5 ways we’re winning against workfare. And a few ways to get rid of it altogether.

McDonalds shuts its shuttersWith the week of action against workfare coming up on 4-12 October, we wanted to share some of the things your action and active support has already achieved. With so much impact already, the week of action is the next step where you can help put an end to workfare altogether.

We have helped each other to defend our rights

The job centre and workfare providers rely on misinformation, lies and bullying to push people around. That’s why finding out and claiming our rights is so important. We find out our rights, spread the word and have helped cancel workfare placements for many who have contacted us. Our Welfare Action Gathering in February brought together tens of groups of people from around the country who take action against workfare and who support each other to get their rights on workfare, rights at the job centre and in navigating Atos’ tests.

Over 20,000 people support this campaign. The more people who know their rights the more people can say no to workfare – or help expose who is using workfare…

Our actions make workfare exploiters pull out

Workfare relies on placement providers – every time we get them to pull out is another step to ending workfare. Many big names including Argos, Holland & Barrett and PDSA have pulled out.

A highlight this year: George Osborne was publicly humiliated after a visit to promote his new 6-month brand of workfare (CWP) backfired when Byteback IT pulled out just a week later, following a backlash against workfare from the public.

The list goes on, and we’ve been keeping track of it here (where you’ll also find the crowd-sourced list of the organisations still exploiting people on workfare).

We have shrunk the number of workfare placements

We know that Workfare providers like A4E regularly complain how hard it is to find placements now that so many places are boycotting them. A DWP report into Mandatory Work Activity complained that it was unable to find placements for everyone because: “The high profile withdrawal of placements from a number of larger charities meant a sharp reduction in placements” (Dec 2012). There has since been a significant decrease in Mandatory Work Activity referrals: December 2013 had the lowest number since the summer of 2011. This is because together we are all…

Turning the tide: hundreds of charities won’t touch workfare…

Since the Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign launched in April this year, 420 voluntary sector organisations have pledged to defend the values of volunteering and steer clear of workfare. Charities like Shelter, Oxfam and Crisis which tackle poverty in the UK were among the first to sign up, and have been joined by major charity umbrella bodies and tens of local organisations. In the week of action, why not contact the charities you support and ask them to sign up too?

… councils are also coming out against workfare…

Councils are beginning to take a stand against workfare too: 24 are now boycotting the schemes. Scarborough Council pulled out after we exposed them as one of the worst workfare using councils in the UK. You can ask your council to join them here. Little wonder that…

The DWP is scared the schemes will “collapse” when the public know who is exploiting workfare…

When the DWP tries to find yet another way not to reveal the list of the businesses and charities exploiting people on workfare schemes, we know we’ve got them running scared. They’ve said they’re worried the schemes will “collapse” when the public discovers which brands are exploiting people on the schemes. There’s good reason for it too: we are succeeding in pushing back workfare.

That’s why your action is so important…

Take part in the week of action on 4-12 October in whatever way you can:

  • Take part in one of the actions already called in Edinburgh, Brighton, London, Amsterdam or Bristol or check out the list of workfare exploiters and plan your own action!
  • Visit the website Mon-Fri in the week of action and get involved in mass online actions!
  • Help spread the word: Invite your friends to the Facebook event.

Work without pay is a threat to everyone. Whether you’re in paid work or not, you need to know that these schemes replace paid work, undermine the welfare state, and undermine wages and working conditions for everyone. Workfare is enforced with sanctions. If we don’t stop it now, the government has part-time and low paid workers in its sights for workfare and sanctions – that could be you. So support us to support you. Say no to workfare, join the rebellion and take part in the week of action!


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EllieMc cllr has responded saying he has serious concerns re 'help to work' scheme but is providing work placements, I know work placements are vital to students but are they the same as workfare for the unemployed? They change the words they use so often I'm really unsure about this one


Hello, My name is Mark, I live in Scarborough and was very surprised to see its are council come out on top for for the whole country as we are only a small town. I have just been refereed to a placement working for a charity Saint Catherine's hospital in Scarborough. I'm not happy about this when I was refereed by my job center adviser I asked what if I refuse to sign she said I will just stick you on it anyway, So I signed it fearing I would loose my income but still feel I was tricked in to this as nothing was properly explained to me about what was involved or any thing. anyway going up there to day will threaten him with boycotting the company see how he reacts.

Regards Mark.


EllieMc - ask where the placements come from - if it's the job centre or a workfare company like A4E, Pinnacle People, G4S etc then it's basically a dead cert that it's workfare. If your conuncillor is concerned and wants all work experience to be voluntary, they should get the council to sign the pledge!


Mark - not sure what scheme you are on, but there's info on your irghts on some of teh schemes here:

Can you submit a name and shame form for St Catherine's?



I was told to do workfare for YMCA on July 29th on their community waste tip I refused quoting the High Court decision on
July 4th But I have been sanctioned from 5/8/14 until Dec.15th As my advisor is completely prejudiced against me! Im 42 years old and have high blood pressure stress and anxiety attacks when under pressure! What do others out there think? I Am of course appealing I claim no other benefits and wont accept hardship money as its a bribe and gives them the idea they are right!