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Army opts out of job scheme

by
28 March 2014

DEMOTIX

Protest: In 2013, the headquarters of the Salvation Army were occupied by campaigners protesting against the organisation's involvement with the Government's Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) programme

Protest: In 2013, the headquarters of the Salvation Army were occupied by campaigners protesting against the organisation's involvement with t...

THE Salvation Army has announced that it will not participate in a new government work-experience programme targeted at the long-term unemployed.

The Army was a partner in the contentious Work Programme scheme over the past few years, and was paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for providing unpaid voluntary work to Jobseekers' Allowance claimants on the Programme (News, 22 March, 2013).

In a statement, the Salvation Army said that while it thought the Work Programme had been effective, it would not join the follow-up Community Work Placements scheme, which begins in April.

The statement said: "We feel that a 26-week work-experience placement is too long and would not be beneficial. If someone has not found employment within two years, the lack of work experience is clearly not their only barrier to employment."

MPs on the Public Accounts Committee and a number of other groups had criticised the original Work Programme scheme. Some had said that it amounted to taxpayers' subsidising companies' wage bills.

A report in 2012 found that only 2.3 per cent of those enrolled on the Programme had held down a job for at least six months. The DWP's target had been 11.9 per cent.

The Salvation Army statement made no reference to criticism of the Programme.It said that it had seen "first-hand" the positive benefits of unemployed people's being involved in work experience or volunteering.

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