Archive for Unemployment

Win, win & win on workfare

Know your rights sanctions advice

Get in touch to order our new sanctions leaflets to give out in the week of action on 25 April-2 May – info@boycottworkfare.org

Just over three months into 2015 and your campaigning against workfare continues to pay off.

Win: In January, the charity Wandsworth Oasis publicly stated that they have now pulled out of workfare. Then in March, following your campaigning, charity Starter Packs Glasgow announced that they too had pulled out of workfare. It would also appear that the charity Changing Lives may have quietly used workfare and then quietly pulled out. Maybe they know this is a campaign that can…

Win. The charity Papworth Trust have taken the step of emailing Boycott Workfare to say…

“…that as of 31 March 2015 Papworth Trust will no longer be delivering Mandatory Work Activity as we have not renewed our contract with the Department for Work and Pensions.”

Although they remain a subcontractor for the work programme, they now say they won’t mandate people to work experience on the scheme. For a charity of this size to decide not to renew a workfare contract is another massive blow to the DWP, and another success for this campaign. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised given workfare’s culture of bullying, sanctions and fraud is finally becoming common knowledge.

However, your campaigning successes do not stop there.

Win! Elsewhere this week, the Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign was featured as the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network’s charity campaign of the month, and is now supported by over 540 voluntary organisations. That’s a massive number of organisations saying no to workfare. The issues of sanctions and workfare are now clearly of huge concern to the voluntary sector and are not going to go away.

The public inquiry into sanctions brought to light even more evidence of the harm benefit sanctions cause. In March, Unite Community organised an impressive day of action where over 80 actions took place to say #no2sanctions. We hope many of these groups will  mobilise, support, and take part in the upcoming week of action against workfare as well – to do so ensures even more people will win. Boycott Workfare has published a new leaflet to help people who have been sanctioned – why not order some now to give out during the week?

In February, groups across the UK mobilised in support of Tony Cox, who was arrested while accompanying someone at the Jobcentre. Our actions meant many more people learnt about their right to be accompanied. Such accompaniment is crucial in helping people understand the UK’s complex social security system, navigate sanctions and resist workfare.

Sanctions and Workfare are ways of making us all poorer. They are not going to disappear thanks to an out of touch Westminster, which is more concerned about the kitchen sizes of the few, whilst foodbank usage is at an all time high for the many. Workfare is going to go away because we, you and thousands of other people are actively campaigning, demonstrating, sharing tactics, making the arguments, raising awareness – and winning. This is the real world. So take action on 25th April-2nd May to keep up the pressure on sanctions and workfare. And sign up now for the post-election Welfare Action Gathering event on 30th May too.

Welfare Action Gathering – 30th May

flyer for eventSaturday 30th May, 10.30am-5.30pm, London Welsh Centre (10 minutes’ walk from King’s Cross station)

Faced with policies that are pushing ever more people into precarity and poverty, thousands of us have been coming together to support each other. We are pushing back workfare, standing up to sanctions, challenging the work capability assessment and fighting insecure, unaffordable housing.

If you are concerned about:

  • Job centres being places of intimidation and sanctions,
  • Private providers bullying claimants on ‘welfare-to-work’ schemes,
  • 35 hour jobsearch under Universal Credit,
  • ESA assessments putting sick and disabled people in fear of destitution,
  • Welfare rights for young people being abolished and replaced with unpaid work,
  • Workfare being required to be eligible for social housing,
  • Housing benefit being part of sanctions under Universal Credit,
  • Claimants in work being sanctioned under Universal Credit too…

…then do something about it and come to the Welfare Action Gathering to hear from other people organising across the UK! Learn about our rights and share ideas and tactics!

This isn’t a day for speakers from the front. Party political representatives aren’t invited. It’s a day for people at the grassroots to get together and work out how we can support each other, defend our rights and continue successfully to campaign against workfare and sanctions.

Organised by Boycott Workfare with Haringey Solidarity Group. Workshops and contributions from other groups are very welcome!

Want to come? Please register your interest now: info@boycottworkfare.org

Will you need help with travel costs? If you are in a local group where people support each other and take action on welfare or housing (or plan to start one), we should be able to help with your travel costs. Please help by booking travel early and accessing other sources of funding if you can. Get in touch as soon as you can to sort travel costs out.

Access info: Please get in touch if there are ways we can help make the event accessible to you. The venue is wheelchair accessible however one workshop room unfortunately is not. If you are a wheelchair user, please contact us in advance to let us know which workshops you’d like to attend, and we’ll make sure they are scheduled on the ground floor.

