British Heart Foundation Are Out of Some Workfare – But Announcement Leaves More Questions Than Answers

In a humiliating blow for Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) have announced they are to abandon the Government’s Mandatory Work Activity scheme.

Whilst this represents a major victory for anti-workfare campaigners, BHF have also revealed their intention to continue using workfare in some form.  Bungling charity bosses appear to have picked the worst of both worlds.  Whilst they now lose 600 (at the last count) unpaid workers, the ongoing campaign against the charity’s use of workfare is likely to continue.

BHF now say on their website:

“Currently, we are moving away from involvement in the mandatory work activity programme towards schemes which provide longer term voluntary placements. We have just established an important partnership with Job Centre Plus to actively promote volunteering as an option for people who are unemployed.”

This vague statement appears to fly in the face of current DWP policy. There are four main workfare schemes currently in operation.  These are Mandatory Work Activity (MWA), Work Experience, Community Action Programme (CAP) and the Work Programme.

British Heart Foundation say they are out of MWA (or at least moving away from it – some of their over-priced furniture shops are believed to still have MWA staff).  The Community Action Programme (CAP) is six months workfare for long term unemployed people.  It is also a mandatory scheme.  If this is the scheme that the BHF are considering, then they are fibbing when they claim to be moving away from mandatory programmes.

The Work Experience scheme is for young people only and just two months in length, which seems to rule that out.  This leaves the Work Programme, and here the rules are a little more complex.  Whilst workfare for profit making companies is now officially (if not in practice) voluntary on the Work Programme, workfare for a community based projects can be still be mandated under threat of benefit sanctions.

British Heart Foundation have already admitted to having employed hundreds of unpaid staff through the Work Programme.  Whether these staff were mandated or genuine volunteers is unknown.  The answers lie with the welfare to work companies like A4e or G4S whose staff are left to choose whether to mandate unemployed people to community based workfare.

Another possibility is that BHF and Jobcentre Plus have cooked up an entirely new scheme that has yet to be announced.  But even this seems unlikely.  When Universal Credit is introduced next year full time volunteering will no longer be allowed for unemployed claimants, unless the volunteering is mandated by the DWP.

It sounds like the Work Programme is the most likely scheme under which BHF have just “established an important partnership with Job Centre Plus to actively promote volunteering as an option for people who are unemployed.”

Unfortunately if those people don’t volunteer they can be mandated to work for free via the Work Programme.  There isn’t even any reason for British Heart Foundation to ever know that their workers are there under threat of financial destitution.  Claimants, under threat of benefit sanctions should they put a foot wrong, are unlikely to speak up.

BHF could claim to have a happy, genuine team of volunteers who are in fact nothing of the sort.  If that seems dishonest, or even shocking, it is exactly what the charity have been doing up until now.  BHF have boasted that workfare staff on mandatory schemes have agreed that the placement is “appropriate and mutually beneficial”. 

It is hardly surprising that BHF have got themselves in a mess over workfare.  The DWP themselves hardly seem to know what’s going on most of the time.  But the charity only have themselves to blame for being one of the most enthusiastic exploiters of free labour schemes aimed at punishing the unemployed.

None of this takes away from the fact that BHF pulling out of the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) is a potentially death-dealing blow to the scheme.  BHF claimed to have 600 workers on MWA – a four week programme – at the time of making the statement.  Over the course of a year that means almost 8000 workfare workers on MWA could have been employed by the charity.

This is just under half the of the 16,790  people who started on MWA between May 2011 and February 2012.

It’s impossible to know exactly how many people have been sent to the charity on the scheme because the DWP are desperately attempting to hide all information relating to the programme.

Chris Grayling announced in June that up to 70,000 people could face  the Mandatory Work Activity programme.  Welfare to work insiders already claim they are struggling to find placements for far fewer people than that.  With British Heart Foundation joining an increasing number of charities to reject the scheme, it’s plain to see that workfare isn’t working.  Join in with the upcoming Week of Action Against Workfare Charities and let’s make sure it stays that way.

Above pic taken from an Edinburgh protest against the charity.

UPDATE: A taped conversation with a British Heart Foundation fundraiser has just emerged – “they’re taking my taxes that I pay” says the fundraiser when asked about unemployed claimants.  Listen at:

24 responses to “British Heart Foundation Are Out of Some Workfare – But Announcement Leaves More Questions Than Answers

  1. It’s apparent they use an altogether different dictionary to the rest of us. Their definition of ‘voluntary’ doesn’t resemble anything I recognise. Much like the Lib dems definition of ‘pledge’. Freedom is slavery. War is peace. Love Big Brother. Etc.

  2. A fifty-eight year old man, I know, had been full time carer for his mother for over thirty years. When she died he was forced onto JSA. Of course his chances of finding one of these jobs is minuscule minus. His JSA adviser forced him to work for 4 weeks on MWA for BHF shifting furniture, while forced to wear a badge that said ‘Volunteer.’

    My adviser told me all about a wonderful ‘Working Links’ course on how to write a CV etc. I said that I would be happy to attend. He stated that now I had volunteered it was mandatory, and wrote me a Jobseeker’s Direction.


  3. Why on earth does BHF need to use JCP to take on volunteers? Charities that want volunters usually get them through placing notices in their shops windows or through the Volunteer Bureau in their area. I have never heard a charity going to JCP and getting volunteers. Sounds like BHF are pulling a fast one here with DWP.

  4. A great post from the previous thread which I will keep reposting until it becomes reality:
    “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? . . .”

  5. Pingback: British Heart Foundation May Be Withdrawing From Workfare As Demonstrations Continue | Birmingham Against The Cuts

  6. If the BHF fundraiser is objecting to his taxes going to the unemployed, perhaps they should work voluntary for the organisation then they will not be paying tax, that is unless they have other forms of income to be taxed, in which case they can afford to work voluntarily.

  7. No charity worth their integrity should be any part of this, any that persist in thinking it is fine will soon begin to understand the word “Closure”.

  8. Aw come on be kind to BHF …….. after all in the current fiscal climate who can blame them for saving themselves from paying a wage when they can so very easily get unpaid slaves?

    • I do love such facetiousness but under the current climate BHF are guilty as charged and should be ashamed of themselves. They are a much respected charity and should know better, regardless of their integrity and public respect these things cannot be swept under the carpet.

  9. Pingback: Workfare’s in trouble. Time to finish it off. | Cautiously pessimistic

  10. not a popular view i know but all the do gooders on here do not have a clue what is wrong with the fit and healthy unemployed helping in the community why should i work my backside off to contribute to people who do not want to work I know ill give up my job and stay at home watching Jeremy Kyle all day on my 50″ flat screen tv
    Wake up before its too late the protesters need to start contributing to society

    • Sorry – I give myself as an example. Last fortnight I applied for 17 jobs – no luck. Jeremy Vile is utter crap. My TV is only 16 inches. I watch a couple of hours in the evening. I look for work regularly and consistently, but am disadvantaged in the market being 50+ and academically over qualified. I give my spare time to others in various ways. I use an old desk top and a cheap 2nd hand laptop.

      You do not know me. You do not know anyone on this blog. Therefore you have no right to judge. You cannot judge what you do not know. Grow up.

    • What a lack of imagination you have to suggest that people who don’t have work watch Jeremy Kyle. First of all it’s not possible to watch that programme all day and to suggest that all benefit claimants watch it is tarring them all with the same brush.

  11. That is a stereotypical attitude from a working class person, tories have induced such attitudes with their rhetoric and ultimately want you to do their dirty work for them so nothing sticks on them. It’s all propaganda, they don’t give a toss for the working class, you are not in their world so while you work your hump off they are laughing as they throw you scraps of empty hope that one day in the future your pay packet will be larger, of course this will not happen. they are only in power to serve the elite rich, they want you to persecute the Mentally and Physically Disabled as they induce more misery for the working classes not to mention the mentally and physically disabled, we are not talking about the work shy here, those people if fit and able should be looking for work and if not then have to undertake a means to get some. But forcing people to actually underatake voluntary work against their will is a breach of their human rights and can have no place in a so-called democratic country. There will be court cases costing tax players millions more the Atos contract is 100 million alone and look what a failure that has been… they are throwing good money after bad with their crackpot policies. There are no jobs with acceptable wages.. like on average a million to 500,000 jobs with a large percentage of those very low paid indeed. Their policies do not aid people back to work, it just creates more poverty. They don’t care about the squeezed middle they only care about the upper class and that is the harsh reality. They are in many respects more idle because they have too much money, those who are so-called celebrities go onto shows like I’m a celebrity.. tory Mp Nadine Dories and Hugo Taylor from Made in Chelsea trying to rough it amongst the celeb peasants.More money has been wasted by this coalition than any money likely to be saved on the welfare state with such policies.

  12. I only see that nothing has changed BHF are still using workfare but have tried to hide it by calling it something else, they clearly think we are all stupid and if they think protests against them will change they are surely mistaken!?

  13. Instead of signing petitions why do you not have a blogg that is constantly kept open for anyone whether sick or unemployed who has had their benefits sanctioned and can either give their e.mail address or account of what happened to them- this will show the true picture of what is going on with the sick and unemployed regarding their benefits.

    • We already know what’s happening, it’s a clear as can be, there is no need to drag that aspect out any further.Action is the only course, there is no option for diplomacy because the Tories are not playing fair, they are being creepy with a capital “C”, they think they can simply trample over democracy whilst pretending it still exists and as far as peoples human rights go?.. forget it they don’t care because they are not in your world, it does not affect them. It just remains if the genuine people of this country have a backbone or has it crumbled so badly they have no capacity left to challenge in protest, challenge in action, even if people don’t give a damn for themselves or anyone else of their generation they need to think of the younger generation and their kids in the future, that could be your sons, daughters, nephews and nieces and so forth… do they deserve to walk into this cesspool of shite thought up by an inept bunch of elite rich capitalist who have no concept of the real world they constantly make it harder for REAL people to find their feet in. Who wants to admit you did nothing and simply sat and watched this government turn up without even a majority vote with a weak-willed lib-dems like a little rat on the Tories back (in their true belief), the only saving grace is they never won a majority and have that little rat on their back, it can give a nasty bit and it’s flea’s could spell the black death to the tories future, and i mean that even before 2015. And for thos who voted tactically… learn from that and make a change next time.. and for those who voted Tory?… what do you think you will get out of it if you are not already on 100,000 a year?, the answer is clearly a big FAT nothing but the feeling that you will slowly see how your faith and trust has been used and abused. Fact is your are not in their world except when it suits them to con you into thinking you could be.

  14. Moi you are right in your call for direct action but those who support those that are suffering benefit cuts are work slaves themselves and cannot get out to demonstrate. My daughter has 2kids and 3 jobs my son is sent all over the country doing contract work wherever available so it is only those that are out of work that can attend these rallies and only then if they are fit enough. As statistics are manipulated I wanted to give a real picture and put a name or face to those being sanctioned thats all.

  15. The constant threat of sanctions being dangled in front of the unemployed is totally sick,some of the tory mps should try living on benefits for a period of 3 months and let them have a taste of what its like to live in the real world instead of their golden spoon fed bubble.

  16. Pingback: Charities Abandon Workfare Schemes – Cancer Research and British Heart Foundation Both Out! | the void

  17. Pingback: 2012: A Year of Lies and Blunders at the DWP Part 2 | the void

  18. Pingback: Two workfare exploiters shut down in Edinburgh | Black Triangle Campaign

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