Tag Archives: Mandatory Work Activity

Hundreds Of Disabled People Sent On Workfare Every Week, Is Unpaid Work The New Segregation?

workfare-tesco

Disabled activists protesting in 2007 against Tesco, an early pioneer of unpaid work. Pic from here

The new Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Nick Harper has teamed up with David Cameron this week to boast about huge numbers of disabled people being sent to work without pay, often for profit making companies.  The gushing press release forms part of the DWP’s cringe-making Disability Confident campaign, the latest gimmick to cover up the endless vicious attacks on disabled people by the department.

According to the figures around 45,000 people registered as disabled with Jobcentres have been referred to an unpaid work placement since 2011.  Of those 29,000 were sent on the Work Experience programme and 16,000 on Sector Based Work Academies, which the DWP now appear to be claiming leads to a guaranteed real job.  This is a lie, Sector Based Work Academies promise a job interview only as this guidance for employers wishing to scrounge free workers makes clear (PDF).

Both of these schemes are officially voluntary.  However with claimants facing benefits being stopped or sanctioned for trivial reasons and seemingly on the whims of Jobcentre staff then little could be said to be voluntary under the current regime.  Claimants who refuse could simply be sent on a mandatory workfare scheme instead, and many have been.  Almost 22,000 disabled people have been forced onto Mandatory Work Activity since 2011, bringing the total number of known unpaid disabled workers to 67,000 in the last three year.  This is more than the 61,000 disabled people who the DWP say have got jobs through the Work Programme – and as ilegal reports this largely represents young disabled people on Jobseeker’s Allowance, not those unable to work and claiming ESA, the benefit for people with more serious conditions or disabilities.

But even this does not tell the whole story of the number of disabled people who this Government has bullied into working without pay.  Supported Internships can involve up to a year’s unpaid work with private companies and are targeted at young people with a Learning Difficulty diagnosis or Special Educational Needs, Other young disabled people may have been sent on Traineeships – up to six months unpaid work leading to a vague possibility of eventual employment as an Apprentice at far below minimum wage.  Some disabled people will now be facing the prospect of being forced to attend a full time unpaid Community Work Placement for six months for so-called charities or community organisations.  And the number of disabled people forced into workfare on the Work Programme – which can even include people on out of work sickness or disability benefits – is simply unknown as no-one has any real idea what the companies running the scheme are up to.

If all these people are added to the figures then it seems likely that the number of disabled people sent on workfare is higher than the number who got actual real jobs through welfare-to-work schemes.  This is what the DWP means by being Disability Confident, an army of unpaid disabled workers, many only there under the threat of vicious benefit sanctions.

The abrupt closure of the Remploy factories was a nasty and vindictive act but few would argue that segregated employment for disabled people is something that should be encouraged into the future.  But at least the Remploy workers got paid.  A new segregation is now emerging.  Instead of real paid jobs, in an inclusive work force, thousands of disabled people now face endless and ever more draconian unpaid work schemes with many losing their benefits completely if they won’t, or can’t attend.

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Chris Grayling Is A Lying Bastard Court Hears At Workfare Tribunal

graylingSo desperate are the DWP to hush up the names of charities using workfare that they have been reduced to using a blog post titled “Chris Grayling is a lying bastard” to prove how horrible everyone is being to them because of their forced work schemes.

The post was part of the evidence provided by the DWP at yesterday’s tribunal brought to appeal the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) decision that charities using workfare should be named.  This followed a Freedom of Information request made two years ago asking for the names of organisations who are accepting workfare placements on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme.

The DWP have pleaded that if this information was made available then workfare will collapse such is the awesome power of Boycott Workfare.  Reams of evidence has been produced by the department, largely taken from the media and Boycott Workfare’s website, which they claim shows how MWA will be destroyed if the public learns the names of these charities.

They also complain that anger at forced work has been ‘strident’ rather than ‘standard’ criticism, and that some bastard had even referred to charities using workfare as “thieving fucking criminals” (which if you read the post you’ll see isn’t strictly true).

