Tag Archives: salvation army

20 Million Hours Of Forced Unpaid Labour: How Much Lower Can So-Called Charities Sink?

ymca-no-payThe DWP have finally released some information on the performance of Community Work Placements, the mass workfare scheme first announced by George Osborne way back at the 2013 Tory Party conference.

The placements were finally launched in 2014 and require unemployed people to carry out six month’s unpaid work under the threat of brutal benefit sanctions – benefit sanction that are known to kill.  This work must be with a charity or a company which offers a ‘community benefit’.  In reality this has meant many people working unpaid for private, profit making companies who can claim to be a bit green or environmentally friendly, such as recycling businesses.  Many others have been sent to work in charity shops.

Despite the scheme having been in operation for over 18 months, the DWP are not telling us whether anyone has successfully found real work as a result of their placement.  This is sadly unsurprising, this programme was never about getting people jobs but was simply intended as punishment for the long-term unemployed.  And the punishment is severe.  Participants carry out 780 hours of forced unpaid work – almost three times the maximum possible community service sentence that can be handed out by the courts.

According to last week’s figures, around 25,000 people have started a Community Work Placement since the scheme began.  That means that companies and charities prepared to take part in this grotesque exploitation have potentially benefitted from just under 20 million hours of unpaid work – saving up to £130 million in wages even if all these jobs had only been paid at minimum wage.  And they call benefit claimants scroungers.

What the statistics do show is that Community Work Placements have been yet another DWP shambles.  51,430 people have been referred to the companies running the scheme – G4S in most areas – yet less than half of those have actually started a placement.  In an economy where 4 million people are out of work and want a job the truth is there isn’t even enough workfare to go round, a problem which has dogged unpaid work schemes ever since Tony Blair launched the New Deal in 1998.

The ferocious resistance to workfare is another reason why the DWP is struggling to find enough work placements.  Even the most enthusiastic supporters of workfare such as the Salvation Army and the YMCA snubbed the placements as ‘too long’ and ‘not beneficial’.  Worryingly however, other DWP documents show that these so-called charities may be wobbling on this position.

In February and March this year (pdf) Esther McVey, the now unemployed former Employment Minister, met the Salvation Army, YMCA and the Sue Ryder Foundation to discuss Community Work Placements.  All three of these charities have told the public they are not involved with the scheme, and Sue Ryder claim to be out of workfare completely.  Which begs the fucking question why the cosy chat with McVey?  What is there to talk about?  What were they offered and did they accept?  Why not ask them @YMCA_England, @Sue_Ryder and @salvationarmyuk

To join the fight against forced unpaid work visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

Usual apology for lack of posts, emails unanswered, slack moderation etc.  Been one thing after a fucking other this last few months.  Normal service will hopefully be resumed soon.

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Shameless – Workfare Exploiting Charities Slam The Benefit Sanctions They Are Responsible For

times-letter-sanctionsIn an act of breath-taking hypocrisy, the Salvation Army, along with the YMCA, have both signed a letter to The Times calling the current benefit sanctioning regime unfair and counter-productive.

This comes despite both organisations being involved in ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ and therefore responsible for reporting unemployed people to the Jobcentre to face sanctions if they don’t turn up for unpaid work placements.

The Salvation Army has even been praised by the DWP for ‘holding the line’ on workfare after scores of charities distanced themselves from the scheme. When peaceful anti-workfare campaigners visited the Salvation Army in protest at their use of workfare, the charity locked them inside and attempted to have them arrested with fabricated stories of staff being man-handled.

The Salvation Army have repeatedly defended their involvement in mandatory welfare-to-work provision and also their operation of a Work Programme sub-contract. Claimants on this scheme, including those on out of work sickness or disability benefits, can be ‘mandated’ to almost any job search related activity that the charity can dream up, including workfare. If their victims fail to do what they are told then it is the Salvation Army’s job to report them to the DWP to have their benefits sanctioned.

Not for the first time some charities are pretending to care about the poor in public whilst stopping their benefits behind the scenes.  If the Salvation Army and the YMCA think sanctions are unfair then perhaps they should stop sanctioning people.  Until then, these grubby attempts to white wash their own workfare crimes should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

To join the fight against workfare visit Boycott Workfare’s website.

Charities and voluntary organisations opposed to workfare can sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement.

The Salvation Army are on twitter @salvationarmyuk and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/salvationarmyuk

YMCA are on twitter @YMCA_England and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YMCA.England

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Beggars To Be Grassed Up To DWP On New Scheme, Can The Salvation Army Sink Any Lower?

jesus-beggar3

The entire homelessness industry has questions to answer about how they are treating those they claim to support, but none has sunk so low as Jesus’ little fucking helpers in the Salvation Army.

A local paper in York reports that the Salvation Army are now teaming up with the police in a scheme which will could see homeless people grassed up  to the DWP if they are caught begging.

According to the paper, Salvation Army members, along with the police and local council busy-bodies will be patrolling the streets of York hunting for beggars.  The charity claim they will provide housing advice whilst the police will be ‘reminding people’ that begging is against the law, no doubt by arresting them.  Not to be outdone, representatives from York Council say they will inform the DWP if people found begging are receiving any benefits.  Which means their benefits will be stopped.  And they’ll have to beg more.

None of this will trouble the Salvation Army, who are quite happy to have people’s benefits sanctioned themselves should someone refuse to work without pay in one of their shit charity shops.  Some charities have warned that benefit sanctions are causing people to beg just to be able to buy food.  This latest initiative will ensure that in York at least, anyone sanctioned by the Salvation Army and forced to beg will now face harassment and possible arrest under a scheme part run by the same Salvation Army.  A vicious noose is being tied around the neck of some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the UK.  And everyday some of the UK’s best known charities help pull it a little bit tighter.

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Stop Workfare In Its Tracks – Join The Week Of Action 29 March – 6 April 2014

salvation-army-workfareIn April George Osborne’s mass workfare scheme will begin.  Unemployed people will be sentenced to 780 hours community work simply for being unable to find a job. Not even lone parents with young children are to be exempt from the scheme which will see so-called charities like Groundwork UK and the Salvation Army paid by the tax payer to force people to work for free.  Part time workers and those currently genuinely volunteering will also face being sent on unpaid work.

Collective action can halt this forced labour scheme in its tracks.  A week of action against workfare has been called beginning on the 29th March.  An escalation in the campaign against unpaid work is vital and there is no better chance than this.  It only takes a few people to get the ball rolling, and protests against organisations using workfare have proved to be effective.  Boycott Workfare can offer support with publicity, leaflets and advice. Please help spread the word about the week of action and let’s make this the strongest stand against people being forced to work for free that has been seen so far.

From Boycott Workfare:

Tens of organisations have already quit workfare. The government will not reveal which organisations are still using it for fear the schemes will collapse. Its contractors complain that they have lost hundreds of placements due to public pressure.

But they’re trying it again with a new scheme – “Community Work Placements” – launching on 1 April 2014 which will force claimants to work for six months without pay. Six months – 780 hours – is more than twice the maximum community service sentence. Workfare does not help people find jobs and being unemployed is not a crime.

This new workfare scheme is part of a raft of draconian measures, misleadingly called “Help to Work”, which are designed to increase sanctions (benefit stoppages) and undermine wages still further.

For the workfare schemes to happen, they need places to send people, but tens of large charities have already quit. Oxfam stated that the schemes were incompatible with its goal of reducing poverty in the UK. Liverpool CVS has condemned the scheme in the strongest possible terms.

Our action can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting forced unpaid work and make sure this new scheme falls flat on its face. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 29 March-6 April.

Target the charities:

  • Friendly local charity or Volunteer Service? Invite them to commit not to use forced unpaid work by signing our pledge.
  • Big workfare user like RSPCA, YMCA, Salvation Army, The Conservation Volunteers, British Heart Foundation, Barnardos or Cancer Research? Write to them, organise a demo or encourage people you know not to donate until they stop using workfare!
  • Approach workers in the voluntary sector to ask them to pressure their employer not to participate in the scheme. There are often Union branches for voluntary sector workers you could contact.
  • Visit boycottworkfare.org daily during the week to take part in online action!

Target the councils:

  • Find out if we know about workfare in your local council on this spreadsheet.
  • If so, adapt our press release and expose them in your local paper.
  • Contact local Unison, GMB or Unite branches for council workers and encourage them to pass the motion to challenge workfare and to take it up with the council.
  • Find out if any sympathetic local councillors would take a motion to the council for it to boycott workfare. It has been done!

Support each other to get our rights:

  • Order know your rights leaflets to give out at the job centre or around your local community – email info[at]boycottworkfare.org with how many you would like!
  • Thinking about starting a mutual support group? Invite an existing group to help get it going with a workshop or talk.

Want to target the companies involved in workfare as well?
There are currently call outs to target Peacocks, and Grosvenor Casinos. Or there’s our crowd-sourced list of workfare exploiters to whom you may also like to pay a visit.

For more info visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3353 and follow @boycottworkfare for the latest news.

Please join and share the facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1548766378680842/

Read about the recent inspiring action by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty against workfare exploiters The Salvation Army.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Shameless! Are TCV and Groundwork Britain’s Biggest Benefit Scroungers?

tony-hawkhead-smile

Groundwork boss Sir Tony Hawkhead who recently gave a speech at the annual workfare conference.

Groundwork UK and The Conservation Volunteers (TCV)  are believed to be two of the biggest workfare exploiters in the UK.

