to do with a spare £25 and a nearby Magistrates court.

    Beware, once this happens, too Phantom DWP Meetings taking place to impose a Sanction – block by instructing must receive Mobile Text alerts to non-ordinary signing events, a phone call and a letter waiting for you to pick up the next day or when you can make it. Make these instructions in writing & email to be placed on your file.

    No doubt will say cannot do Mobile text [this is what I was told] unfortunetly on doing a Google search a Media Report of Text Bullying by DWP popped up [oh dearie me….].

    Like

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