My experience of ‘Workfare’

The subject of Workfare has, thanks to apparent blunder by someone at Tesco, been making headlines for the last few days.

There are, of course, a number of different of views on the matter, from the hysterical accusations of slavery made by rent seekers through to the more rational arguments provided by others.

Whilst I have been unemployed a few times in my life (immediately after university and a couple of times thanks to redundancy) I have never, as yet, had to sign-on (I looked into it post-uni but I had too much in savings – my debts not being taken into account).

During the first of those post-redundancy spells, in early 2002, work was, for an IT person with little commercial experience, proving difficult to come by.

At the time Dad was in charge of running down a small Indonesian firm based in London which had been used by either former President Suharto or his allies to launder money. Using the contacts he had through this he got me a position which allowed me to gain more commercial experience.

Whilst I was in this ‘role’ I was doing 35 hour weeks, 0900 to 1700, and commuting from my parents home to their office, which was 12 mins away by train.

What was my pay for this?

£20/week – with no expenses.

Did I complain? No. I wanted the experience and wasn’t worried about how I got it. It got me out of the house, stopped me feeling sorry for myself and once a month I was even able to go out for a few drinks with friends – aided by the fact that the weekly season ticket meant that I didn’t have to pay the train fare into town.

It also helped me get a job with a proper salary as, rather than a blank space on the CV, I could put down that I was working and could demonstrate the lengths I would go to help myself – something employers (especially at the SME end) quite like.


  1. JuliaM says:

    “Did I complain? No. I wanted the experience and wasn’t worried about how I got it.”

    And that’s the crucial difference. Most of the people in this pool and therefore eligible for the WorkFare programme don’t.

  2. James Higham says:

    Having been in both positions, I’m less gung ho about it these days, particularly male and particularly the older type, professionals in particular, who are blocked by PCism. It’s easy to say, “Look, I work, anyone can – what’s the matter with you, you lazy bums.” It was my attitude pre-2008, maintaining anyone could get a job if he tried.

    Over here, there are blockages. I work on a Saturday so it’s not as if I’m Quasimodo but can I get anywhere outside? Not a chance. I was told by one manager that he’d take me on that day but unfortunately there are laws in the land, insurance and so on, plus tax considerations. That’s what’s really going on.

    There are definitely professional dole exponents – the Rab C Nesbitts – and quite a few of them but there are also people who’ve fallen off the professional workforce because of this country’s work situation and are literally prevented from getting back on.

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      I’m not saying that it is for everyone but when I did it, it suited me (living under my parents roof, no expenses) and I could only gain from it. Would it be suitable now? Probably not.

      Also, having been unemployed for several months at a time, I am well aware how easy it is to potentially fall into a routine of not getting up until 1200 and just wasting the day away. Therefore whilst it might not be great and it might not be ideal, 3 months of having to get up and be somewhere at the same time each day might be enough to get some recipients motivated to be productive.

  3. Furor Teutonicus says:

    If the likes of Tesco need workers, they make enough profits to fucking PAY for them.

    Workfare yes, totaly agree with that. Private companies making profit from the system….fuck RIGHT off!

    Ask Alfred Krupp what happens at Nürnberg to firms that use this system.

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      As Capitalists@Work points out, Workfare is probably a cost to a company rather than profit making. Ironic, no, that a scheme that would seem to fit right into iDave’s ‘Big Society’ is being destroyed by people who think that they are being well meaning…

  4. Furor Teutonicus says:

    As I have just pointed out on Capitalists@Work, if his points were valid, no job agency would be able to survive. Yet we know that is NOT the case.

    Indeed it is EXACTLY the opposite.