The DWP’s argument seems to be that workfare is so unpopular that who is involved has to be kept a state secret.  This is despite the duty of charities to be open and transparent about their activities.  Luckily we know only too well the names of many of the charities forcing people to work without pay.  Household names including @salvationarmyuk, @YMCA_England and @groundworkuk are just some of the organisations who use forced workers on Mandatory Work Activity.  They are not thieving fucking criminals, they are just exploitative cunts.  Boycott them.

A judgement is expected in four to eight weeks.  The individual who brought the original FOI has published details of the arguments made by both sides at the tribunal.

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Mandatory Work Activity Is Wobbling, Keep Kicking Till It Breaks

salvation-army-workfareIn a victory for anti-workfare campaigners, the number of people forced to work without pay on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme is steadily falling.

MWA is just one of several workfare programmes and involves four weeks full-time work for charities or so-called ‘community organisations’ under the threat of meagre benefits being stopped.  2,670 people were sent on the scheme in February 2014, compared to a high of over four thousand during the same period last year.  In December 2013 only 1,720 starts were recorded, the lowest figure since the scheme was just beginning in the summer of 2011.

The fall in the number of unpaid workers comes after two years of campaigning against by Boycott Workfare and other claimant’s groups which has now seen hundreds of charities rejecting forced labour schemes.  Household names such as Oxfam, Scope and Shelter have been joined by over 300 organisations to sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement which firmly rejects unpaid work under the threat of benefit sanctions.

This month’s figures are particularly embarrassing for the DWP as they attempt to roll out the most draconian workfare scheme yet.  Community Work Placements will see thousands of people sent to carry out 780 hours work without pay.  Where they will be sent remains shrouded in mystery.  The DWP refuse to say which charities are using workfare to protect the reputations of these supposedly ethical and transparent organisations.

We do know that @salavationarmyuk, @YMCA_England and @TCVtweets have all said they will not take part in Community Work Placements, but they are all still happy to use forced workers on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme.  All three of these charities are complicit in processing benefit sanctions which have driven people into destitution. 

Workfare quango @Groundworkuk also use free labour on the MWA scheme, and are the only national charity we know for sure that will be involved in Community Work Placements.

The fight against workfare is a long way from over, but as decent charities everywhere distance themselves from forced work, it is a fight that can be won.

To join in visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

The MWA statistics are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pre-work-programme-support-mandatory-programmes-may-2014

Sign the petition to scrap all benefit sanctions without exceptions.

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Tax-Payer Funded Charity Workfare Subsidy Tops £50 Million!

workfare-stick-up74,070 people have now been sent to work unpaid on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme DWP statistics reveal today (via @refuted).

Claimants on Mandatory Work Activity are forced to carry out 120 hours of unpaid labour over a period of four weeks.  The scheme is used by Jobcentres to punish people they decide aren’t trying hard enough to find work.  Those receiving Jobseekers Allowance can be sent on this type of workfare from the first day they are unemployed or face benefits being stopped completely.  17,090 of these forced to work unpaid were recorded by the Jobcentre as being disabled people.

Many of the claimants are sent to work in charity shops such as those run by @salvationarmyuk and @YMCA_England.  Others are sent to work outside on chain gangs for environmental charities such as @TCVtweets and @Groundworkuk.

Many of these so-called charities have claimed that they do not benefit from unpaid workers and have bought into Iain Duncan Smith’s warped ‘work makes you free’ ideology.  Yet according to the figures, this scheme has meant a total of 8,888400 hours of forced unpaid work has been carried out by unemployed people for the ‘voluntary’ sector.

If charities had been required to pay even minimum wage for these workers it would have cost them over £56 million pounds.  And this is far from the only workfare scheme that grasping charities can make use of.  Anyone who’s ever visited the Salvation Army’s gleaming international headquarters knows these organisations are not short of money.  The Salvation Army’s UK boss is estimated to be paid around £150,000 a year.

Christmas is a busy time for charities and often their most lucrative time of year.  There has never been a better time to join Boycott Workfare’s week of action and hold these organisations to account for this gross exploitation.  Actions will take place on and offline from next week beginning with a noise demonstration outside the annual workfare conference on Monday 2nd December.

