DWP publishes official list of it’s unpaid Workfare schemes

Below is an official DWP list of it’s workfare schemes, that involve people claiming benefits being provided to employers as free labour, including what is referred to as ‘internships’. The DWP’s first response to it’s own FOI Act disclosure made today, copy below, after this post was published, was to delete a webpage cited in it’s disclosure letter and hence deny public access to the documents and information therein, forgetting that search engines keep archives/caches of web pages and documents deleted. [ DWP deleted webpage and document therein ]

The DWP letter below neglects to mention unpaid Traineeships.

“Our reference: VTR 205

  20 January 2015

Dear Anne Dwyer,
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request received on 16 January
2015. You asked:

Can you provide me with the names of the schemes you run that can include
a work placement 
or work experience? So a JSA or ESA claimant does not
lose any benefits if they take part and whether this applies to self organised
internships on these benefits?

As regards the first part of your request, the schemes we run that can include
a work placement [1] or work experience [2] are as follows:

Mandatory Work Activity
Work Programme
Sector based work academy
Work Experience
Community Work Placement
Derbyshire Mandatory Youth Activity Programme

[Detailed info on above schemes http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=1820]

Information about these schemes can be found by following the link below:

work-schemes [archive copy and document referred to]

As regards the second part of your request, none of the schemes listed above
can incorporate an internship. Indeed, neither within our schemes nor our
policies do we recognise an internship as a separate entity.

In terms of benefit eligibility and payment, if a self organised internship was
paid, we would treat it in the same way as we would any other paid
employment. If the internship was unpaid we would treat it in the same way as
we would any other voluntary work. DWP publishes a leaflet on volunteering
which contains information on benefit impacts; a link to that leaflet is provided
below:   https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/
264508/dwp1023.pdf [archive copy]

At this point, to both put the format of this response into context and for your
future reference, I think it important to explain a little about the Freedom of
Information Act. The Act provides people with a right of access to recorded
information held by public authorities such as DWP (Section 84 of the Act
refers). Importantly, the Act does not require that we generate answers to
questions raised or scenarios posed on a particular subject. 

Also, the interpretation of any information supplied is left to the requestor. The
Freedom of Information Act does not require that we provide interpretation,
explanation, comment or clarification in relation to information supplied. Once
DWP has supplied information relevant to a request, it has met its obligations
under the Act.

With the above in mind, and outwith our obligations under Freedom of
Information legislation, I would suggest if you have questions about how a
particular internship might impact a claim to a particular benefit that you
consult your Jobcentre Plus Work Coach in the first instance.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the
reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team”

[1] The term “Work Placement”, is used by the DWP when referring to forced unpaid labour, which is undertaken on a no choice mandatory basis or face loss of benefits through a Benefit Sanctions, which can last up to 3 years.

[2] The term “Work Experience” (WE) is used by the DWP when referring to unpaid work that that are undertaken on a quasi voluntary basis. They are not voluntary as Benefit  Sanctions can be applied for apparent misconduct and if the Jobcentre considers a lack of WE is a barrier to paid employment and true voluntary work or a WE is declined, then a catch 22 Work Placement can be imposed.

Source: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/248661/response/607502/attach/html/3/205%20reply.pdf.html