The ten-month-old voluntary programme, part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s welfare reforms, is intended to help the record number of jobless youths improve their CVs and find work in a difficult economic climate.But opponents say people who quit halfway through their placements are docked two weeks unemployment benefits as punishment — and that the scheme allows major corporations to exploit a large pool of free labour.The resulting furor has seen a number of big-name backers distance themselves from the scheme, including Tesco, which was targeted by protests last weekend.Campaigners say the 34,200 youths who have taken part in the scheme so far have provided unpaid labour worth £67.5 million to companies that also include fast food giant McDonalds.
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