Share

More charities stop providing work placements as scheme is extended to sick and disabled

charity shop
News

More charities stop providing work placements as scheme is extended to sick and disabled

Fundraising | Tania Mason | 7 Dec 2012

Scope is the latest charity to review its provision of unpaid work experience for benefit claimants, following the government’s decision to extend the policy to sick and disabled people from this week.

Scope’s chief executive Richard Hawkes is leading the review, which will reflect on every aspect of the charity’s involvement in work placements within its shops chain.

Its review follows recent decisions by Age UK, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK to stop offering such placements within their shops.

Scope has been providing work placements to jobseekers within its stores since last year, though not as part of any formal contract with the government. In February, when the initial furore around the scheme erupted in the media, Scope carried out a full review of its involvement. When feedback from the people taking part was found to be “overwhelmingly positive”, it decided to continue with the programme but to introduce stricter checks to ensure that people were happy to be participating.

But now that the net has been expanded to include Employment and Support Allowance claimants - those who have been assessed as being able to go back to work at some point - a further review is being urgently conducted.  “This decision by the government is, frankly, a game-changer,” said a Scope spokesman. “We will be reflecting on every aspect of our involvement now.”

BHF, CRUK and Age UK all pulled out

BHF and CRUK took the decision to pull out of the scheme last month and Age UK has joined their ranks this week.  Although Age UK had never provided placements at a national level, some of its 450 charity shops had struck up partnerships with local companies that run the schemes for the government.  But now it has advised all its stores to pull out of the government employment programmes because it is concerned that people are being forced to work in its stores in order to keep receiving their benefits.

Caroline Bendelow, director of people and performance at Age UK, told civilsociety.co.uk: “There has never been any national involvement with volunteer or mandatory government work experience schemes and we have been working with our shops to end any local links that previously existed to such programmes in isolated areas.”

Bendelow added that the charity was committed to giving all its volunteers – of which there are over 7,000 - an “enjoyable and fruitful experience”.  

“We are an inclusive organisation and we value our volunteers extremely highly. We strive to support individuals with a diverse range of needs who choose to volunteer with us.”

However, there are also 169 local Age UKs across the country that are independent charities that will make their own decisions based on the needs of their local communities.

Boycott Workfare backs charities' withdrawal

Last month the British Heart Foundation decided to withdraw its involvement and instead explore schemes that provide longer-term voluntary placements. Campaign group Boycott Workfare praised the BHF’s decision at the time, saying: “It is good to see a charity that was using workfare on a massive scale acknowledge that forced unpaid work isn’t palatable for their supporters or customers.”

It went on: “For workfare to succeed, the government needs charities to co-operate. We hope BHF’s retreat marks a new line in the sand: charities should not be making people poorer by putting them at risk of benefit stoppages.”

DWP: 'Grateful for charity sector support'

The Department for Work and Pensions has insisted that work experience for people on Employment and Support Allowance is “completely voluntary”, except where claimants “refuse to take reasonable steps to address a barrier to work”.  In that case, it said, “a short, appropriate, mandatory work placement – which must take the claimant’s health into account – would be helpful”.

It added that it was “grateful for the continued support of the wider charitable sector in helping unemployed people re-engage with the system and move closer to work”.

DWP has resisted an order from the Information Commissioner’s Office to publish the names of all charities and businesses that provide mandatory work-experience placements.  The ICO ruled that the names should be released back in August but DWP has appealed, arguing in legal documents leaked to The Guardian that publishing the list would render the programme unworkable because of likely protests against the organisations involved.

Barnardo's and Oxfam not involved

Barnardo's and Oxfam both confirmed to civilsociety.co.uk this week that they do not take part in mandatory work placement schemes.  

Oxfam's head of volunteering, Georgia Boon, said: “Oxfam has never been supportive of or willing to participate in schemes which could force people into poverty by sanctioning their benefits. 

"Not only is it against our aims to end poverty, here in the UK as well as overseas, but compelling people’s involvement in such schemes also goes against the true nature of being a volunteer.”
 

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

Commission contacts Bradley Wiggins' charity over concerns about how it has spent donations

29 Aug 2014

The Charity Commission has contacted the trustees of the Bradley Wiggins Foundation after the charity...

Royal Institution rules out selling Mayfair HQ after reducing its debt

27 Aug 2014

The Royal Institution, the science communication charity, has said it will not have to sell its London...

Action for Blind People makes redundancies

27 Aug 2014

Action for Blind People has said it made nine redundancies in the year ending March 2014, following an...

Lawyers call for animal charity to have greater crime-fighting powers

29 Aug 2014

Lawyers in Scotland have called for a Scottish animal charity to be granted greater powers to investigate...

Commission contacts Bradley Wiggins' charity over concerns about how it has spent donations

29 Aug 2014

The Charity Commission has contacted the trustees of the Bradley Wiggins Foundation after the charity...

Bubb responds to attack on charity campaigning in The Times

28 Aug 2014

Sir Stephen Bubb has written to The Times criticising an article which attacks charities for lacking transparency...

EU data protection proposals would kill fundraisers’ mailing lists, says report

28 Aug 2014

Proposed EU data protection rules could destroy mailing lists relied on by charity fundraisers, and would...

Macmillan: We did not hijack #icebucketchallenge

21 Aug 2014

Macmillan has hit back against accusations on social media that it has hijacked #icebucketchallenge, saying...

Smart wristbands aim to increase charity giving

20 Aug 2014

A new wristband that will enable people to make faster donations with just a tap of a smartphone, is...

Join the discussion

Twitter button

@CSFundraising