On The Pulse: Do the workfare scheme’s critics have ‘messed-up’ priorities?


SWLondoner’s Matthew Reason took to the streets of Wimbledon to find out…


By Matthew Reason

The Government’s controversial workfare scheme is a divisive issue with some calling it progressive and others calling it slave-labour.

The critics of the scheme have organised a national day of action on March 3rd whilst Nick Clegg recently accused them of having ‘messed-up’ priorities.

Government ministers have insisted that the scheme, which places people on Jobseekers Allowance in work experience, is not mandatory.

However, this has not dispelled the concerns about benefits being taken away from those that refuse to participate or decide it is not for them.

Is Nick Clegg correct to call workfare critics ‘messed-up’?

SWLondoner took to the streets of Wimbledon to find out:

Nick Clegg has accused critics of the workfare scheme of having ‘messed-up’ priorities, would you agree?







Don’t know


Michael Buchanan, 25

“I would say Nick Clegg is wrong; making people do retail jobs is just slave labour. The people that support it are not realistic, they are not jobseeekers themselves, they don’t have the same reality as the unemployed and they don’t know what they are talking about. Part of me thinks they are just doing favours for their friends in business.”


Josephine Boyle, 43

“Nick Clegg is right to support getting people into jobs. I am not sure about workfare, but if it helps the youth get a job I am in favour of that.“


Michael Cargill, 41

“I don’t agree with Nick Clegg. You have to hear both sides of the argument. I don’t think I could do something like that [compulsory work] if it wasn’t what I wanted to do.”


Tony Shifano, 29

“I don’t agree with Nick Clegg. He isn’t looking at both sides of the argument. It depends on the person, if they aren’t happy doing that kind of work it is not going to help them and it is not going to help the system. Pressuring just anyone into a retail job isn’t going to help and is just going to cause a lot of agro.”


Paul Lemmon, 43

Nick Clegg is in a very difficult position; he has to be delicate with the Tory party and has attacked the easy option instead of acknowledging the complex issue underlining it. I agree with the basis of the scheme, however, in terms of it being linked to whether you get your benefits or not is a slippery slope. I am pleased that a lot of employers have turned their backs on it. I think it also depends on the motivations of the ministers and civil servants putting it into practice. To me it’s a disingenuous way of saving money and taking people’s benefits away.


Evan Watson, 18

I don’t agree with Nick Clegg as helping big companies with people that are in a poor position is not a good idea. However, I do think it is a good idea to get people into work but the work hours should be limited by the minimum wage.


Emily May, 17

“I kind of agree with Nick Clegg as I think it’s alright but it does depend on who it is. Some people do just tend to sit at home doing nothing and collecting the benefits. I work 16 hours a week and I don’t get much more than the Jobseekers allowance. If you are a Uni graduate then at least it will get something on your CV.”


Hazel Pecketnn, 21

“I agree with Nick Clegg as there are a lot of people who feel the world somehow owes them and this scheme can get them back into jobs. However, it depends on everyone’s personal situation as you can’t just throw everyone on benefits into one scheme. If the person has suffered from abuse and they don’t take this into account then I don’t agree with it but if it is for somebody who is just sitting home because they can’t be arsed then it could be good for them. People have to realise that everyone does jobs they don’t like and at least it will put something on their CV. People who graduate from Uni and haven’t worked a day in their life shouldn’t expect to just get their dream job.”


Alex Peacock, 17

“I agree with Nick Clegg to a degree, I think the critics are being a bit drastic. It isn’t really slave labour but I can see how some of the big businesses could be exploiting it. It is a good way of getting people the experience needed.”

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