A few weeks ago, the students at our Tower Hamlets class wrote a letter to David Cameron and Ian Duncan Smith about their views on workfare. Today we received a response from 10 Downing Street and the Department of Work and Pensions; this was great as we feel like we’re not being ignored.
However the contents of the letter have confused us slightly as it seems to deny that workfare exists, instead using the term ‘work experience.’ What is worth taking note of, is that apparently “It is entirely up to the claimant to decide whether or not they want to participate in work experience. Therefore, a claimant can leave a work experience opportunity at any time without their benefit being sanctioned.” This seems to be at odds with what we’ve heard is happening at the job centre level so we have posted this letter, which could be used as evidence that people can refuse a workfare/work experience scheme without having benefits cut.
These letters have motivated us to continue our correspondence with the government and next week we plan to discuss the letter in more detail and write a response. Watch this space!