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January 28, 2009

Community Allowance gains support

LPL has long supported the CREATE consortium’s campaign for the payment of a community allowance – in recognition of community work done by welfare claimants. Scotland’s voluntary sector umbrella group SCVO has come out in favour of such an allowance as part of its shopping list of welfare reforms.


SCVO Advocates Community-based approach

THE Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is calling on MPs to consider an alternative community-based option to welfare reform in Scotland.

The voluntary sector umbrella body believes those finding it difficult to enter the job market can be encouraged to contribute to their local communities while developing the skills to gain meaningful work.

It is suggesting a programme that builds on initiatives like New Deal that would see people who are claiming benefits given extra support and credit for activities such as volunteering or caring.

SCVO believes that the high level of Incapacity Benefit claimants in Scotland plus the distinctive socio-demographics for lone parents, older workers and long-term unemployed presents a particular challenge for the government’s welfare reform plans. The organisation believes third sector bodies are ideally placed to support hard to employ people, many of whom it is already works with.

Elements of the alternative community-based option to welfare reform include:

• payment of a community allowance additional to welfare benefits in recognition of their contribution to their communities (suggestions to pilot this approach have also been mooted in other parts of the UK by others, such as the Create Consortium)

• support for disadvantaged people alongside conventional back to work programmes

• support for people to volunteer for community focused projects delivering public benefit without losing welfare benefits

• provision of an individually tailored programme of work experience in the third sector which equips people with the skills to gain and sustain employment

• support for others who would like to make a difference to their communities but need flexible support to do so

• development of a range of community based initiatives which fit with local and national policy priorities

• provision of a flexible package of support designed to tackle the needs of individuals with multiple barriers to employment

• provision of accredited placement provision in the third sector which meets Health and Safety and other compliance requirements

• a commitment to support people progressing satisfactorily through further or higher education