With the number of people on workfare increasing despite many high profile charities pulling out of the scheme, it seems that many organisations are trying to conceal their use of forced labour from the public.  Help track them down and then make sure they are named and shamed on the Boycott Workfare website.

And please sign/share/tweet the petition to bring an end to benefit sanctions without exception.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

The Vile Hypocrisy of Workfare Exploiters the YMCA

ymca-no-paySo-called charity the YMCA have issued a disgusting statement today in which they acknowledge that benefit sanctions can lead to debt, along with worsened physical or mental health and yet they still claim to support this vicious regime.  This vile attempt to justify their own role in stopping young people’s benefits comes on the day that the DWP admitted a huge increase in the number of benefit claims sanctioned in the last year.

Perhaps most contemptuously of all, they attempt to use the young people who makes use of their services to justify this grotesque hypocrisy.  According to the YMCA: “there is support in principle amongst YMCAs and the vulnerable young people we work with for some form of sanctions.”

They honestly expect people to believe that young people are just crying out to have their benefits stopped and be driven to homelessness, begging or even attempting suicide.  And like Jesus’ little fucking helpers the YMCA are only too happy to comply by forcing people to work unpaid in their charity shops or face benefits being stopped.

The YMCA want to have their cake and eat it, pretending to care about the people they impoverish in gushing press releases on their website whilst quietly forcing people to work without pay behind the scenes.  Don’t let them get away with it, tell them what you think on twitter @YMCA_England  and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/THEYMCA

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Do As I Say, Not As I Do Says Workfare Hypocrite John Sentamu

labourer-worthy“Millions of people across the country will get up today, leave their families and travel to work to carry out jobs that we all depend on. They will care for people, serve us food, clean the spaces that we all use and share. They will do more than a fair day’s work, but they won’t get a fair day’s pay.”

So said the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, writing in The Observer yesterday.  What the Bishop didn’t mention is that some of those people will not receive any pay at all.  In fact they could even be working – under threat of benefit sanctions – for the YMCA, the organisation of which he is the president.

Despite the Bishop condemning poverty pay, the organisation he heads uses workfare at both a national and local level.  Throughout the country people are mopping floors, stacking shelves and serving customers in YMCA charity shops without being paid a penny.  These people are the opposite of volunteers – they have been forced to work for no pay under the threat of brutal benefit sanctions on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme.

Benefit sanctions can now last up to three years and mean children going hungry and rent going unpaid.  Claimants are left in a desperate limbo, unable even to afford to look for work whilst they have no money for clothes, fares, stamps, phone calls and internet access.  The end result is often crippling debt as both legal and illegal loan sharks cash in on the poverty created by sanctions.

This is what people face should they refuse a referral to mandatory work with the YMCA.  Despite this the charity claims they believe people referred  “should still be offered a choice about where the placement is undertaken and if at all possible, the placement should reflect their personal interests or skills.”

This shows a gross misunderstanding of this form of workfare which is used as a punishment aimed at those people that Jobcentre advisors have decided aren’t trying hard enough to find work.  Not trying hard enough could mean refusing another form of workfare, or not using the spam, scam and spoof ridden government website Universal Jobmatch to the extent required.  The Social Security Advisory Committee – who scrutinise social security legislation – warned that disabled people or those with a caring responsibility are  likely to be the most vulnerable to sanctions handed out for being unable to attend Mandatory Work Activity (PDF).

The Archbishop has been silent on the use of not just low paid but unpaid workers by his own organisation.  This is not the first time John Sentamu has been guilty of breath taking hypocrisy on the question of workfare.  Astonishingly he has previously condemned workfare directly:  “By all means, pay companies incentives to employ young people, but do not take advantage of the vulnerable by using them as free labour.”

The YMCA, along the The Salvation Army, are one of the few charities left involved in the repugnant MWA scheme after most decent charities pulled out in disgust.  These two so called Christian charities never see the horrific suffering they cause when they report a claimant to the DWP for failing to attend forced labour in one of their shops.  This means they pretend they have no part in the brutality of benefit sanctions that they are directly responsible for initiating.

