I am really disappointed that the YMCA are continuing to cooperate with the government’s mandatory work programme.
The YMCA are a wonderful charity. They do great work with young people in Southend.
But whether you are a wonderful charity or a dodgy retail chain, compulsory unpaid work is wrong.
I don’t think it’s wrong because I believe people should be able to remain on benefits for ever without trying to find work, I don’t think that at all. What I do believe as an absolute principle is that if you’re doing work (unless it is completely voluntary in nature) you should be paid at least the minimum wage, and indeed hopefully a living wage.
Compulsory unpaid work, even with a recognised and respected charity, is wrong. It is the thin end of a very very dangerous wedge.
The YMCA’s programme may well have had some successes as they claim, but the government’s own figures have proved that their workfare scheme as a whole is worse than useless when it comes to helping people find work. The Public Accounts Committee has found that after fourteen months of operation just 3.6% of participants went on to find sustained regular work. Undoubtedly the continued involvement of the YMCA will be used to give respectability to this government’s reprehensible welfare policies.