Critics slam Government's Work Programme as figures reveal less than 20% stay off benefits
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities
The Government's Work Programme has been slammed by critics, as new figures reveal that only 56% of the scheme's earliest participants have come off of benefits - with only 19% of those managing to stay off them for over six months.
Paul Callanan, national organiser with Youth Fight for Jobs, a group that campaigns against the Work Programme, said: "Today’s figures have confirmed that the Government’s welfare-to-work schemes have nothing to do with getting people decent jobs. They are really about demonising the unemployed and punishing them for economic problems caused by the banks and big business. Under these schemes, less than 3.6% of claimants found a job in six months, worse than even the Government’s paltry target of 5.5%."
Despite the figures, Mark Hoban (pictured), the minister for employment, is pleased with the scheme. He said: "The Work Programme is succeeding in getting people off benefits and into work. It's still early days but already thousands of lives are being transformed."
Yesterday a report suggested that the Work Programme is failing homeless people and is not treating them with "dignity or respect".
Jacqui McCluskey, Director of Policy for Homeless Link, one of three charities responsible for the report, said: “It’s too early to say what impact the Work Programme is having overall. However, what our research clearly shows is that homeless people’s experience of the work programme is highly variable. Some receive a good service but far too many vulnerable adults are not being properly assessed and are not getting the support they need to help them overcome the barriers they face to getting a job.
"It is concerning that the Work Programme is, in the main, failing to engage with the people who are most excluded and furthest from the job market. The Government recognise that some providers are not performing well and we need action to ensure that those who need the most help to return to work get the effective support they need."
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, another the charities involved in the report, said: "These figures are very disappointing, but we are not surprised, as our own research shows that homeless people are receiving very poor quality service from Work Programme providers.
"The Programme’s Not Working" report published last week by Crisis, St. Mungo’s and Homeless Link surveyed homeless people’s experiences of the Work Programme and found many people were not being given the specialist help they need."
Imran Hussain, Head of Policy for Child Poverty Action Group, also criticised the Programme's results. She said: “Most people leave JSA and get back into work very quickly. The work programme is meant to help those who face greater challenges getting into work, and on this it is clearly failing.
“These results are grim for people desperately hoping to move into work. The danger is that this becomes yet another top down bureaucratic programme that promises much, but delivers little.
“Long term unemployment scars people and the Government has to realise that schemes to get people jumping through hoops don’t do much good if the jobs aren’t there.
"It is a tremendously important lesson ahead of the Universal Credit, which will also not succeed if there’s not enough jobs for people to take up. Without a successfully strategy for growth and more support tailored around what people need, the Work Programme and Universal Credit may end helping no one except the big companies being paid out of the public purse but failing to deliver what was promised.”
The Work Programme was launched in June 2011 and involves private and voluntary sector organisations being paid according to their success in helping the long-term unemployed back into work.
Paul Callanan added: "Rather than being helped to find work the unemployed are being forced into modern day slavery: workfare. Claimants often work full time jobs (removing incentives for employers to create any actual vacancies) without being paid a penny! All the while huge private companies like Serco are raking in massive profits for enforcing this, threatening vulnerable people with harsh sanctions and destitution.
"Young, unemployed and working people will not stand idly by as this government seeks to force ever greater numbers onto these dead end schemes. We say scrap welfare-to-work and invest in genuine job creation, providing secure employment paid a living wage!"