In The Observer this weekend Sentamu says that “what workers really need is pay, not platitudes”.  Yet he is still quite happy to give his name to an organisation which has become one of the last remaining cheerleaders in the charitable sector for forced unpaid work.  If the Archbishop really cared about low pay or workfare then he would force the YMCA to change course – or resign.

Sentamu ends his piece with an appeal to the low paid, and presumably unpaid, by announcing “If you are paid less than the living wage, I want to hear from you.”

Sentamu is on twitter @JohnSentamu.  His charity can be contacted @YMCA_England or on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/THEYMCA  

If you have been forced to attend or face mandatory workfare then why not join the Archbishop’s “national conversation about low pay in Britain”.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Two and a Half Million Reasons Why The Salvation Army Is Holding The Line On Workfare

jesus-workfare-salvationAn astonishing report published by the Salvation Army hints at the huge sums being handed out to charities and the welfare-to-work companies who are involved with the disastrous Work Programme.

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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Take On The Green Charities Making Money From Workfare

sanction-sabsThe incorrectly named The Conservation Volunteers and Groundwork UK are two of the biggest workfare exploiters in the UK despite their fake ethical credentials.

Both are involved the the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme – 4 weeks full time workfare used as punishment by Jobcentres for those deemed not trying hard enough to find work.

120 hours unpaid work is similar to a mid-level Community Payback sentence – the kind of punishment which might be handed out by the courts for burglary, or even a violent assault.  Yet The Conservation Volunteers and Groundwork are happy to team up with Jobcentres to impose this punishment on people just for being unemployed!

Those who refuse, or are unable to work for Groundwork or TCV can now have benefits stopped for up to three years.  As the name suggests, there is nothing voluntary about Mandatory Work Activity at all – in fact under current rules you can’t volunteer for the scheme.

When Universal Credit is rolled out nationally it won’t just be unemployed people who may face being sentenced to the scheme, but single parents and part time workers.  Sick or disabled people on Employment Support Allowance can now also be forced to work unpaid on the Work Programme.

TCV have said they will not force sick or disabled people to work in the fields for no money, yet many disabled people are on mainstream unemployment benefits and therefore eligible to be sent on MWA.  DWP figures state that over 12,000 disabled people have been forced into Mandatory Work Activity.

Astonishingly these so-called charities not only bully people into outdoor physical work under threat of destitution, but are contracted to run the Mandatory Work Activity scheme.  This means that along with hundreds of free workers they are paid by the tax payer for arranging workfare placements.

As part of the Week of Action Against Workfare contact them today and let them know what you think of their shabby exploitation.

Groundwork are on twitter @Groundworkuk and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groundworkuk

TCV are on twitter @TCVTweets and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheConservationVolunteers

And don’t forget TCV’s celebrity patrons, including @BillOddie

For more details of these charities involvement with workfare and further contact information visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=2752

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Over 12,000 Disabled People Forced To Work Unpaid Since Workfare Scheme Launched

jesus-workfare-salvationGovernment statistics on the number of claimants forced to work for charities without pay reveal just over 12,000 disabled people have faced mandatory referrals to unpaid work since the workfare scheme was launched.

The statistics cover the Mandatory Work Activity scheme which is used by Jobcentre staff to punish people who they believe are not trying hard enough to find work.  Claimants of Jobseekers Allowance can be sent on four weeks unpaid and full time workfare even from the first day of their claim.  DWP research shows the scheme has no impact on whether people actually find a job after attending.

Usually claimants are sent to work for charity shops such as The Salvation Army or environmental organisations like Groundwork and The Conservation Volunteers.  Claimants who refuse can now have benefits stopped for up to three years.  Most decent charities, including Oxfam, Scope and Marie Curie have pulled out the scheme in disgust.

The figures show that in total, 53,720 people were forced to work unpaid between May 2011 and February 2013, of which 12,230 were known to be disabled.  Some of these people may have been sickness and disability  benefit claimants magically cured of all ills by the Atos assessment regime and declared ‘fit for work’.  Others will have not been quite disabled enough to qualify for the tough criteria in place for the sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance.

