MWA is just one of several workfare programmes and involves four weeks full-time work for charities or so-called ‘community organisations’ under the threat of meagre benefits being stopped. 2,670 people were sent on the scheme in February 2014, compared to a high of over four thousand during the same period last year. In December 2013 only 1,720 starts were recorded, the lowest figure since the scheme was just beginning in the summer of 2011.
The fall in the number of unpaid workers comes after two years of campaigning against by Boycott Workfare and other claimant’s groups which has now seen hundreds of charities rejecting forced labour schemes. Household names such as Oxfam, Scope and Shelter have been joined by over 300 organisations to sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement which firmly rejects unpaid work under the threat of benefit sanctions.
This month’s figures are particularly embarrassing for the DWP as they attempt to roll out the most draconian workfare scheme yet. Community Work Placements will see thousands of people sent to carry out 780 hours work without pay. Where they will be sent remains shrouded in mystery. The DWP refuse to say which charities are using workfare to protect the reputations of these supposedly ethical and transparent organisations.
We do know that @salavationarmyuk, @YMCA_England and @TCVtweets have all said they will not take part in Community Work Placements, but they are all still happy to use forced workers on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme. All three of these charities are complicit in processing benefit sanctions which have driven people into destitution.
Workfare quango @Groundworkuk also use free labour on the MWA scheme, and are the only national charity we know for sure that will be involved in Community Work Placements.
The fight against workfare is a long way from over, but as decent charities everywhere distance themselves from forced work, it is a fight that can be won.
To join in visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/
The MWA statistics are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pre-work-programme-support-mandatory-programmes-may-2014
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid