What is workfare

If you are claiming certain benefits and are deemed to havebeen out of Work for too long, you can expect to find yourself in a workplacement. This means you will continue to receive your benefits providing you turn upevery day, for as long as your placement lasts. If you don't turn up yourbenefits will be stopped.

So what's wrong with that?

The issue appears to be the fact that the person on the workplacement is not getting paid. Some people might argue that they are getting paid because they are in fact receiving benefits.

However I did a quick calculation on how much a singleperson would receive if they were claiming JSA (jobseekers allowance) based onthe information available on the Direct Gov website. For example if you're aged twenty five or over and are workingthirty five hours a week on a work placement and your JSA is £73 a week, with£80 a week paid to cover your rent as well as £10 a week paid towards yourcouncil tax, it equates to approximately £4.60 per hour. If you're living withfamily or some other situation where you don't claim housing benefit and youjust receive the £73 a week it's the equivalent of £2 per hour.

This falls well below theminimum wage. In addition you would not be entitled to working tax credits,although someone in paid employment doing the same hours would be. Meanwhilethe taxpayer is still funding the benefits which people on the workfare scheme receive,so it doesn’t solve the problem and seems to lessen the need for paid staffin certain organisations.

Does it lead to paid work?

From the comments on theBoycott Workfare website and their social media sites, many people who havebeen on workfare have not been successful in gaining paid employment with thecompany after their placements have ended. Some have even stated that the employer has simply gone onto make use of more unemployed people rather than hire paid staff. The danger here is that if more organisations sign up to use workfare then there will be less of arequirement for paid staff. Therefore any experience the jobseeker would gainfrom workfare could be wasted, as there would be limited paid work availablewith more applicants going for each role.
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