Voluntary Groups, ‘Workfare’ and Benefits Sanctions: The Perils of Participation – 19 March

Voluntary Groups, ‘Workfare’ and Benefits Sanctions:

 The Perils of Participation

Thursday 19th March 12.30-3pm

LIFT Islington, 45 White Lion Street, London N1 9PW

The ‘Help to Work Programme’ (introduced last April) is specifically designed to attract the involvement of charities and voluntary groups.

Has your voluntary group received offers of ‘too-good-to-be-true’ 6-month long ‘volunteer’ placements? Have you been put under pressure as more and more people experience the devastating impact of benefit sanctions and turn to the voluntary sector for support?

Perhaps you have lost genuine volunteers when they were required to attend a compulsory ‘workfare’ scheme compelling disabled and unemployed people to work without pay or lose their benefits?

Last year nearly one million unemployed claimants were ‘sanctioned’. Many sanctions arise from ‘workfare’ schemes. The ‘Help to Work Programme’ sends claimants on mandatory ‘Community Work Placements’ where they are required to work for 30 hours a week for 6 months. If they refuse they will be sanctioned.

Widespread concern has been expressed about voluntary sector involvement leading to the formation of the Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign (KVV – www.kvv.org.uk) which has attracted a pledge from more than 500 groups not to take part in the Help to Work Programme.

The meeting on the 19th March is organised jointly by KVV, Greater London Volunteering and the London Council for Voluntary Services. It will provide an opportunity to:

  • Spread information about the Help to Work Programme and the ways in which it is being rolled out by the DWP, primes and their subcontractors (including testimony from claimants who have been affected);
  • Share information and experiences between participants who have had contact with the Programme;
  • Gain greater understanding and awareness about the effects of workfare and benefits sanctions;
  • Help to decide what further action can be taken.

This event will be of particular relevance for volunteer centres, advice agencies, food banks, employment support projects, those operating charity shops and local Councils for Voluntary Services.

The event is free and includes lunch. Please arrive at 12.30pm for a 1pm start to the meeting. You can register for the event here.

More information on Help to Work and Work fare can be on the Keep Volunteering Voluntary (www.kvv.org.uk) and Boycott Workfare (http://www.boycottworkfare.org/)  websites.


Yesterday (17th February) David Cameron announced that, if re-elected, the government will send 50,000 unemployed 18-21 year olds on placements to charities and voluntary groups. This issue is set to affect more and more groups in the voluntary sector.


About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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