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Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.

My story of how I managed to get out of the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA)

Posted: November 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Info on schemes, Personal accounts | Tags: | 1 Comment »

Standing up for your rights works! See this account from a young person who managed to avoid being sent on workfare, and learn your rights on and

Last March my job advisor told me that I’ve been mandated to work inside a charity shop called Scope for which I was expected to work 30 hours a week just to receive my Job Seekers Allowance. When I asked “Is it mandatory, that I have to do it?” my job advisor said “Yes.”

At first I believed what my job advisor told me until I found the Boycott Workfare website which had links to other websites like which highlighted you shouldn’t be referred onto MWA if you’re already doing your own voluntary work, which I was.

When I next had my appointment to sign on and see my Job advisor I brought a copy along detailing that I shouldn’t be referred onto MWA if I’m already doing my own voluntary work. I explained to my job advisor that I shouldn’t have been referred onto MWA in the first place and showed evidence to back up what I was saying. From the conversation that followed between myself and my job advisor it was agreed that it wasn’t necessary for me to go onto the MWA.

Moral of the story? Don’t take their word for it – know your rights.

Mandatory Work Activity Fightback

Posted: September 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Info on schemes | Tags: , | 7 Comments »

Please note that since this post was published, the guidelines for Mandatory Work Activity have changed. Latest information can be found here:

In a blundering – or little caring! – synchronisation of events, Chris Grayling announced back in June that Mandatory Work Activity placements were to be increased to 70,000 a year, when just hours before a DWP impact assessment was returned to the House of Commons library confirming “that the scheme had zero effect in helping people get a job.” It was reported in the Guardian at this time that the MWA rules were to undergo revision to stymie what Grayling perceived as people “gaming the system”, by which in reality is to mean those job seekers doing what it takes to prevent being used as free, forced labour to any one of a number of workfare-using charities.

Since these June articles, a more up-to-date version of the MWA guidance has come into the public domain setting out “returning scenarios” for those who failed to start, or finish, a placement – its publication can be read here. Elsewhere a set of JSA sanction ammendments are due to come into force from October 22 (see here – 69 + 70C)

From the perspective of avoiding Mandatory Work Activity the outcome of these combined changes is that sanctions and MWA referrals will be continuous from where a claim left off: so that say, if you leave a claim having failed to turn up for a placement, and a compliance doubt is raised, you will come back to face a re-referral with that doubt continued (or sanction still enforced that having been the case.)  The sanction regime is also set to become very nasty, with docks in benefits starting at 3 months for the first ‘offence’, the second 6, and finally, wickedly, 3 years! (see 69).

Though in no way compensatory, worth pointing out should be the fact that Grayling’s scaled ambitions for 70,000 placements will be caught intractably within a slow-motion policy disaster that already is operating on a lag time, where already private providers have been unable to honour a backlog of MWA referrals for smaller numbers as this memo shows for July. Nor should be forgotten that campaigners have discovered DWP rules that exist to protect the jobseeker, opening up the space to fight back on Mandatory Work Activity…

When Mandatory Work Activity becomes mandatory

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