Our Nasty Nanny State | Brussels Blog

Our Nasty Nanny State

posted by on 17th Apr 2015

Our Nasty Nanny State

“We had to undertake role play etc in order to supposedly help us on our way back to work … where we had to stand up and tell the group what kind of job we were looking for  … I took a paracetamol to numb my panic .”


Tories cross a “bridge too far” for 1 million working poor

In 2011 Jonathan Rutherford wrote a piece in the Guardian This punishing welfare plan may be a bridge too far for the government :

The Tories are planning a draconian extension of welfare sanctions that will affect millions of working families currently claiming tax credits…

People who work hard and feel they are contributing to society will be told they must earn more or face a sliding scale of cuts to their income…

Workers who fall below this threshold must increase their work with their current employer, or look for an additional job or for a new one.

The subtitle says

Yes, the public are angry with benefit cheats – but they may object to harrying the low paid into earning more

One way of overcoming the objections is to sneak the measures in. Digging around in the Parliamentary Sessions (2014-15) for the 2nd Delegated Legislation Committee we find

Esther McVey:

“…we will be working actively with 1 million more claimants who are in work—that is 1 million working claimants who have not been supported to date.”

“…individuals on universal credit who earn less than £12,000 per year on average and who can earn more…”
“These were traditionally low-earning tax credit claimants some of those activities could be mandatory, specifically where they offer claimants a strong opportunity to increase their salaries.”

That means being punished for earning less than £950 in any one month and the Universal Credit self employed fact-sheet 2015 says

If you earn less than the minimum income floor in any month, Universal Credit will not bridge that gap. This will encourage you to grow your business and make sure it can support you.

Many more self-employed will be hit – especially women

Most of the women who are self employed will be affected. This can be seen from Social security provision and the self-employed.  There are 4.5 million self-employed. Over 1 million are women. Table 2 shows that in all regions except London, the average income for self-employed women is below the required £12,000 pa.

Table 2: Average self-employed income by region
Region Male (£) Female (£)
North East 12,700 8,230
North West and Merseyside 13,900 8,950
Yorkshire and the Humber 13,700 8,940
East Midlands 13,800 8,670
West Midlands 13,100 8,850
East of England 18,200 9,740
London 25,700 12,400
South East 19,100 10,000
South West 13,900 8,370
Wales 12,400 8,060
Scotland 16,500 11,100
Northern Ireland 12,000 9,300
United Kingdom 17,000 9,800

Psycho-babble sessions for ‘mental preparation’

In McVey’s latest Psycho-babble project is a Ploy to divert Public money to Private Sector? Jane Linney writes

Claimants in three unidentified Jobcentres are currently being interviewed to assess their attitudes, norms and self belief regarding work… Having undertaken the assessment, it appears claimants will directed into one of the WorkFare programmes, or for those being deemed less ‘mentally prepared” for work, they’ll become subject to intensive coaching

In an article for the Centre for Medical Humanities, Lynne Friedli and Robert Stearn examine psychological coercion, called ‘positive effect’, in UK Government’s workfare programmes.

the use of positive affect in the delivery of workfare has far ranging consequences for people who are unemployed, sick, disabled or in ‘in work’ poverty (i.e. deemed not to be working enough hours, or not doing enough to secure ‘better paid work’).

This includes mandatory participation in ‘positive psychology’ courses and the use of psychological referral as punishment for non-compliance

At the end of there is a comment by Noria Kam which brings home the flavour of positive effect:

I am on the work programme , having lost my small business in the recession. I made a mistake of over volunteering believing it would lead to a job ..it didn’t and after six months of signing on and volunteering I found myself on the work programme.

We had to undertake role play etc in order to supposedly help us on our way back to work, some of it helped because employers today do use this kind of set up to screen sildenafil future employees, however I found it painful to witness a lot of people who found the whole procedure intimidating and humiliating, where we had to stand up and tell the group (basically a bunch of strangers of a bout 20 people or so) what kind of job we were looking for I took a paracetamol to numb my panic, and when a man stood up to talk and started to get all flustered and tongue tied their was a titter of laughter from the room.

I could not believe that this kind of naïve and unprofessional situation had anything other than getting people off benefits via cruel humiliation, as one of their weapons.

The poor pushed out of business …

In Why the self-employed need to wake up to the threat posed by Universal Credit,  Benedict Dellot writes

All of this presents a major headache for the self-employed. Indeed, it is highly likely that many will be pushed out of business directly because of the implementation of Universal Credit… My fear is that the impact of Universal Credit will serve to make self-employment a preserve of the affluent, exacerbating an existing phenomenon where people are more likely to start up in business if they are wealthier and own their own property.

… to save on benefits.

In Another hit for low-paid workers, one of the hidden benefit cuts making up Osborne’s £12bn, now revealed, Michael Meecher writes

The rules of UC are that all workers earning less than £12,000 a year (£230 a week) are required attend Jobcentre interviews and demonstrate activities to increase their income. They are also obliged to sign a claimant commitment form to apply for UC (formerly Tax Credits) in order to provide the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) with the right to impose sanctions if, in DWP’s opinion, claimants are not trying hard enough to increase their wages (e.g. by working longer hours) which might then take them above the threshold for entitlement to UC.   Clever, eh?

Is it profitable to be ‘nasty nannies’?

More from Jane Linney’s blog

This latest scheme well named the ‘segmentation programme’, as it will determine the future hoops claimants must jump through to access benefits, is based upon the work of Australian Therese Rein, founder and Managing Director of Ingeus. Ingeus, in partnership with Deloitte, also happen to be, the “preferred supplier for seven of the DWP ’ 11 Frameworks for the Provision of Employment Related Support Services” with contracts worth £150m a year , according to the FT.


Further we have a ‘new’ programme, costing an unknown amount of money, devised in conjunction with a primary beneficiary of the programme (Ingenus), designed to feed claimants directly into the very company that helped design the programme initially! it is also worth noting Ingeus Deloitte, “will pocket £773.5million if it meets targets on cutting jobless figure”, precisely what this programme will assist it to do; this is cronyism at its best.


A footnote on IT procurement

In his article Benedict Dellot notes

Such a re the challenges facing the £2.4bn scheme that the Major Projects Authority in Whitehall decided it needed to be ‘reset’ in 2013, while £34m of new IT assets had to be written off as a result of unexpected difficulties.

Yet another govenment IT failure. Do read the article I wrote on IT procurement, The problems of software procurement (2003).



Michael Meecher MP: Another hit for low-paid workers, one of the hidden benefit cuts making up Osborne’s £12bn, now revealed

Workfare:  Don’t think a job will mean you’re safe

Freedom of Information request ‘Copies of Claimant Commitments’.

Universal Credit and self employment

Draft Universal Credit (Work-related requirements) In Work Pilot Scheme and Amendment Regulations 2015

Emergency Call for Ceasefire in Welfare Reforms

Why the self-employed need to wake up to the threat posed by Universal Credit

Revenue and Customs Brief 7 (2015): new rules for the self-employed claiming Working Tax Credit

Universal credit under scrutiny – but what about the self-employed claimant?

Ingeus and Deloitte joint venture prepares to bid for the DWP’s Work Programme


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