Help to Work Begins? Fight Back Against Workfare!
Last week The Void posted this,
With less than one week to go until the launch date of the DWP’s woefully misnamed ‘Help To Work’ and details of the programme are still shrouded in secrecy.
‘Help To Work’ is the mass workfare scheme announced by George Osborne at last year’s Tory Party conference. Those leaving the Work Programme without a job – which is almost everyone – will either have to sign on every day or be forced to work for no pay for a ‘community’ organisation for six months. The whole package is expected to cost almost a third of a billion, with most of that money lining the pockets of private sector profiteers running the scheme.
Not a dicky bird has come out about this scheme – even on the prestigious DWP Facebook Page.
Well, today’s the day.
So, while we wait, why not try this?
Today’s new workfare scheme will fall apart if voluntary sector organisations refuse to take part. Help make it happen my contacting charities and groups you support to ask them to sign up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary!
Osborne’s headline policy of “Community Work Placements” is already in jeopardy as it is launched today, having failed to generate enough voluntary sector participation. Instead, organisations such as Oxfam and the umbrella body National Association for Voluntary and Community Action are marking the date by launching the “Keep Volunteering Voluntary” campaign.
The admirable Boycott Workfare notes,
- Three of the largest supporters of other workfare schemes have said they will not accept placements: the Conservation Volunteers, Salvation Army and YMCA.
- A response to a Freedom of Information request dated 10 April said the tender for ‘Help To Work’ was still ongoing, suggesting that the government was struggling to recruit the private providers to run the scheme.
- The DWP has also said that the guidance for companies running the scheme will not be published until the launch date, 28 April, suggesting its production was running late.
- The government is refusing to reveal details of where placements will take place to journalists.
- Job Centre sources report that, at least in some areas, the framework for rolling it out is not yet in place.
- The Community Action Programme pilot – a workfare scheme similar to Community Work Placements – could only find placements for 63% of participants.
If voluntary sector groups don’t take part, the scheme falls apart – let’s make it happen!
Organisations can affirm their commitment to genuine volunteering by signing the pledge circulated by the campaign. Over 25 groups have already signed, including Adur Voluntary Action, Anti-Slavery International, Asylum Education and Legal Fund, Boycott Workfare, Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), Children England, Christianity Uncut, Communities Inc, Derman, Disabled People Against Cuts, Ekklesia, Faith 4 Change, Hackney CVS, Hackney Refugee Forum, Hull Children’s Adventure Society, Moulsecoomb Forest Garden and Wildlife Project, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA), National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA), National Community Activists’ Network (NatCAN), Neighbourhood Networks, Oxfam, Salford Star, Simon Jones Memorial Campaign, Student Christian Movement, Unite the Union, Voices of Youth, Voluntary Action Harrow (VAH), 42nd Street.
This is an impressive list, but let’s make it much longer. Please ask any voluntary sector organisations you know (however small) to sign up. The disarray of the Community Work Placements shows that opposition and non-participation by voluntary organisations is already proving effective in derailing this punitive scheme.