OXFAM has told its shops not to take on people under a controversial Government work experience scheme.

It said programmes where the unemployed have to do unpaid work to keep their benefits undermined charities.

Oxfam’s head of volunteering Georgia Boon said: “Oxfam does not offer placements for participants in the mandatory work activity, or compulsory elements of ‘work for your benefits’ schemes.”

She said: “We do this for two reasons: firstly, because these schemes impact unfairly on the support people receive, and so are incompatible with our goal of reducing poverty in the UK.

“Secondly, because these schemes involve forced volunteering, which is not only an oxymoron, but undermines people’s belief in the enormous value of genuine voluntary work.

“We have not been involved with these schemes since March 2011 when they were first introduced. We have communicated this to our network of 700 shops and have provided them with tools to help them stop current Oxfam volunteers being placed on schemes.”

The scheme is voluntary for companies to take part in, but has raised concerns about the jobless being used as slave labour.

Department for Work and Pensions spokesman Katie Martin said: “No employer is obligated to be involved with any government back to work scheme. Work experience for 16-24-year-olds on Jobseekers’ Allowance is a voluntary scheme that provides valuable on-the-job experience.”