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 of Communities and Local Government (DCLG)* 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

*This article was amended on 5th April to correct this sentence, which mistakenly stated that Groundwork receive funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).  The correct Government department is the DCLG. Groundwork have received DEFRA funding in the past – despite a recent denial – and now say that the DCLG funding has stopped. This doesn’t mean that Groundwork are not a workfare quango: they receive huge sums of public money from the lottery and the DWP, and in their 2012/13 Annual Report said that:

It is recognised that, in the short term, the financial security of Groundwork is dependent on the organisation’s charitable aims demonstrating that they contribute to the priorities of central and local government. (pdf, p. 11).

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

52 responses to “Take Action Against The Green Charities Profiteering From Workfare

  1. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog.

  2. Reblogged this on discordion {Artist Ian Pritchard} and commented:
    This is a great article and I fully support it’s sentiment. Hard, physical labour should be rewarded with proper remuneration not exploited under threat of very real financial sanctions! This is tantamount to slavery in every sense of the word!

  3. Dear Void. The Federation Of Groundwork Trusts’ info is severely lacking. Starting with Heseltine, then Chataway, the company accounts and staff salaries I cannot find. Even their aims have disappeared though I pulled the following truncated wordage from another site. Nowhere does it state that folks should have to work for nowt. When I’ve checked “charities” out before, most have publicly available accounts and staff salaries. This “charity” business as an umbrella for other “charities” shows the money being sucked out at various levels without even having to check the figures..

    (1) To promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment anywhere in the UK and in other parts of the world. (2) To provide facilities in the interests of social welfare for recreation and leisure time occupation with the object of improving the conditions of life for those living or working anywhere in the united kingdom. (3) To advance public education in environmental matters and other ways of better conserving protecting and improving the same wheresoever. (4) To promote for the public benefit, urban or rural regeneration in areas of social and economic deprivation within the united kingdom. (5) To promote sustainable development for the benefit of the public. (6) To advance the education of the public in subjects relating to sustainable development and the protection, enhancement and rehabilitation of the environment. (7) To promote the efficiency and effectiveness of charities in the direct furtherance of their objects by the provision of information, adv

    http://www.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/sites/shu.ac.uk/files/assessing-value-benefits-groundwork.pdf This (promo) study from 2010 by Sheffield Uni ends with large wordage on savings to the public purse! Maybe this should be their mantra now? It’s far removed from the stated aims above. Check page 47 for the following quote; ” It is clear that the range of activities delivered by Groundwork UK and its network of local Trusts is likely to result in considerable sa vings to the public purse (i.e., reduction in Exchequer costs). For example, an unemployed per son who is supported into employment through Groundwork’s activities will no longer require a variety of benefit payments and will begin contributing to the Exchequ er through tax and national insurance. For example, the recent CLG study estima ted that the fiscal savings to the Exchequer in terms of welfare benefits was around £ 7,000 for every person who moved into paid work from a state of economic inactivity. Further savings were identified in terms of associated improvements in health (i.e., r educed costs associated with health interventions) and reductions in crime (i.e., reduc ed costs associated with the criminal justice system). The two of these together added an average of a further £1,000 of savings to the public purse where someone had moved into work. While these represent the most obvious areas where expenditure could be reduced, they are not the only ones.”

    Keep up the good work. Rees

    All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation. Do your best.

    Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

    • overburdenddonkey

      i’m posting below this for contrast perhaps clarity….i really don’t see that a mission statement is a plan….
      it would help me to know exactly what type of environmental projects they are involved with, they seem to be doing a trade off/feel good scheme where people might well think that they are doing something worthwhile for our environment?? where by they are creating carbon sinks, digging water run off draining ditches by hand surely not…tree planting WHY….planting trees in the wrong place, is a complete waste of time, money and effort…in fact tree planting can be a complete waste of time, is it embankment trees for visual amenity? what i’m trying to get at is where is the “plan” and/or what is the plan and what are the potential environmental gains, if any…doing work like this in a willy nilly fashion, achieve’s nothing…unless there are specific goals ie it is easy to think it is good to plant trees, but it often has a negative effect…oak for instance like to grow with established birch…ash and rowan, with beech, sycamore and chest nut…planting rows of trees only to see them die off in a couple of years is very disappointing, i consider this to be pollution…i am really trying to get across to people who think this might be a good idea to participate, do your homework, notwithstanding that it is morally wrong for this not to be fully paid, for doing what ought/might be vital work in the right place..that it may also be not a good idea for our environment in so many other ways…there are so many other vital works that need to be done, ie tearing up paving slabs, concrete, and tarmac etc etc, around houses in towns and cities, as porosity is lost with alarming consequences, which causes a lot of flooding, ground water run off clogged/overloaded drainage systems…this is a gimmick..it’s like spending a fortune on an so called eco-car…which with proper cost analysis ends up being actually more environmentally savage than the old one, but it has green badges/credentials so it must be good..the environmental tragedy that we are now in, is caused by such vast over consumption….but capitalist don’t like to hear that, as we have recently seen in somerset…planting a tree does not automatically warrant, a green gold star badge….there does not seem to be a plan..other than to make money…if it serves a valuable objective then it should be valued with proper pay and conditions….

