Unite the Union

Unite the Union

September 18, 2007 12:23 ET

Third Sector undercut as Pathways to Work contracts go to the private sector

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Sept. 18, 2007) - The voluntary sector has been the clear loser in the bidding process to run the "Pathways to Work" programme.

Unite is not surprised. This was sold as a way to bring the skills of the 'Third Sector' into providing welfare to work services, but the result has been that the sector has been used as a Trojan horse to bring in the profit driven private sector.

Just two out of 16 Pathways to Work contracts announced last week were awarded to Third Sector organisations.

Unite Assistant General Secretary for Public Services, Gail Cartmail, said: "This is exactly what we feared would happen. We were sold a public service reform agenda of bringing in the skills of community and voluntary sector organisations under the banner of the 'third sector'. But the real aim is to open markets in our public services to the private sector to make a quick buck. Unite is clear - this ideologically driven and evidence free policy must stop!"

Unite National Officer, Rachael Maskell, added: "Yet again we see Third Sector organisations being undercut and unable to compete with private companies in the bidding process. The result is further job losses and insecurity in a sector that already has some of the worst levels of job insecurity in the economy."

Pathways to Work is a government initiative to support people on long term incapacity benefit into work in areas where numbers are highest. The scheme combines elements of compulsion with attractive incentives.

Notes for Editors:

Unite the Union is the UK's largest trade union representing over 60,000 members in the Third Sector.

- The National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) claims that the sector has a paid workforce of at least 608,000 and now employs 2.2% of the overall paid workforce in the UK. This figure excludes amongst others, housing associations and independent schools.
Source: NCVO Almanac 2006

- 38% of the voluntary sector workforce is employed on a part-time basis.
Source: NCVO Almanac 2006

- An estimated 1.1 million full-time UK workers would be needed to replace formal volunteers, well over twice the number of full-time equivalent paid employees in the voluntary sector. This would be at a cost of approximately Pounds Sterling 25.4 billion (based on the national average wage).
Source: NCVO Almanac 2006

- Job insecurity caused by funding pressures and short term contracts means that staff turnover in the sector is unnecessarily high. On average one fifth (21%) of all employees in the sector left their jobs last year - the national average for all jobs is 16%.
Source: People Count Survey 2006

- 77% of organisations have experienced retention difficulties in the past year.
Source: People Count Survey 2006

- Public and Private sector spending on training and development is on average over 50% higher than the Third Sector.
Source: People Count Survey 2006

- Wages are 20% lower on average than the Public and Private Sectors and up to 25% lower in London.
Source: Croner Reward 2007

For more information see Unite's briefing on the Community and Not for Profit Sector:

Valuing Public Services Campaign:

Valuing Public Services Report:

Contact Information

  • Unite Press Office
    Ashraf Choudhury
    020 7420 8914 or 07980 224 761.