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Picket against the Flexible New Deal

March 22, 2010

  • Stop The Flexible New Deal! Protest against FND providers in Brighton
  • Meet at the Clock Tower at 10:30am Wednesday 24th March

Fight the real benefit scroungers!
The Government claims that it is spending £5 billion on ‘helping the unemployed’ but a large amount of this money is being used as handouts to Labour’s business friends through the ‘Flexible New Deal’, a mandatory year-long scheme for everyone unemployed more than a year. Across the country 55 private companies have been given lucrative contracts to make the unemployed jump through hoops and compete for non-existent jobs or lose their benefit.

Apart from the people employed by these companies these privately run schemes will not produce any new jobs. In Brighton, Career Development Group, Maximus, and Skills Training UK Ltd. are the three providers who are running the flexible new deal. These companies will be making profits out of unemployment. Laughably, in 2008/09 CDG made £0.5 million in savings through redundancies! Meanwhile Maximus’s five-year, FND contract has an estimated value of around $200 million! A giant American multinational company specialising in welfare provision, Maximus are steeped in corruption and scandal in the USA through fraud, false claims, mismanagement of funds, and gender and racial discrimination. They are now bringing these welfare techniques to the UK. We want to show them, and the rest of the spongers, that they aren’t welcome.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. dutty rox permalink
    March 7, 2010 3:33 pm

    i can has nestor makno?

  2. Claire permalink
    March 8, 2010 10:08 am

    I know a person who has been on JSA for a while, there is no need to force people back into a work force that pays way too little and there are too few jobs in certain sectors. If minimum wage was higher then it would be more worthwhile coming off of benefits. I may be slightly biased having been on benefits for some time (health problems prevent me from working part time or full time) but benefits do not cover living expenses as it is, why force people back into a work force that does not even make them feel they are earning.

    It is not acceptable within this current financial climate to force people to ‘work’ for their benefits, I know people who are in receipt of less than £50 per week after deductions. Anyone who expects someone to work for less that £50 per week should be removed from their job, particulaly if they do not actually understand!

  3. RealAleWarrior permalink
    March 10, 2010 6:38 pm

    Just to clarify a few details Josephkay76…

    ‘Interviews’ every two weeks with Flexible New Deal providers are actually
    informal update meets with specifically allocated advisors and can be flexible around the jobseeker, sometimes they can be more regular if the individual concerned is v. keen to find work!

    ‘Compulsary 15 hour jobsearch’ is actually 16 hours p/w and encompasses job-related activity i.e anything undertaken that will make the individual more employable, such as attending voluntary work, attending training, addressing any barriers to work (homelessness, child care, addiction etc), interviews, work-trial and obviously jobsearching-16hrs is a loose figure imposed on CDG/Maximus by DWP, this is a the discreation of the advisor concerned.

    CDG/Maximus do not run unpaid work at Lewes Prison, this is paid with those starting getting a
    CSCS Qualification(Law in the construction industry nowadays)-You would be v hard pressed to find an construction company with a contract this size in Sussex at the moment, let alone prepared to give unqualified indivduals the job!

    The minimum amount of time CDG/Maximus jobseeers are required to undertake manditory voluntary work is 4 weeks over the 52 week programme, minimum of 16hrs p/w, don’t know where you got 6 months from.

    Please try and get your facts straight next time, some attendees find the service offered v.helpful.

    …Carry on…..

  4. FNDer permalink
    March 11, 2010 3:51 pm

    Thanks for the clarification but I’ve never been keen on real ale… Are you sure Flexible New Deal providers are just trying to help the unemployed? I can accept that people who work there may have good intentions. However, let this FNDer clarify a few things.

    Firstly, the FND isn’t voluntary, it’s compulsory. When you’ve been unemployed over a year, you either attend or lose your benefits. Maximus, CDG or whoever aren’t doing this for the good of their health, they’re doing this to make profit. If you find work of more than 15hrs a week and stay in it for 13 weeks the FND companies get a bonus; stay in a job for more than 6 months and they get a further bonus.

    Secondly. the FND is based strongly on punitive measures otherwise known as sanctions. While the whole JSA regime is already built around sanctions at least jobcentre staff are not being driven solely by profit motives. These private companies have the power to cut your benefits if you don’t do what they say. They give you a nice thick booklet when you start FND informing you very kindly of all the punishments you’ll face if you don’t tow the line e.g. don’t take an offer of a job they give you – then lose your benefits for 2 weeks, then 4 weeks, then 26 weeks. In fact they can sanction you for 26 weeks from the start.

