Scope shops end mandatory work placements

The disability charity has become the latest one to withdraw from offering placements in its shops to people on government programmes

A Scope charity shop
A Scope charity shop

Scope, the disability charity, has become the latest charity to withdraw from offering mandatory work placements in its shops to people on government programmes.

The charity made the decision after carrying out a review earlier this week following the government decision to extend mandatory work placements to people receiving sickness benefits.

From this month, people receiving Employment and Support Allowance who are considered capable of returning to work will be expected to take part in activities such as work experience that help prepare them for a return to work. Failure to do so could result in losing their benefits.

Age UK, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK have already stopped offering mandatory placements in their shops.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope, said: "We have always been very conscious of concerns about mandatory work experience. We only continued with it because we found that the people on placements in our charity shops had really positive experiences.

"The news that ESA claimants, often out-of-work disabled people who need specialist support to get back into work, are now being included in the scheme, has forced us to once again review our involvement.

"These moves do not feel like they have been designed around what disabled people need to find work. Added to that, we also have concerns about the test that disabled people go through to establish how fit they are for work. We have therefore taken the decision to withdraw from these placements entirely."

In February, Scope, Marie Curie Cancer Care and the housing charity Shelter suspended their involvement in the government work experience schemes following a campaign by the pressure group Boycott Workfare.

But Scope rejoined the scheme in April following a review that concluded that providing mandatory work placements was "overwhelming positive" for the people taking part.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "Mandatory work activity placements have been shown to have a real impact on participants’ motivation and confidence about being ready and able to work. This is a key step to helping the long-term unemployed move off benefits and into a job.

"We are grateful for the continued support of the wider charitable sector in helping unemployed people re-engage with the system and move closer to work. Scope’s decision is entirely a matter for them."

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