The Conservation Volunteers

TCV Income The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) claims to be the UK’s leading practical conservation charity.

Research of the TCV finances is difficult as they do not provide an annual report or accounts on their web page. This is a charity with nearly £24 Million Pounds income last year. Do they have something to hide?

Our request to TCV for details  of the link to their accounts or annual report was met with a ” We are not sure when the reports will be available“. Charity Watch believes if you take the public pound then you should be held accountable and be open about your business.

UPDATE: 20/02/13 Full TCV Annual Accounts available on the Charity Commission Website here.


Income decreased from £39 million (2011) to almost £24 million (2012).

£12.2m related to training income realised from employment contracts run by TCV Employment and Training Services. In addition to this figure additional funding was received from both Westminster and Scottish Governments

RESERVES £8m: In 2012 the group’s reserves were £7.8m. Despite this in February 2012  staff numbers were reduced from 742 to 605.

Staff Pay:
2 employees earned £70.000 – £80,000
1 employee earned £110,000 – £120,000
1 employee earned £200,000 – 210,000

TCV have earned £19 million pounds from placing the unemployed on workfare schemes. In an interview with the Guardian on 12/December/2012 (read here) Sue Pearson from TCV admitted they operated three Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) contracts sending the unemployed to work in profit-making businesses in sectors ranging from construction, business administration, retail, hotel and leisure to food preparation. (What’s this got to do with conservation?)

Unbelievably, Pearson admitted they are prepared to bend the rules in their greedy grasp for the money. One MWA placement was at a food preparation factory but job seekers were asked to “gather up recycling materials” to fit in with the DWP rules that all forced placements must be “for community benefit”.

Disabled Now Forced To Work For Free

From 3 December 2012, job centre and work programme case managers have the power to stop the benefits of those claiming the employment and support allowance (ESA), who do not agree to mandatory work placements. Those in the ESA work-related-activity group include cancer patients, stroke victims and people with mental health issues.

Look out if you are sick or disabled and found fit for work. TCV are planning to move 50,000 people into employment in the next year. We assume this means forcing the sick, disabled and unemployed onto the Mandatory Work Programme.


Given the above you would surely wonder who would associate themselves with such a charity. Looking at their list of Vice Presidents, three names stand out: Sir David Attenborough, Bill Oddie MBE and David Bellamy OBE.

TCV - 3 vice presidents

At this time, we don’t know how much involvement these three Vice Presidents have in the TCV operation. Do they benefit financially? Do they agree with using the sick, disabled and unemployed as forced labour? I hope they are proud that they represent a ‘voluntary’ charity who make profit from forced labour.

Let’s face it, it’s not uncommon in the UK for people to have more concern for animals and the environment than for the rest of humanity. I’ve met many of them.


Looking deeper we discover that one of the TCV trustees is Sir Hugh Sykes. His biography states:

“He is currently non-executive director and consultant to A4e, a rapidly growing private company employing over 3500 staff in 8 countries specialising in unemployment to work services to governments.”

  • A4e is the second biggest contractor to the Work Programme – the Government’s flagship back-to-work scheme.
  • You may recall, the former A4e Chair and families adviser to David Cameron, Emma Harrison was paid a £1.5m dividend last year before she stepped down, with further payments to associated companies, despite the group making to a £2.1m loss.
  • A4e paid Miss Harrison’s associated business, Andromeda Park, a conference management company, £188,000, for “services” and her husband’s business, Thornbridge, £816,000 for lease of property, totalling just over £1m for the couple.
  • Harrison was criticised early last year for taking an £8.6m dividend from the taxpayer-backed company, and media focus on the back-to-work provider intensified after it emerged police arrested four former workers in an investigation into the company.
  • Charity Watch understands Miss Harrison still owns 85% of A4e. (see above sources).
  • The BBC reported on 14/02/13 that 3 more employee’s from A4e have been arrested on allegations of fraud. These three join eight other arrests already made.

We believe The Conservation Volunteers are unethical and exploit the weak, the sick and the disabled for profit. They are also wrongly named.

Conservation: it looks like the main conservation priority is their income from the exploitation of the unemployed, sick and disabled.

Volunteers: they need to buy a dictionary with their £19 million income from the Mandatory Work Programme and check the definition of the word volunteer.


Our advice to TCV is get back to doing what your name suggests and be an organisation of conservation volunteers helping the environment. Not an organisation that profits by forcing the sick, disabled and unemployed on to your mandatory schemes. Or if you are quite happy to continue to make your money from the weak in society then publish the fact on your website.

TCV have released a media statement to justify their £19 million earnings. Their enthusiasm and defence of their use and profit of the Mandatory Work Programme (MWA) is full of testimonials of success. This document could be subtitled the modern Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Brings Freedom). There is no mention of how many people did not enjoy the programme or how many people they caused to lose their benefits or even how many on the scheme managed to get a real job.

Are you disgusted by this so-called charity’s abuse of the weak and vulnerable in society then contact them and those involved with them and let them know.

Further reading Links:

Johnnyvoid (Blog)

Boycott Workfare (Campaign)

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