    Thirdly, there is no funding available for training etc. If there is, then let’s here about it. The sole purpose of these companies is to force the unemployed into any work as quickly as possible. Of course, as you may have heard, the problem is there isn’t much about. Plus there has been no funding for job creation. All the money New Labour has said is being spent on the unemployed is being given to these private companies.

    And yes I’m sure some people do find it useful but that doesn’t mean the FND isn’t punitive, underfunded and solely aimed at furthering the low wage, flexible labour market. That is get the unemployed competing for the low paying jobs with poor conditions that exist and keep wages and conditions down. In a time of economic downturn when people are afraid of losing their jobs, what better way than to get them to kowtow than to promote the idea that there is a likely group of people ready and (un)willing to fill their shoes and work for whatever money in whatever conditions.

    On top of this why not get people to do a month’s work for less than the minimum wage – the dole is £64 a week, so £64 for 40 hrs work = £1.40 an hour. Another subsidy for low paying bosses just like tax credits, and just like housing benefit where it is a subsidy for low-paying landlords. Flexible New Deal? Flexible until we snap, yet again another raw deal for the unemployed.

  5. FNDer permalink
    March 11, 2010 5:28 pm

    Just to clarify a few further things!:

    1. A sanction means losing all your jobseekers’ allowance – you have to live on nothing somehow for the time you are sanctioned. Plus you have to reclaim JSA and therefore you start from scratch with your claim when it comes to getting the one-month rolling housing benefit you receive when you a start a new job if you’ve been claiming for 6months or more. However your entire claim doesn’t start from scratch so you still have to attend FND. Nice punishment eh?! In fact you still have to attend FND when you get sanctioned or you get sanctioned even more!

    2. In reference to landlords it should of course say high-rent not low paying!


  6. March 12, 2010 10:31 am

    Again to correct … CDG the FND contracts have been given to both private companies AND charities, the charities cannot make a profit. The money that they receive when their customers stay in work goes into funding for its other customers.

    When someone is unemployed for 6 – 12 months they are eligible for course at City College, completely free to gain qualifications such as SIA (rough cost £500), they have access to the job centre discretionary fund which can give them money for many purposes to unable them to gain employment, such as if they have no ID paying £77 for a passport and they have a voucher to give to an employer which entitles them to £1000 if they hire them. I would say this was a lot of help and money (on top of JSA and most likely £600+ they are getting in housing benefit per month).

    When after 12 months and accessibility to those tools they have been unable to find work they are referred onto FND, where yes sanctions are in place, but that is unfortunately necessary to make people attend as they are clearly incapable of finding employment for themselves and need the help! Through FND funding and courses are available, such as for getting labourers the necessary legal requirement of a CSCS card.

    Some people in this country have been unemployed for 30 years plus, consistently claiming benefits, they have got to the stage where they are never likely to find work anymore. FND is a program to try and not allow this to happen to this generation.

    I really suggest that instead of trying to fight it, go and engage with FND and you will be able to access help, gain employment and not have to worry about benefits, job centre and enjoy life 🙂

  7. RealAleWarrior permalink
    March 12, 2010 5:53 pm


    Again just to clarify how payments to voluntary sector industries work; (this applies to all companies/organisations that hold govt. endorsed contracts not just welfare to work providers)
    Providing they are successful in their tender for govt. external contracts, voluntary sector or 3rd sector organisations are given a lump sum budget to run the provision or courses for the agreed duration of the contract, with this they are expected to meet the ‘soft’ (usually measured by employability progress i.e addressing barriers to work, gaining quals obtaining suitable I.D etc ) and hard (job outcomes) targets which increase year on year with no additional income. The bonuses you refer to for FND participatants staying in work is a drop in the ocean for the providers financially, they tend to me more interested in helping people stay in roles to enable them to meet targets and therefore bid for further contracts on the strength of their success.(sounds a tad corporate for an industry dealing with peoples lives but there is no other way of measuring it)

    I know this may seem a bit stringent but a I think you’ll find CDG/Maximus offer in work support , this is helpful to the majority who have been out of work for more than 12 months and need support acclimatising to their new jobs, in some cases providers can broker special arrangements with employers to facilitate their ex-participats staying in work-if it means the providers maintaining a good rapport with the employer concerned they will do.