Want to organise something similar near you? We’d love to help if we can. We especially want to support another gathering in the North in Autumn/Winter 2015, but would need a local group to take the lead on organising it. Please get in touch.

Have a look at the list of workshops so far…

  • Taking on Workfare: What does the wider picture look like at the moment and how can we achieve most impact together?
  • Organising against workfare in your town or city: How groups in Edinburgh and Haringey have had a huge impact and the simple ways to get started in your town too.
  • Challenging sanctions: A workshop to share key info, top tips and resources, as well as explore collective strategies for supporting each other to avoid and challenge sanctions.
  • Universal credit: How to resist workfare and sanctions for in-work claimants and use this to build solidarity with JSA and ESA claimants
  • Tactics to resist and navigate the Work Programme

Is there a workshop you’d really like to see on the agenda or be involved in that isn’t mentioned here? Please let us know!

Boycott Workfare Week of Action 25 April – 2 May

workfare and sanctions face demolitionNo workfare! No sanctions! Whoever wins we will resist!

As the general election campaign gets underway we are already seeing politicians calling for more of the same policies. More workfare. More sanctions. Yet we know that these policies have been a total disaster. It is shameful that workfare and sanctions are supported by all the main political parties. This is why we are holding a week of action in the week before the election. We need your help to expose and challenge workfare and sanctions policies and the political lies that underpin them.

Workfare undermines paid jobs and wages and results in sanctions. It does nothing to improve the chances of people finding a job and exploits those forced to carry it out. Last year over half a million people had their benefits sanctioned. The number of benefit sanctions imposed by the DWP now exceeds the number of fines imposed by the courts. People are being left with nothing for up to three years. There is now overwhelming evidence of the harm being caused by sanctions. Sanctions are damaging the health of claimants and leading to hunger, homelessness and deaths.

Your actions have already had a huge impact in challenging these policies. Dozens of organisations have withdrawn from the schemes following public pressure. Over 500 voluntary sector organisations have now signed the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement to say they oppose workfare and sanctions and will not be involved. 25 councils have also said they will boycott the schemes. All this means it is getting harder and harder for the government’s private providers to find workfare placements. Hundreds of placements have been cancelled and your actions have made a real difference.

The week of action is a chance for everyone who opposes workfare and sanctions to demand an end to these cruel policies. However you can contribute join us to take action from 25 April – 2 May:

  • Join in with online actions throughout the week!
  • Ask charities you support to sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement!
  • Speak out! Tell those promoting workfare and sanctions what you think of their policies!
  • Hand out our know-your-rights leaflets at your local jobcentre!
  • Plan actions at a workfare exploiter near you!

Remember to let us know what you plan so we can help to publicise it!

#GE2015 More workfare, less pay

Solidarity protest at Arbroath Job Centre to support Tony Cox and affirm claimants' right to be accompanied

Solidarity protest at Arbroath Job Centre to support Tony Cox and affirm claimants’ right to be accompanied

This week the Conservatives announced in their manifesto they would introduce a new ‘community’ workfare scheme, specifically targeted at young people.

This is odd because chancellor George Osbourne had already launched just such a workfare scheme last year – and neither David Cameron, Osbourne, nor the media appear to remember it.

What does this workfare reboot really tell us? That workfare as a policy must be in enormous trouble if it has to be rebranded and relaunched on a yearly basis. Successful polices don’t need constant spin and retreads. And this tells us that the public is just not buying workfare. But then why would they when it replaces  jobs?

But then this latest ‘new’ workfare announcement is just more poorly thought out PR masquerading as a manifesto policy. A large number of workfare schemes already exist, and it is a proven fact that they do not work. They are very expensive failures. The Work Programme for example is a £5 billion failure, while the existing Community Work Placement scheme costs £235 million alone and is faltering badly with over 500 charities pledging not to take part in the scheme – and with more signing up every week.

More recently, the DWP evaluated the London Mayor’s ‘Day One Support for Young People’ (DOSfYP) workfare scheme. The DOSfYP scheme, like this new community workfare scheme presently touted by the Tories, was also targeted at young people. It cost £12 million and its chief outcome was to deter young people from claiming JSA – while making no difference to young people’s employment chances at all (see p. 28 of the evaluation here).

This post-election workfare scheme will be backed by benefit sanctions, which the Trussell Trust has linked to the huge increase in the use of foodbanks.  Among other things, workfare schemes deter people from accessing the welfare payments that they are entitled to. We see this in the fact that disengagement is now a real issue at local level, with one million unemployed people not claiming any benefit and ‘falling between the gaps’.

Our campaign has shown that once people discover a charity is using workfare, it becomes immensely damaging for its brand. People now know that implementing workfare means implementing poverty. The 500+ signatories of the Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign also demonstrate that workfare is not what the third sector wants or needs.

Nobody, not least young people, should be sanctioned, stigmatised and sent on workfare for what are wider political and economic policy failures. Workfare and sanctions are social disasters and nobody – especially the third sector – should be involved.

Feel the same as we do? Then take action on the 25 February in solidarity with a member of the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network who was arrested coming out of Arbroath Job Centre. His only crime was advising a claimant of her rights.

25 Feb Day of Action to support activist arrested at jobcentre for representing a jobseeker

SUWN protest

Support Tony Cox from the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network, who was arrested after assisting a claimant at Arbroath Jobcentre.

SOLIDARITY WITH UNEMPLOYED ACTIVIST ARRESTED FOR REPRESENTING A JOBSEEKER
TAKE PART IN A DAY OF ACTION AT JOBCENTRES BRITAIN-WIDE 25 FEBRUARY 2015

Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox was arrested on 29th January after Arbroath Jobcentre management called police to stop him representing a vulnerable jobseeker. We urge you to join a Day of Action on 25th February at Jobcentres round Britain to show your solidarity.

We must fight back against this clear attempt to intimidate claimants and deny us the right to be accompanied and represented. Tony will be in court in Forfar on 25th February facing charges of “threatening behaviour, refusing to give his name and address and resisting arrest”. That same day we call on people to descend on jobcentres round Britain to show their solidarity with Tony and distribute information to claimants urging them to exercise their right to be accompanied and represented at all benefits interviews.

As we face unprecedented sanctions and benefits cuts, it’s more important than ever that we support each other and stand up to the DWP bullies. The Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions and other groups have established a strong presence at the Jobcentres in Dundee and in nearby towns and cities like Arbroath, Perth and Blairgowrie, supporting claimants in opposing sanctions and harassment.

On 29 January Tony was accompanying a vulnerable woman claimant, who suffers from severe dyslexia and literacy problems. The claimant, D, had been signed up to the Universal Job Match (UJM), the computerised job search system, and was being forced to complete five job searches per day, the pressure of which had led to her having several panic attacks. Tony proposed that D’s UJM account be closed, and that her number of job searches be significantly reduced. The adviser refused to consider this, and so Tony and D met with the Jobcentre manager.

The manager likewise refused to even look at the issue, falsely claiming that all jobseekers had to be registered with UJM. She even suggested to D that she should arrange another meeting without Tony or any other witness or rep present. Despite the pressure D was being put under by the manager, she replied that she would not attend another meeting without Tony. At this point the manager demanded that Tony leave the building or the police would be called. Tony refused to leave, but the meeting ended when it was agreed that a further meeting be arranged to discuss the issue further. Tony was arrested after he left the Jobcentre.

The right of claimants to be accompanied to interviews, and for the accompanier to have the right to speak, has been established by groups like Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, who have forced the DWP locally and Britain-wide to apologise for calling the police on ECAP reps, and to affirm claimants’ right to representation. The DWP clearly state “Claimants accessing Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits and services can have someone to accompany them to act on their behalf…”

The attack on benefits and claimants is part of the austerity assault on the entire working class. We call on all unemployed and claimants groups, anti cuts and anti austerity groups, human rights groups, workplace activists, and all working class people, waged and unwaged, to show solidarity with Tony and the right of the unemployed and all claimants to organise collectively to fight back.

Visit your local Jobcentre on 25th February with banners and placards and distribute leaflets to claimants on Tony’s case and the right to be accompanied to all benefits interviews.

Call out by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty - ecap@lists.riseup.net

Supported by Scottish Unemployed Workers Network
Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions
Boycott Workfare

Please add the support of your group/organisation: email admin@scottishunemployedworkers.net & ecap@lists.riseup.net

And don’t forget Disabled People Against Cut’s Day of Action the following week on 2 March!

Take action this week to stop workfare in North London Hospice shops

Pickets and protests meant North London Hospice promised to pull out of workfare. But  they still have 50 placements and have taken on at least one new placement too!

Pickets and protests meant North London Hospice promised to pull out of workfare. But they still have 50 placements and have taken on at least one new placement too!

Please support Haringey Solidarity Group’s call for action this week!

