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CWP Provider Guidance

You know, I instigated this blog with the notion of being a smart investigative type, even though there are a ton more and better blogs doing just that. Unfortunately I always end up doing something else. I record some ideas on the Dictaphone app on my ancient mp3 player and then forget about it, and, given so many issues come up almost daily, I lose track.

Well that’s my excuse anyway. Clearly I’m not as smart as I thought I was. I’m also trying to work on my own ideas – ideas I need to spend time on since I’ve told the DWP that’s what I spend my time doing. Inevitably they will want to see results at some point (as if I’ll ever share my writing with them).

However it just keeps getting worse with the DWP. A few weeks ago the Community Placement (i.e. workfare for the post Work Programme generation) provider (i.e. the same people that run your WP placement get another crack at the public purse) guidance (i.e. the DWP are telling them how). This information can be found online, but I’m going to break some of it down here, even though (I should warn you) I am no expert!
CWP Referrals
1.07 For those JSA claimants returning from the Work Programme, JCP advisers will adopt a triage approach, supplemented by information from a Work Programme exit report, to establish claimant suitability.

First we can see that the claimant has no say in this. Whatever the DWP wants he has to do. If that means being made to work for nothing, attending daily, or anything else, that’s what’s required. So it’s obvious this has nothing to with what’s best for the claimant at all.
Establishing suitable work placement provision
2.05 Subject to Para 2.11, you must work to source 30 hour per week (excluding breaks) work placements that will last for up to 26 weeks for each claimant. We recognise that in some circumstances participation in a single work placement of 26 weeks may not be possible. If necessary, the provision duration can be made up of several shorter work placements which total 26 weeks (further information about work placement minimum standards can be found in Annex

We can see that workfare will be more than 30 hours a week because this doesn’t include break periods. That means you will be involved, whether technically ‘working’ or not, for at least 35 hours – though I guess that depends on how generous the ‘employer’ is in terms of break periods. Some places grant no more than 30 minutes a day, and that’s just for lunch. I find this ridiculous. No doubt these are the sort of places where they bemoan staff for breaking just to have a piss – while paying them a pittance.

This will also last for 6 months! That’s either with the same gang master, or through a combination of placements. Why six months?

That’s a significant period of time during which the employer is the sole beneficiary. There is nothing here that indicates the employer is then obliged to pay or hire their slave, nor any evidence that the slave becomes more employable, which is the stated aim of this nonsense. But that isn’t the worst part, since there is a job search component on top of this, which will come up later.

2.06 You must ensure that any restrictions on the type of work the claimant is seeking are taken into account when sourcing work placements - for example, if a claimant has a particular religious belief impacting on the type of work they can carry out or, if a claimant is unable to do heavy lifting due to a health condition or disability.

Given that the local provider is the same that ran the Work Programme (who subcontracted to the people that actually saw me: the Salvation Army), I could argue, were I to be put through this nonsense, that I have a religious objection. I object to them being a religious organisation motivated to making money through exploitation while pretending to be an actual army!

2.08 You should manage claimants’ expectations of available opportunities but wherever possible placements must be appropriate to the claimant’s desired employment sector and/or occupation type, and local labour market. Placements must be designed to give claimants experience of work, help strengthen their CVs and enable them to compete more effectively in the job market.

This is one of the more telling guidelines: claimants who expect something even half way decent from this scheme (such as the government would have them expect) are out of line. These expectations should be ‘managed’, presumably using the excuse that there aren’t the opportunities locally. That’s a huge copout. If you can’t manage to find decent opportunities for people, then exploiting them is hardly a viable or ethical alternative. We know you’re interested in writing, GW, but we can’t be bothered to find or source anything locally, or there isn’t anything, so fuck off to Tesco and lick the floors!

2.10 The days and hours of the work placement are not prescriptive but they must adhere to the EU Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) including requirements regarding rest breaks. This requirement is imposed because DWP views the directive as useful guidelines on working time, rather than being legally binding for those placements. Please Note: The above requirement does not extend to adhering to guidelines regarding claimant holidays.

Not sure what to make of this. Are they saying that, if they weren’t restricted by it, they’d have providers ignore the working time directive? I bet the Tories would love to do just that. We all know they consider these rules typical of EU bureaucracy infringing on the right to exploit people for hour after hour without respite.

