Burger King quits government work experience scheme


Burger King announced it had pulled out of the Government's controversial work experience scheme.

The fast food giant said it had decided to cease its involvement in the Get Britain Working programme because of recent concerns expressed by the public.

The scheme has attracted growing criticism in recent weeks with opponents describing it as a form of "slave labour" because youngsters worked for nothing, while keeping their benefits.

Burger King said it had intended to take on youngsters on work experience at its Slough headquarters but had not recruited anyone for the scheme.

It said in a statement: "Burger King United Kingdom Ltd registered for the voluntary Get Britain Working work experience programme six weeks ago, with the intention of providing work experience at our HQ in Slough.

"Since then we have not recruited anyone for this scheme. Given the recent concerns expressed by the public we have decided to no longer have any involvement in the programme."

Supermarket giant Tesco this week offered to pay people on the scheme and asked ministers to remove the threat of benefit sanctions against those not completing their work experience.

Retail giant Poundland has reportedly withdrawn from the scheme after voicing similar concerns about its mandatory element.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling defended the scheme yesterday, saying that half of those who joined it after the launch 11 weeks ago had now found a job, often with companies which offered them work experience.

He added that offering youngsters work experience, with the chance of a job at the end, was better than "simply leaving them" on benefits.

The politician claimed that firms reportedly pulling out of the programme, including supermarket giant Sainsbury's, had never formally been involved in the government initiative because they ran their own scheme.

He said a lot of large companies were coming under pressure from right-to-work activists to withdraw from the scheme.

Ken McMeikan, chief executive of bakery chain Greggs has voiced concern over the scheme, saying he was not comfortable with young people potentially losing their benefits if they leave the initiative.