What happen when furlough finishes? Part One

According to the BBC (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-52135342 ) on September 9th, workers who have been on Furlough and whose employers want to retain them or make them redundant will need to be informed of their future by 30th September.

There are still sectors of the economy which will not be able to trade or provide services, so many workers do face redundancy. A good guide to what redundancy entails and what your rights are is provided on the GOV.UK website. https://www.gov.uk/redundancy-your-rights As a Union Representative, I had to take members of my Union through this process and stongly urge workers facing redundancy to read up on redundancy and know your rights. Even if you are a member of a Union, you should not leave it all to your Union Representative. Reps are going to be inundated with redundancy cases and may not have the time to do a thorough job.

If you do have to claim an unemployment benefit, it is likely that you will have to claim Universal Credit. You can claim online here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit . There are lots of job vacancies at the moment. You will be expected to take whatever job is going, however inappropriate for your skill set. If you show a reluctance to apply for a job or go for an interview, you face being sanctioned and losing some or all of your Universal Credit (UC) payment. Unless you have experienced being on UC, you may be in for a shock at how harsh the system is and the alacrity with which DWP staff apply sanctions. For example, approximately 50% of the people who come to the “Help the Homeless, Needy and Vulnerable” kitchen which I volunteer at are there because they have been sanctioned, had their benefits witheld and have no money for food or anything else. 90% of these have “substance issues” and are incapable of either working or playing the UC game so that they can avoid sanctions. They are the “low hanging fruit” whom DWP staff target because they do not seek work or fail to comply with the petty bureacracy which UC involves.

Do not become the “low hanging fruit”! Unite the Union has produced a good booklet on UC and it is well worth studying. I am Chair of a Unite Branch and when we were campaigning on UC, we got lots of requests from other organisations for copies of the booklet. Here it is: https://www.unitetheunion.org/media/2194/stop-universal-credit-how-to-survive-booklet.pdf

Basically, it is all about being seen to be doing, as they say. The DWP employee assigned to you will not want to make more work for themselves than necessary. So make sure that you keep your journal up to date, attend appointments and at least go through the motions of applying for jobs, even if you have no intention of taking them. “Keep your nose clean” and the DWP staffer will go after the “low hanging fruit” instead. DWP staff have targets and one way of reaching them is by applying sanctions. The DWP will deny this. However, we had a “mole” in the DWP office where I live and they confirmed that the “aspirations” that they were given were in fact targets.

I have spent a considerable amount of time outside or being ejected from Job Centres talking to claimants and gathering their stories for the Union. Again, you would find it hard to believe the harsh, conscious cruelty which goes into the UK benefits system. For example, I got to know one young man quite well as he had to attend the local Job Centre every day for an appointment. He had just been released from prison, was street sleeping and had substance issues. He was obviously on what used to be called “daily sign” in order to catch him out so that he could be sanctioned! The ruling class does this so that the working class is starved into low paid work. It is waging Class War through the benefits system. Make sure that you do not become a victim, preserve yourselves and be ready to fight back.

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