Tesco is to hold crisis talks with employment officials as criticism of the Government’s ‘workfare’ scheme continues.
As Employment Minister Chris Grayling branded critics of the scheme as “job snobs”, Tesco’s nerves seemed to be growing after one of its stores in Westminster was forced to close by protestors.
Under the scheme, the unemployed can apply to work for high street chains for no more money than they would receive on the dole. Although it is a voluntary scheme, participants risk losing their benefits if they drop out. Some 34,200 workers took part in the scheme between January and November last year.
Grayling said: "The allegations about this scheme are absurd and those who are particularly targeting the supermarkets, which have been very helpful to us in supporting this scheme, are frankly job snobs about the nature of the work those supermarkets are doing."
Rival supermarket Sainsbury’s and book chain Waterstones have pulled out of the initiative, along with charities Oxfam and Shelter and clothing retailer Matalan.
Labour employment spokesman Stephen Timms said: ‘This scheme has lost the confidence of both young people and business , with key companies that should be providing genuine work experience sceptical of its design and motives. The government must get a grip and make sure work experience is real, meaningful and helps lead to work."