Posted by: Emily Twinch15/05/2012
What a time to try to push a load of people into work who haven’t worked for years. A time when unemployment is high and there just aren’t enough jobs for everyone.
When people with years of experience can’t get a job in their chosen field, nor can young, keen people fresh out of university with a degree.
But this is the time the government has chosen, and it appears to have done an effective job of persuading the masses most of the people on benefits are workshy scroungers. And so the work programme started up last June.
It is to ‘support claimants who need more help to undertake active and effective jobseeking’. This includes homeless people. So, homeless people, whose priority is likely to be to find a roof over their head for the night, now have to be out there competing with people whose first priority is to get a job.
Obviously, getting a homeless person back on their feet and into work is a good thing. But it will take a homeless organisation some work to get a homeless person to the stage where they are ready for employment.
Homeless people are likely to have complex needs, such as drug and alcohol issues. To get them to an interview will take time and resources. Then they have to be got through an interview, and there might be psychological fall-out to deal with if they don’t get the job.
So not paying an organisation until someone has been in work for six months is likely to put off cash-strapped charities from getting involved. And has. How are they going to fund the months of work to get the people to the interview? Then there is the danger that people will choose to work with those with less issues – easier to get into work, more likely to bring in the cash reward. This system of payment is one bar to the work programme being effective for homeless people.
There is also the issue that those taking part have found a real lack of referrals. Two charities have now pulled out of the work programme because of this. Other charities involved are thinking of doing the same. I understand there are various reasons for the lack of people referred to the charities. One is because job centres are just not recognising people are homeless and referring them. Main contractors apparently use software to find the word ‘homeless’ in employment lists. People sofa-surfing (so homeless) will have a postcode – so will not be recognised as ‘homeless’ (which, to most people, means rough sleeping). And, if you are rough sleeping, how many times will you get to a job centre?
A programme which does help homeless people get back into work could be a good idea. But the work programme looks set to fail for them.
A lot of the charities are already working with their clients to build their confidence and get them back into work. Perhaps the government should speak to them, look around and see what is going on already?
Inside Housing is conducting a survey examining care and support provision, in partnership with Capita. Complete the anonymous survey to let us know your experiences and be in with a chance to win an Apple iPad or equivalent charity donation.
From Who cares?
Analysis of the latest developments in supported housing, homelessness and work with vulnerable people