More than 350 voluntary sector organisations have agreed to boycott the government’s Community Work Placements programme, according to the campaign Keep Volunteering Voluntary.
The scheme is part of the government’s Help to Work Programme that will tell participants to either sign on at a Jobcentre every day, take up a training course or carry out a six-month, 30-hour-a-week placement. The CWP option is designed for claimants who lack work experience, motivation or both. People refusing to do their allotted activity will have their benefits docked.
Charities signing the KVV campaign’s pledge include Christian Aid, Oxfam, Scope and Shelter. Participants also include the local infrastructure body Navca, the campaigning groups Boycott Workfare and the National Coalition for Independent Action.
According to the KVV pledge statement, such schemes "force unemployed people to carry out unpaid work or face benefit sanctions that can cause hardship and destitution". The scheme’s detractors also say there is no evidence the schemes increase participants’ chances of finding work.
The KVV said in a statement that several councils would not take part in the scheme, with 13 signing up to Unite the Union’s Unite Against Workfare campaign, and three more also having policies saying they will not participate in workfare schemes.
The KVV said that opposition to the scheme appears to have contributed to the launch being delayed. The broader Help to Work Scheme was launched on 28 April, and the CWPs should have begun already, according to the campaign.
Andy Benson, director of the National Coalition for Independent Action, which is part of the KVV campaign, said: "This punitive, botched and poorly thought-out scheme is heading for the rubbish bin of history. The government should immediately call a halt to this programme and save wasting £237m of taxpayer’s money."
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "Referrals to the placements have begun and the placements will begin shortly. There has been no delay. Charities are under no obligation to be in the scheme, but those who are recognise the benefits of it."