Scots charities named on workfare list

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​Two charities insist they have no idea why they turned up on DWP workfare list

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1st August 2016 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

Scottish charities have been named on a list of organisations which allegedly took part in a controversial “workfare” scheme.

However, three of them have vehemently denied their involvement, saying they are mystified as to why they have been included, even though the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) insists the list is accurate.

Another said it acted to sever links with the scheme as soon as it became aware of its nature.

The DWP has been forced to publish a record of all groups which took part in the programme, where jobseekers had to carry out unpaid work placements or lose their benefits.

More than 100 UK voluntary organisations appear on the list, which Whitehall mandarins wanted to keep top secret, until they were forced to reveal it following a four-year long court battle.

We were never to our knowledge part of the workfare scheme - Mary's Meals

The mandatory work activity placements were carried between July 2011 and January 2012 and have been condemned as “exploitation” by welfare campaigners, who have picketed charities accused of taking part in the past.

Dozens of household name national charities are on the list, including the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, the National Trust, Save the Children, Oxfam and the RSPCA.

Eight Scottish organisations feature, including high profile aid charity Mary’s Meals and the Govanhill Baths Community Trust.

Others listed are disability charity Capability Scotland, Dogs Trust Glasgow, small Ayrshire charity Scottish Cancer Support and the Glasgow Furniture Initiative.

Both Mary’s Meals (listed under its former name of Scottish International Relief) and the Govanhill Baths Community Trust have denied involvement, with both groups taking to Twitter to defend themselves – the latter claiming there has been a “serious mistake by the DWP”.

A Mary’s Meals spokesman told TFN: “We were never to our knowledge part of the workfare scheme.” He added that the organisation has “no idea” how it ended up on the list.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Dogs Trust said: "Dogs Trust Glasgow has never been a part of the DWP workfare scheme."

A spokesperson for Capability Scotland said: “Capability Scotland does not support Workfare or any kind of mandatory work activity. In 2012 we were made aware that companies linked to Workfare had secured placements for a total of five people in our charity shops. We immediately ended these placements and offered the individuals alternative opportunities.”

As well as those mentioned above, TFN has asked Scottish Cancer Support for comment.

However, a DWP spokeswoman insisted the list is accurate, saying: "This list is a list of all organisations that provided work placements for Mandatory Work Activity participants from July 2011 to January 2012, which were requested in the FOI. In some cases only one branch of the organisation will have participated, for a short time. We are required to release the names of all placement hosts that offered MWA placements from July 2011 to January 2012."

She added: "Employment programmes help thousands of people every year gain new skills and experience to get into work."

None of the organisations on the list are current providers of mandatory work activity because the scheme ended in April. Many of them stopped before that date – some because of pressure from protestors who have picketed charities.

The information came to light after Boycott Workfare activist Frank Zola took the case to court.

A spokesperson for the campaign group said: “The story is as follows: the DWP refused to release the information in 2012. After the DWP’s internal review decided they were right to refuse, Frank Zola appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office, who told the DWP to release the information.

"The DWP refused and appealed to the First Tier Tribunal, then to the Upper Tribunal, then to the Court of Appeal.  At each stage they were told to release the information, but decided to appeal again. Now finally they have complied with the law.”

5th August 2016 by Angela Lansing

Charities rely on volunteers - particularly charity shops. Some Work Programme staff simply decided to ask a few charities if they'd take on volunteers. They didn't say the person would be adversely affected. Why should these charitable people now be named and shamed?