According to the report 6000 people have been sent on the scheme with the Salvation Army. Start fees mean the money paid out for everyone who walks through the doors of Work Programme providers and are set at £3-400 per unemployed person and up to £600 for those on sickness benefits. It is likely that in excess of £2.5 million of tax payer’s money has already been shared by the Salvation Army and whichever welfare-to-work companies are managing their contracts. And this is before anyone’s got a job through the scheme, if anyone actually has. Then they get paid again, although one stark omission from the report is how many of those 6000 people found work.
This is not the only DWP scheme the Salvation Army are involved with. They also exploit the Mandatory Work Activity programme to benefit from free forced labour in their charities shops. It is easy to understand why they were recently praised by the DWP for ‘holding the line’ on workfare when other, decent charities have pulled out.
Despite Iain Duncan Smith’s thirty pieces of silver, the charity do make some criticisms of the Work Programme. The report tells of a Job Seekers Allowance claimant who is described as ‘being in the later stages of multiple sclerosis’. Whilst not fully clear, it seems this is someone who was found ‘fit for work’ by the vicious Atos assessment regime for sickness and disability benefits. The charity complain that this meant his ‘job life coach’ had to spend a considerable amount of time helping him challenge his benefits status. The report suggests that a change to the Work Programme payment structure would help compensate the Salvation Army if they accidentally find themselves doing any real charity work again.
That a so-called Christian charity is happy to participate in such a barbaric scheme is shocking enough. But the claimant who wasted the Salvation Army’s time by being too ill to make any money out of could be considered one of the lucky ones. If their health condition had not been immediately visible, or they had chosen not to reveal personal information about their health to a Salvation Army charity worker, then they could have been forced into full time workfare.
This is acknowledged as a potential problem in the report which says that often “barriers to work are not visible or fully disclosed” until late in the Work Programme. The Salvation Army have said they are happy to force people to work unpaid even if they are on sickness and disability benefits – meaning claimants whose own GPs have said they are unable to work.
Elsewhere the report discusses sanctions and makes a truly astounding confession. The charity correctly points out that many Work Programme participants have other problems – such as homelessness or substance misuse – which need to be resolved before they are able to even consider looking for work. They go on to say that their ‘considered approach’ to this group has led to participants being ‘inappropriately’ sanctioned for not using the Government website Universal Jobmatch to the extent required. In other words people on the Work Programme with the Salvation Army have been sanctioned because they did what they were told to do.
This does not mean that the charity is opposed to ‘conditionality’, which mean benefits being stopped for up to three years if a claimant fails to carry out ‘work related activity’. People will also be sanctioned for not doing what the Salvation Army told them to.
Claimants on both unemployment and sickness/disability benefits are often given endless and confusing mandated activity – which can be anything from applying for a certain number of jobs a week to being sent on workfare. Jobcentre staff are under huge pressure to sanction as many claims as possible. Whilst the Salvation Army acknowledge that sometimes ‘conditionality’ can be ‘too stringent’ and ‘counterproductive’ they ‘fully agree’ that sanctions can play ‘a positive role’.
Sanctions mean a claimant facing homelessness because with no benefits they can’t pay their bedroom tax or children going hungry because a stressed out single parent missed a meeting at the Jobcentre. This can be a positive thing according to the Salvation Army.
Ever since this Government weren’t elected they have carried out the most vicious attack on the poor in generations. The Salvation Army have not just been collaborators throughout this onslaught, they are actively profiteering from the suffering caused. Their report on the Work Programme is so littered with phrases such as ‘worklessness’ and ‘welfare dependency’ it could have been written by the Tory Party themselves. Despite the mild criticisms, the Salvation Army say in conclusion that the Work Programme is working.
It is certainly working for the Salvation Army whose international headquarters occupy one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the City of London and whose boss is paid around £150k a year. Blessed are the bastards and the poor can fuck off seems to be this religious charity’s warped understanding of Christianity.
The report seems to have disappeared from the Salvation Army’s website, which is probably a glitch as they were singing the praises of it on twitter over the weekend. A copy is still available on google cache.
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