A study released by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on the 26th January 2016, shows that tens of thousands of Tax Credits claimants – some of them with full time and part time jobs here in Shepway – have received letters and texts encouraging them to contact government busy-bodies for advice on how to increase their earnings by finding a new job or gaining promotion.
This startling fact is contained in an evaluation of the ‘In-work progression advice trial’ quietly carried out in 2014. This pilot scheme, run by the DWP in conjunction with the shadowy Nudge Unit, involved 75,000 Tax Credit claimants – like Michelle Dorell from Folkestone – receiving a letter encouraging them to contact the National Careers Service for advice on how to progress in work. Around half of participants also received a text message.
People were chosen largely at random from those earning a monthly income of £330–£960, so those working full-time at the then minimum wage were included in the study. This too would include a part time employee. One Cllr who sits on SDC has publicly stated that they are a part time employee, so they would be included. When Universal Credit is fully introduced part-time & full time workers here in Shepway and across the Country will be forced to endlessly look for ‘more or better paid work’ during the hours they are not working. They could even be sent on unpaid workfare schemes and if they refuse then vital in-work benefits, including money required to pay for housing costs, could be stopped. What this pilot suggests is that policies are being considered to ensure even those with full time jobs are subject to conditionality if they are paid low wages.
There are many people who work in Asda, Sainsbury’s, Saga and other companies across Shepway who need to work part time as they have other legitimate responsibilities.
Of the few people researchers spoke to they found exactly what you would expect. Many people were quite happy with their work and saw no reason to change anything. Often people had caring responsibilities that limited what work they could do – usually looking after children or elderly relatives or some other legitimate reason. Interestingly both those who took up the advice and those who didn’t were found to have similar motivations and attitudes to work. Many lone parents said they would look to progress in work as soon as their children were older. Others had clear career goals already and were merely curious about any advice offered. It turns out that people are quite capable of making their own decisions about work and their lives, usually on perfectly rational grounds, without any help at all from the government. Also, and amusingly, the evaluation found that the magically written ‘self-efficacy’ letter, presumably produced by the nudge unit, had no impact at all on whether people got in touch.
Therefore if you are a part time employee, or even a full time employee, the DWP and Iain Duncan Smith seem to believe that you can work more and harder, regardless if you have children or elderly relatives to care for. Iain and his minions at the DWP believe you could and should do better, because if you do not they Will force you to.