The portion about claimant holidays refers, I think, to the rule that a claimant is entitled to two weeks holiday a year. I guess if you are hoping the provider will allow you to actually go on the holiday you’d booked and paid for prior to being mandated, you might well be hoping for too much.

The rules do say that, if you have restricted hours as part of your Claimant Commitment, the provider is meant to respect that. Whether that overrules the 30 hour a week basis I don’t know since it would seem pointless otherwise. Unfortunately this is how these providers make their money: by putting you on placements for a total amount of time. I think that the claimant is then meant to make up the shortfall by doing placements for longer. I’m not entirely sure.

2.14 If a claimant is already undertaking voluntary work and you can justifiably advise that the work is beneficial to the claimant by helping them to overcome barriers to employment, you may count that voluntary work towards the full time work placement hours. However, if you do not feel the voluntary work is of appropriate benefit to the claimant, you may require the claimant to do the full-time work in the placement you have sourced for them (but must give the claimant at least 1 weeks notice). Please Note: Where a claimant is already undertaking voluntary work you must also ensure you give the claimant 48 hours notice for any required participation/ attendance.

So it’s entirely within the gift of the provider, who is motivated to do so because they get paid, to compel a claimant to give up an existing placement. Well there is already precedent for this isn’t there! What would count as not being suitable work? Are providers really going to be able to offer something even better for the claimant? This is a nonsense. The only thing that will influence this decision is how easy it will be for the provider to get a payment. That the DWP can even consider giving providers the opportunity to do this is quite telling.

2.15 Claimants undertaking part-time work should continue the part-time work but you must top up the part-time work with a work placement to ensure the claimant’s required hours of participation are satisfied.

This is the same as the holiday rule. The claimant, as with the Work Programme, is on a scheme and, regardless if he is actually working, as long as he’s claiming is still subject to the whims of his provider. That provider isn’t going to be making a profit from the fact the claimant has a part time job so it’s more likely that job will be jeopardised by being compelled to undertake workfare since that will be deemed the priority. It isn’t just time spent doing that work: there will be time taken to get to that job and the time spent not working that is organised to do all the other things one needs doing, like shopping, arranging childcare etc.

This also applies if the claimant is actually serving a community service punishment!

2.16 Please Note: JCP will refer claimants who have insufficient work history or a lack of motivation; therefore we would expect only a minimal proportion of claimants currently undertaking part-time or voluntary work to be referred to CWP.

But no actual reason for not referring people and no penalty for being overly keen.

2.26 You are required to keep auditable records of travel cost payments with evidence of the expense incurred by claimants. You must also ensure that you do not place undue financial hardship on claimants e.g. do not leave customer to fund travel each day and reimburse at the end of week.

Thank god for small mercies I guess, but what is going to happen if the provider doesn’t live up to this responsibility? Why would their conduct in this area be any different than some report their experience as being on the Work Programme?

We all know who will suffer the consequences.
Agreeing claimant provider-led job search activity
2.33 Provider-led job search will last for the duration of allotted time and MUST be in addition to participation in work placement provision. Where a placement is not available, as part of the 30 hours provider-led job search and/ or other work-related activity a minimum of 4 hours must be provider-led job search.

So as long as you are on the CWP programme (i.e. six months) you also have to undertake a ‘provider led’ job search. I assume ‘provider led’ refers to attending the venue of that provider and doing whatever they tell you. I have no idea how they fit 30 hours into this. Is that in addition to the 30+ hours (not including travel) per week working for nothing? If so that’s over 60 hours which exceeds the Working Time Directive and doesn’t cater for time taken getting to the job search venue. If the venue is intended to be within a certain distance of the workfare venue that will further limit the opportunities.

2.34 Once the claimant has attended their initial engagement meeting, and for each week following, until the claimant becomes a CWP completer (unless the claimant is not required to participate e.g. where they are in employment and have left benefit) you must ensure that claimants, on a weekly basis, take part in a minimum of 4 hours and 10 a maximum of 10 hours provider-led job search which must be evidenced and recorded.

It’s ten hours a week (maximum). Therefore the claimant will be doing more than 40 hours a week once you account for travel and breaks. As someone with particular dietary and metabolic problems (that are never taken seriously) this is troubling. I can’t ignore these issues so I hope they are happy with people fainting!

Maybe they will let people do their job search at home, but that isn’t ‘provider led’ – and you’d have to show them the result at some point (and presumably the Jobcentre as well since you are also in receipt of JSA).

This also doesn’t include breaks, where necessary.

And the provider can actually outsource the job search element, though where they would send claimants to I don’t know. Leaves one wondering just what these people are going to end up doing for their pound of the public flesh.

2.39 Provider-led job search must be tailored to each individual and should focus on the claimant gaining and enhancing the skills required to sustain employment. It MUST include weekly job search activity including career guidance and the development of a CV (upon completion of the programme the claimant MUST have an up to date CV). Provider-led job search may also include: improving communications, mock interviews, completing application forms, workshops and training (this list is not exhaustive).

After your 7 hours at the workhouse for no pay, you are then to find the energy to engage with the provider in all manner of schemes. Not just a passive job search, this can include more extrovert activities which no doubt you will be required to show the requisite enthusiasm for!

Maybe you just want to get back home from a day of working for no money feeling justifiably exploited and down and get some dinner!

2.40 Weekly provider job search must be supervised, but can be managed remotely provided you are in contact with claimants throughout the period in question and can evidence and assure that this has occurred.

Do they mean something like Skype? Seriously?

Google+ Hangouts with A4E?

You can even be mandated to work beyond regular office hours as per this example, which pertains to guidance on informing claimants of their placements:

29th September
30th September
1st October

Which means childcare arrangements and transport must also be sourced.

4.10 Whilst participating in CWP, claimants may request time off due to domestic emergencies, e.g. a burst water pipe, fire, a break in at home, funerals, serious illness or accident of a close relative or close friend etc.

4.11 If a claimant informs you that they are unable to comply with a mandated activity due to a domestic emergency or other unexpected event, you must phone your contact in JCP to check if the claimant’s reason for absence can be accepted.

The fun continues: if I were to ring the provider and say, for any of the reasons above, I can’t attend my unpaid work placement, the provider is then meant to ring the JCP to determine if that’s good enough. So if I get burgled and can’t attend, the provider has to get permission from the JCP to accept this!

The same goes for sickness, with the proviso that the DWP only ‘allows’ a certain number of sick days (14 I think) per year:

4.19 Where JCP informs you that the claimant has already had two periods’ (of up to 2 weeks each) absence due to sickness in the previous 12 months you must make a DMA referral (at the end of the current provision week) detailing on the DMA referral the date the claimant states they became sick and any other relevant information (LMDM teams will then investigate further and request the claimants reasons for non-compliance).

So if you get sick for three weeks, it gets referred with no room for common sense or trust.

Finally, the holiday rules:
Claimant holiday entitlement
4.36 Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations allow claimants to be treated as actively seeking employment when away from home on holiday (within GB once in a rolling 12 month claim period) but they must be willing and available to return immediately to take up employment.

4.37 Where a CWP claimant informs you in advance that they would be absent on holiday and will be unable to comply with a mandated activity, you must direct the claimant to report this to JCP. JCP will check with the claimant to ensure they will be available and actively seeking employment throughout the proposed period and will notify you provided this is accepted.

4.38 Periods of holidays cannot be counted towards participation for claiming outcomes.

So this seems to suggest that, if you plan to go on holiday during your CWP, you get reported by the provider. The JC then has to check with the claimant that, despite being on holiday, they must be available for (presumably proper) work and that they will be actively seeking work. How can that be right? It also means that the holiday period doesn’t count toward the six month sentence.

Classy. Oddly they are more forgiving of bank holidays:
Bank Holidays
4.43 Where a bank holiday falls on a day that a claimant would be required to attend a work placement the claimant must be excused attendance on the work placement and the hours of attendance for that week should be reduced by 1/5th to take account of the bank holiday. The claimant should therefore complete at least 24hrs (or hours proportionate to their restrictions) on a work placement where there is a bank holiday day during the participation week. You remain required to deliver a minimum of 4 hours provider-led job search regardless of any work placement reductions.