      • obd, that just about sums up what I knew of the work CVS did in the 1980s. CVS was run by well meaning, sanctimonious do-gooders acting as gang masters for those who were on whatever wretched scheme that CVS were cashing in on at the time.

        One especially memorable one: A massive sand dune was planted both sides with Maram Grass. Because the person who decided on covering this dune had no knowledge of naked, mutable sand dunes that had run along the beach since the beach existed, nor wind direction, the resultant four week, full time effort by the poor sods on the scheme was blown entirely away by the first modest spring storm a month later

        The maram was not planted properly or in the right place.

        There won’t be much need for hapless and coerced participants to sabotage these projects with Horsetail, Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed or Himalayan Balsam. I suspect the two companies participating will a surfeit of ideas to bugger up whatever piece of land they have been charged with improving.

        • overburdenddonkey

          well yeah that’s the focal point…they claim to regain green spaces, that is a weird concept, coz nature already does that for nothing..so what are they saying/doing..they sanitize green spaces…what is environmentally good about destroying habitat, and bio system that feed into other bio systems, nature always defaults to restore the health of our environment …”lets restore green spaces, cut down a rain forest today” seems to be their slogan…reminds me of the quest of tim smit (eden project), who could not understand why brazil nut trees could not produce nuts, and discovered that it was down to a tiny orchid…if the orchid was destroyed the brazil nut pollination could not happen, with disastrous long term implications, for obvious reasons….any “environmental project” that fights nature is ultimately doomed…

          • I don’t think nature really gets a look in these days obd. Every time I’ve seen these “green” organisations who use claimants for labour, set about “restoration” or “conservation”, it’s slash, burn, concrete over and then abandonment on the word of the “committee” then the “supervisor”.

            Their “green” credentials are about on a par with Barratt Homes et al.

            • overburdenddonkey

              correct, i have seen this happen so many times…the word i should have used the one they used on their web site is “reclaim”..they claim to reclaim green spaces for the community….get it back, from whom, who has stolen it, it’s that nasty nature again…we can’t have nature stealing and fcuking things up for the community now can we….have you seen the “nature” wanted dead or alive posters, beat the scourge of nature, that is decimating our communities, your chance to reclaim green spaces for our community…

          • This is the latest – MOD want to builld at Stonehenge blocking out sunrise. Here is the 38 Degrees petition (slightly off-topic!)


            • overburdenddonkey

              i remember going to stonehenge when one could park beside it, and have a picnic on the stone slabs…i’ll get king arthur, from the order of druids, on the case, i don’t know whether he is still allowed to carry excalibur, mind…blue quartz granite from wales, that on solstice summer sunrise equinox energies the earth along quartz rich lay-lines, well it does after a few cans of brew, etc…a highly sophisticate compass and bio-dynamic planner, codex…a they want block out it’s reason for being the symbolism of life giving powers of our sun, moon, and their relationship to earth, even punks become hippies and vise versa at this point…capitalism is truly insane…the sacred geometry, and sacred knowledge of pythagoras violated…natures joy further violated…it is supposed to be a world heritage site ffs…what makes it so special is because it does mark the equinox via the sunfire at particular times of the year…

              • Exactly OBD. They want to dominate nature and all that ancient wisdom. Do you remember when they roped off the stones? That was bad enough. It is our heritage as you say. How dare the MOD even think of it? It’s sacrilege.

                • overburdenddonkey

                  and roped off with razor wire fence…the beanfeild, the convoy…police baton charges,clubbing at anything…bands like hawkwind, RDF, culture shock’s songs “stonehenge” “civilization street” etc…still got their stonehenge EP…”the brew crew”…all types there all united in one aim, well mostly…

  4. Void. FGT accounts here… http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends58%5C0000291558_AC_20130331_E_C.pdf Just found them

    All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation. Do your best.

    Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

  5. Just fired this off to The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and Groundwork UK. Please feel free to copy, paste and send.

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I understand your charity has been invited by the DWP to 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.

    Contrary to what the DWP says, CWPs are not about helping the long-term unemployed, they are about punishing the unemployed for their failed policies.

    It’s the old, old story. Create a diversion, seek out a scapegoat and put the blame onto someone else; on this occasion – the unemployed.

    Here is what the Salvation Army has to say in a statement on their website:

    “We feel that a 26-week work experience placement is too long and would not be beneficial. If someone has not found employment within two years, the lack of work experience is clearly not their only barrier to employment. Our concern is that the underlying issues need to be dealt with holistically and work experience is a part of the support needed. As such, we will not be taking part in the Community Work Placement programme.”

    Here is what I have to say:

    “People who are forced to work for their benefits under threat of starvation or homelessness if they refuse will almost certainly harbour a great deal of anger and resentment. Quite how this anger and resentment will impact on the smooth day-to-day running of your organisation remains to be seen.”

    Yours etc.,

    jj joop

    • Great letter jj joop! I’m putting one together reminding them that they will be taking part and profiting from a system that denies the diagnosis of doctors and coerces the sick and disabled to work, when doing so may likely make there conditions worse. They need to understand that people are being forced to take part on pain of homelessness and starvation.

    • Labour Camp Commandant

      Your ass is mine, slave. I own you.

  6. Its back to the 1930’s, then, with a return to the Labour Camps.
    “Then this fella came out with a stick…’You’re here’ he said ‘For to work’….He said it like you was a bloody slave….’And when you finish work here, you’re going to go back to the Labour Exchange and you will have your dole back'” quoted in D.Colledge, Labour Camps: The British Experience. 1989, p.34

  7. Did anyone see this article about Esther Mcvey? Its the perfect description.

  8. Left a couple of comments under their posts, rejigged from this blog. How long they will stay there remains to be seen!

  9. Landless Peasant

    My rate of pay for Ground Work is £10 per hour, otherwise, I’m not doing it.

  10. Landless Peasant


    Dear Groundwork,

    George Osborne’s threat of 6 months compulsory unpaid work for the unemployed is due to begin at the end of this month, will Groundwork be participating in this gross exploitation? If so, would you mind if some of the many thousands of reluctant ‘volunteers’ planted some seeds of their own on one of your projects? Perhaps some Hemp, Himalayan Balsam, or Japanese Knotweed? If you would object to such ‘guerrilla gardening’ taking place on land that you manage, then my question is, how do you propose to stop this from happening?

  11. Already sent a few tweets to them on their account letting them know that their exploitation of the unemployed is despicable. All in nice language of course. Get your point across in a decent manner folks it’s much more effective and don’t give these fly by night companies any sticks to beat us with.

  12. The never ending attack on the unemployed isn’t it? Just pay them a proper wage and they’ll be happy to do this work I’m sure. This is all going to cause long term hostility against these exploiters of people in a bind and will go on long after this evil government get their marching orders. Short termism doesn’t pay long term.

    • If you take people on to work for you then you pay them a wage, simple as that.

      Now if members of the public want to do voluntary work, then good on them. But to expect unemployed people to be compelled to work for your “charity?” or business, under threat of benefit sanction if you don’t comply, which would then lead to homelessness and starvation and possibly death, is immoral and disgusting.

      Name and shame these people on Twitter and Facebook if you are on them or email them directly. Tell them your objections and why it’s revolting, but do it nicely, with no bad language or threatening as that won’t get us anywhere.

      • I agree about putting a civil argument if you want to get somewhere. Shouting and swearing is the fastest way to make you look ignorant even if your argument and motivation is good. Personally I don’t care – I think I can see outside the box but that is the way many are – they stereotype with their blinkered views. Human nature I suppose – or maybe just dumbness!.

  13. So often I hear that voluntary work is the way to go it will look good on your CV showing willingness and selflessness. I think it shows desperation, pretence at being a nice charitable person and lack of guts at presenting your real self in your real light. Employers I’m sure read day in day out such tripe on CV’s about the good charity work done. It’s all cobblers and they know it.

