Tag Archives: YMCA

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

Mandatory Work Activity Is Wobbling, Keep Kicking Till It Breaks

salvation-army-workfareIn a victory for anti-workfare campaigners, the number of people forced to work without pay on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme is steadily falling.

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

Sign the petition to scrap all benefit sanctions without exceptions.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

There’s Still No Pay At The Y.M.C.A – Boycott Workfare Target Forced Labour Charity

ymca-protestA lively protest was held both inside and outside the head offices of so-called charity the YMCA today as part of the week of action against workfare.

Several demonstrators from Boycott Workfare carried out a short occupation of the charity’s offices before holding a protest outside where a sound system played and protesters sang the familiar ‘There’s no pay at the Y.M.C.A.”.

Lots of leaflets were handed out and many people expressed shock that a charity claiming to help the homeless would be involved in not just workfare, but also administering benefit sanctions.  The YMCA themselves have said that sanctions, which can leave people with nothing to live on at all, can have a ‘devastating impact’ on the lives of young people.

This hasn’t stopped them being part of the Mandatory Work Activity scheme and the Work Programme – both of which are backed by the same sanctions that the YMCA claim are of such concern to them.

In a major victory for all those who have campaigned against the charity it is believed that they have now decided not to be involved in Community Work Placements – the latest six month long workfare scheme being launched at the end of this month.  They are however involved in Traineeships which can involve up to six months unpaid work for private companies.  In his Autumn Statement George Osborne announced that people under the age of 21 who refuse an unpaid Traineeship will face being sent on a Community Work Placement instead.

An online action has also been called against the charity so you can tell them what you think of their use of workfare on twitter @YMCA_England or facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YMCA.England

For more details and the latest news on the week of action visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3436

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

The Vile Hypocrisy of Workfare Exploiters the YMCA

ymca-no-paySo-called charity the YMCA have issued a disgusting statement today in which they acknowledge that benefit sanctions can lead to debt, along with worsened physical or mental health and yet they still claim to support this vicious regime.  This vile attempt to justify their own role in stopping young people’s benefits comes on the day that the DWP admitted a huge increase in the number of benefit claims sanctioned in the last year.

Perhaps most contemptuously of all, they attempt to use the young people who makes use of their services to justify this grotesque hypocrisy.  According to the YMCA: “there is support in principle amongst YMCAs and the vulnerable young people we work with for some form of sanctions.”

They honestly expect people to believe that young people are just crying out to have their benefits stopped and be driven to homelessness, begging or even attempting suicide.  And like Jesus’ little fucking helpers the YMCA are only too happy to comply by forcing people to work unpaid in their charity shops or face benefits being stopped.

The YMCA want to have their cake and eat it, pretending to care about the people they impoverish in gushing press releases on their website whilst quietly forcing people to work without pay behind the scenes.  Don’t let them get away with it, tell them what you think on twitter @YMCA_England  and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/THEYMCA

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid