February 21st, 2012

Polly Toynbee: “Workfare Really Works”

In February 1997 the “Commentator of the Year” was musing in the Indy:

Latest figures for Project Work, the Government’s pilot workfare scheme, suggest colossal fraud or deliberate idleness on a scale no one predicted.

Nearly a decade and half later and you have to pinch yourself while reading back Polly Toynbee’s article “The Tories were right: workfare really works”:

Since April, 6,800 people unemployed for over two years have been through schemes in Hull and the Medway. First they have 13 weeks’ intensive Job Search with a dedicated worker chivvying and harrying them to apply for jobs as never before. (One of many embarrassing questions for the Government is, why never before? Answer: cheese-paring on staff, the unemployed never even had to sign on in person.) Next they face 13 weeks of compulsory work for “voluntary” organisations for an extra pounds 10 a week. Either the carrot (help to find a job) or the stick (the threat of compulsory work) has led to an astonishing number signing off and no longer drawing benefit – nearly half of them.

After looking at some individual case studies, Toynbee concludes that it “made a difference.” We may disagree on the minor details, but Guido is very happy that Polly backs the principles behind the scheme…


  1. 1
    Welfare Reform Sucks says:

    Don’t Mess with the Elderly

    Myra Rhodes, a little old lady living in Great Baddow, Essex, answered a knock on the door one day, to be confronted by a well-dressed young man carrying a vacuum cleaner.

    ‘Good morning, Ma’am,’ said the young man. ‘If I could take a couple minutes of your time, I would like to demonstrate the very latest in high-powered vacuum cleaners.’

    ‘Go away!’ said Myra brusquely. ‘I’m broke and haven’t got any money,’ and she proceeded to close the door.

    Quick as a flash, the young man wedged his foot in the door and pushed it wide open. ‘Don’t be too hasty,’ he commanded. ‘Not until you have at least seen my demonstration.’ And with that, he emptied a bucket of horse manure onto her hallway carpet.

    ‘Now, if this vacuum cleaner does not remove all traces of this horse manure from your carpet, Madam, I will personally eat the remainder.’

    Myra stepped back and said with a smile, ‘Well let me get you a spoon, young man because they cut off my electricity this morning.’

  2. 2
    Popeye says:

    Surely not a Damascene conversion by the champagne socialist?

  3. 3
    Help? says:

    What is the difference between workfare and new deal?

    If you refuse to do either you get benefits stopped.

  4. 4
    Andrew says:

    There is more joy in Heaven . . . but wait for the catch.

  5. 5
    Lou Scannon says:

    So how many of these losers will the Trollope of Tuscany be taking on to clean her villa ?

  6. 6
  7. 7
    Displaced Brummie says:

    And how, exactly, will Polly changer her stance on this? Because you can be sure she will.

  8. 8
    Disillusioned says:


  9. 9
    the old ones aren't necessarily the best says:

    1. vacuum salesman have been unknown for about 40 years
    2. Why would someone demonstrate a hoover with a bucket of shit? The vacuum removes shit stains and smells? Bloke should have carried a bag of dust. better than a heavy bucket of stinking shit. he sounds a right knob.

    i don’t think you’ve thought this joke through

  10. 10
    Cato Street Conspirator says:

    ‘Next they face 13 weeks of compulsory work for “voluntary” organisations for an extra pounds 10 a week.’

    I’m not sure anyone would complain about that. It’s doing unpaid work for vastly rich businesses that gets up people’s noses. That’s the kind of thing that INCREASES unemployment rather than lowering it.

  11. 11
    Polly Pot says:

    The old Tories, under john major, were evil uncaring bastards. But they were like mother Theresa compared to this coalition {that i never urged you all to vote for..you’re thinking of a different polly pot.}

  12. 12

    It’s doing unpaid work for vastly rich businesses that gets up people’s noses. – True
    That’s the kind of thing that INCREASES unemployment rather than lowering it. – False.

    As you well know

  13. 13
    Alistair Campbell says:

    the difference is this was “good” when imposed during Bliar’s reign if terror but will be “bad” if attemted by sppineless Dave.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what has to happen, les sState. more work and competitiveness in the traded sector of the economy. But the problem is that Polly and her Fabian fascists will only support it if they are in charge and creaming off a good commission in terms of running lesbian donkey outreach policy at £100,000 per annum. They are a kind of IRA light. They will tone down the bombing (but not the punishment beating) in exchange for £100K a year jobs for their hangers on. Polly and co will tone down the strikes (but not the shrill polemics) in exhcage for £100K a year each to tell us all what to do.

    the bossy fuckers should find a market for their “advice”

  14. 14
    Help? says:

    What is going to be more helpful to a unemployed person, gaining work experience at Tesco or dossing about in a charity shop or sitting in a cold new deal office doing fuck all?

  15. 15
    Small C of Surrey says:

    I’m not sure that anyone has twigged the real and obvious (when you think about it) reason why 50% of Claimants have signed off rather than go through 26 weeks of Jobsearch followed by workfare.

    Very simple.

    It would mean that they are unable to carry on with their existing jobs.

    I used to work on a building site where everyone got Thursday afternoon off so that they could sign on. It happens all over, all the time and the enforcement / detection rate is so pathetically small as to be no deterrent at all. This scheme seems to me to be the best weapon against fraudulent claims there ever was. Unintended perhaps, but if it works then go with it….

  16. 16

    Let’s face it.

    The conversion is wonderful, if meant.

    But you still would not want to fuck it.

  17. 17

    Well, this just proves she’s mad.

  18. 18
    Hang The Bastards says:

    Finally someone fucked some sense into that old stupid cow Polly.

  19. 19
    Steve Miliband says:

    Does she use the same brand eyeliner as Burnham? Seems to applicate very thickly.

  20. 20
    Steve Miliband says:

    Why did you never stand as an MP Alistair? Scared?

  21. 21
    OoOoO says:

    Guido and Toynbee both have too much money

  22. 22
    Blackie says:

    …and yet one benefits the work of voluntary organisations whereas the other benefits the profit margins of private companies. Get it yet?

  23. 23
    Penfold says:

    I’m waiting for the BUT, it will come.

    This is no Damascene conversion, just shrewd positioning……

  24. 24
    I don't need no doctor says:

    If the bankers are having to give back or not take bonus payments because they have not achieved, then surely it follows that the last labour government should return all if not part of their salaries and expenses.
    Blair, apart from he should be in prison, should donate all of his earnings to help pay off the national debt. Brown should be made to pay back all of his parliamentry salary and any earnings he may make in the future.
    It’s o.k. for Miliband and his stooges to go on about the bankers but what about labours performance when in government.
    Make them pay for bad performance and be accountable.

  25. 25
    M says:

    Questions -:
    1) Has Polly had some sort of surgical procedure ?
    2) is there any evidence of substance abuse ?

    3) was she “water boarded” to confess this ?

  26. 26
    I don't need no doctor says:

    I wonder why Alistair Campbell continues to consume alcohol. Is it because of guilt over him being a lying shit over Iraq when doing Blair’s bidding?
    One day Campbell, one day.

  27. 27
    Sophie says:

    Until we stop immigration Workfare schemes are just a sticking plaster.

    And lets face it after this weeks debacle, our borders are just not safe with the Conservatives.

    May should be sacked for her utter incompetence.

    Vote UKIP.

  28. 28
    I don't need no doctor says:

    Toynbee the psuedo socialist. She certainly isn’t in it together, £130,000 a year for drivel.

  29. 29
    FlipC says:

    “has led to an astonishing number signing off and no longer drawing benefit” yeah they’ve all become drug dealers instead :-)

    Seriously “signing off” and “being employed” aren’t synonymous.

  30. 30
    I don't need no doctor says:

    Campbell another sponger off the taxpayer.

  31. 31
    On Harman Pride's Dossier says:

    Every hole’s a goal…

  32. 32

    Yes, they’ve probably gone into criminal activity.

  33. 33
    Torquemadathat says:

    She was threatened with the Comfy Chair.