These two charities do not just force people to work without pay on their environmental chain gangs but also have lucrative DWP contracts to bully people into unpaid work.

Both organisations are providers of the Mandatory Work Activity scheme on which unemployed people can be sent to work without pay for four weeks at a time seemingly on the whims of Jobcentre advisors. Sources have even suggested that TCV have referred unpaid workers on this scheme onto their own environmental projects.  This means they not only get a free tax-payer funded workers but are paid again by the tax-payer for the privilege!

Groundwork are planning to go one step further and are currently bidding to run the upcoming Community Work Placements.  TCV are also expected to bid.  This scheme will involve thousands of people being sentenced to carry out six months forced full time work – that’s 780 hours – over two and a half times the maximum community service punishment which can be handed out by the courts.  If successful Groundwork will be paid for everyone they bully into forced labour on the scheme.  Whether some of these workers end up working unpaid for Groundwork remains to be seen – but there is nothing in the rules to prevent this.

There is no pretence by the DWP that these schemes actually help people find jobs.  Appallingly organisations running the Community Work Placements will be paid more to force someone into workfare than they will if they find them a job.  Under new rules even claimants currently serving a sanction – meaning they have no money at all – could be forced into unpaid work or may never be entitled to benefits again.  These schemes purely exist to make life on benefits as unbearable as possible due to the warped belief that most people choose to be out of work and that unemployment is caused by unemployed people.

A recent report by Citizens Advice warned that people who have had benefits sanctioned have been driven to attempt suicide, have become homeless or been forced to beg or go through bins to find food.  This is what happens to someone who refuses, or is unable to work full time without pay for Groundwork or TCV.

There have recently been questions raised over why so many people are currently going hungry in the UK.  This follows a report written by doctors warning that food poverty is now a ‘public health emergency’.  It is no secret what is going on however.

The benefit sanctioning activities of charities like TCV, YMCA, Groundwork and the Salvation Army are one of reasons for this suffering. Foodbanks repeatedly report that many people they help have had benefits sanctioned.  These organisations cannot wash their hands of their own responsibility for causing hunger in the UK by attempting, as many do, to shift the blame for sanctions onto the DWP.  Especially when they don’t just benefit from free workers but also run lucrative Government contracts to manage forced labour schemes which are backed by sanctions.

As part of the week of action against workfare and sanctions it’s time to say enough is enough and hold these shameless bastards to account for their grotesque profiteering.  And don’t let them try claim that they aren’t doing it for the money.  Workfare and workfare contracts are two of the reasons they can afford to pay their bosses so much after all.   These so-called charities are the real benefit scroungers and the suffering they are causing is obscene.

Groundwork are on twitter @groundworkuk and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groundworkuk

TCV are on twitter @TCVtweets and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheConservationVolunteers

YMCA are on twitter @YMCA_England and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YMCA.England

The Salvation Army are on twitter @salvationarmyuk and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/salvationarmyuk

And don’t forget another so-called charity involved in mass workfare, The Shaw Trust, on twitter @Shaw_Trust and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shaw-Trust/221553131217597

Don’t forget to sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exceptions.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Tax-Payer Funded Charity Workfare Subsidy Tops £50 Million!

workfare-stick-up74,070 people have now been sent to work unpaid on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme DWP statistics reveal today (via @refuted).

Claimants on Mandatory Work Activity are forced to carry out 120 hours of unpaid labour over a period of four weeks.  The scheme is used by Jobcentres to punish people they decide aren’t trying hard enough to find work.  Those receiving Jobseekers Allowance can be sent on this type of workfare from the first day they are unemployed or face benefits being stopped completely.  17,090 of these forced to work unpaid were recorded by the Jobcentre as being disabled people.

Many of the claimants are sent to work in charity shops such as those run by @salvationarmyuk and @YMCA_England.  Others are sent to work outside on chain gangs for environmental charities such as @TCVtweets and @Groundworkuk.

Many of these so-called charities have claimed that they do not benefit from unpaid workers and have bought into Iain Duncan Smith’s warped ‘work makes you free’ ideology.  Yet according to the figures, this scheme has meant a total of 8,888400 hours of forced unpaid work has been carried out by unemployed people for the ‘voluntary’ sector.

If charities had been required to pay even minimum wage for these workers it would have cost them over £56 million pounds.  And this is far from the only workfare scheme that grasping charities can make use of.  Anyone who’s ever visited the Salvation Army’s gleaming international headquarters knows these organisations are not short of money.  The Salvation Army’s UK boss is estimated to be paid around £150,000 a year.

Christmas is a busy time for charities and often their most lucrative time of year.  There has never been a better time to join Boycott Workfare’s week of action and hold these organisations to account for this gross exploitation.  Actions will take place on and offline from next week beginning with a noise demonstration outside the annual workfare conference on Monday 2nd December.