    • About as much use as filling in a job diary at the JC when you’re being given no money!! I came up against this BS attitude a while back. I was getting no money so didn’t fill it in as what’s the point? The only reason you fill it in is to get money.

      Anyway this bonehead at the JC said even though i was getting no benefit i should fill it in. “Why?” i said. Idiotic response? “It looks good on your CV for employers!”

  14. I’ve met one or two working there who weren’t the sharpest and caused me a bit of trouble.

  15. Just some additional material to add to the comment above concerning Japanese knotweed:

    “The potential cost of trying to eradicate the plant in the UK has been estimated at more than £1.25 billion; just clearing the weed from 10 acres of the London Olympics site cost more than £70 million.”


    I have read that pieces of it only a centimetre long can regrow almost anywhere – an absolute pain.

    • Landless Peasant

      @ Jeff
      Yes, I’m well aware of the voracity of Japanese Knotweed, we have it in the immediate vicinity. I’ll have to be super careful or a small piece might accidentally stick to my boot and find it’s way onto some Conservation Project that I’ll be mandated to attend….

  16. Another Fine Mess

    CVs starting with “780 hours Community Work” will look great!

    • Landless Peasant

      Funnily enough (or not), my CV begins with the most recent thing I’ve done, which was MWA, i.e. “Completed 120 Hours Community Work”.

      • Another Fine Mess

        In my experience employers have little idea what it’s like from this end and will probably just think the worst.

  17. Landless Peasant

    Doing compulsory unpaid Conservation Work for 3 days a week over the 13 week period of New Labour’s ‘New Deal’ was one thing, at least it got me out of spending a full 5 days confinement inside the Training Centre, but being mandated to do such unpaid work full-time for an whole 6 Months is out of the question. I’m afraid they’ll have to Sanction me, and I’ll join the queueing hoards at the Foodbank. And I have actually done some Conservation Work in the past (not for these particular organizations) entirely voluntarily!

  18. Landless Peasant

    Here’s my offer of a deal with Gideon Osborne:

    Drop the compulsion and make it entirely voluntary. Make it no more than 3 days a week (to remain optional). Pay the volunteers half the Min. Wage ON TOP of their current State Benefits. Do that and I’ll consider participating. If, on the other hand, your offer stands as it is then you can take said offer and insert into anus.

  19. totallygivenup

    when national service is rolled out the under 26,s shoved in greens and forced as part of there training

  20. Groundwork:
    About us
    ‘We’ll keep working until everywhere is vibrant and green, every community is strong enough to shape its own destiny and everyone can reach their potential’

    Email sent:

  21. I completed four new deal schemes at BTCV. All of them were for 13 weeks but at least I didn’t end up in the fields doing anything physical. They did put me on a couple of five week placements in offices. They have got away with forced labour for so long the people at the top of the organisation are earning too much to care what happens to the conscripts.

  22. Pingback: Take Action Against The Green Charities Profite...

  23. “Community Work Placements – the upcoming mass workfare scheme which involves a shocking 780 hours of unpaid work.”

    How do you figure that JV?
    CWPs can be up to 30 weeks placement for 30 hours per week. That’s a potential 900 hours!

    • have to check, but think contract specifications said 26 weeks max on placement

      • Here’s the legislation

        Click to access uksi_20132584_en.pdf

        “(8A) Community Work Placements is a scheme lasting up to 30 weeks, designed to assist a claimant who requires further support in order to obtain and sustain employment, in which participants undertake work placements for the benefit of the community and work related activity.”

        • think that includes four weeks to find the placement and job search type shit, but will check and amend if I’m wrong – but yeah even if I[m not thats 780 hours unpaid work plus 120 hours being dicked about by welfare to work companies. I think they can also add ten hours job search on top of the 30 hours a week as well, although they wont, because they dont get paid any extra for it.

        • Yes the 10 hour job search is on top of the 30 hour week to take it up to 40 hours total.

          The real obscenity – apart from the forced labour – is that it can be for private companies that supposedly have a community benefit. So you can work your bollocks off for a recycling plant because they class that as benefiting the community.

          Meanwhile Steptoe and Son are trousering the cash earned from your sweat. Fuckers!

  24. something survived...

    “Be aware that is an offence to make telephone calls or send communications which are threatening, indecent or offensive.”

    All of the following are:
    Things by work programme and jobcentre
    Threat of sanctions
    Universal Credit
    Any time that a tory opens their mouth

  25. Pingback: Mass Workfare Begins Next Monday … Or Does It? | the void

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