Sunday, 01 March 2015

Work programme 'failing homeless'

The government’s £5 billion work programme is not reaching the most disadvantaged long-term unemployed including homeless people, according to a committee of MPs.

The work and pensions committee today published a report, Can the work programme work for all user groups?, looking at the progress of the programme since its launch in June 2011.

The report concluded that the scheme’s pricing structure is not preventing disadvantaged groups from being ‘parked’ and they were given little or no support with providers ‘creaming off’ easier cases.

Under the work programme, private firms are paid by results. People are divided into nine groups based on the benefit they claim and providers are paid more for helping those considered to be further from the job market.

Labour MP Dame Anne Begg, chair of the work and pensions committee, said there are signs that the performance of the programme is improving for ‘mainstream’ claimants.

But she said: ‘The work programme has proved much less successful to date in addressing the problems faced by jobseekers who face more serious obstacles to finding a job – people with disabilities, homeless people, and those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse.

‘It is clear that the differential pricing structure is not a panacea for tackling creaming and parking.

‘The government must do more to ensure that the work programme provides effective support for all jobseekers, not just the ones who are easiest to help.’

The report found homeless people were being sanctioned – with benefits reduced or stopped for a period of time – rather than being given support for their difficulties.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: ‘The work programme has been a huge disappointment for too many homeless people. It has taken them no closer to what they really want: a better life through work. The support they’ve received has been minimal and at worst clients have been hit with sanctions rather than offered support.’

The committee calls for the Department for Work and Pensions to look at ways of supporting jobseekers with the most serious barriers to work, such as those who are homeless or have drug and alcohol addictions, to ensure they are ready for the work programme. It also calls for the government to spend £248 million of unspent work programme cash on provision for disadvantaged jobseekers.

The MPs recommended a move away from pricing based on benefit type towards a ‘needs-based’ structure. It also called for a requirement for providers to meet ‘minimum service standards’ to ensure jobseekers are not ‘parked’.

Homeless Link, an umbrella group of homelessness charities, said the committee’s report backed up its own research showing the programme is failing many people who need the most help. Homeless Link, St Mungo’s and Crisis jointly published a report last November called The programme’s not working.

Jacqui McCluskey, director of policy and communications at Homeless Link, said: ‘There is simply a lack of consistency in the support provided by the work programme.

‘The government must act to address this issue so that effective, individually tailored support for the most vulnerable individuals is the norm, not the exception.’

Charles Fraser, chief executive of St Mungo’s, said: ‘We know from experience that many homeless people need a second chance to get skills and a job, and we want the work programme to work for homeless people.’


Readers' comments (10)

  • The 'Work Programme' hyas never been intended to help people into a job. The clear aim is to reduce the role of the public sector in service provisions, to funnel money to the private sector and most importantly of all to abuse, denigrate and mistreat unemployed people.

    There are five people on average chasing evry job - in some parts of the country that is fifty people per job. Maybe housing organsiations who have outsourced their IT overseas, source their company cars from abroad,

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  • All of our traditional companies have sent their business abroad for cheap labour but prices here stay high! We now ship in wood, steel, coal etc. Pram companies have prams made in China as do all white goods companies. When will UK WAKE UP and realise if we do not make things we need unemployment in the Blue Collar Worker Sector will continue to go down the pan!White Collar Graduates can't even get jobs. Leisure Industry employs foreign workers by the thousands. Homelessness UTILISE BOARDED UP OFFICE BLOCKS and convert them.

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  • What??? The private sector "creaming" off profits by ignoring the most disadvantaged and not showing any commitment to the extraordinary. I'm sure nobody could have predicted that!!!!

    When will central and local government realise that the real value they get from the third sector is commitment to genuine results for genuinely disadvantaged people. Privatising social care (or care of any nature) will inevitably mean a poor service for those who need it most since the raison d'etre of the private sector is, after all, making money as easily as possible.

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  • Maurice Condie

    No surprises then. We ran a project that got no work programme money that, in the 2 years we could afford to run it, put 31 hostel and ex hostel residents into work. It can be done, but not large scale and it is hard work to achieve engagement, especially when you want people to get "proper" jobs, not work in the hostels they have just escaped.

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  • Christopher Dale

    Well said Footpath. The private sector should stick to running businesses and unstick their noses from any services that involve caring or supporting as their raison d'etre eg social care, NHS, etc. The profit motive has no place there. They merely reduce operating costs to a minimum, make their tidy pile of loot and then disappear sharpish when it emerges standards have dropped and the results (that matter) haven't been delivered.

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  • Eric Blair

    Of course the Work Programme is failing homeless and disadvantaged people: it's delivered by people who nothing about getting people into work!

    The Government's mantra is 'Private sector good, public sector bad', and while I'm no apologist for the public sector's failings at least I can see the merit of a mixed economy, where some things are left to the private sector and some are left in public hands.

    I've read evidence suggesting that, for example, sending out reams of CVs to potential employers is a waste of time. This has roughly a 1% success rate... But I can guarantee the Work Programme will emphasis that approach while using a stick and stick approach (no carrot!)

    It seems to me that the approach offered by Maurice would be much more effective in the long term. How about setting up small schemes like that all over the country, and funding them?

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  • All this government wanted to do is cut peoples benefits at all costs.We all know jobs are not there and if there was family members would get their kin in first .All this welfare reform is a cost cutting exercise and nothing more .I predict misery for millions of lives in Britain as this tory government expects people to live on peanuts when at the same time everything in price is rising .

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  • why on earth would this government help the disadvantaged they don't exist do they........... or should we say not with those rose tinted glasses that the government wear, just waiting for the slow boat to a desert island somewhere where job seekers will be offered the chance of a life time TO VANISH OUT OF SIGHT COMPLETELY = HAPPY GOVERNMENT. I'm with Maurice in fact in 2006 I ran a similar project that incorporated keeping young tenants in their properties too and guess what just as it was working well.... opps sorry funding gone.

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  • I expect all government funded work programmes to fail. Simply because you should not have to bribe employers with wage allowances to suppliment taking on an unemployed person, who after the course of training is over are out of work again.

    What happens then?

    The employer is paid another subsidy to take on more trainees and the cycle starts again.

    The work programme is also a waste of time, as these glorified civil servants are not specialists in getting people work. They are very good at talking about it and applying the pressure to financially stressed jobseekers some who may also have a lack of qualifications and learning difficulties and disabilities.

    What these DWP providers would be best doing is assessing the skills the claimants have via a series of diagnostic tests, literacy, numeracy, speaking and listening skills, itc, skills and finally a short talk about what they have to offer an employer.

    Once all these areas have been assessed the claimants then need to be directed to where they can get help or training courses with qualifications to cover the areas found to be at fault.

    To do the diagnostic assessments in the beginning these DWP partners need to employ teachers and people from the business sectors or largest employers, not civil servants.

    Women in particular may need more support to get back into work, yet the number of nursery places have fallen.

    In truth Mr Cameron and Mr Osbourne do not like the unemployed they see us all as a burden on the Welfare state, so they penalise you and squeeze you till you can't give no more.

    Ideally their view of the big society is slavery, work for nothing and get your benefit then pay bedroom taxes and community charge because you are priviledged to be supported in work with a benefit.

    The last time I looked I could not get blood out of a stone. Can you?

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  • Chris

    All these naysayers - the work programme has succeeded in every way it was intended - the friends and relatives of our Tory masters have received their share of hundreds of millions of pounds for doing what Employment Services used to do within their normal budget.

    What idiots believed these money laundering scams were ever about gaining people employment!

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