Tuesday, May 27, 2014

News: Community work placements in Rotherham


Interserve Working Futures has secured the government contract to help the long-term unemployed in South Yorkshire gain valuable work experience.

The new scheme – Help to Work – will give Jobcentre staff a new range of options to support the hardest to help get off benefits and into work.

Starting from June 2014, Community Work Placements will be one of three intensive options that Jobcentre Plus advisers can consider for Jobseeker's Allowance claimants who return from the Work Programme.

Claimants who lack work experience - and where this is felt to be holding them back from finding a job - may be asked to undertake a placement, which will also benefit their local community. This would include a range of roles in the voluntary and community sector that will give the claimant skills and experience within the work place. This could include gardening projects, running community cafes or even restoring historical sites and war memorials.

The placements will be for up to six months for 30 hours a week and will be backed up by at least four hours of supported job searching each week to help turn the experience into full time employment.

It will be for claimants who encounter multiple barriers to work and who would benefit from relevant and current work experience to help them back into sustainable employment.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "A key part of our long-term economic plan is to move to full employment, making sure that everyone who can work is in work. We are seeing record levels of employment in Britain, as more and more people find a job, but we need to look at those who are persistently stuck on benefits. This scheme will provide more help than ever before, getting people into work and on the road to a more secure future."

Bob Vince, developments director at Interserve, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded these contracts, which will enable us to use our experience in this area to help job seekers add relevant skills to their CV's and provide sustainable employment opportunities for many people. We have strong relationships with many voluntary sector partners who can assist us in the delivery of this."

The cabinet at Rotherham Council recently discussed a local review into the government's Work Programme, which provides support, work experience and training for up to two years to help the long term unemployed (over three months) find and stay in work.

The report raised the issue of sanctions and stated that communication with claimants needed to be improved; a degree of local flexibility should be introduced; vulnerable claimants should be able to access one to one support; and a local working protocol should be established with the aim of ensuring complete fairness in the process of implementing sanctions in Rotherham.

The two Work Programme prime contractors for South Yorkshire – Serco and A4e - were invited to take part in the review either by giving evidence at meetings or answering written questions. Both turned down the opportunity to provide evidence and to have their input considered by the review, with A4e taking the view – based on advice from their Department for Work and Pensions account manager - that it would be inappropriate to respond to the panel's questions.

Images: Department for Work and Pensions


Bakatcha,  May 29, 2014 at 12:45 PM  

So both A4e and Serco "turned down the opportunity to provide evidence". Neither organisation (especially A4e) is renowned for a "shrinking violet" approach to publicity which leaves me wondering what exactly it is that they don't want publicised.

Anonymous,  May 29, 2014 at 3:33 PM  

This could include gardening projects, running community cafes or even restoring historical sites and war memorials.

So local councils who've had to lay off their staff due to cuts, will now be able to give those unemployed people 'work experience' doing their old job but now for their social security benefits.

Any other good ideas?

Anonymous,  May 29, 2014 at 5:27 PM  

I had the misfortune of spending two years on the Work Programme with A4E. They offered no training whatsoever apart from the most basic
CV and spec letter writing,there were no job opportunities either.I was also nearly given a sanction by them for not attending a jobsearch session that I actually DID attend,only after very a strongly worded letter to the DWP was the potential sanction cancelled,other people sanctioned by them are not so fortunate. This is what they "offer/force on" jobseekers in all the araeas they have been given a contract for,but as can been seen they think they are not accountable for their lackluster training or the amount of sanctions they continually dole out to their victims/customers.

Anonymous,  May 29, 2014 at 8:54 PM  

I'm not surprised they didn't want to contribute their views, after taking 'advice'.
Its probable that they were running scared in case the 'S" word would be brought up, both having the highest record of sanctioning the unemployed in the WP industry.

Former A4e Client,  May 30, 2014 at 12:35 AM  

Restoring historical sites and war memorials will certainly not be part of the 'Help to Work' community work placements as they require specialist and dedicated organisations to do this type of work - not non-voluntary 'volunteers' under threat of financial sanction...

Tom,  May 30, 2014 at 8:05 AM  

The Rotherham Council report is here.

Anonymous,  June 2, 2014 at 5:03 PM  

'We are seeing record levels of employment in Britain, as more and more people find a job,', erm, No, not really, thousands have been spirited away from the figures by workfare slavery but that's not 'a job', that's an abuse. Still more have been left to part time, inadequate hours employment and the oncoming horror of UC compliance that minimal wages will bring. More abuse.

Neo Varley Downes,  October 5, 2014 at 2:57 AM  

I too had a lot of problems with A4e, 7 sanctions i had to fight off, i appealed on all of them and won all 7 appeals, one left me penniless over a Christmas period where i had no food, gas, electric and it took me 10 months to get my Jobseekers back. It turned out the sanction (which i didn't find out about until it was too late to stop) was given to me for an appointment i didn't have, that A4e said i missed, which i managed to prove within 5 minutes through an email my so called Job Adviser sent me, telling me that the appointment i had missed, he had actually cancelled the week before. I had a similar thing with Interserve, where they said they called me and had a conversation with me about an appointment we made over the phone (mobile) and that i missed, so they reported me and i was sanctioned...the phone number they phoned and had a conversation with me and set up this appointment, as i found out 2 months later, thanks to Virgin doing some digging for me, turned out to belonged to a Mr Harrison in Norwich..my name is Mr Varley Downes and i live in Sheffield...it seems to me, given the problems i have also had with Remploy and best, that thewse Companies are not there to help the unemployed at all, but to make our lives a misery and are nothing but a complete waste of tax-payers and the Governments money, but help 3 Organizations..It makes the Government look good and to make out that they are helping the unemployed back to work, when nothing of a sort is happening, for what-ever Organization..Best, A4e, Interserve, etc..to make money out of it all and for the DSS to get us out of their hair for however many weeks/months..it seems to me the only one that doesn't benefit from any of it..is the unemployed.

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