Lack of referrals blamed as charity pulls out of £5bn work programme
Work scheme fails homeless
The government’s flagship work programme has been accused of failing homeless people as another homelessness charity pulled out.
St Mungo’s this week confirmed it had exited three five-year contracts it took on as part of the £5 billion work programme because it had not been able to help anyone into employment since the contracts started last June.
The news follows London-based Single Homeless Project’s decision to drop out in March on the grounds the programme was ‘not adequately resourced or structured’.
Mike McCall, executive director of operations at St Mungo’s, said: ‘We had not received any referrals [from prime contractors] so have withdrawn but look forward to participating in future activities when we can be assured there is sufficient emphasis on working with those that are furthest from the labour market.’
Few charities are taking part in the work programme, which supports benefit claimants into employment, because the majority of money is paid after a person has been in a job for a minimum of six months, making it unviable for small organisations.
Homelessness charities which have taken part have reported a lack of referrals from prime contractors, which tend to be big companies such as Serco and Seetec.
Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy and external affairs at homelessness charity Crisis, said there had been just three referrals to its Newcastle work programme service since January. ‘We were very sceptical at the start and now we are concerned it’s not going to work for homeless people and homeless organisations. This [the two charities pulling out] is the start of a trend,’ he added.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said ‘very few’ voluntary organisations had left the scheme. She added that although referrals were a commercial matter, ‘all changes to the supply chain are subject to scrutiny to ensure the service available through the work programme is not reduced or compromised’.