Yesterday I heard something very disturbing. A lady contacted me, she was very upset. She attended the Jobcentre for her signing on appointment and was confronted with something totally unexpected. She’s a very intelligent lady and thankfully she acted quickly and appropriately. She said hello to the advisor or job coach as they call them now. I don’t know why because they don’t coach you into anything except desperation. She’s been attending a mandatory work related course and had despite this completed all her Job searches correctly. The meeting then took a totally different atmosphere. The advisor suggested to her that she should be willing to get involved with a trial that they are running with Tameside Council. They are asking single parents to be assigned a social worker and a key worker so they can keep an eye on her… The reason for this? Because they said she hadn’t been doing enough to look for work. This is shocking enough. Women have a raw deal of it in society especially single parents and of course this can mean single dads. They have bared the brunt of any change in government legislation and it looks like it is happening again. Not happy with this I decided to investigate further. I’m not ashamed to say this shocked me, even though I knew that they would soon be targeting families.
How and why are they able to do this you may ask? It’s all part of the troubled families wave 2 joint investment agreement. On the surface of it this seems like a good idea. Helping families until you read further. And read I have done. This was only agreed to do so why were they suggesting it yesterday?
The council have approved a new investment agreement approach to working with a minimum of 1,750 families. This won’t only affect single parents it will affect couples with children as well.Here’s their target figure, they have to reach this target. The government provides a fee called the attachment fee £1000 per family .Encouraging the local authority to engage with families, it then provides a result fee which is £800 per family, which is provided by the government to an agency who are working with that family. This agency it has been decided will be a local housing trust. New Charter Housing. They did not allow any other outside agency to apply and they made a special exemption for this.
They have also created new positions within the Jobcentre. They are called Troubled Families Employment Advisors as a result Tameside Council have employed two of these. They are classing single parents and couples with children who aren’t in full time employment as troubled families if they fall into two caterogies on the list. This is very easy to do. For instance one category is being unemployed another category is having an illness or your child having an illness. If they agree to comply with this scheme they will be watched and monitored by social services and a social services case worker until they find employment. Because they are classed as unemployed and most likely in debt they will be classed as troubled. They will have to undergo interventions, either themselves or a family member will have to attend a voluntary placement, undergone training to improve their skill levels and placements that will last for 13 consecutive weeks. I must stress that they will be monitored continuously and will be dragged into meetings. There is no statement for a minimum age of the children either.
You are also expected to reduce your debt. How can you do this when the money that you do get just about enables you to survive? You are expected to make a measurable increase in your household income. You’ve got to be seen to be reducing your debt, again impossible. You’ve got to be seen to be able to sustain your housing and to make a positive move into more sustainable housing. You’ve got to show improved budgeting skills… not hard when you have no money. If you manage to pass all these measures then they will take you a step down from intensive intervention but will still be monitored.
This is wrong on all levels. They say this is a trial, but I’ve never known them to withdraw a DWP trial and I believe that they will make this compulsory in the next year or so. Classing all single parents as troubled families is very wrong and is discrimination at its worst. As a single parent myself I find this very scary indeed. Being forced to comply with these rules will be impossible for most. Poverty already controls the people that this will affect.
Who decided that this should be allowed in my local town? One councillor, the executive director of Governance, the executive director of finance and the Department of work and pensions. They haven’t considered the feelings of the local people and they have allowed this discrimination. Do you find this shocking? I do and I intend to oppose this as much as possible.