Questions for Chris Mole

May 29, 2009 at 12:23 pm (capitalist crisis, expenses, Max Dunbar, welfare)

So it’s looking like the Great Crunch hasn’t caused any kind of revision in the government’s workfare plans. This is a press release from Chris Mole MP (crazy name, crazy guy):

The Minister was in Ipswich to visit the JobCentre Plus in Silent Street to see how people are being encouraged to return to work, and discuss with staff the role of sanctions on benefits for those who don’t cooperate with new training and assistance from the JobCentre. The discussion also focussed on the role of local employers in helping to encourage those who are long-term unemployed back to work.

The proposals would see people who have been unemployed for two years or those who go on and off of benefits working for their benefits and for the benefit of the local community.

The proposals would see those people in Ipswich who have been through the support of the New Deal and still haven’t found work or people who have a history of going on and off benefits taking part in full time community activity in return for their benefits. This will give people work experience that employers look for and will help flush out the people who are abusing the system or working while still signing on.

Commenting on the new plans, Chris said:

‘Long term unemployment is down 76% in Ipswich and more people are in work than ever before. But the days of mass unemployment have left scars and in some families worklessness has been passed down from generation to generation.’

‘This could be a win-win situation. Unemployed people will get valuable experience of work and we can all think of work that needs doing in the local community.’

The Ipswich Unemployment Action blog makes the point that claimants will have to be supervised. How much will it cost to train and salary these supervisors?

I have some questions of my own:

– Why is it that we never hear any information about what these claimants will be doing for their £1:73 an hour, or names of companies and organisations that are signing up? Volunteer work can be a great way to improve your skill set and thus increase your social mobility, but filling in potholes or doing outbound sales for next to nothing is not going to achieve much either for your CV or your quality of life in general.

– In these Troubled Economic Times™ shouldn’t every possible vacancy be advertised as an actual job? If there is work that needs doing why not pay a proper salary for it and get some wealth creation going on?

– If claimants are working 30 hours per week for their benefits, doesn’t that cut into the time when they could be filling out proper job applications and attending interviews?

– Why is it that, as a society, we are obsessed with cracking down on people who defraud the state of relatively small amounts while MPs who charge their servants’ accommodation to the taxpayer face almost no sanction?

The Ipswich bloggers raise the point that this is going to undercut the pay of those already in work. This could be a precedent for the further downgrading of the salaried job. We’ve gone from permanent contract work with benefits and protection to temporary work with almost no benefits and a third of the salary creamed off by recruitment consultants. This could be another step down.

(Via Andrew Coates)


  1. Dan said,

    It seems the boffins at Cambridge YMCA Training have already worked a way round paying for supervisors: VOLUNTEERS!

    I can’t see it working – volunteers supervising low paid slaves.

  2. maxdunbar said,


    • Dan said,

      Yes, and I am still waiting for Chris Mole to write back to me!

  3. Dan said,

    Please bear with me while I review their contract.

    As things stand, YMCA Training Ltd is a non-profit limited by guarantee company that also has registered charity status. It is therefore perfectly entitled to recruit skilled volunteers to fill the gaps in its skill base of existing staff and overstretched resources (or to put it simple: to combat being understaffed).

    Whether it breaches the New Deal contract is yet to be worked out. We have to note that the volunteers aren’t intended to support staff in service delivery but in order to replace an non-voluntary employment opportunity.

    For example, there is meant to be at least one qualified member of staff supervising the job search activities at all times – whereas a volunteer may have qualifications; in this context they aren’t qualified to provide this service delivery.

    As for Flexible New Deal… I can’t see the contracts being all too different. Most contract clauses in the New Deal ones are organisation operational matters and other legal aspects and NOT specific course delivery clauses other than referring to and legally binding the Provider Guidance, Method Statement and Specification etc. in one small clause.

  4. Danny said,

    Still no reply from Chris. It sounds like he is deliberately avoiding my letter.

    The work for benefits scheme they are trying to put through isn’t compatible with Human Rights. There are exemptions but to the best of off-the-top-of-my-head knowledge the clauses are for 1) community service: i.e. as “punishment” for criminals and 2) national service i.e. when ww3 happens

    Warning to DWP: I am prepared to take this all the way to ECHR should this be implemented in to law.

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