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Working Links & Freedom

Hildy Johnston | 08.02.2008 14:36 | Repression | Sheffield | South Coast

This follows on from a previous article which was critical of Working Links connections to far-right Christian extremists. Following sanctions imposed on my JSA I have had a closer look at the relevant regulations and have found that the legislation appears to suggest that Mandatory Employment programmes are not quite so mandatory after all.

Working Links is just one example of the encroachment of the private sector into the public sector. The former model of allegedly apolitical civil servants acting independently of continuous party influences in the delivery of services, is being replaced by private organisations with strong ideological biases. Whilst outwardly appearing to be professional and objective, Working Links is increasingly influenced by ideologues from the religious right who have teamed up with crony capitalists CapGemini and Manpower to 'help' Jobseekers.

My JSA has been suspended due to the terms of the Jobseekers Act 1995 sections 19 (1), 19 (2) and 19(5) following a dispute with Working Links. However, from what I can make out the decision makers have to take the following into account.

The Jobseekers Allowance Regulations 1996 include the definition of "good cause" for non-compliance with the direction of an employment officer. These include regulations 73 & 75. These regulations appear to challenge the presentation of attendance at Working Links and other such schemes for periods of up to 26 weeks as compulsory. Whilst decision makers may well suspend benefit payments for non-compliance it seems that each instance represents an abuse of their power.

73 (2) Without prejudice to any other circumstances in which a person may be regarded as having good cause for any act or omission for the purposes of section 19(5)(b), a person is to be regarded as having good cause for any act or omission for those purposes if, and to the extent that, the act or omission is attributable to any of the following circumstances—
(a) the claimant in question was suffering from some disease or bodily or mental disablement on account of which—
(i) he was not able to attend the relevant training scheme or employment programme in question;
(ii) his attendance would have put at risk his health; or
(iii) his attendance would have put at risk the health of other persons;
(b) the claimant's failure to participate in the training scheme or employment programme resulted from a religious or conscientious objection sincerely held;
(c) the time it took, or would normally have taken, for the claimant to travel from his home to the training scheme or employment programme and back to his home by a route and means appropriate to his circumstances and to the scheme or programme exceeded, or would normally have exceeded, one hour in either direction or, where no appropriate training scheme or employment programme is available within one hour of his home, such greater time as is necessary in the particular circumstances of the nearest appropriate scheme or programme;

75.—(1) For the purposes of section 19 and of this Part-
(a) "an employment programme" means a programme of advice, guidance or jobsearch assistance provided in pursuance of arrangements made by the Secretary of State under section 2 of the Employment and Training Act 1973[68], as amended by section 25 of the Employment Act 1988[69] and known as:—
(i) Jobplan workshop, being a programme of up to one week to provide advice and guidance on jobs, training and employment opportunity;
(ii) 1-2-1, being a programme of up to 6 interviews to give advice, support and encouragement and to identify matters that are preventing a return to work;
(iii) Workwise (in Scotland, Worklink), being a programme of up to 4 weeks of guidance and practical assistance in jobsearch; and
(iv) Restart course, being a programme of up to 2 weeks with emphasis on jobsearch.

Hildy Johnston


Display the following 2 comments

  1. divide and rule — capitalism must be destroyed
  2. bastardisation of the poor — Keith