Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Charity bosses urged to shun ‘workfare’ programme

June 2014

The chief executives of the 200,000 registered charities in the UK have been urged not to take part in the government’s new ‘workfare’ programme.

The new mandatory Community Work Placements require that jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) claimants do six months work placement – or risk losing their benefits.

Unite, the country’s largest union, which has 60,000 members in the voluntary sector, branded the scheme as “nothing more than forced unpaid labour”.

Unite is supporting the group of voluntary organisations, which includes Oxfam and Anti Slavery International, that has launched Keep Volunteering Voluntary.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “This scheme is nothing more than forced unpaid labour and there is no evidence that these workfare programmes get people into paid work in the long-term.

“We are against this scheme wherever ministers want to implement it – in the private sector, local government and in the voluntary sector.

“The government sees cash-starved charities as ‘a soft target’ for such an obscene scheme, so we are asking charity bosses to say ‘no’ to taking part in this programme. This is a warping of the true spirit of volunteering and will force the public to look differently at charities with which they were once proud to be associated.

“It is outrageous that the government is trying to stigmatise job seekers by making them work for nothing, otherwise they will have their benefits docked.

“What is being introduced today is shoddy. It will displace existing workers and enslave work-seekers or see them join the foodbank queue.” 

Unite | UK & NI Ireland | Volunteering

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