    As for sanctions, I think you may be over embellishing the power of welfare to work providers to stop participants JSA, they do not hold the ‘purse-strings’ to individual’s benefits, this rightly, rests with DWP/JSA. On occastion providers may find the lax attitude of FNDers to finding work or regularly attending pre-arranged activities frustrating so they may choose to sanction an individual, however the ultimate decision still rests with DWP-most of the time this is counter productive in all but extreme and consistant instances as you will no doubt agree that it alienates FNDers from engaging with providers effectively. The argument for providers imposing sanctions is that yes, it can be sometimes viewed as a veiled threat, but how do you coerce non-engaging individuals to find work without having at least some form of discipline?

    Anyhow, JSA stands for JOB SEEKERS ALLOWANCE, those that have signed on for it have in essence agreed to commit to the 16 hrs (still don’t know where you got 15 hrs from) job related activity, this is a binding contract as with pretty much anything you sign for-would you sign up to buy a domestic product on HP and then complain if you were unable to meet you montly installments and the debt collector turned up at your front door? No? thought not.

    I think the wider context of the problem is that the benefits system in the UK is vastly outdated and completely over abused, it should be as post-war Labour initially outlined; to help individuals through transition and in my view should be a priviledge and not a right. There is now a vast section of society that view receiving benefits as a full time of occupation, and in some families this is veritably encouraged from generation to generation.If you no not choose to work and contribute to society (a capitalist society that has been voted for my the majority), then fine, all power to you but don’t expect to have others pay for you…Attlee would be spinning in his grave if he could see how some sections of society abuse his welfare reforms!

    P.S You’re not keen on real ale?, you not a boring run of the mill lager lout are you?
    and if you don’t drink I’ll just presume your boring.

    Thanks, as you were..

  8. Fed Up with this B.S permalink
    March 17, 2010 3:56 pm

    Right on Real Ale drinker, I couldn’t agree more. I am fed up to the back teeth with people thinking they have a god given right to receive benefits in the UK, which are funded through us hard working tax payers!

    It is really not that hard to find a job if you want one, problem is most of you aren’t prepared to be realistic and start at the bottom like the rest of us have had too. It’s a funny thing life, there really are NO short cuts. Its a choice thing – you either work hard when you’re young, find something you’re good at and therefore employment OR abuse the benefit system until you finally reach the point where you’re forced to find work. The caviat on this is that there are some groups of society that find it hard to source employment because of high levels of ignorance around their abilities but these people don’t tend to be on Job Seekers Allowance.

    Your naivety is amusing, no charity can afford not to make a profit these days if they wish to exist!These organisations you complain about are made up largely of charities and believe me the effort reward ratio means they truely earn every penny they make, especially in this recession.

    You are clearly a skilled individual, having demonstrated organisational and presentation skills, why not channel these into finding yourself employment? After all the benefit system is disappearing fast.

  9. brightonsolidarity permalink*
    March 21, 2010 10:30 pm

    As someone who has a full time job, I find it next to impossible to get worked up about someone getting a pathetic £65 a week of my hard working tax money. If I was going to get upset about public spending, I wouldn’t waste my time on something as tiny as benefit claimants. The situation becomes even more absurd given the mess we are in right now. In case you missed it, there is a rather large economic crisis, and there simply aren’t any jobs out there. The problem lies with those who created this mess, and I guarantee you it’s not people on the dole who did that. The people who caused this mess are a far bigger drain on the rest of us than a paltry £65 a week.

    The response by the government to this crisis and the booming unemployment figures? As always, trying to make those at the bottom of society pay for this mess and not those who can afford it. Flexible New Deal is just another way of going about this.

    I am also glad to find our you are so knowledgeable about the financial status of the Flexible New Deal providers, and the profit they stand to make. Perhaps you could pop, for example, Maximus an email and tell them the $40 million per year (this money, of course “funded through us hard working tax payers”) that they expect to make in the UK alone isn’t going to happen. I am sure they will be grateful for the heads up.

