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LAW FIRM ON WORKFARE SCHEME

LAW FIRM ON WORKFARE SCHEME

"There has been widespread criticism of the Government's "workfare" scheme.  The publicised theory behind the scheme is to enable unemployed people to get some proper work experience on their CVs to help them back into work.  It also satisfies some critics of the benefit system by ensuring that people receiving benefits are committed to working in order to receive them.  There is some anecdotal evidence of the scheme proving successful although there is no published data to support the Government's assertion that of the 34,200 individuals who took part in the scheme in 2011 half of them have since obtained jobs.

“Whilst the scheme is voluntary, once an individual has opted to join it, they are committed to seeing it through as they risk losing their benefits if they drop out of the scheme.  This is where a lot of the criticism arises, as there is the perception that some retailers are using these individuals as "free labour".

“The principle of getting proper and meaningful work experience as a route to securing paid employment has to be right and few would argue that having some practical experience and demonstrable skills makes someone more employable.  However, there are massive opportunities for people to undertake voluntary work and gain these skills and experience in the not-for-profit sector, rather than operating the scheme to provide cheap labour for major commercial players.  The "Big Society" that the Government is keen to develop would be enhanced greatly if people on benefits used their time to support community projects, charities or care providers in their area rather than boosted the profits of Tesco by minimising their payroll figure."

Esther Smith, employment partner, Thomas Eggar LLP

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