Matalan pauses ‘Get Britain Working’ scheme

February 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Latest News

Matalan is aware of the speculation around the ‘Get Britain Working’ initiative, a government backed programme aimed at giving unemployed people an opportunity to gain some valuable work experience for 6-8 weeks, whilst continuing to be eligible for benefits.

In principle, Matalan is supportive of this initiative and its ability to provide the opportunity for unemployed people to gain experience that will help them find future employment.

However, Matalan has paused the programme in order to conduct a review related to the terms of these work placements and will not be engaging in the scheme until the review is completed and on-going dialogue with the Government is concluded.

If you would like to share any feedback regarding this matter then please comment below to let us know your thoughts.



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  • Elodie

    Having researched the issue a great deal I have decided to boycott all shops operating the Government’s slave labour drive. The scheme does not offer genuine opportunities or a living wage to the many forced into what are often inappropriate jobs for their skills – in fact this forced labour is often detrimental to their pursuit of a long term candidate suitable position.

    I am greatly heartened by your decision to review your position and hope
    You will conclude that your well respected company can assist the unemployed find work in more genuine and fair ways.

    Yours faithfully

    Ms E. Melodie

  • Judith Dumont

    In all honesty, this scheme looks like Matalan profiting from tax-payer funded forced labour.

    Matalan is a big company. You don’t need to have your staff paid for by the taxpayer. Public money would be better spent shoring up basic services to the poorest, which are under threat. If there is work that needs to be done, Matalan can afford to employ one of the many jobseekers desperate for work in these hard economic times.

    It would be different if people could choose (voluntarily) to do short, fixed-term work experience with the company without threat of their benefit being stopped, and without coercion. Especially if there was a real possibility that the work experience might lead to employment with the company. *That* might actually be of benefit to jobseekers, rather than simply punitive and exploitative.

    I am boycotting all companies who support this iniquitous scheme. However, I appreciate Matalan’s willingness to reconsider its position, and will look out for news of a change in policy.

  • Niall Leighton


    I have a somewhat different perspective.

    Those skilled in advising people on writing a CV will generally recommend that any work experience under 6 months be left off a CV on the grounds that an employer will rightly question how much can be learned in less time than this. Your current schemes (officially) last 6 weeks, although some companies (Tesco, Superdrug) have been advertising permanent posts (plural – not singular, so this is not an error) under the same conditions.

    In any case, forcing someone to work for benefits under threat of destitution remains forced labour – for a day, six weeks, six months or, under current proposals for the disabled and mentally ill, indefinitely. I bet your shareholders are rubbing their grubby hands in glee at this news.

    I know full well that most employers will not touch someone with a mental illness with a barge pole unless they work for free.

    I have no issue whatever with carrying out voluntary work for a registered charity – provided it is voluntary and not compulsory. Under current schemes it is compulsory, not voluntary, which is why Oxfam pulled out. The DWP once told me that voluntary work is worthless because you are not getting paid for it.

    What Matalan have been doing is undermining the already dismal job market by taking on “trainees” to do work that should be being done by paid staff. The attitude of another major chain, on record, is that they do not see why they should pay someone to do a job if they can get another “trainee” to do the job for free.

    Suspending your involvement is not good enough. If you want staff, pay them the going rate (or better, if you have any hint of social conscience which, on present evidence, I doubt).

  • Jane Barrett

    I will boycott all shops that take part in workfare. I really hope you pull out of this scheme for good, its a hateful way of exploiting the poor and sick.

  • Emma


  • Mrs M

    I agree with the previous two comments. Short term, voluntary work experience (without the threat of losing benefit) can be useful if there is a guarantee of a paid job at the end of it. Forcing people to take part in Mandatory Work Experience with no chance of a paid job does not help either the jobseeker or the unemployment figures! If there is a job vacancy, then train, employ and pay someone to do it! I have been boycotting Matalan (along with other shops who take part in this awful scheme). I await the outcome of Matalan’s position before deciding whether or not to shop with you again.

  • Julie Dickson

    I applaud Matalan’s decision to pause, research and reflect on these schemes.

    For all groups of the unemployed, these schemes have become valueless and detrimental to employment prospects. I believe they have been allowed to become a poverty trap for many people. The way they are administered at point of contact is abusive to the unemployed person. My own daughter (aged 21) was forced to work 30hrs per week for benefit money for six months and she was told from the start she wouldn’t be employed. Given the time she was ‘at work’ she was refused time off to job hunt with the threat of benefit loss for wishing to attend job interviews elsewhere and was told the only acceptable form of absence was a medical appointment confirmed by letter. The threats came from the placement company appointed by DWP as well as DWP advisers. By the time she returned from her placements all employers advertising vacancies had closed their offices and by the time her applications were received the position had already been filled. The only way for her to break free was for me to spend my time hunting for jobs for her and applying electronically on her behalf. Eventually, after 5 months I managed to help her secure at interview an she won the job on her own merits without the help of DWP. Even so she had to delay starting her job for two weeks as the placement company told her it was compulsory she finish the placement or she would loose two weeks JSA (which she needed to cover fares to her new job.)

    Dear Matalan, consider this… 4/8 weeks coerced Work Experience on a C.V. means nothing if all the unemployed have it and eventually, if this goes on, they’ll all have it on their C.V. It does not win you a job and it does not rise you to the top. And when I say coerced I mean despite the fact that some of these schemes are voluntary on paper, DWP advisers really do coerce the unemployed to sign up for these schemes. It’s all about targets and statistics and a DWP adviser *must* sign up the unemployed to these schemes to please their supervisors. The unemployed get stuck in cycle after cycle after cycle of placements with no real job at the end and it’s crushing peoples’ spirits.

    Anyway… our childrens’ futures are what concerns me. These schemes might have started out with noble intent but they are being ruthlessly abuse by all kinds of agenda driven parties. It has to stop!

    My daughter or any of her contemporaries are happy to talk to Matalan about their experiences and what it’s really like being an unemployed young person.


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