Thursday, 27 October 2011

My first win on the Work Programme

One in ten Londoners are now without a job; not surprising is it really, and if anything its set to get by far much worse in the months that lay ahead of us. So whilst London’s employment fell, 3.82 million Londoners are now in employment, which equates to a 34,000 quarterly fall.

The number of people out of work in Britain has hit its highest level in 17 years and youth unemployment has reached a record high as the economic slowdown continues to take its toll.

The Office for National Statistics said that 2.57 million people were out of work over the June to August period, the highest since the autumn of 1994. There were almost 1 million unemployed young people. And the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance last month increased by 17,500 to 1.6 million in September.  

I think that it would be safe to say that London our capital city has become an unemployment black spot as almost a quarter of all working age Londoners are economically inactive – 1.3 million people.

Personally specking, I don’t think that the general situation will ever get any better as London has lost much in the way of industry that has packed up and gone elsewhere; and today it is being reported that London will lose around 27,000 financial jobs this year due to the euro zone debt crisis and economic stagnation in Britain as well as the prospects of financial regulation. London's economy has during the last 20 years experienced rapid de-industrialisation. Until the early 1960s London was still a major manufacturing centre but from then onwards manufacturing jobs disappeared very rapidly, a decline which was only partly offset by the growth of service jobs, and in particular local government.

Accompanying the changes in London's economic structure have been changes in its occupational structure. As manufacturing industry has declined, so have the skilled and semi-skilled, predominantly male, factory jobs which went with it.

I have to say and I have said this before on this blog Inner London is not being "Americanised": it is not on the way to becoming mainly a working-class city, a "polarised" city, or a vast ghetto for a black proletariat. The real risk for inner London is that it might well be gentrified with a vengeance, and be almost exclusively reserved for a selected higher-class stratum of our society.' Which comrades I am now going off the intended thread of this post.

All of which paints a very bleak picture for London, because when you lose jobs in one area it hits and affects another, if city workers are laid off in such numbers then this will inevitably have a knock-on effect on other jobs and business, a coffee bar, a sandwich shop or a local wine bar may close and its workers made unemployed and forced down to the dole office, but don’t worry for help is at hand and I kid you not –The Work Programme has arrived!  

At the beginning of this week I was placed on the Programme’ no option but to attend and as they say, ‘you must attend its mandatory’, which as you know is another word for compulsory.

To me the mechanics and technicalities of the Programme are confusing and I am only just now getting to grips with who runs what, and in reality as far as I can ascertain is also very unclear to most other unemployed claimants; you are not really told a great deal about the Programme and find out about its worst aspects when referred onto it, as I did this week.

I was placed with a local charity known for work it does in my locality of Canning Town, Newham. This so-called charity ‘Community Links’ is a sub-contractor for an organisation called CDG which is an abbreviation and acronym for Careers Development Group. They claim to have been working as a charity for 30 years and committed to doing all they can in helping people back into work. In my mind this raises the question what exactly is a charity or passes for one these days, for it seems to be some tax fiddle and contrivance if you ask me! And any concern, charity that engages in this Programme should not be looked upon as being charitable in any real sense and meaning of the word, especially if this is all about strong-arming the unemployed into low paid employment or worst still throwing them off benefits so as to save money for the government’s wars and deficit reduction plans.

So I turned up on Monday morning and to my horror found that I was placed on a week-long intensive training course, granted only for a week from 9.30 till 4.30 with an hour break for lunch, but I found that after the morning session on the first day I could take no more of this nonsense of assessment, information and motivation, and I walked off and have not been back, today I requested a transfer to another programme provider that did not run such a course, they agreed reluctantly after I quoted from the CDG jobseekers welcome pack which states quite clearly the following:

“On the Work Programme, there are no set courses, days or hours in which everyone must attend. What you do is agreed between you and your advisor, and will depend entirely on what will help you find work”.

It was simple and I told them I had not agreed to this course, I was told that I had to go on it by my personal adviser, and simply he was wrong and I was right, and that’s what comes from having gained the experience and benefits of many years membership of the Labour and Trade Union Movement.

I am of course still on the Work Programme and there will be more battles to come but tonight I feel that after a very miserable start to the week it ends with a smile on my face. There will be more from me on the Work Programme as I have laid plans now to try and organise the unemployed in my area with the help of London Coalition Against Poverty who I meet this morning in Hackney.

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