The DWP are subsidising wages in the sex industry by almost 60% and allowing Jobcentre Plus and private sector work programme providers to force young people to apply for them. Young people who refuse to act as receptionists in massage parlours or operate porn webcams could find their benefits stopped.
A guidance document published at the end of last year explains how Youth Contract Wage Incentives, created with subsidies from the EC, can be used to promote work in the ‘adult entertainment industry’.
Employers are paid £2,275 if they take on a young person aged 18-24 to work at least 30 hours a week for a minimum of 26 weeks. A smaller subsidy of £1,137.50 can be claimed where the job is for 16 to 29 hours a week.
The minimum wage for 18-20 year olds is just £5.03 an hour, meaning that employers can get almost 60% of the workers wage paid by the state.
At the end of the 26 weeks there is nothing to stop the employer dismissing the young worker and taking on a new employee with a new subsidy. Each time they do so the private sector work programme provider will get a bounty of many hundreds of pounds for getting a young person into work.
The guidance makes it clear that direct sexual services cannot be provided under the incentive scheme. For example, a job as a dominatrix, cat fighter, lap dancer, escort, masseuse or porn actor or actress would not be eligible for a subsidy.
However, web-cam operators, film camera operators for pornographic films, bar staff, door staff, receptionists and cleaners for massage parlours, saunas, strip clubs, and lap and pole dancing clubs are all permitted.
The degree to which young people in such establishments may be subject to sexual harassment or pressure to provide other services does not appear to be a concern for the DWP. Nor does the potentially hazardous nature of cleaning in an establishment where bodily fluids may routinely be deposited.
It is also questionable whether employment as a receptionist in a massage parlour will ever be a useful addition to a CV for someone whose ambitions do not lie in the sexual services industry.
It is possible for people who are mandated to apply for such jobs to object on conscientious grounds. But the young person has to be aware that this is even a potential option, has to have the confidence to put forward their objection and has to be prepared for the possibility that their benefit will be stopped if their objection is not accepted by a DWP decision maker.
It seems a bizarre and perverse situation that a government department led by a committed Christian should be so keen to force young people to work in an industry devoted solely to satisfying carnal lusts. But then, the belief that the claimant count must be reduced by any means possible, regardless of morality or the suffering involved, seems to be the only article of faith now left at the DWP.
Thanks to Carruthers for alerting us to this issue.