Reforms being brought in by the Department of Work and Pensions threaten to undermine the very spirit of volunteering, this is the message from one of Scotland’s leading third sector support organisations.
The Community Work Placement scheme could see individuals on benefits forced into volunteering or face seeing some of their benefits withheld. Voluntary Action Scotland has described this as amounting to ‘mandatory volunteering’ and against the very ethos of volunteering, that it is a free will activity.
An official statement from Voluntary Action Scotland argues that volunteering is done without coercion and not for financial gain and that the Community Work Placement scheme undermines both these elements. As the network body for Scotland’s 32 Third Sector Interfaces, they write that the changes will place additional pressures on volunteer involving organisations and stretch already limited resources even further.
On the back of their official statement Voluntary Action Scotland has written to Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, raising their concerns and calling on the UK Government to engage with volunteer supporting organisations to ensure that volunteering remains voluntary.
Calum Irving, Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Scotland, said:
“Our members, Scotland’s 32 Third Sector Interfaces, are at the frontline of volunteer support across Scotland. They know the importance of ensuring that volunteering is and remains a free will activity. The Community Work Placement scheme threatens to undermine the very ethos of volunteering and we fear it will see people being coerced into volunteering for fear of sanctions.
“The impact will be keenly felt by volunteer involving organisations and blurs an incredibly important line between volunteering and mandatory work placements. We will continue to work with other partners and call on the DWP to engage with us to help secure volunteering as a free will activity.”
Voluntary Action Scotland is a signatory to the Keep Volunteering Voluntary Campaign – http://www.kvv.org.uk/