‘Work full-time for no pay or lose your benefits’, says employment minister – A RESPONSE

I have been working recently with University of Arts London Students’ Union and LSE SU on building a campaign against unpaid internships and the myriad different (dreadfully paid/conditions) work-schemes the government is putting forward for people in the UK. This will involve a meeting in November, and possibly further action, but are kicking it off with a statement in response to the London Major Boris Johnson and Chris Grayling, the employment minister’s, recent announcement, which will mean young unemployed Londoners being forced to do three months of unpaid full-time work or have their benefits cut. See here: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/work-fulltime-for-no-pay-or-lose-your-benefits-says-employment-minister-in-crackdown-on-neets-8084156.html

If you would like to sign the statement, email daniel.cooper@ulu.lon.ac.uk

We write to you regarding the unpaid work scheme 18-24 year olds have to do in order to receive their benefits.

With over 1 million 16-24 year olds out of work our young Londoners are more in need of employment than ever. We are outraged that young people will be forced into free labour, with substandard employment rights, in order to be granted their benefits. This proposal is in direct opposition to your pledge on job creation, as well as the GLA’s work on the Living Wage.

Research from the Department for Work and Pensions clearly indicates that similar schemes such as workfare are having “zero effect” on getting people back into employment. If you were genuinely interested in helping the lives of our young Londoners you would be creating jobs and paid apprenticeships and putting money back into London schools, youth centres and community groups. This scheme is yet another attack on the young and unemployed amidst brutal cuts to education and training opportunities and would leave young people with little in the way of employment rights.

In light of these attacks, we further feel the claim that young Londoners have not contributed to their communities and should therefore be forced to earn their benefits must be rejected. Work experience, where it is taken, should always be voluntary, chosen by the jobseeker and paid at a living wage. Your proposed scheme, as well as similar ‘work for welfare’ ones run by the DWP, do not do this and shy away from tackling a job market where there are no jobs for our young people.

As representatives of students in Higher Education we ask you to reconsider this proposal and instead invest positively in education and employment, not in an exploitative scheme which stands to benefit not the community, but the large companies who will benefit from free labour”

 

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