Tag Archives: The Conservation Volunteers

Take Action Against The Green Charities Profiteering From Workfare

groundworkuk-ruining-livesFrom Boycott Workfare

Environmental charities The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and Groundwork UK are two of the biggest workfare exploiters in the UK.  Both accept forced labour placements, often to carry out hard, outdoor, physical work, and both have lucrative contracts to manage workfare schemes

Both charities have been invited by the DWP to help run Community Work Placements – the upcoming mass workfare scheme which involves a shocking 780 hours of unpaid work.  As some more enlightened charities have stated these placements are not volunteering.  Anyone who refuses one of these unpaid positions will face brutal benefit sanctions.

Groundwork receive huge amounts of tax payer’s money already from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the National Lottery.  Unlike other organisations they have remained silent about their use of forced labour despite repeated criticism on social media.  With the Government paying their bills, they are more like a workfare Quango than a real charity.

Both charities however do not just rely on the government funding to survive, but also the goodwill of genuine volunteers, community groups and partners.  As part of the week of action, let’s make sure everyone knows about their dirty little workfare secrets.

Groundwork are on twitter @groundworkuk and facebook them here You can email them at: info@groundwork.org.uk
Tel: 0121 236 8565

Groundwork have local branches throughout the UK.  To find contact details for the nearest visit: http://www.groundwork.org.uk/Page/map

The Conservation Volunteers are on twitter @TCVtweets and facebook them here

Email them at: information@tcv.org.uk
Tel: 01302 388 883

To find your local TCV office visit this website

But please note: Whilst it’s well worth trying to speak to a manager or senior individual if possible please bear in mind most people taking calls/emails will be low paid retail/admin staff and could even be on workfare themselves. Be aware that is an offence to make telephone calls or send communications which are threatening, indecent or offensive

For the latest news on the week of action against workfare visit:  http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3436

Sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exception

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Shameless! Are TCV and Groundwork Britain’s Biggest Benefit Scroungers?

tony-hawkhead-smile

Groundwork boss Sir Tony Hawkhead who recently gave a speech at the annual workfare conference.

Groundwork UK and The Conservation Volunteers (TCV)  are believed to be two of the biggest workfare exploiters in the UK.

These two charities do not just force people to work without pay on their environmental chain gangs but also have lucrative DWP contracts to bully people into unpaid work.

Both organisations are providers of the Mandatory Work Activity scheme on which unemployed people can be sent to work without pay for four weeks at a time seemingly on the whims of Jobcentre advisors. Sources have even suggested that TCV have referred unpaid workers on this scheme onto their own environmental projects.  This means they not only get a free tax-payer funded workers but are paid again by the tax-payer for the privilege!

Groundwork are planning to go one step further and are currently bidding to run the upcoming Community Work Placements.  TCV are also expected to bid.  This scheme will involve thousands of people being sentenced to carry out six months forced full time work – that’s 780 hours – over two and a half times the maximum community service punishment which can be handed out by the courts.  If successful Groundwork will be paid for everyone they bully into forced labour on the scheme.  Whether some of these workers end up working unpaid for Groundwork remains to be seen – but there is nothing in the rules to prevent this.

There is no pretence by the DWP that these schemes actually help people find jobs.  Appallingly organisations running the Community Work Placements will be paid more to force someone into workfare than they will if they find them a job.  Under new rules even claimants currently serving a sanction – meaning they have no money at all – could be forced into unpaid work or may never be entitled to benefits again.  These schemes purely exist to make life on benefits as unbearable as possible due to the warped belief that most people choose to be out of work and that unemployment is caused by unemployed people.

A recent report by Citizens Advice warned that people who have had benefits sanctioned have been driven to attempt suicide, have become homeless or been forced to beg or go through bins to find food.  This is what happens to someone who refuses, or is unable to work full time without pay for Groundwork or TCV.

There have recently been questions raised over why so many people are currently going hungry in the UK.  This follows a report written by doctors warning that food poverty is now a ‘public health emergency’.  It is no secret what is going on however.

The benefit sanctioning activities of charities like TCV, YMCA, Groundwork and the Salvation Army are one of reasons for this suffering. Foodbanks repeatedly report that many people they help have had benefits sanctioned.  These organisations cannot wash their hands of their own responsibility for causing hunger in the UK by attempting, as many do, to shift the blame for sanctions onto the DWP.  Especially when they don’t just benefit from free workers but also run lucrative Government contracts to manage forced labour schemes which are backed by sanctions.

As part of the week of action against workfare and sanctions it’s time to say enough is enough and hold these shameless bastards to account for their grotesque profiteering.  And don’t let them try claim that they aren’t doing it for the money.  Workfare and workfare contracts are two of the reasons they can afford to pay their bosses so much after all.   These so-called charities are the real benefit scroungers and the suffering they are causing is obscene.

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

YMCA are on twitter @YMCA_England and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YMCA.England

The Salvation Army are on twitter @salvationarmyuk and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/salvationarmyuk

And don’t forget another so-called charity involved in mass workfare, The Shaw Trust, on twitter @Shaw_Trust and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shaw-Trust/221553131217597

Don’t forget to sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exceptions.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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

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

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Could Mandatory Work Activity be on the Brink of Collapse?

holidayinnAn evaluation of the Government’s Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme, commissioned and published by the DWP, reveals that welfare-to-work companies are struggling to find enough placements for all those forced into unpaid work.

In a further blow to the DWP’s plans for mass workfare, this report was released before several major charities, including Scope, British Heart Foundation, Age UK and Cancer Research announced they were pulling out of the scheme.

Mandatory Work Activity is just one of several workfare schemes, and involves four weeks full time unpaid work for organisations which can demonstrate a ‘community benefit’.  The scheme is used as punishment for those claimants not deemed to be trying hard enough to find work by Jobcentre advisors.  Under DWP rules it is not possible to volunteer for the scheme.

The report states that 33,170 people began on MWA between May 2011 and August 2012.  Of these around 75% of claimants were forced to work in charity shops, the very organisations who currently claim to be abandoning workfare.  Even before charities finally took a principled stand on unpaid work, the study shows that three districts in the UK were not meeting the minimum period of ten days between referral to the scheme and workfare beginning.  Welfare-to-work companies, who are paid for everybody they send on workfare, claim this is down to them being unable to source enough work placements.

One of the main reasons for the lack of placements is cited as “The high profile withdrawal of placements from a number of larger charities meant a sharp reduction in placements.”

The report also highlights problems finding placements due to competition from other workfare programmes as well as Community Payback.  Claimants on MWA are sentenced to a similar length of unpaid work as a mid-level community service punishment and often work alongside those convicted of an offence.

The evaluation blows apart some myths which have emerged about the scheme.  It has been suggested by MWA is often used when someone is suspected of working  illegally whilst claiming benefits.  The report confirms that this is not one of the main uses of the scheme by Jobcentres, but instead it is used when advisors believe someone is not ‘motivated’ or there is ‘doubt’ about a claimant’s commitment to look for work.

An earlier assessment of MWA had concluded that many claimant’s sign off benefits when referred to workfare.  This study finds this effect is only temporary, concluding that “the benefit impact over the first 21 weeks equates to referred individuals being off benefit for an average of about four days more than if they had not been referred.”It is clear that MWA does not help people find work and nor does it reduce the numbers of people on benefits.  Some claimant’s even reported that the scheme made it more difficult to find work:  “MWA will make it harder for someone to look for a job. It’ll make you more miserable – working for nothing and no time to look for a job.”

Many charities who had previously been only too happy to exploit the amount of free labour available due to MWA had attempted to suggest that that their involvement was intended to support unemployed people into work.  The report reveals the real reason so many charities were quick to sign up to workfare:

“The majority of the hosts described getting involved in MWA to provide staff for their organisations, which in many cases relied on unpaid staff to operate. Indeed several described coming to rely on MWA to provide a steady supply of staff. “

The report also highlights just how early into people’s claims MWA is often used, stating that there is a push to refer claimants onto the scheme when they have been on benefits just 13 weeks.Finally the study makes some concerning recommendations, including extending the length of MWA to eight weeks.  It is also suggested that the ‘community benefit’ stipulation be relaxed, meaning that more claimants would be sent to replace paid jobs in places like Superdrug and Poundland.

Once again workfare isn’t working, so the DWP want more workfare.  But the key part of this report is the desperate shortage of placements. Tony Blair’s New Deal, the first large scale workfare scheme for 18-25 year olds, largely collapsed due to lack of placements.

This isn’t stopping Iain Duncan Smith steaming ahead with ever more plans for forced work.  From the 3rd December sick and disabled claimants can now be mandated to workfare.  The Community Action Programme, which involves six months workfare and is already a disaster, is also to be hugely extended.  Workfare for young people with little work history is now beginning in London.

According to the MWA study, those who weren’t employed in charity shops were largely working for recycling or conservation charities.  The Conservation (so called) Volunteers (@tcvtweets) have been revealed as one of the largest exploiters of unpaid work.  Pressure on these shabby organisations – who are only to happy to undermine genuine volunteering by forcing people to work for free – can only hasten the inevitable demise of forced unpaid work.

The report can be read at: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/report_abstracts/rr_abstracts/rra_823.asp

The Conservation ‘Volunteers’ Who Are Forced To Work Unpaid

combat-workfareThe continued exodus of charity shops from the Government’s workfare schemes leaves the Mandatory Work Activity scheme looking perilously close to collapse.

Oxfam, Marie Curie and Shelter, who all refused workfare in their stores, have now been joined by others. Scope say they are ending mandatory work schemes as have Age UK (though not necessarily in their independent stores). Cancer Research UK have said they are pulling out of mandatory work activity placements. Meanwhile British Heart Foundation have said they are ‘moving away’ from mandated work, though have continued to take placements in their stores.

It now seems that the largest providers of mandated workfare are likely to be conservation and environmental charities such as The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), a misnamed charity who have been quietly building an army of unpaid workers.

TCV (formally known as BTCV) , have previously boasted of employing 20,000 unpaid workers on various government schemes since the 1980s. They currently hold lucrative contracts with the DWP to deliver Mandatory Work Activity. The so-called charity have forced 589 people into unpaid work, often for private companies on this scheme alone.

This is on top of the countless people who have been forced to work without pay on their conservation projects.

Sue Pearson, a spokesperson for the charity, even boasts of how they have attempted to get round DWP rules which state placements must have a ‘community benefit’.  Speaking to the Guardian, Pearson explains how claimants forced to work in a food preparation factory had been required to “gather up recycling materials” in order to meet DWP criteria.

TCV are the worst kind of workfare exploiters. As well as bullying people into working for no pay, they also put jobs and working conditions at risk by sending claimants to work for free in profit making companies.

With such an eager attitude towards exploiting benefit claimants, it seems likely that TVC will be quite happy to make use of new rules which mean that sick and disabled claimants can now be forced into unpaid work. A statement concerning the organisation’s use of workfare was updated on December 3rd, the day that workfare for sick and disabled claimants began.

It suggests they are already salivating at the thought of thousands more people to exploit, stating that they will merely undertake a health assessment of those they intend to force to work. Everybody on out of work sickness or disability benefits has been signed off as unfit to work by their own GP.

As part of the Week of Action Against Workfare Charities contact TCV this Friday 14th December and help expose the charity’s dirty little workfare secrets to anyone who thought they might be an ethical organisation.

TCV are on twitter @tcvtweets.
Find them on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheConservationVolunteers
You can contact them directly to tell them what you think on 01302 388 883 or email: information@tcv.org.uk
To find your local TCV Branch visit: http://www.btcv.org.uk/volunteer/index.html

Please share, tweet, blog and spread the word!

First published on Boycott Workfare

Never Trust A Hippy – The Green Charity With 20,000 Workfare Slaves

ChainGangPhotoThe Conservation Trust for Volunteers (formally BCTV) have been exposed as one of the largest exploiters of unpaid labour.

According to the charity, 20,ooo people unemployed people have been forced to work digging ditches and other physical tasks without pay since 1980 (PDF).  The charity even boast about their relationship with the DWP on their website along with their use of Mandatory Work Activity (MWA).

Mandatory Work Activity is four weeks full time work used as punishment for unemployed people judged not trying hard enough to find work by Jobcentre officials.  CTV claims these people are ‘volunteers’ and they are providing a ‘route into paid employment’.  The evidence shows however that this scheme is useless at actually helping people get a job.

Claimants can only be sentenced to Mandatory Work Activity, it is not possible to volunteer for the scheme.

All those in the green movement who are committed to both environmental sustainability and social justice should immediately boycott these fake fluffy bastards.  And tell them what you think on twitter @tcvtweets and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheConservationVolunteers

With workfare for sick and disabled claimants to begin on December 3rd – International Disabled People’s Day – many have wondered where all these new placements are set to come from.  The Conservation Volunteers may well be one of the largest users of unpaid forced labour in the UK.  Make it cost them.

Thanks to StokeBloke1972 for pointing this out in the comments