With the number of people on workfare increasing despite many high profile charities pulling out of the scheme, it seems that many organisations are trying to conceal their use of forced labour from the public.  Help track them down and then make sure they are named and shamed on the Boycott Workfare website.

And please sign/share/tweet the petition to bring an end to benefit sanctions without exception.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Two and a Half Million Reasons Why The Salvation Army Is Holding The Line On Workfare

jesus-workfare-salvationAn astonishing report published by the Salvation Army hints at the huge sums being handed out to charities and the welfare-to-work companies who are involved with the disastrous Work Programme.

According to the report 6000 people have been sent on the scheme with the Salvation Army.  Start fees mean the money paid out for everyone who walks through the doors of Work Programme providers and are set at £3-400 per unemployed person and up to £600 for those on sickness benefits.  It is likely that in excess of £2.5 million of tax payer’s money has already been shared by the Salvation Army and whichever welfare-to-work companies are managing their contracts.  And this is before anyone’s got a job through the scheme, if anyone actually has.  Then they get paid again, although one stark omission from the report is how many of those 6000 people found work.

This is not the only DWP scheme the Salvation Army are involved with.  They also exploit the Mandatory Work Activity programme to benefit from free forced labour in their charities shops.   It is easy to understand why they were recently praised by the DWP for ‘holding the line’ on workfare when other, decent charities have pulled out.

Despite Iain Duncan Smith’s thirty pieces of silver, the charity do make some criticisms of the Work Programme.  The report tells of a Job Seekers Allowance claimant who is described as ‘being in the later stages of multiple sclerosis’.  Whilst not fully clear, it seems this is someone who was found ‘fit for work’ by the vicious Atos assessment regime for sickness and disability benefits.  The charity complain that this meant his ‘job life coach’ had to spend a considerable amount of time helping him challenge his benefits status.  The report suggests that a change to the Work Programme payment structure would help compensate the Salvation Army if they accidentally find themselves doing any real charity work again.

That a so-called Christian charity is happy to participate in such a barbaric scheme is shocking enough.  But the claimant who wasted the Salvation Army’s time by being too ill to make any money out of could be considered one of the lucky ones.   If their health condition had not been immediately visible, or they had chosen not to reveal personal information about their health to a Salvation Army charity worker, then they could have been forced into full time workfare.

This is acknowledged as a potential problem in the report which says that often “barriers to work are not visible or fully disclosed” until late in the Work Programme.  The Salvation Army have said they are happy to force people to work unpaid even if they are on sickness and disability benefits – meaning claimants whose own GPs have said they are unable to work.

Elsewhere the report discusses sanctions and makes a truly astounding confession.  The charity correctly points out that many Work Programme participants have other problems –  such as homelessness or substance misuse – which need to be resolved before they are able to even consider looking for work.  They go on to say that their ‘considered approach’ to this group has led to participants being ‘inappropriately’ sanctioned for not using the Government website Universal Jobmatch to the extent required.  In other words people on the Work Programme with the Salvation Army have been sanctioned because they did what they were told to do.

This does not mean that the charity is opposed to ‘conditionality’, which mean benefits being stopped for up to three years if a claimant fails to carry out ‘work related activity’.  People will also be sanctioned for not doing what the Salvation Army told them to.

Claimants on both unemployment and sickness/disability benefits are often given endless and confusing mandated activity – which can be anything from applying for a certain number of jobs a week to being sent on workfare.   Jobcentre staff are under huge pressure to sanction as many claims as possible.  Whilst the Salvation Army  acknowledge that sometimes ‘conditionality’ can be ‘too stringent’ and ‘counterproductive’ they ‘fully agree’ that sanctions can play ‘a positive role’.

Sanctions mean a claimant facing homelessness because with no benefits they can’t pay their bedroom tax or children going hungry because a stressed out single parent missed a meeting at the Jobcentre.  This can be a positive thing according to  the Salvation Army.

Ever since this Government weren’t elected they have carried out the most vicious attack on the poor in generations.  The Salvation Army have not just been collaborators throughout this onslaught, they are actively profiteering from the suffering caused.  Their report on the Work Programme is so littered with phrases such as ‘worklessness’ and ‘welfare dependency’ it could have been written by the Tory Party themselves.  Despite the mild criticisms, the Salvation Army say in conclusion that the Work Programme is working.

It is certainly working for the Salvation Army whose international headquarters occupy one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the City of London and whose boss is paid around £150k a year.  Blessed are the bastards and the poor can fuck off seems to be this religious charity’s warped understanding of Christianity.

The report seems to have disappeared from the Salvation Army’s website, which is probably a glitch as they were singing the praises of it on twitter over the weekend.  A copy is still available on google cache.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid