Attention on social media is turning to the Salvation Army after public pressure finally persuaded Sue Ryder to pull out of mandatory workfare yesterday.
It remains to be seen exactly what Sue Ryder’s ‘phased withdrawal’ from mandatory schemes only will look like in practice. As the Salvation Army have shown, many charities have been less than honest about their involvement with forced and unpaid work.
When the workfare row first blew up, the Salvation Army were quick to claim that they were not involved with workfare. This soon unravelled as letters appeared on the internet which proved people were being forced to work in Salvation Army charity shops for four week periods without pay.
The charity changed their statement, disappearing their original claims from the internet and claiming that they now only use workfare at local level. Which means they are involved in workfare and they lied and will go to hell. Which is a shame because they took the whole God thing very seriously.
In truth the Salvation Army are very much involved in workfare. As well as forcing people to work for free in their charity shops they have a long history of involvement as contractors on various government workfare schemes. As they boast on their own website:
“At a local level we work with independent welfare to work providers, offering short-term work experience placements that we see as invaluable to gain vital skills, experience and to build confidence.
“Clients receive professional retail work experience through a range of tasks including customer service, stock movement and tagging.”
Whilst these placements may not be officially forced claimants who refuse to attend could simply be sent on one of the mandatory workfare schemes instead. With almost half a million benefit sanctions handed out each year for ‘non-compliance’ then exactly what is and isn’t officially ‘voluntary’ at the Jobcentre has become meaningless.
Salvation Army have responded to criticisms by banning people from their facebook page and deleting comments, risking the row going international as the charity have lots of facebook pages.
The Salvation Army claim to help the poor. They know themselves only too well the suffering that being stripped of benefits, and facing possible homelessness can bring to people’s lives. Yet they are quite happy to exploits a benefits regime that makes the poor destitute if it helps keep down their wage bill. On a local level only of course.
Tell them what you think on twitter: @salvationarmyuk
Join the National Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on March 18th: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid