Hypocrites: The workfare exploiters who claim to be anti-workfare, exposed

After nearly 5 fives years leading to the landmark Zola-v-DWP Court of Appeal foi ruling on naming and shaming forced-labour (workfare) employers, the DWP now shames a number of janus-faced avowed anti-workfare ‘charities’ and one Council as actual persistent exploiters of unpaid forced-labour conscripts during 2016.

With the number of forced-labour locations, they are now exposed as:

  1. Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid in Birmingham
  2. Centrepoint in Boston, Linconshire
  3. Christian Community Action in Reading
  4. Forest Recycling Project in London
  5. Lambeth Council in Lambeth, London
  6. Oxfam in 18 locations
  7. Restore in London
  8. Revitalise in 5 locations
  9. Scope in 18 locations
  10. Sue Ryder in 33 locations
  11. The Trussell Trust  in London
  12. Toynbee Hall in London
  13. The Samaritans in 3 locations

    Each location could have been exploiting more than one conscript at any one time during a six month period in 2016.All of the above (1 to 13), except 5, have subscribed to the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement to oppose all forms of State sponsored workfare (forced labour). Number 5 Lambeth Council did sign up to the Unite Union’s anti workfare council pledge. In January 2017 Keep Volunteering Voluntary, Boycott Workfare and Unite Community were notified directly of a DWP foi reply, naming and shaming 1 to 13 as hosts for the 6 month full-time forced-labour Community Work Placement scheme.

Be aware of the Ides of March, as the price of freedom from workfare is eternal vigilance.


The future of workfare in England

What is workfare?
“Workfare is the name given to government schemes where unemployed and disabled people have to work in return for their benefits.

The running of workfare schemes is outsourced to a range of public, private and voluntary sector providers, who sub-contract parts of their schemes to charities and community groups. Unemployed and disabled people referred to these schemes are required to carry out unpaid work in return for their benefits.

The government runs a bewildering range of workfare schemes. While some are voluntary to join, once a claimant has joined a scheme they can be ‘sanctioned’ – have their benefits withdrawn – or be referred to a compulsory scheme where they can be sanctioned, for failing to participate in it. Organisations running placements are responsible for reporting on claimants’ performance during their placements to Jobcentre Plus, which may result in sanctioning. ”

Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement
“As charities and voluntary organisations we know the value of volunteering. Volunteering means people independently choosing to give their time freely to help others and make the world a better place. Workfare schemes force unemployed people to carry out unpaid work or face benefit sanctions that can cause hardship and destitution.   We believe in keeping volunteering voluntary and will not participate in government workfare schemes”

Unite Union anti-workfare council pledge
“This council believes that work should pay and therefore opposes the introduction of schemes which force job seekers into unpaid work or face losing their benefits – schemes known popularly as workfare.

This council is concerned that there is no evidence workfare assists job seekers in finding work and in fact working a 30-hour week makes that more difficult; that workfare is replacing paid work; and that workfare stigmatises benefits claimants and locks them further into poverty.

This council pledges not to use any workfare placements and will also encourage contractors not to use the schemes.”

Charter Against Workfare: A Statement of Principles
For any workplace based scheme for benefit claimants

“First, it must be entirely voluntary.

Secondly, there should be real training so that people go away at the end with skills that are relevant to their future employment prospects.

Thirdly, those concerned must have employee status so that they are protected by health and safety and equal opportunities legislation.

Fourthly, they must be paid the rate for the job—not benefit-plus—and,

finally, projects must have trade union approval.”

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 14th December 1987.


Labour Joins Chorus of protest over workfareLabour protest over workfare 1988.png
The Glasgow Herald – Jan 8, 1988

Welfare Reform Act 2009
Part 1 Social security  “Work for your benefit” schemes etc.

Welfare Reform Act 2012 [Universal Credit]
16 Work preparation requirement
(3) (e) undertaking work experience or a work placement;

Workfare: Why did so many Labour MPs accept this brutal, unforgivable attack on vulnerable people? Labour’s leadership is failing to uphold its party’s values
Independent, Wednesday 20 March 2013

Despite views to the contrary workfare has not ended, it is embedded into Section 16 (3)(e) of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 for Universal Credit (UC).

Universal Credit: Work preparation requirement
“undertaking work experience or a work placement”
Welfare Reform Act (2012) – Section 16(3)(e)

Mandatory and ‘voluntary’ workfare placements are also a part of the Work Programme (WP) scheme. WP referrals end March 2017, but referred conscripts can then be on the scheme until 29 March 2019.

From 2017 the WP will be replaced by the UC ‘Work and Health‘ scheme and there is no reason not to believe this will also include workfare. The Gov’s ‘Youth Obligation’ from April 2017 proposes to limit benefits to 6 months and thereafter, mandatory workfare is planned.

Transforming lives through welfare and work(fare)
“We’ll be using work experience much more creatively…”
First speech by new DWP Secretary of State, Stephen Crabb – 12 April 2016

Join Boycott Workfare‘s campaign against forced-unpaid-labour and sign up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary.