From today, the Government will force sick and disabled people to do workfare. Under the guise of “community benefit placements” Jobcentre staff and companies such as A4E will send people to carry out workfare, not for four weeks or even the six months as currently being experienced by 18-25 year olds in Derbyshire. No. People claiming ESA in the WRAG group, people who may be seriously ill with cancer, have disabilities or mental health issues will be expected to work unpaid on threat of benefit sanctions for an ‘unspecified length of time’.
With providers now bribing companies and charities to take people on workfare, it is no surprise that the DWP has admitted that ‘community benefit’ extends to working in for-profit organisations too. The most vulnerable members of society now face working without pay quite literally till they drop. Last year 1,700 disabled people died within weeks of being found “fit for work” by the IT company paid by the government to ruin disabled people’s lives, Atos.
Even before workfare, between 1 June 2011 and 31 May 2012 there were 11,130 sanctions applied to ESA WRAG claimants. Those on the Work Programme are more than twice as likely to be sanctioned than to find a job. The average length of such sanction is seven weeks.
But just when you thought this story couldn’t get worse, it does. Perhaps the most shameful part of this whole saga is the involvement of charities such as Scope – who are meant to help people with disabilities – in workfare schemes. Charities such as Scope, Salvation Army and the British Heart Foundation to name a few are profting from the forced unpaid work of the very people they are supposed to represent. Instead of alleviating poverty and suffering, they are excerbating it.
In this climate, it has been left to the inspiring work of groups such as DPAC and Black Triangle to stand up for basic human decency and social justice. Boycott Workfare stands with them. Workfare does not work and is not fair. Please support them and us as we continue to campaign against workfare in the upcoming week of action, which kicks off on Saturday.
Which charities use workfare?
Here’s a selection. If you know of others, please let us know on our name & shame form.
Barnardo’s – work experience scheme and Work Programme (personal testimony)
British Heart Foundation – have been using workfare on a massive scale but now claim they are “stepping back”. Keep up the pressure until they end all involvement.
Cancer Research MWA placement (personal testimony)
Community Service Volunteers – MWA placement (personal testimony)
PDSA (several sources including personal testimony of MWA, Nov 2012)
RSPCA – Mandatory Work Activity
Scope – Mandatory Work Activity (DWP press release)
Sense (Mandatory Work Activity, personal testimony, Dec 2012)
St Oswald’s Hospice shops (MWA placements, personal testimony, Nov 2012)
Sue Ryder – Mandatory Work Activity (personal testimony)
The Conservation Volunteers – press release stating they have used 20,000 placements since the 1980s
YMCA (Mandatory Work Activity, personal testimony, Dec 2012)