In a humiliating blow to Iain Duncan Smith’s mass workfare schemes, charity Sue Ryder have said they will issue a “phased withdrawal” from mandatory DWP workfare programmes.
This announcement came late today after hundreds of people contacted them over the weekend threatening to boycott the charity unless they ended workfare. The charity state:
“Recent online lobbying using strong and emotive language and making misleading claims about our volunteering practices has presented a risk to our critical work. Equally we need to protect our service users, their families, our supporters and Sue Ryder staff and volunteers from any further distress.
Therefore, we have taken the decision to withdraw from the DWP’s mandatory back-to-work schemes. We do this with a heavy heart as our volunteers, including those on placements, regularly tell us how much they have benefited from their time with us and we are immensely grateful to them for their time and dedication. We will undertake a phased withdrawal from the scheme so as not to financially disadvantage any of our volunteers on this type of placement.”
In truth outrage about Sue Ryder’s activities exploded when the charity tried to misrepresent their unpaid workers by referring to them as ‘volunteers’. Many people forced to work at the charity were on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme. Under DWP rules claimants cannot volunteer for this scheme. Sue Ryder also had participants on the Community Action Programme, six months workfare which is anything but ‘voluntary’.
Sue Ryder were the only charity so far to admit they would use sick and disabled workfare staff. In a major blow for the Government’s plans to force sick and disabled claimants to work unpaid, it now seems that no charity is prepared publicly take free workers under this scheme.
Many charities have been less than honest about their use of unpaid workers and Sue Ryder will need monitoring carefully to ensure they don’t sneak workfare back in. It is also unclear what is meant by mandatory schemes. Mass sanctioning is taking place throughout Jobcentres, and claimants live in fear of being plunged into poverty should they fail to carry out the endless DWP diktats. This means even the so called voluntary workfare schemes such as Work Experience often come with an implicit, or sometimes openly expressed threat of sanctions.
But today’s announcement represents a major victory as one of the last remaining large charities involved in #workfare pull out of at least some of the schemes.
Sadly @salvationarmyuk, @tcvtweets, @ymca_england and @RSPCA_official are some of the charities still involved.
As are many High Street names including Poundland, Superdrug, Shoezone and Argos, who all expect young people to carry out unpaid work with only the vaguest chance of a job at the end.
Join the Week of Action Against Workfare beginning March 18th and help bring an end to forced labour for charities and unpaid work for profit making companies: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996
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