25 Feb 2012

New British Slaves: Jobseekers forced to clean private homes and offices for nothing

Unpaid jobseekers have been forced to clean private homes and offices for more than a month at a time under government employment schemes, despite mounting evidence that the controversial policy is reducing the overall availability of paid work by replacing temporary jobs and overtime for other staff.

scrubbing floor

A succession of high street shops have pulled out of the schemes this week amid criticism that using unpaid labour to carry out routine tasks such as filling shelves amounts to a public subsidy for employers, but the practice extends far beyond the retail industry.

The Guardian has now discovered through a freedom of information request that a major government contractor, Avanta, has compelled jobseekers to work as unpaid cleaners in houses, flats, offices and council premises under the work programme.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has previously stated that all mandatory schemes must be for "community benefit". However, under government rules, this can be defined as increasing the profit of organisations where the unemployed are sent to work without pay.

Full story on The Guardian