  34. 34
    Flush says:

    Yeah right, like the computer recycling outfit set up by some “green” spongers, who would do nothing to help UB40s; or the national charity whose “volunteers” sort rags while the associated recycling firm profits. Still, better than shipping it to China, eh?

  35. 35
    A proper right winger says:

    Are you German by any chance and demonstrating the fantastic comedic ideal of the Teutonic race?

  36. 36
    Jabba the Cat says:

    “This is no Damascene conversion, just shrewd positioning……”

    You mean the Grauniad is finally running out of trust money and PT is going to replace Mary Drivel at the DT?

  37. 37
    Flush says:

    We DID complain, back in the day. Once you know a bit more about these organizations and their lack of respect for the underdog…

  38. 38
    Errrr..... says:

    Best not analyse the joke too much. Having said that, here’s my two-penneth……..

    To save carrying poo around all day perhaps the salesman could curl one off on her carpet. Having said that if he had a large round then he’d need a huge arse full of shit……… unless he had a very controllable ring piece.

  39. 39
    Axe The Telly Tax says:

    You mean they’ve joined the Liebore party :-)

  40. 40
    Peter Grimes says:

    Perhaps just a slight hint of reality perception.
    About the same percentage as those shysters who get all sorts of disability benefits having never been assessed who can play umpteen rounds of golf a week, breakdance on tv reality shows or hump boxes on their undeclared delivery jobs.

  41. 41
    Anonymous says:

    They can’t do the work.
    They are too busy working for cash so they are forced to sign off.

  42. 42

    Well, yes, that’s one form of it.

  43. 43

    I wish I had their money!

  44. 44
    Errrr..... says:

    Saw him last night for about 3 secs before my foot went throught the telly. Prescot’s always on the telly these days. Just wish they’d both find somewhere quiet and die.

  45. 45
    will says:

    Having worked in a social security office. when the unemployed were asked to attend a back to work interview about 1 in 10 signed off or had thier benefits stopped. Thier are certain jobs that make it easy to work and claim many being in the building trade as it cash in hand. the way to crack down is for claimants to undertake some work to claim benefits no work no benefits simples.

  46. 46
    Minimum Wager says:

    Dossing about in a charity shop and sitting in a cold new deal office doing fuck all.

    Why should taxpayers pay the wages for those on benefits ‘working’ for a multi-billion company like tescos etc. If Tesco’s can find that person something to do – then why don’t thesocs employ them to do it. Why should the tax man foot the wage bill for Tescos?

    This a way of getting around the minimum wage – if you think the big business has societies best interest at heart here then you are living on another planet. Big business will see this as an opportunity to by-pass the cost of employing people. Just ring up the job centre and get people working for benefit pay – meanwhile driving down the wages and prospects even further for those on already low wages.

    Guido is talking bollocks!

  47. 47
    Taxfodder says:

    Amusingly many of those signing themselves off will join the black economy…

    No income tax no VAT…

    Oh yes….and be ready on the streets for the next bout of rioting.

    Lock them up no problem, free board and lodging at 32K per annum per pop.

    Nice one…

  48. 48
    Ichabod says:

    What’s happened to the most recent Iraq inquiry ? Its been so long since it took evedence thati’ve even forgotten the name of its chairman.

  49. 49

    Get around the minimum wage?

    Tesco had an advert for 80 workers and received 1,000 applicants. Just Google “Tesco overwhelmed with applicants” and see the 100s of links from each time they open a store.

    What would you do if you were running the most profitable company in the UK?
    Choose from the best of the 10 times oversubscribed applicants that are only going to be paid minimum wage?
    Or take from the longest of long term unemployed who work for free but will need replacing every 4 weeks with another untrained free, demotivated worker?

  50. 50
    Cato Street Conspirator says:

    Who is going to take a person on for a wage when they can fill the gaps with the conscripted?

  51. 51
    Cato Street Conspirator says:

    You’ve noticed, I suppose, that building work has virtually stopped in this country.

