DWP ‘work placement' scandal- MSP writes to IDS

SNP MSP John Mason has today written to Westminster’s Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith demanding that he stop forcing unemployed people away from paid employment and into unpaid work experience placements.
Today’s Sunday Mail reports that job centre managers are being pressurized into converting job vacancies to unpaid work experience places, in order to satisfy Westminster government targets. Even when employers come to them with jobs for advertisement, they are reportedly being encouraged to offer unpaid work ‘experience’ instead.
The report lists a number of major employers who have taken part in this scheme, noting that tens of thousands of unemployed people have gone through the programme, in positions which appear in some cases to offer absolutely no new skills or improved job prospects.
The revelations put further pressure on the Westminster government’s discredited welfare cutting programme, in the week that dozens of disabled workers were forced onto the dole after the Government allowed yet more Remploy factories to close.
John Mason has today written to Iain Duncan Smith asking why job centres appear to have no target to get people into work, and demanding that the practice of forcing people unnecessarily into unpaid work experience immediately cease.
Commenting, Mr Mason said:
“These reports are hugely concerning, and a dreadful indictment of the Westminster government.
 “These people could and should be in paid employment just now, but instead they are being forced to carry out unpaid work experience – even if they’re more than qualified for the job.
“Even worse – job centre managers themselves appear to be coming under pressure to convert job vacancies into unpaid work experience places, in order to meet some Westminster government target.
“What the DWP is implementing is effectively a modern-day form of serfdom.  I would have expected the DWP and Job Centre Plus to be standing up for prospective employees against unscrupulous employers. 
“This week we’ve already seen the heartless Tories allow yet more disabled workers to be forced onto the dole, with the closure of another three Remploy factories in Scotland.
“Are we now to expect that these same disabled workers will be forced into carrying out unpaid work placements?

“Iain Duncan Smith needs to explain why job centres have an unpaid work experience target, yet they have no target to get people into work. Surely that is their primary purpose?
“This is just the latest in a series of stories surrounding the welfare policies being implemented by the Westminster government, which range from the shambolic to the downright heartless.
“Instead of allowing a heartless Tory Government to keep vulnerable people on the dole unnecessarily, it would be far better for these decisions to be taken in Scotland, in an independent Parliament, where we could join up our job centre policies with everything else that the Scottish Government is doing to get Scotland’s people into work."
Notes: The report in the Sunday Mail can be read here: