Scope’s Andrew Adair responded quickly to today’s calls from members of the public to end forced placements within Scope’s stores. However, Boycott Workfare are disappointed that Scope will continue to use workfare – despite its stated commitment to volunteering. The campaign has understood Scope’s anti-workfare position, as set out in its April statement, and welcomes the charity’s intentions, if not its practices.
However, the point being made today by those who have phoned, left Facebook messages, and tweets, is not to question the function of volunteering, but to illustrate that Scope’s involvement in Mandatory Work Activity placements contradicts this position. The point has also been made that the Work Experience scheme when turned down by jobseekers has led to a referral onto Mandatory Work Activity by jobcentre staff, and in some instances, its voluntary nature made unclear.
The campaign does not credit Scope’s “robust placement agreement” as sifting out forced placements, and as is made clear by the DWP’s 12 June press release (case study 1), jobseekers have been placed with the charity under the MWA scheme. Boycott Workfare does not accept any defence of forced placements where those reasons are to list the same benefits as gained by bona fide, genuine volunteering, which can as easily be carried out by any jobseeker who chooses to fill out a Jobcentre Plus VOLWORK1 form (pdf).
We ask one a simple thing of Scope: that they keep volunteering to mean just that by ending their involvement in the the Work Experience and Mandatory Work Activity schemes.