Monday, 1 June 2009

New Deal Provider Shoots Itself in Foot?

Now at first glance I'd have to say that this is just plain wrong. Someone on the New Deal gets their benefits suspended for criticising the New Deal Training provider on the web and setting the training computers homepage to Ipswich Unemployment Action.

Andrew Coates of the Tendance Coatsey blog is a 'dyed-in-the-wool' but self depreciating far leftist. I remember him from 30 years ago when we did the same course at university, but he won't recognise me as I don't use my real name on this blog and in any event we weren't anything more than nodding acquaintances then and we haven't run across each other since. I didn't agree with him politically back then and there is still much on his blog that I disagree with today. I can quite imagine he might be a fully paid up member of 'the awkward squad'.

But... this is just bloody outrageous. He is perfectly entitled to criticise any aspect of the New Deal. He is perfectly entitled to use what the provider might consider intemperate language in doing so. If the YMCA - the Training Provider - can actually show he was writing the blog during time he should have been absorbing the 'training' he was so critical of they might have a case. But they have no moral or legal right to employ sanctions of any kind, never mind ones of this draconian nature, if he's been writing this stuff in his own time. & as for resetting the homepage of the training computers as a reason for cutting off his benefits life support...well, get a bloody life I'd say.

I think this one is going to run and run.

Update: Ah. Footshooting halted. Benefits restored - or at least a new claim encouraged. (I'm not sure there is much difference given the inflexible nature of many computer systems). 'Training' to recommence in autumn, once new provider is in place. Read all about it over at TC.


  1. Thank you for picking up on this news.

    He was exited before he got a chance to look at a computer screen let alone change the homepage: it was other supporters doing so after reading the blog and thinking "something needs to be done"...

    Even though he has posted with his full name there is nothing stating that it was him. I could post this comment as "Bill Gates" or with any name. Of course, it could have been the case that he was unaware of the site and he would have been exited anyway.

    As you state it is illegal for them to ban and sanction him for that. Everything has sources backing up claims such as them trading without planning permission... the Local Government publishes committee reports available for all to view which acknowledges this.

    The bottom line: YMCA Training have made the worst mistake. Instead of trying to change the view of someone they banned that person and create more bad publicity. Just to note it is a section 23 paragraph 1 breach - could lead to contract termination if the publicity increased...

  2. I've had one or two altercations with Andrew Coates on websites in the past, so I'm no great fan of his political stance. But Andrew absolutely must be defended here. Let the Ipswich YMCA feel the full blast of the world blogosphere's disapproval.

  3. Aye Strategist, Andy has given me a hard time on occasion - I seem to recall an exchange about alcohol policy on Dave's Part - but that's not really the point is it? You can't withdraw benefits on the bais of your view of someone's opinions.

  4. I was really cheered up by your swift reaction Charlie.

    Couple of comments.

    Since I was - for seven years - the secretary of a large Labour Party Branch and am a Chair of a union one, I have experience of dealing with people, not just ideas. Hence I understand why anyone would be reluctant to come down on one side.

    But here I can assure you the whole thing rests on what I wrote and not what I did. As Dan says, I was there for only around half an hour. And on best, behaviour. Not the cheery sarky scamp I fondly like to imagine is my polemical persona.

    Btw: I did recognise that you were from the same political and uni field - if from a different team. Milliband versus Poulantzas?

  5. Well, from a personal point of view. It is rather unlikely that a few people agree totally in its entirety. It is common that a huge group of people agree on the majority view - a few common values and opinions - but everyone seems to have their own exact opinions on things.

    MPs' expenses... everyone wants all the MP's sacked. I don't. As far as I am aware they can't technically be sacked - just can't stand for re-election (at their own discretion). This is now a punishment... lol! Who was actually going to vote for them again this upcoming General Election anyway? No one...

    The Commons Speaker... got forced to resign. That means, before stepping down Gordon is a Moron negotiated a bumper pay deal.. I bet he walked out of the decision a much wealthier man. Surely all from taxpayers' money therefore this man forced to resign (more by MP's not the public) regarding the expenses... actually, made the misuse of public funds... WORSE!

    I bet prior to him resigning, in the massive heat of the MP's expenses scandal, if I said that the MP's and the common speaker shouldn't be sacked then I bet everyone would turn on me.

    I also believe that the sole "sacking" of these people and probably £20 million of taxpayers' money to which it will cost to investigate.. wont lead to any prosecutions. (Take note that I am investigating the New Deal scandal solely on Jobseekers Allowance *and* has already brought big concerns regarding YMCA Training. Google is free to use. Everything else costs a postage stamp. It feels good being paid by the Government to investigate their scams)

    OK, this (mps' expenses) scandal involves mostly silly expensive claims which were allowed by the "rules" - however a lot of MPs' were actually claiming for non-existent property etc. or property they didn't use... this is fraud and if I spent ages reading up on it probably is another offence on corruption and abuse of power.

    Back on to this subject... YMCA Training are not breaking any laws (sadly its true) even though infringing their contract. However, Jobcentre Plus who enforces this whole element (they can force YMCA to take Andrew or make them face sanctions/disciplinary action - and they are who stops the benefit etc.) are liable under the Human Rights Act 1998. The outsourcing to private companies doesn't get round that: something they over looked!

  6. Andy,
    1. You do deserve support on this. I can see many people might be unwilling to commit not knowing the details of a specific case, but unless you're actively lying - and from the general tenor of your blog I don't think you'd do that - it seems pretty open and shut to me. I'd guess you have access to local advice on arguing benefit claims and more general legal backup. but if there is anything else the rest of us awkward buggers on the interwebby thingy can do just let us know.

    2. Yeah: Warwick Pol/Soc, 1976-79 (tho' I switched to straight Sociology having discovered the ineffable boredom of academic Political writing in yr 1). I wasn't active in campus politics, but was in the Labour club and Coventry LP. I believe you sold me the occasional Socialist Challenge (or whatever the IMG rag was called back then) at the time. & - very acutely spotted - one of the things that particular version of education left me with was a violent aversion to all things French and Structuralist. Poulantzas I could just about bear(tho, yup, I preferred old Ralphie), but Althusser was simply beyond the pale for me - to the extent I recall driving 60 miles to Oxford just to buy EP Thompson's Poverty of Theory on its day of publication...I need to keep a degree of anonymity for work purposes, otherwise I'd 'fess up to my real name ( not that you'd necessarily recognise it).

  7. Charlie,

    1. It may seem a tiny bit likely that the truth could be absent but it seriously is a "you couldn't make it up" concern.

    They have all the policies and the phrases which makes it seem like you are in the best hands - however it is nothing but the opposite.

    I think half the adrenaline fury at being dismissed is surely directed at the fact of being under the illusion that these people are the good guys when in fact they are not!

    I am not sure if they should technically be a registered charity! It should be revoked.

    2. that is all over my head lol.