  • From Mon 2 Feb – in a “communications conga” – social media / email / phone action
  • Sat 7 Feb, 6.15pm – join our protest at North London Hospice’s Dancing Strictly fundraising event in North Finchley to ask “Waltz going on with workfare?”

“If we want them to tap dance, then they will tap dance”

- a Whitehall official on government plans for benefit claimants (Sunday Times, 2012)

Since August last year, Haringey Solidarity Group has been campaigning for North London Hospice to stop taking on people on 30-hour a week workfare schemes in their shops. (For more info, see our full web article ‘Why North London Hospice should keep its word and pull out of workfare‘). These six-month Community Work Placements (CWP) are backed by the threat of sanctions, i.e. having your benefits cut off for four weeks or more.

We tried contacting the hospice, to let them know that CWP is not voluntary, and we leafleted passers-by outside their shops. Finally, in December, North London Hospice’s Chair of Trustees wrote to us, stating their intention to stop using workfare once current placements came to an end. He refrained from giving a date for their withdrawal from the scheme, leading some of us to fear that their “intention” could mean another six months’ misery for claimants on CWP.

Then, just a couple of weeks ago, we found out that, contrary to the letter, North London Hospice had taken on a new placement. Furthermore, it has been over a month and a half since their letter to us, and not one of the shop managers we have spoken to is aware of the proposed withdrawal from the scheme, and the chair of trustees has to refused to give any indication of a date for withdrawal.

So our campaign against workfare at North London Hospice continues.

This Monday, 2 February, we are asking people to join our North London Hospice “communications conga” and contact the hospice, via social media, phone and email, asking them to pull out with immediate effect.

Then, the following Saturday, 7 February, 6.15pm, we are asking for support at North London Hospice’s “Dancing Strictly” fundraiser, when we hope to speak directly to their supporters, and for them to ask the hospice management, “Waltz going on with Workfare?”.

North London Hospice “communications conga” from Mon 2 Feb, contact details:

Twitter Tweet to @NLondonHospice
Facebook /NorthLondonHospice
Email nlh@northlondonhospice.org
Phone 020 8446 2288 (Fundraising team) or you can find the numbers for their 18 shops online. (NB: We are asking people not to contact the main hospice switchboard number.) Please also remember, if you call them, it’s definitely worth trying to speak to a manager, or someone involved in fundraising and volunteer organising. The person who answers the phone may well be low paid admin staff, or possibly on workfare themselves.

Dancing Strictly Fundraiser on Saturday 7 Feb, 6.15pm

Join Haringey Solidarity Group from 6.15pm at the Arts Depot in Finchley. The event starts at 7pm. Bring friends and (dance-themed) placards.

ArtsDepot, 5 Nether Street, North Finchley, N12 0GA. Tube: Finchley Central (then bus); Woodside Park and West Finchley (20 mins walk). Buses: 82, 125, 134, 221 (from Turnpike Lane), 263, 460. Or see the Artsdepot website for directions.

See our website for more background information on the campaign.

Call Out for Mustard Tree Protest this Saturday!

WP_001680Take part in the our second Manchester Boycott Workfare action against Mustard Tree
31 January 12pm at Mustard Tree, 110 Oldham Rd, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6AG

After a great turn-out at our last protest, Mustard Tree have said they are discussing their use of workfare with their Board of Trustees. Let’s make sure they realise that it is unacceptable to take any part in workfare – an exploitative programme that causes poverty and destitution.

Workfare is forced, unpaid work: people have to ‘volunteer’ or face loosing their right to benefits. It makes a mockery of the concept of volunteering, it undermines real voluntary work, and it does nothing to help people into work (as even DWP research has shown).

The sanctions given for not completing a workfare placement result in hunger, severe poverty, distress and also contribute to homelessness. And it is homeless people who are among the most likely to be sanctioned and devastated by the consequences. It is almost beyond belief that a charity like Mustard Tree that works to support homeless people uses workfare. It needs to end immediately.

Come out and stand in solidarity with homeless people and everyone exploited by workfare. Show Mustard Tree that we will not tolerate this exploitation in our city: there can be no place for unpaid and forced labour anywhere, let alone in a homeless charity.

2014 was a year of successful action. What should 2015 hold?

tea and leaflets outside cardiff job centre

Share your ideas about how to take on workfare and sanctions in 2015

In 2014, your actions helped push workfare closer to collapse. The disgusting new Community Work Placement scheme struggled to get off the ground; 500 charities and voluntary organisations pledged to avoid workfare and Keep Volunteering Voluntary; and direct action and pressure across the UK brought an end to hundreds of placements.

