Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Work Programme in Chaos, Redundancies Follow.

with 16 comments

Work programme in Chaos.

Channel Four reports,

tonight, there are warnings that thousands of people currently employed to help people back to work are themselves facing redundancy.

A group which represents the welfare-to-work providers has told FactCheck that as many as 10,000 jobs are at risk.

The Employment Related Services Association (Ersa) – which represents almost 85 per cent of the organisations awarded prime contracts to run the Work Programme – said the welfare-to-work industry could shrink by up to a third over several years.

Chief executive Kirsty McHugh said that although she and her members supported the work programme and wanted it to succeed, there was “huge concern”.

“The big unknown is quite how many customers are going to be going through the Work Programme. If, as we think it will, that number turns out to be quite low, our estimate is that the workforce employed to deal with those customers will shrink by 25 to 33 per cent,” she said.

Ersa’s “best guess” is that about 30,000 people are employed in the welfare-to-work industry.

She said her members’ jobs were at risk because the Government’s own predictions suggested that fewer people would be referred to the Work Programme than to similar schemes under the last Labour administration.

Mr Grayling, however, disputed Ersa’s claims. He admitted that there was a “degree of hubbub” in the industry and that he couldn’t “guarantee” that “every single person who’s worked in the industry in the past will work with the industry in the future”. But he told FactCheck: “I don’t think there will be an overall reduction of employment in the welfare-to-work industry.”

Mr Grayling added: “We are replacing a whole raft of substantially-failed programmes, which added no value whatever to people’s job search, with a revolutionary new approach which we think will transform the lives of the long term unemployed. That means I expect the industry to look very different but it absolutely doesnt mean that it will be smaller.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said 620,000 unemployed people would be referred to the Work Programme in  the remainder of this financial year, and around the same number next year. Because it is a two-year programme, more than a million people will therefore be on the scheme by next year.

That compares with just 450,000 people referred to welfare-to-work programmes under the previous Government, according to Mr Grayling. But FactCheck believes he may be underestimating the number of people supported by welfare schemes under Labour.

According to an answer to Parliament Mr Grayling gave last year, almost 1.2 million people were enrolled in the various welfare-to-work schemes in 2009/10.

That appears to suggest a big initial shortfall, earning the Minister a black mark from FactCheck, and lending weight to Ms McHugh’s explanation about the reason for job losses in the sector now.

The Public and Commercial Services Union’s National Officer, Paul Barnsley, said the union had been made aware of 600 compulsory redundancies at one provider, Working Links, and said he was expecting to see up to 2,000 job losses in total in the next few weeks alone.

He said Ersa’s prediction of much higher numbers of redundancies over a longer timescale was “entirely correct”, adding: “I find it astonishing that this flagship programme is such an absolute shambles. Nobody knows where they are going to be a week on Monday.”

Many people employed in welfare-to-work companies which have lost contracts say they face an uncertain future just days before the Work Programme goes live.

Welfare-to-work industry insiders, who spoke to FactCheck anonymously, also said they had received no training in how the scheme will be run, ahead of an expected start date of 13 June.

A DWP spokesman said: “‘The Work Programme is set to be the one of the largest-ever payment by results programmes in the world, we expect to spend between £3-5bn helping to move claimants into employment over the life of the contract. By 2012 we expect it to be providing specialist support for around a million people.

“This is a real revolution in welfare-to-work, and will replace the previous failed programmes of the previous Government. Inevitably that will mean big changes in the welfare-to-work industry as it prepares for the new challenge of payment by results, but we expect the industry to grow over the next year in order to deliver success in this very new world of welfare-to-work support .”

Cathy Newman’s verdict

In Whitehall the talk may be of a welfare revolution, but the facts on the ground don’t at the moment bear that out.

People who have made a career out of advising the unemployed now face unemployment themselves. If the welfare overhaul was as radical as Ministers suggest, these advisers would surely be in demand, not on the dole. And the figures unearthed by FactCheck reveal the problem: Labour’s welfare schemes helped more of the unemployed last year than the Work Programme will this year.

That may change as the Government hits its stride. But in the meantime, the companies doing the heavy lifting will have to lay off valuable staff, causing potential problems in years to come.

The analysis by Patrick Worrall



Sometimes you wonder if this Government can tie its own shoelaces.


Written by Andrew Coates

June 4, 2011 at 10:54 am

16 Responses

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  1. As a few visitors to this blog have commented previously, “what comes around goes around”. That’s what i call justice, anyone who works for the welfare-to-workfare industry deserves to experience unemployment – permanently!

