The Conservatives’ illegal workfare policy has cost the taxpayer an absolute mint. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that the government spent £100k of public money on trying to keep the list of employers involved in the programme secret.
The government is not short of cash, it seems, when it needs to defend the indefensible.
Forced labour backers revealed
The government sold its workfare programme as a way to get unemployed people back into work. It forced claimants enrolled in the programme to work at firms in exchange for their benefits. The Court of Appeal ruled the scheme illegal in 2013.
Campaigner Frank Zola was behind the legal challenge that led to the release of those company names. Yet the government spent four years battling against it. And in that fight, the government used taxpayer cash to pay for its own legal fees and those of the Information Commissioner watchdog (ICO). It was the ICO which was challenging the government to release its secret list. The ICO is a government-funded institution.
Conservative government urged to show us OUR wasted money
Numerous FOI requests urged the government to release the amount of money spent on the debacle. The Mirror was responsible for sending an FOI request itself. And following the release of the figures, it has detailed exactly how much WE paid for the government’s doggedness.
The Mirror reports that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spent £92,250 on lawyers and court fees itself. The government also paid £7,931 in the costs accrued by the ICO. Furthermore, the ICO spent £701.15 on staff attending a Court of Appeal hearing during the charade.
So in total, the government spent £100,181.01 of taxpayers’ money on trying to protect the organisations that were profiteering from forced free labour.
Yet the government could have spent that money on a number of other ‘priorities’. £100k could have paid for between around 12,800 hours and 2,000 hours of nursing care, depending on what pay scale that nurse was on. Alternatively, it would have paid for between approximately 11,000 hours and 6,500 hours of support for students by teaching assistants.
But the government thought our money best spent defending its own brutal policy and the companies that benefited from it. So although the government scrapped the scheme in late 2015, its toxic legacy lives on.
And it has raided the public purse for a pretty penny indeed.
– Read more Canary articles on the DWP.
– Take action with War on Want against the root causes of poverty.
– Support The Canary if you appreciate what we do.
Featured image via Tom Donnelly/YouTube
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?