Brokerage deals for volunteer centres 'insulting'

Local centres refuse to organise placements on behalf of charities running DWP scheme

Charities running the Department for Work and Pensions' £8m volunteer brokerage scheme have tried to get
local volunteer centres to arrange placements for them in return for as little as 10 per cent of the funding they receive for the task from government.

The DWP gives volunteering charities BTCV, CSV, Volunteering England and v between £130 and £200 for each jobseeker they match with a successful volunteering placement under the scheme, a key part of the Government's £40.5m recession action plan. The scheme is administered by BTCV.

But Third Sector has learned that both BTCV and CSV have offered volunteer centres payments of between £20 and £30 for each volunteer the centres place on their behalf.

Duncan Wood, chief officer of Involve, the council for voluntary service for mid-Devon, said BTCV, which runs the scheme in the county, had offered £20 for each volunteer that Involve placed.

"The amount we were offered was insulting," he said. "We rejected BTCV's offer, so it offered us £65 per placement. But 30 per cent of the money for 95 per cent of the work still seemed unfair, so we rejected that too.

"It would cost us more than £65 to place a volunteer; we would be subsidising a government scheme at the expense of our core functions."

Clive Pankhurst, chief executive of Volunteer Centre Southwark in south London, said Springboard, CSV's training and enterprise arm, was responsible for the DWP scheme locally. He said he had rejected a similar offer of between £20 and £30 per placement from Springboard.

Kevin Curley, chief executive of local umbrella body Navca, said there was no national blueprint for how the scheme should be organised.

"The DWP should issue some national guidance," he said. "This situation would have been avoided had the DWP given the contract to Volunteering England, whose network of volunteer centres is well placed to run it locally," he said.

A BTCV spokeswoman said the charity operated within the parameters of its DWP contract. She said BTCV held frequent review meetings to ensure high standards were maintained.

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