Sunday, 3 February 2013

Workforce Providers Must Work on Excuses

I was listening to a programme on Radio 5 this morning called 5 Live Investigates, and they were looking at unemployment figures. In particular they had evidence that welfare to work advisers had been telling people who were unemployed to become self-employed. There is nothing wrong with that, provided that the client is suitable for the proposed employment, and they are enthusiastic enough about self-employment to at least have a chance of making a go of it. It is much better for the individual to have employment, as it brings responsibility and self-esteem. It also helps the unemployment figures and gives the welfare to work companies their big bonus.

My attention turned to writing a blog when I heard Kirsty McHugh, a representative of work force providers because she was surprised by the possibility that advice could be given which allowed jobless people to become self-employed even if they could not earn a living.  I did not know this, but Kirsty should, that it is possible to receive more benefits through working tax credits than it is through unemployment benefit. I do understand how people try to turn any system to their advantage. I do understand how those who benefit would keep quiet and mostly I  understand how the work force providers could give this advice because they get paid a considerable sum - and Kirsty would definitely know this. I also understand how tax payers can be cheated.

Kirsty seemed to think that it was only possible for the self-employed to be successful (stay self-employed for over six months and give the bonus to the provider) if they were hard working. How could it be otherwise? Kirsty was challenged again but did not answer the question as to whether people were being given an incentive to sign off and become self-employed even though they were not doing enough work to earn a living. She did highlight the benefits of self-employment and told us that we don't give enough advice to help the unemployed to work for themselves. She did say that it was wrong to give bad advice and there could be a 'training need'. I think this is newspeak for more companies earning more bonuses.

Kirsty doesn't believe that there are people who become inappropriately self-employed for six months on these programmes. Well it makes sense to me so why can't she see it? On further questioning Kirsty said that these huge bonuses aren't that big. Well they must amount to something. Kirsty also said that fraud was wrong. She hadn't heard the start of the programme and she couldn't comment on the possibility of fraud except to deny it happening. However if there is any evidence at all then those individuals should go back to their provider and tell them that they have been given inappropriate advice. Yes, that should work if the plan is to conceal any fraud.

There is a problem if a loophole is being systematically exploited, and advisers are told to give bad advice as a matter of policy. That would need strong and decisive action against the service providers. Do the workforce providers need another spokesperson?

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