  52. 52
    St Thomas Aquinas Wants Your Goods in Use says:

    She’s just waking up to the fact that with a shagged out economy the only way you can give money to the poor it to take off the rich i.e. her.
    even you ‘print’ more money it only makes the situation worse. No growth no middle class, you end up with a feudal social structure with a very small percentage of super wealthy elite and the prols below eating shit every other day for a change from mud. you can guess were Polly wants to be.

  53. 53
    Anonymous says:

    What I do not understand is why this Conservative government consistently punishes the many to deal with the few? There are millions of unemployed people in this country and yes a percentage of them are “professional claimers” who need to be forced to change their ways. This system does not deal with this because quite simply the feckless will know, and use, every trick in the book to avoid taking part. If they go they will make life hell for the companies and other workers and they will never take any job at the end of it. Consequently those companies who make millions by getting people back to work through these schemes will not even bother with them – they are not profitable for them. As we see it is the recently redundant who take these places because they have families, mortgages, and need their benefit. It is unfair. So is minimum alcohol pricing because some people get pissed, baning term time holiday’s because some people abuse the system, etc. etc. This bunch of idiots do not have a clue.

  54. 54
    Loather of liberals says:

    She’s a liberal. So she agrees with the Right on most things.

  55. 55
    Peter Grimes says:

    With her fat lardy arse she needs no padding from a comfy chair!

  56. 56
    PolleeTuscanee says:

    I’m thinking of setting up a scheme cleaning out my foreign properties. No pay but great experience.

  57. 57
    Handycock No1 Trougher in Parliament says:

    I am looking for a cleaner for my villa. Intern rates apply. Boaz.

  58. 58
    Garibaldi says:

    I am sure the views of the coming Italian revolution against the EU will be breathtaking from the bullet ridden balcony as well.

  59. 59
    Disgusted Portsmouth Resident says:

    Get one of the thousands of immigrants you and your boys have enticed to Portsmouth, over the last 9 years, to do it. 26.1% of all immigrants allocated to the southeast of England. You and your boys must have made fortunes from it.


  60. 60
    Handycock No1 Trougher in Parliament says:

    Where do you think I got the villa from and the new Range Rover and Mini Cooper SUV, last year? Boaz.

  61. 61
    Grim says:

    Presumably those that don’t sign on any more have now been scared into a life of crime instead?

  62. 62
    Dominique Strauss -Can't says:

    Is this mademoiselle available for the evening ?
    I sometimes like them over the hill… makes me feel not quite so old — at least that’s what I tell myself .

    Vive la Dance !!

  63. 63
    Anonymous says:

    He didn’t want people to question his integrity.

  64. 64
    Anonymous says:

    And then somebody came along and fucked it out of her again. Just when it was going so well.

  65. 65
    Rootar says:

    Speaking of Quangos – what happened to the Great Bonfire of Britain ?

  66. 66
    seenitallbefore says:

    Black economy & no income tax is much better than paying them dole. If they’ve found a way of avoiding VAT on the things they buy, stolen goods excepted, please tell us how.

  67. 67
    EdButLookBalls says:

    Workfare is for the workshy regards work, new deal is for the workshy playing Solitaire!

  68. 68
    Old Grumpy says:

    Way back about 20 years ago, I contracted a very nasty bug, from which I was lucky to recover. Most sufferers wind up significantly handicapped………. I was lucky………. That was how I found myself languishing in the emplyment doldrums.

    While perusing the job shit list in the local Jobcentre, I came across this “Job Club” thing. When I enquired, about it, I was told that I was over-qualified for it. However, I was eligible for the “Executive Job Club”……… but I was not entitled, because I hadn’t been out of work for long enough (just 6 weeks)………..

    Not to be discouraged, I decided to phone the Club number and found they would take me on immediately!……….. “Entitlement” actually means LEGAL RIGHT TO ACCESS……….. which is somewhat different to acceptability, as defined by the Club Management……….