Read more about how we all helped push workfare closer to collapse.

What does 2015 hold?

Over the next few weeks, we’re having a proper think about the most effective ways to take on workfare and sanctions in 2015. We’d like your ideas and creativity to help us plan ahead!

Please email info@boycottworkfare.org or comment on this article by Wednesday 4th February. We’ve got some thoughts on the questions below and would love to hear your thinking on any of them too. Please feel free to think wider as well!

  1. What are workfare’s weaknesses at the moment that can be exploited?
  2. What can we do to step up the challenge to benefit sanctions?
  3. How do we challenge the wider normalisation of unpaid work?
  4. When should forthcoming weeks of action take place? Who do you think they should target and why?
  5. What would inspire more people to get involved in the fight against workfare and sanctions?
  6. Do you have ideas of ways to expose and challenge the fact that all the major parties have a pro-workfare stance during the election?
  7. When and where should the next national gathering of groups taking action on welfare take place? Can you help make it happen?
  8. If you’re a local activist or going through workfare, how can we best support you?
  9. If you’ve used Boycott Workfare’s website or leaflets, or been in touch by email or twitter, what has helped? What’s been missing?
  10. Any other thoughts?

Most importantly, if you have skills or time to offer to make these ideas happen, please let us know. Wherever you are based, let’s find ways to use everyone’s energy to fight workfare and sanctions!

Challenging sanctions

With the Sanctions Inquiry taking place at the moment (final oral evidence hearing on 4 February), it’s an important time to shout about why benefit sanctions must be brought to an end without exception.

This chilling account of the culture of sanctioning in Jobcentres is an important reminder of why.

Though it’s clear the inquiry won’t come to the conclusion it should – that all sanctions should be abolished – we think it’s important that our voices are heard. Boycott Workfare put in a submission to the Inquiry. Can you help use it as an opportunity to influence those who help sustain workfare and sanctions or could do more to challenge them? More here.

In other news…

  • Members of Boycott Workfare met sister campaigns in Ireland – where they managed to stop hundreds of workfare placements in Tescos from ever getting started! Read more.
  • Cancer Research have cancelled ten placements and pledged to stop any others. Please help hold them to their word.

Challenging the Sanctions Inquiry

Job centres have become "sanctions" centres

Job centres have become “sanctions” centres

Last year David Clapson died because benefit sanctions left him unable to pay for electricity to refrigerate his insulin. His story meant hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition opposing the current sanctions regime. The petition had an impact and an inquiry into sanctions was announced.

Championed by Debbie Abrahams MP, who has previously stated, “I support the principle of a sanctions regime. If somebody consistently fails to turn up for work experience or a Work programme scheme, sanctions should be applied”, the inquiry looks set to stay within a framework which assumes some sanctions are necessary or even beneficial. Though it’s clear the inquiry won’t come to the conclusion it should – that all sanctions should be abolished – we think it’s important that our voices are heard.

On January 7th, the government held the first of its three evidence hearing sessions for the inquiry. It was important because some views that the DWP doesn’t agree with, some very good arguments against the sanction system itself, went on record, as well as some of the usual toxic workfare rhetoric.

Boycott Workfare has also submitted evidence to the sanctions inquiry. In contrast to the narrative that the DWP, the media or workfare industry representatives use to justify sanctions, we think another story needs to be heard. Our story of sanctions is that they are part of a shift from a supportive welfare state to a punitive workfare state. We highlight how many sanctions are not only petty and unfair, but how they also cause harm to mental and physical health and deliberately threaten and impose poverty and destitution.

As sanctions are a fundamental part of workfare – putting the ‘force’ in ‘forced labour’ – our main recommendation is that they should be abolished. Sanctions work on a much wider scale than the inquiry is claiming; the fear of being referred to mandatory work schemes and being exposed to harsher sanctions means that even supposedly ‘voluntary’ schemes like Work Experience are in fact just another layer of threat and punishment.

In the evidence hearing two weeks ago, there were some of the familiar justifications trotted out for sanctions. The inquiry is also a response to the report written by Matthew Oakley, formerly of the workfare-loving think-tank Policy Exchange, who was invited to give evidence as an ‘independent reviewer’. Oakley claimed that sanctions were a necessary part of conditionality, a sentiment echoed by the Tory MP, Graham Evans, who said that sanctions were needed so that people understand their ‘responsibilities’.