    Some of those involved in this picket are employed, others recently made redundant by the crisis, and others longer term unemployed. What we have in common is that we recognise is that Flexible New Deal is an attack on everyone, whether they work or not. It is part of a push to a flexible (for bosses) low wage economy and about creating a race to the bottom in terms of wages and conditions and making people more willing to put up with any amount of crap from their boss because they are terrified of the consequences of losing their job. I really don’t want that. That is why this campaign is important for both claimants and those in work.

  10. March 22, 2010 4:20 pm

    Note: original post updated with latest info and corrections.

    To the people blaming unemployment on the unemployed, has the biggest post-war economic crisis escaped your attention? Blaming the unemployed is ideological at the best of times, but during a major recession with hundreds of thousands thrown onto the dole it’s frankly retarded.

    In any case, the point of the picket is that the ‘flexible’ schemes being pushed by the government are an attempt to undermine the incomes of all workers by undercutting the labour market and the minimum wage. Their system has had another of its crises and they’re trying to restore their profits by the only means they know – screwing over the working class, whether we’re currently employed or not.

  11. stewart permalink
    April 5, 2010 7:40 pm

    I would not trust one of these providors, Money, Money, that all they are worried about, don’t worry the FND will fail, like most labour things, you cant make people work, so why spend money on them, I think all providors will have to deal with a Contract famine soon, titanic comes too mind and I hope they all sink,

    talk about scrounger’s look at the MPs, and the owners of these companies,

    wake up people and say NO to them,


  12. stewart permalink
    April 5, 2010 7:55 pm

    I would say please don’t be too smug 2010, will be nothing to 2011, unemployment will rise, just waite and see???? labour have really messed the country up, but its the good old tories who will have to sort it out, who knows we could be all on the FND, before long,

    Don’t worry about diversity, Equel Opportunties, and so on, if you have no job, your equal to no one,

    A leftist dream gone wrong, and we have all been had, including myself!!!!!

    I hope May 7th, will be a new Dawn, but a blue one

    I was a labour Voter, never again, what was it said in 1979? “Labour’s not working” or something like that, how very true they are


  13. April 6, 2010 8:45 am

    Can someone please advise me of how the event went?

    Before we get onto Flexible New Deal… I have to congratulate your group – I love the concept and I wish there was more similar organisations all around the UK.

    You would probably love my site… loads of information on Flexible New Deal (although is still work in progress – constantly updating all the time).

    I have to correct you on the sanctions – and thank you for stating about 26 weeks sanctions from the start. Locally here in Ipswich, a town in one of the Phase 1 zones of Flexible New Deal, everyone was shown a booklet (some were allowed to take them away) which stated about the powers of fixed sanctions to FND providers… no where did it mention about variable sanctions (thats up to 26 weeks in one go, not 2, 4 and 26 weeks).

    Also – please note: not all FND employees can give Jobseeker Directions and report you for a sanction. If this is the case the sanction is unlawful.

    When sanctioned your JSA claim is ongoing, just you dont get paid. This means you have to sign on every 2 weeks as normal. If you sign off… you wont get NI credits and unless you exceed a cut off limit the sanction will begin when you sign back on again. Always appeal sanctions.

    Workfare is a more worrying issue… 6 months work for benefit… 30 hours a week minimum…. no extra money, no rights to NMW as you arent a worker under law, no rights at all…. on a training allowance so you appear as “in training” (off the unemployment register)

  14. May 18, 2010 10:55 am

    Again just to clarify how payments to voluntary sector industries work; (this applies to all companies/organisations that hold govt. endorsed contracts not just welfare to work providers)Providing they are successful in their tender for govt. external contracts, voluntary sector or 3rd sector organisations are given a lump sum budget to run the provision or courses for the agreed duration of the contract, with this they are expected to meet the ‘soft’ (usually measured by employability progress i.e addressing barriers to work, gaining quals obtaining suitable I.D etc ) and hard (job outcomes) targets which increase year on year with no additional income. The bonuses you refer to for FND participatants staying in work is a drop in the ocean for the providers financially, they tend to me more interested in helping people stay in roles to enable them to meet targets and therefore bid for further contracts on the strength of their success.(sounds a tad corporate for an industry dealing with peoples lives but there is no other way of measuring it)

  15. September 22, 2010 4:59 pm

    i am 49 years old .serve in the army for seven years .work all my life. been on benifit for a year and half. i am working 30 hrs a week for my dole money painting a night club . what have i done wrong . i class this slave labour. i get extra 10p aweek. i shud do somthing wrong communty service is only one day a week .

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