Work Programme branded as Worse than Nothing

  • After seeing poor results, Labour have branded the Government's Work Programme as "worse than doing nothing".

    The scheme to help the long-term unemployed into work, costing up to £5bn in 5 years, has only managed to get 3.6% into secure employment.

    A report by the Public Accounts Committee has shown that in the last 14 months, only 3.6% of those taking part have been able to stay in long term unemployment.

     Following the announcement of the results, chair, Margaret Hodge MP, has said that the effectiveness of the work programme so far had been "extremely poor".

    Of 9,500 people moved off disability benefits and on to the flagship Work Programme, just 20 have found a job lasting more than three months.

    The committee found that none of the organisations have hot their targets and one has failed to find a single post lasting six months for anyone aged under 25, despite being expected to cost between £3-5 billion in 5 years.

    The 3.6% success rate has not even come close to the 11.9% target and the National Audit Office has also found that more people would have got jobs if the initiative had never been launched; they estimate that 5% of those on benefits would have found work without the work placement scheme.

    This is on top of news that firms and charities being paid to find work for unemployed people are specifically choosing easier to place people, to ensure they get paid their fee, and not putting the work in to the more vulnerable harder to place claimants which was the intention of the scheme.

    Mrs Hodge said:

    It is shocking that, of the 9,500 former incapacity benefit claimants referred to providers, only 20 people have been placed in a job that has lasted three months, while the poorest-performing provider did not manage to place a single person in the under-25 category into a job lasting six months.

    The Work Programme is absolutely crucial for helping people, especially the most vulnerable, get work and stay in it.

    However, its performance so far has been extremely poor – so poor it was actually worse than the department’s own expectations of the numbers who would have found work if the scheme didn’t exist.

    The programme is particularly failing the young and the hardest to help.

    In the payment-by-results system, the DWP has incentives meant to stop providers concentrating on the easiest cases and ignoring the hardest to help. These are not working.

    Shadow work and pensions secretary, Liam Byrne, said:

    Figures released by the DWP decisively showed that the Work Programme was worse than doing nothing.

    The Public Accounts Committee is right to criticise the Government's farcical handling of the Work Programme figures.

    The lack of transparency around these numbers has been appalling, as the Government has tried, without success, to bury bad news in the detail.

    Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, said the programme should be abandoned:

    What will it take for this Government to finally accept that their workfare programme simply does not work?

    The courts have ruled it unlawful and now Iain Duncan Smith has been told in no uncertain terms his scheme is an expensive waste of taxpayers' money.

    However, the Government defended the scheme, as it was introduced in June 2011 and therefore not taken off fully, and they think the report had presented a "skewed picture".

    Katja Hall, the CBI's chief policy director, said:

    The initial Work Programme results were disappointing, but the statistics represent a snapshot during the roll-out of the scheme and should be viewed in this light.

    The programme is in its infancy and gains will come over the longer term.

     

     


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