Another member of the first panel, Kirsty McHugh of the workfare industry body ERSA, slipped in the familiar idea that those being sanctioned live “chaotic lives”. The important aim for conditionality was, she said, about “getting people’s mindset in the right place”, echoing the ‘change-your-attitude’ approach of psychological coercion in workfare.

It was during the second panel of evidence-givers, however, that the sanctions system took a beating. Dr David Webster asked, “Why do you have to have a system which is based on the fundamental assumption that people have to be compelled to do things that they don’t want to? “Over the last twenty years”, he continued, “we have seen this shift towards running what is in effect a parallel penal system.” This system runs in secret: decisions are made in secret by officials; the claimant is not legally represented; the punishment is applied before they get a hearing; and if the claimant does get a hearing it is long after the sanction has been applied. All this, he suggested, should be “totally unacceptable in a democratic society.”

Others on the panel backed up the idea that the system is punitive. Chris Mould of the foodbank network The Trussell Trust said they had seen “frequent examples of punitive and disproportionate [sanction] decisions” and that sanctions were one of the main reasons for food bank referrals. Peter Dwyer, of York University, said that sanctions were being applied in an automated fashion, for being two minutes late for an appointment, for example. He had the impression, he said, that ‘support’ in the system had become secondary, and that sanctions were being used as a deterrent against people claiming benefits.

Webster has estimated that since the new sanctions regime started in October 2012, £275 million has been withheld because of sanctions of JSA claimants. More evidence will be heard in two further sessions, one this Wednesday and one later this month. Most people won’t be as critical of sanctions as David Webster. Nevertheless, this inquiry presents an opportunity for us to shout about how sanctions are unacceptable and punitive and that we won’t tolerate them any longer. Below are a few ideas of things you can do to take action and challenge the sanctions regime.

Take action

1. Sign the petition for an end to all benefit sanctions and share it!
2. The Sanctions Inquiry will hear vast evidence of the damage that sanctions cause, but the committee has said from the outset that in its view sanctions “can be a useful tool for encouraging engagement with employment support”. Sadly, this is the prevailing framework used even by people or organisations who also highlight the horrific impact of sanctions.

This means we have a lot of work to do to bring people back to the basic human reality that there is no fair way to threaten and impose poverty and destitution.

Please use the Sanctions Inquiry as an opportunity to influence those who help sustain workfare and sanctions or could do more to challenge them – perhaps your MP, your church, a charity you support, or your union.

  • Tell them your experience of sanctions and/or why you oppose them.
  • Ask them in what circumstances they think it could ever be right to punish people with hunger and destitution.
  • Invite them to read Boycott Workfare’s submission to the Inquiry to learn more.
  • Encourage them to publicly state their opposition to all sanctions and to work to bring them to an end.

Let us know how you get on!

Make sure Cancer Research keep to their word

Cancer Research have told the Guardian they are pulling out of Mandatory Work Activity - but what about the other schemes?

After numerous workfare placements in their stores, Cancer Research now say they will cancel any placements they hear of

Despite having formally pulled out of workfare in 2012, we recently heard of two people who were referred to undertake six month long Community Work Placements at Cancer Research shops in London. One of the persons concerned complained. She was informed by the Head of Retail Operations:

  • Cancer Research UK do not have and never has had a national relationship with a mandated scheme which affects people’s benefits as these do… we have had local arrangements, however these were brought to a close almost two years ago.
  • When this is brought to our attention we make sure all details are thoroughly investigated and appropriate action is taken to stop this from happening.
  • All shops shops nationally received… a communication once again clarifying our policy not to accept, however underhand some of the agencies have approached shop managers, individuals on a placements scheme.
  • There have been some challenges and confusion at local level where shop teams may have missed reminders or their initial training or where the agency hasn’t been clear as to the nature of the scheme someone is joining us on. However, following this complaint, 10 placements were withdrawn.

Anyone out there in the world of Community Work Placements or facing workfare on another scheme, please ensure Cancer Research UK stay true to this commitment.

However if you do find yourself in the position of being mandated to attend one of their retail outlets do contact Julie Byard, Head of Retail Operations. Please bring to her attention that a workfare placement has been mandated, and request it be rescinded immediately.

Bypass the Work Placement Provider and approach Cancer Research UK, Head Office, Angel Building, 407 St John Street, London EC1V 4AD. Phone No. 0300 123 1022.

And if you’re passing a local Cancer Research store, why not pop in and check they are sticking to a workfare-free policy too?

Let Boycott Workfare know how you got on. Good luck!