UPDATE – Wednesday 23rd July: After five days of silence Age UK have issued furious denials on twitter and their name has been removed from the list of G4S Placement Brokers. There has been no explanation why they were listed as Community Work Placement sub-contractors. Perhaps G4S just made it up. Perhaps they have pulled out. We will probably never know as the days when charities were open and transparent about their activities seems to be fast disappearing.
Some of the UK’s largest charities have a dirty little workfare secret and one of the best known has even resorted to telling bare-faced lies about their involvement in forced work.
In a statement on their website, updated on 14th July 2014, Age UK say: “Age UK, the national charity which includes our 453 shops, is not involved in the mandatory welfare to work scheme.”
This will come as a surprise to G4S who have recently announced that an Age UK training centre in Preston will be acting as Placement Brokers for the recently launched and very much mandatory Community Work Placements. Age UK’ have claimed up until now that only local branches, who are managed independently of the national charity, are involved in workfare. But according to the charity themselves these training centres are a division of the national organisation, they are not locally run.
Whilst one part of Age UK is flatly denying any involvement with workfare, another division is actively involved in forcing people to work for free. This is either staggering incompetence or Age UK are telling bare-faced lies.
Community Work Placements involve six months full time forced labour under the threat of benefits being stopped. It is by far the nastiest workfare scheme yet, placement providers warned they must not give workfare staff any benefits for their work, not even lunch. Participants must be available to travel 90 minutes each way to attend placements and could be forced to work anti-social hours. Those on the placements can not even take a couple of days off unless they are given permission from the Jobcentre and then they have to promise to spend the time looking for jobs. If someone is too ill to work they face an agonising call to the Jobcentre, who may decide they’ve been sick too many times and stop their benefits. Not only do workfare workers not get paid, but they have none of the usual working rights that people in real jobs expect.
None of this seems to trouble Age UK (@age_uk), who presumably will be inflicting this scheme on older people who might have expected some support from the charity. Some of them will end up sanctioned instead, left without a penny to pay for heating or food.
Not for the first time, charities funded by the public are turning on the very people they pretend to help. And they are doing it for money, all of these organisations will be paid tax payer’s cash, via G4S, for forcing people to work for free. They do not deserve a penny more of our money until they reject outright this grotesque exploitation and, in Age UK’s case, can prove they are telling the truth.
Almost 400 organisations have signed up to the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement condemning forced work. To sign up visit: http://www.keepvolunteeringvoluntary.net/
Update: This post has been altered after mistakenly saying that Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) and DEAF have CWP sub-contracts. These two charites do have Work Programme contracts, which may or may not involve sending people on workfare but does involve sanctioning people. So they still bastards too.
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