Claimants can be sent on unpaid work with no real assessment of their health or circumstances.  Jobcentre staff may not even know that a claimant has a health condition which makes a placement unsuitable.  With many claimants too terrified about DWP bullying and sanctions to complain, it is almost certain people have been sent to do work which has damaged their health.

Even those on sickness and disability benefits are not safe from workfare.  Despite ESA claimants in the Work Related Activity Group being assessed as unable to work at present not just by their own doctor but also the DWP, they can still be mandated to unpaid workfare as part of the Work Programme.  Astonishingly the DWP does not know how many people this has happened to, or where they were sent.  Welfare-to-work companies running the Work Programme are given free reign to demand claimants attend unpaid work – potentially even for up to two years with –  no scrutiny from the department.

A week of action against workfare has been called from 6th – 14th July, so if you are opposed to this exploitation then please take part and help spread the word.  For the latest news keep an eye on: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

In the meantime @salvationarmyuk @tcvtweets and @groundworkuk can always do with reminding that if they exploit us, we will shut them down!

To view the Mandatory Work Activity statistics visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/208900/mwa-may13.pdf

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DWP Ordered To Name The Workfare Exploiters

bhf-workfare-protestThe Information Tribunal ordered the DWP to name the companies and charities involved in workfare at an appeal hearing this work.

A long running war of words has been waging between the DWP and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ever since a Freedom of Information request was submitted by Frank Zola asking for the names of organisations taking placements under the Government’s Mandatory Work Activity scheme.  Three times the DWP have attempted to dodge the ICO’s demand for transparency which resulted in this week’s tribunal hearing.

In an astonishing legal defence the DWP claimed this week that if the public knew who was taking part in the workfare schemes then the entire racket might be in danger of collapse.  Providing an unwitting but glowing testimony to the effectiveness of Boycott Workfare and other anti-workfare campaigners, the department claimed:  “The activities of campaign groups and the results of negative publicity meant that… “a great many placement organisations” had ceased to offer placements. That in turn reduced the numbers of opportunities available across both programmes with a loss of many placements and prospective new placements being at risk.”

The DWP’s wild claims included a shabby, if half-hearted,  attempt to smear anti-workfare campaigners as violent – something which was dismissed out of hand by the tribunal – and even a claim that campaigners might be responsible for increasing unemployment.  This is despite the fact that the DWP’s own evidence shows that forced work has no impact on whether people taking part eventually find a real job.  It appears the department are desperate to blame anyone except themselves for the failure to bring down soaring unemployment.

Perhaps one of the most shocking aspects of the DWP’s evidence is just how far they wanted to go to protect charities from being held to account by their donor and their supporters.  The Charity Commission’s ‘Hallmarks of an Effective Charity’ is very clear that an “effective charity is accountable to the public and others with an interest in the charity in a way that is transparent and understandable”.  Yet, no doubt with the connivance of some of the charities themselves, the DWP have sought to undermine the very foundations of charity governance in an attempt to keep the public in the dark about the activities of the sector.

Unsurprisingly the views of the welfare-to-work industry were also brought in to bolster the DWP’s argument.  Evidence was submitted in which SEETEC warned disclosure of who the workfare exploiters are could put their very organisation at risk.  Another workfare contractor, Ingeus, claimed that it might cost them around £1 million in lost revenue if this information was made public – although by them, they meant us, because all their money has been stolen from the tax payer anyway.

This is a revealing admission from the corporate poverty pimps who have turned forced labour and harassment of the poor into a multi-billion pound scam.  It’s not just DWP policy that could be affected by an escalation in anti-workfare protests according to the industry, but the entire welfare-to-work gravy train.

With this in mind the last word should to go to Boycott Workfare themselves:

Since the Salvation Army gets a special mention from the DWP for ‘holding the line’ (point 196), you may like to take this opportunity to remind them why this position is just so inconsistent with their Christian values. The Salvation Army UK can be contacted on facebook, by phone (020 7367 4500), by email (info@salvationarmy.org.uk). More background on their involvement and contact details can be found here, or you can tweet at them @salvationarmyuk”

Read the full judgement at: http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DBFiles/Decision/i1016/EA-2012-0207%28+2%29_Judgment_17-05-2013.pdf

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