Work Programme, “Expensive Way of Achieving Very Little.”
Sally Chesworth on File on 4 Up to the Job? (repeated last night), reported on the Work Programme.
The Work Programme is the Government’s flagship scheme designed to help the long term unemployed off benefits and into lasting jobs. But how well is it working – both for those at whom it is aimed and for the private companies who are paid to deliver it?
Official figures paint a patchy picture and some companies have already been sanctioned for not meeting targets. Their record has been particularly poor for claimants whose illness or disability makes it hard to find a job.
The broadcast covered this item.
A key investor is selling its stake in the government’s flagship Work Programme.
Deloitte, the corporate finance and consultancy firm, owns a 50% share in Ingeus, one of the private companies operating the scheme.
Deloitte’s decision to sell its share has prompted claims the government has failed to create a viable market in the welfare-to-work industry.
Most of us would be more interested in the stories about the Work Programme actually operates.
It began with some government propaganda by a woman with a Mockney accent about how fings turned out well for her with the Work Programme.
But then we learnt of how it fails people. How only 5.8% of those on the scheme got jobs. How the disabled were poorly treated, How each ‘adviser’ had such a massive case-load that little was done for those on the programme. How the long-term unemployed were shunted to the back of the queue.
And how “welfare to work” was an industry.
That is “Employment Minister Esther McVey said that the government had created “a marketplace that never existed before”.
“We have brought people into this market place,” she said.”
A chap from Rocket Science, Alistair Grimes said that the Work Programme was an “epsnsive way of achivieng very little.”
He has added on their site,
The fundamental point is that the WP is failing to be the transformative programme promised and predicted by David Freud and IDS. It is just achieving the minimum standard set by DWP (itself an improvement on the early stages) but it is failing to deliver consistently and it is failing the most vulnerable groups it was designed to help.
There are several reasons for this. The state of the economy and the nature of the recovery are hard obstacles to overcome in a programme designed for a more benign climate. The selection process was deeply flawed and gave too much weight to (frankly) implausible prices, which were deeply discounted. The consequence of this has been high case loads, poorer quality provision and parking. This will get worse as the (often) backloaded discounts now kick in. DWP bear some responsibility here, but so do bidders, who connived with the view that WP could be cheaper than previous programmes. This shows itself in the ridiculous caseloads being carried by front line staff as costs are cut. One such person said to me off the record, “If I hear ‘more for less’ one more time I will punch someone”.
If WP is failing customers, it is also failing Prime Contractors. I would be very interested to see who is making money out of the WP and whether the ‘market’ created by DWP is sustainable, given that all the indications are, indeed, ‘more for less’ in WP2. The Deloitte/Ingeus relationship is not an aberration, it is the rational response of an organisation whose core business isn’t welfare to work and who could invest its resources more profitably elsewhere.
Some people will be able to get out, because WP is not their core business, but others, who have employability as their core business will be increasingly trapped into providing a service that runs counter to the values that brought them into being.
To repeat, this is not a programme that will transform long-term unemployment amongst the most disadvantaged, it will leave it untouched or make it worse. If this depresses you, don’t read on, because the final bit of bad news is that those hoping a change of government will put the clock back and restore investment in long-term unemployed people (as opposed to punishment) are deluding themselves. The first pronouncement of Labour’s spokesperson, Rachel Reeves, on the matter was to promise to be tougher. Time limited benefits and food stamps anyone?
We would add that the basic principle of the Work Programme is faulty.
It is meant to equip people to compete on the market place.
If they don’t comply with what they want they get sanctioned.
Can you force the unemployed to become entrepreneurs ‘selling’ themselves?
What if the market for jobs is pretty ropey?
The answer seems to be that most of the powerful and wealthy ‘welfare to work’ industry does very nicely out of the system.
Even if Deloitte feels it should pull out.
But not that many other people.