In another blow to workfare, charity PDSA yesterday confirmed that they have pulled out of workfare. With immediate effect, those forced to work in their stores can walk free. This comes on the tail of two other major charities announcing their intention to steer clear of workfare last week, and is a promising sign as our week of action approaches that at least Mandatory Work Activity may soon be on its way out.
Today, Iain Duncan Smith faces another blow to his flagship Work Programme scheme, which last week was found to have been unlawful since its introduction. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has released a report on the failing £5 billion Work Programme. The report is based on the disastrous figures released by the DWP in November 2012, which showed just 3.6% of people on the Work Programme finding work, well below the contractual minimum of 5.5%, which at the time we were told was the expected target.
In fact, the DWP has been rather coy about their expectations and are strongly criticised by the PAC for not telling us that they actually expected providers to find 11.9% of people work, and that 9.2% of people would have found work with no help at all.
Let that sink in for a moment. The Work Programme reduced the number of people expected to find work by 61%. That’s 50,000 people who would have found a job, except they got sent on the biggest programme that exists to ‘help’ people find work.
The Work Programme was worst at helping those who need the most support. Providers, such as A4E, REED and Ingeus, actually reduced the number of ESA claimants finding work by 80%, and the number of 18-24 year of JSA claimants finding work by 74%.
This is due to providers “parking” claimants who they don’t think will make them money in their payment by results system. If you only get paid for getting people into work, why spend time and money on someone who is unlikely to get a job?
For those on the Work Programme, today’s news comes as no surprise. We know providers’ unhelpful concoction of psycho-babble, coercion and CV workshops at best obstructs us from being able to find work, and is always more demoralising than helpful. We know that the scheme is set up to place the blame for unemployment on the unemployed, shifting focus away from a triple-dip recession economy and any measures that might address the fact that even if all current job vacancies were filled there would still be 2 million people unemployed. We know that the ‘black box’ approach of the Work Programme can mean anything from neglect to bullying.
The figures the government tried to hide show that the Work Programme is a barrier to people getting a job at all. The Work Programme must be scrapped, along with all the other workfare schemes Iain Duncan Smith needed emergency regulation to resuscitate just a week ago.