Thursday, 29 November 2012

ESA WRAG Claimants To Be Mandated On The Work Programme

I have just seen a copy of the memo that the government have produced regarding new and worrying developments for those in the ESA WRAG group.  This was first leaked in The Guardian back in September and I have alerted my MP about it (to no avail - she is a Tory and complicit). But seeing the memo is quite chilling. It is entitled:

Work Programme Provider Live Running Memo

Here are some quotes from it:

"The purpose of this memo is to inform you that an amendment will be made to
Chapter 3c – work experience on a voluntary basis and community benefit work

"Currently, community benefit work placements are not available to Employment and
Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group (ESA WRAG) participants. It has
now been agreed Work Programme providers will be able to use mandatory work
placements as another measure through which to help ESA WRAG participants
move closer to the labour market."

Decoded this means that because the Work Programme has failed in other respects, ESA WRAG claimants are now going to be used as guinea pigs and bullied. They are worth more to the providers don’t forget – a provider can get £14,000 pounds for every person they get off benefits. 

"Evidence also suggests that work can have a positive impact on the long term health of people with disabilities and health conditions."

Actually, this is only part of the picture. The right sort of work at the right sort of pay is good for some people some of the time. Mandating (bullying) people onto a Work programme is likely to be counterproductive. Let us not forget that for many people the wrong sort of work at the wrong time is actually bad for their health and can be disastrous.

And get this: 

"The opportunity for ESA WRAG participants to take part in mandatory community benefit work placements will be introduced from the 3rd December 2012."

This is confirmation that sick people may be left with just £28 to live on as a result of increased sanctions. When I wrote to my MP she said that sick and disabled people would be protected but those who could work would ‘be made to work’. Note also the creepy language – couched as an ‘opportunity’ followed by the sinister word ‘mandatory’.  So, what - they seriously think sick people are going to say ‘oh thank you for the opportunity to force me onto the Work Programme’?!

The last paragraph almost looks like a disclaimer:

"It is worth noting that there is a greater emphasis throughout guidance is on ensuring
that the activity identified is appropriate for the participants health condition or
disability and being aware of their barriers to work, including  ill health/disability and
any reasonable adjustment requirements when organising an activity with an

So please – could someone tell me in what situation a sick or disabled person will be forced onto the Work Programme?  If they volunteer that's all well and good but I can’t think of any reason to mandate a sick or disabled person in this way.  It is barbaric.  Simple as.

For a copy of the memo please follow the link below.


  1. At least this is causing charities such as Scope to drop out, they are in a way, their own undoing.

  2. Yes, pleased to see some big name charities drop out, Asterisk.