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Volunteering England & the Work Programme

Volunteering England have published details of their complaint to Chris Grayling regarding the way that some prime contractors are 'passing clients to volunteer centres without payment' and that this is in breach of the Merlin Standard.  The claim is that volunteer centres are being treated as free subcontractors which goes against the "fair, proportionate" funding requirements of the Merlin Standard.  In these rather lean times it also does little to meet the standard about not causing undue financial risk to the supply chain.

Volunteer England have published a briefing that outlines the experience of their members, naming providers and highlighting the experience.  This is obvioulsy not full and conclusive, but does give a flavour of what is happening:

  • BEST & Remploy are apparently, "Making informal referrals to avoid charges."
  • A4e, Avanta, Ingeus, Maximus, CDG, Seetec, Sarina Russo and G4S are all cited as making referrals without any prior contact.
  • Pertemps is apparently unwilling to pay for the service.
  • Pinnacle People have asked for help in finding placements and when asked about payment said they "might make a donation”.

In the spirit of openness, VE have also published Chris Grayling's response to them, in which he says that, "Providers and their subcontractors should not be approaching voluntary organisations if they have not entered into, or are intending to enter into, an agreement with them and they are outside the supply chain."  

Chris Grayling was clear to point out that he cannot interfere in the business relationships between primes and subcontractors though, which we find quite confusing.  If there is a clear breach of the Merlin Standard does this mean they STILL won't interfere?  In which case, what is the point?!  

This could see the start of a third sector fight back, so is worth watching.  Visit the Volunteering England website to download the briefing and letters.


9 November 2011

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