    On a slightly different topic, John Bird has defended his decision to allow the unemployed to sell The Big Issue. I know, this is news to me too. Here’s the link to the story:

    A4e Protest

    June 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    • Well I’d like to know what his definition of homeless is as well.

      It strikes a lot of us that some people selling the Big Issue have been doing so for a remarkably long time.

      Still Bird no doubt thinks that any little contribution to his growing fortune is welcome.

      Andrew Coates

      June 5, 2011 at 9:14 am

    • Just a mandatory note about the Big Issue scam.

      Work Programme

      June 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm

  2. Let’s see these poverty pimps go by the wayside, for good.

    Btw A4eProtest; like those posters on your site. May see some go up at the local A4e den in Thetford!


    June 5, 2011 at 8:49 am

  3. Hi I was told on the 25th My that 250 were currently reffered for the orkprogramme and that this was increasing at a rate of 15 per day.

    I was also told that even disabled customers are being sent NO EXCEPTIONS. I told them this was stupid and they said complain if enough do it it turns into a torrent and if the civil servantsare running around fielding complaints they aren’t getting their jobs done. So the sooner they will tell their political puppet masters that this aint working.

    Complain kick up a stink ??

    And I cant help but thisbut karma BLOWS. What goes around comes around


    June 5, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    • Working on abolishing the Mandatory Work Activity scheme.

      Work Programme will be next.

      Never stop complaining… It will be HUGE cost which will win at the end of the day; they want to lose jobs from Jobcentre Plus offices so if you create more work for them its not going to result in more employees – unions wouldnt allow it – will justify saving the jobs they wish to axe.

      Work Programme

      June 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm

  4. Hi Andrew

    I wish you would think about adding broken of britain


    and also SUE Marsh


    As their aimis the same as our,to change things and the bigger and better the network gets the more clout andmore people know.

    I also hope you dont mind but was speaking the John of the guardian and pointed him inyour direction ?

    Also would it be possible for you to post all the url in your blogroll as pure http links so it would be just a cut and paste jobby



    June 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    • I want to relaunch my blog after a redesign etc., so anyone interested in being a contributor… let me know 🙂

      I am in touch with John from the Guardian. Things are looking really promising.

      btw The Fairy Jobmother is back on this Tuesday… http://www.workprogramme.org.uk/201106051429/the-fairy-jobmother.html

      I think she will be promoting the Work Programme; she plans to setup a job club in one of the episodes to promote tory policy and I also think there will be mentions about benefit sanctions. A must watch – on 4oD at least.

      Work Programme

      June 5, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      • We’ll be watching this Fairy Jobmother like ‘awks, that if we can be bothered..

        Andrew Coates

        June 6, 2011 at 11:00 am

      • I shall be giving the aforementioned progamme a body serve. When she went to do a US version of the show I hoped that would be the last we would hear of her!

        A4e Protest

        June 6, 2011 at 8:22 pm

      • A4e protest… you aren’t alone.

        Work Programme

        June 6, 2011 at 9:20 pm

  5. Jobcentre workers use fake names over security fears

    Some Jobcentre Plus staff use false names on their ID badges to protect their identities, the Department for Work and Pensions has revealed.

    The department said workers were allowed to use “office names” agreed with their managers.

    Officials said the option was open to “customer-facing staff where an individual’s safety or wellbeing is demonstrably at risk”.

    The revelation came in response to a Freedom of Information request.

    Staff at the Pension Disability and Carers Service and those carrying out fraud investigations were also allowed to use pseudonyms, the DWP said.

    The department said its policy on false names was introduced in April 2002 after consultation with trade unions.

    It is not the only government department to keep the identity of its staff from the public in some cases.

    A Home Office spokesman said: “In a small number of cases where there are particular security considerations, we may use a pseudonym when responding to correspondence.”

    Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Downing Street letters would no longer be signed with fake names.

    The policy was changed after Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman complained about receiving a letter from a “Mrs E Adams”, only to be told it was a computer-generated pseudonym.

    Number 10 officials began using false names in 2005 after a staff member was contacted and threatened by a member of the public.


    Crystal Balls

    June 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    • Do the same when contacting them about a job, making up a name, NI etc. and you would be prosecuted for fraud no doubt.

      Work Programme

      June 7, 2011 at 8:51 pm

  6. Does anyone know what the deal is with all those “interpreter” jobs that the Joke Centre is advertisng; there are literally hundreds of them in literally hundreds of (made-up?) languages.
    From Akbhaz, Adangme, Afar, Akun, Aku, Alemannic, Asanti, Balochi, on and on all at £15 an hour.

    Job Point

    June 7, 2011 at 7:10 pm

  7. yeah, they are jobs, for interpreters…


    June 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm

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