TFN poll: is it justifiable for charities to use workfare?
Third Force News, by Graham Martin
Is it justifiable for charities to use workfare?
Major charities have come under scrutiny recently because of their involvement in the government’s controversial workfare scheme.
Protestors from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP), alongside campaigners from the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network, blockaded the entrance to the Salvation Army shops in Edinburgh and Broughty Ferry with a huge banner saying: “If you exploit us we will shut you down” before mounting a similar protests outside a shop run by skin charity Debra in the capital.
Both organisations use so-called workfare – the free labour of unemployed people compelled to work for their benefits on the government’s Work Programme scheme.
ECAP says workfare is exploitative – and argues that charities should show a lead in distancing themselves from the project.
Over 500 charities, including the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Edinburgh Volunteer Centre, Oxfam, Christian Aid and Shelter, have signed the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement which states: "Workfare schemes force unemployed people to carry out unpaid work or face benefit sanctions that can cause hardship and destitution.”
However, both the Salvation Army and Debra have defended their stance, saying the Work Programme helps people experience the benefits of being in work.
What do you think? Is it justifiable for charities to use workfare?