    That was how I found my way into one of THE most effective systems for re-invigorating motivation in Job Search. Within a couple of weeks, using their facilities, I had found a decent Diploma Course, to expand and amend my skills base and did not really look back! Despite its seemingly humble status, within the year I found myself in some pretty rarified levels of Governmental Technical Consultancy and working on aspects of International Communications Regulation!

    I also found time to become a volunteer mentor for serious Job Seekers, a rewarding occupation and, in my cases leading to very high rates of employment success.

    …………. Then NuLab decided the Education Department should take over the Department of Employment……….

    WHAT A F******G DISASTER!!!!!!!!!!!

    Within HOURS of the takeover, the Job Clubs were basically denied access to Job Lists………. All the new administration wanted was “TEACHERS”………… and the rest was all downhill……….

    That amalgamation has resulted in the flood of unqualified and incompetent “Teaching Staff” causing mayhem within our Education System and demotivating humdreds of thousands of previously enthusiastic Job Seekers!

    Today, as a retiree, I still take surreptitious visits to our local jobcentre, to see how things have developed………… HORRIFIC!………… There is, in our employment blackspot, to all intents and purposes, no support. The “Jobseekers” are ignored, except in the queue to “register the visit”. They are left to peruse the stand-up video opportunity boards, which are mainly archives of jobs, long taken and invitations to join “freelance social organisers” (Prostitution Rings to you…) or “dancing opportunities” (Stripping).

    Work fare MIGHT have a minor impact, but it goes nowhere near addressing the stupidities of the Education Department, who preside over the current employment debacle!

  69. 69
    Jim says:

    No there is no cost saving here.
    It is Education and Self Respect that make the change of attitude.

  70. 70
    Watch says:

    The elephant in the room is the minimum wage and what the level of unemployment says about the quality of the lower end of the ‘workforce’.

    There are millions upon millions of individuals who are less productive than £6 an hour for any company.

    They will never be employed with the minimum wage in place. They are just too crap at everything.

    Education and the benefits entitlement culture ingrain worthlessness.

  71. 71
    Road sweeper says:

    Noticed that the BBC wheeled out loads of the rent-a-mob crowd vociferously saying that they weren’t going to work for nothing. Well, the other side of the coin is that as a taxpayer, my income tax gets used to provide your benefits and I want to see you do something useful in return for the money that I, and all other taxpayers give you. There’s millions of potholes in the roads that need fixing or if that’s a bit too difficult there’s tons of leaves that still need clearing up from last autumn. You say you don’t want to work for nothing, but equally taxpayers don’t want to give you benefits for nothing if you’re capable of doing something useful. And if it doesn’t match your qualifications, tough. You don’t need qualifications to do useful civic work.

  72. 72
    Tower crane says:

    There used to be a saying that you could roughly judge the state of the economy by counting the number of tower cranes on the skyline of London or any other large city. Well, there’s certainly more cranes on the London skyline at the moment than there were a year ago.

  73. 73
    Small C of Surrey says:

    I was just referring to personal experience of building work as an industry where I have personal experience of witnessing full time employed workers claiming benefits at the same time with seeming impunity.

    Plus which I’m not in the least bit sure of your facts. There seems to be plenty of building work going on as far as I can see. There may be a downturn but “virtually stopped” ???? Seems like a bit of an absurd exaggeration to me.

  74. 74
    Small C of Surrey says:

    Oh please.
    Sack her for the mess left by the Lieblair shower ?.
    Yeah right.
    We all know that when a new government comes in they can change and remedy all of the previous administration’s duck ups in less than 60 seconds of applied effort.
    Give the poor cow a chance to try and sack the lying incompetent civil servants who decided not to do their jobs and the time to replace them with people who do the job properly and the six to nine months it takes to re-establish that infrastructure.
    If she’s still making excuses in 12 months time then sack her. Simples.

  75. 75
    David Sullivan says:

    Sorry, I made it up.

  76. 76
    David Sallivun says:

    Sorry, I made it up.

  77. 77
    Dave Laws says:

    Didn’t get far with this one, did you Guido? Toynbee has never advocated free work inn private sector companies, as well you know. And the state propping up Tesco’s profits is immoral which ever way you look at it.

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