4.44 Claimants are also not required to undertake job search activity on bank holidays

Also if the provider is open for business but the placement is closed, on any given day, the provider is meant to find activities for the claimant. This can even include Christmas!
Christmas and New Year opening
4.45 You are expected to provide appropriate activities for days that the placement organisation is closed and your premises are open.

They just can’t leave you alone.

It never ends folks!


  1. "2.33 Provider-led job search will last for the duration of allotted time and MUST be in addition to participation in work placement provision. Where a placement is not available, as part of the 30 hours provider-led job search and/ or other work-related activity a minimum of 4 hours must be provider-led job search. "

    I think this means if someone has been referred to a CWP provider but the provider hasn't "sourced" an actual placement a participant will be expected to do jobsearch at their provider's premises for 30 hours per week. Or, in other words being warehoused with 20 others in a stuffy room with a broken-down water cooler and one PC running windows ME...

    Just like the old New Deal 25+ "Intensive Activity Period" basically.

    1. Or the Work Programme, in some cases.

      Even if you are put on a placement, you still have to do up to 10 hours jobsearch activity.

      There is meant to be an option that llows this to be done online instead, but it has to be constantly monitored hence my Skype comment. In other words, that option is just not possible.

    2. What's worrying is people could end up being bullied into working longer than the supposed "maximum of 30 hours per week". It wouldn't surprise me at all if we hear of participants being misled by their "employers" and being threatened with sanction if they refuse to work what amounts to unpaid overtime on top of their unpaid labour.

      The provider guidance you've analysed above is little more than a slavers' charter. The government should be ashamed of itself, if they had any shame in the first place.

    3. In a way they are working longer, because those hours do not factor in commuting times or breaks (which will likely be at the venue - are you going to be able to afford to eat elswhere?).

      It is a complete slavemasters charter. That you can be compelled to work evenings (don't know about weekends, but it's entirely possible) then you have no rights to your own time!

  2. Can confirm that there are employers participating in the CWP program that are misleading people into working more than the 30hrs.

    I was personally threatened with a sanction (by the employer) if I did not show up 15 mins early every day (my 5 mins early wasn't good enough) taking my working week up to 31hr 15 mins not including lunch breaks or travel. At this point I put my foot down and said no, this caused an argument that ended my time at the placement. This same placement is also demanding people to work saturdays to 'make up thier hours'.

    This is only the tip of the iceberg as to how much CWP providers are ignoring the guidlines, for example this same placement was also reported to the provider by another client for health and saftey breaches such as :-

    Leaving bin bags full of rubbish piled up a staircase for periods of up to a week.
    Obstructing fire doors with bags of 'rag clothes/books' for hours at a time.
    Leaking roofs that are causing, puddles, the lighting on full floors to short out and parts of ceilings to collapse.
    (I provided myself as a witness to these claims and still keep intouch with people on this placement and all these issues are still present)

    The CWP provider refused to take any action, citing they were covered because it was not them that did the initial health and safety evaluation and this evaluation covered them for a year.

    Some other things I find cause for concern are how these placements should not take paid vacancies off the market, yet profit organisations are continually being provided with up to and surpassing 50% of thier workforce by the CWP. I have knowledge of 2 companies this applies to, but there is a limit to the amount of confirmed information I can get my hands on so it would not surprise me if there was many more companies abusing the system in this manner. I have also recieved information from people outwith the CWP program that claim they and thier co-workers have been requested to take redundancy to make room for people being provided by the CWP.

    All in all I am disgusted by what I have seen since starting this program and am very close to taking all the information I have been gathering and getting a proper legal opinion on it.

  3. Though anecdote isn't technically evidence, the sheer weigh of anecdotes reporting these experience cannot be ignored. It is extremely disquieting and bloody frustrating that there are charities happy to jump into bed with these schemes and exploit people.

    My advice would be to name and shame. I think you have every right to talk about yoor experience (though your anonymity is entirely your right).

    The problem we have had facing down this government and its vile ideology is the lack of focus and awareness. The media has totally been complicit in pushing this agenda so that people who have been exploited/sanctioned/abused by the system are seen as fringe elements, not to be taken seriously.

    Had that not been the case we might have a very different situation. Hopefully though enough information about what is really going on has made it out that, come friday, the Tories will once again, and hopefully permanently, be history.


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