Ipswich Unemployed Action.

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Archive for the ‘Help to Work’ Category

Government shakeout of welfare to work: what will it mean for benefit claimants?

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Image result for work and health programme

What they didn’t mention on above…

Thousands of jobs to go in government shakeout of welfare to work sector The Guardian (just now).

“The sector is said to be preparing for a ‘bloodbath’.”

Funding to shrink by 75% from March when work programme is replaced by much smaller work and health programme.

Thousands of experienced employment coaches are expected to lose their jobs over the next few weeks as ministers trigger the first stage of a massive shakeout of the government-funded welfare to work sector that will see it shrink by 75%.

The employment services industry is preparing for what one insider called “a bloodbath” as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) moves to replace the work programme with the much smaller work and health programme.

Background (from here).

In the November 2015 spending review the government announced that the current work programme, due to end in March 2017, will be replaced by a ‘work and health’ programme.

Currently central government, through the Department for Work & Pensions, delivers the current work programme, which is a universal programme for the long-term unemployed. That has run for nearly five years and it will continue to run now until 31 March 2017.

The aim of the new Work and Health programme is to shift the focus from what might be termed “orthodox unemployment” to people with physical and psychological barriers to employment.  The work and health programme therefore will focus on the very long-term unemployed – two years-plus of unemployment – as one element of the client group and then another element, the health element, will be those citizens that have health barriers.

Localism, integration and devolution are significant factors in the development of the new Work & Health Programme. The government is specifically talking about co-design and co-commissioning with certain authorities: Manchester, London, Sheffield, Tees Valley, the North East, Liverpool and the West Midlands, relating to devolution deals.

Then (October)

DWP have today published more details about its commissioning model for its new Umbrella Agreement for the provision of Employment & Health Related Services (UAEHRS), the framework through which it will appoint providers for the new Work & Health Programme, as well as other potential DWP contracts.

The UAEHRS will account for £1.77 billion of DWP spend on contracted provision over 4 years, although it is not clear how much of this will be allocated to the Work & Health Programme. The UAEHRS will be divided into 7 Lot areas, based on Jobcentre Plus operational boundaries, namely: Central England, North East England, North West England, Southern England, Home Counties England, Wales, and a national England & Wales Lot. It is not clear from this whether or not the two co-commissioned Work & Health Programme areas, London and Manchester, are included under the UAERS arrangement. It is equally unclear whether or not the proposed Lot areas will also be applied as the final Contract Package Areas for the Work & Health Programme.

Only 5 providers will be accepted onto each regional UAEHRS Lot, although this may be extended if there is a tie-break for fifth place. Providers securing a place on two or more Lots will automatically be included within the national England & Wales Lot. The competition to select providers onto the UAEHRS will test providers against a number of criteria, including economic and financial standing, previous contract performance, supply chain management, service integration, implementation, delivery challenges, and stakeholder engagement. At the time of writing, the UAEHRS competition documents have not yet been released. This is, however, expected imminently, with a response deadline of the 9th November. Full details can be accessed at dwp.bravosolution.co.uk.

More details:

Documents seen by the Guardian reveal that seven of the 15 work programme prime contractors, including big private sector names such as Serco and Maximus, have not made it on to the initial shortlist for the new scheme.

The work and health programme shortlist, which is to be officially announced next week, begins a process in which the remaining eight work programme firms will compete with three new entrants for just six new regional contracts.

The final outcome, expected when contracts are awarded in late spring, could result in some firms being forced to abandon the market, or diversify into other contracted out public service areas, such as criminal justice or apprenticeships.

“This decimates the welfare to work industry. It represents the unravelling of nearly 20 years of unemployment support experience,” one industry insider told the Guardian.

Work coaches provide long-term unemployed clients with help to acquire a range of employment and life skills designed to increase their chances of finding work, such as CV writing, IT skills and literacy, as well as liaising with potential employers.

Thousands of work coach jobs are expected to be lost. “This means large job losses among really experienced frontline advisers, the majority of which are in charities,” said Kirsty McHugh, the chief executive of the Employment Related Services Association.

The work and health programme is expected to start in the autumn and aims to provide specialist support for long-term unemployed people, especially those with health conditions or a disability.

Funding will be about £100m a year over four years. This is about a quarter of the current annual spending on the work programme, which closes at the end of March, and work choice, which will continue for a few months longer.

This is the bit which we’re particularly interested in.

The work programme – which was launched in 2011 by the then secretary of state for work and pensions, Iain Duncan Smith – achieved mixed results and was fiercely criticised for the low numbers of disabled and chronically ill people it succeeded in supporting into work.

It was also dogged by controversy over alleged misconduct by work coaches, and the high salaries earned by top executives. Emma Harrison, the founder of A4E, was criticised for paying herself dividends of £8.6m in 2011, on top of a £365,000 annual salary.

Harrison, who had a brief spell as former prime minister David Cameron’s “families tsar” sold her personal stake in A4E to Staffline group in 2015 for a reported £20m. The relaunched company, PeoplePlus, is shortlisted in all six work and health programme areas.

Industry insiders expressed surprise that Maximus – which has gained notoriety as the provider of the DWP’s controversial “fit for work” tests – failed to make the shortlist as it had been seen as one of the best performing work programme providers in terms of getting long-term jobless people into sustainable jobs.

Much as we may weep at the fate of coachies and ‘providers’ we note an absence of information on what this latest scheme will mean for people who’ll be obliged to be on it.

Will there still be obligatory  ‘volunteering’, work ‘placements’ (free labour for  employers and the ‘voluntary sector’) and the rest of the rigmarole?

Will the usual ‘courses’ be on?

We have no idea whatsoever.

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Welfare ‘Dependency’: Hard Right Keeps Up the Pressure to attack the less Well Off.

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Margaret Thatcher Quote 1

Centre for Policy Studies Motto.

The Centre for Policy Studies has a thing about ‘welfare dependency’.

The influential right-wing think tank – which most people will not have heard of – want people to stand on their “own two feet”.

Never mind that the Centre itself is headed by Baron Maurice Saatchi a man who made his money as a parasite in the ‘advertising industry’ , and is, well, you know, a ‘Lord’ in said House of, no doubt a position won by scrubbing floors and hewing coal.

We notice this on its funding (Who Funds you?)

Discloses annual income Yes: £1,131,391 y/e 30/9/14
Displays funding information on own website No
Names organisational funders No
Declares amounts given by organisational funders No
Names individual funders No
Declares amounts given by individual funders No

We strongly doubt if this level of detail would satisfy those supervising our Job Search: Transparency rating D.

Their latest wheeze is to publish a report, ‘The Independence Revolution Must Go On‘, which says this:

  •  The Government’s record in reducing dependency on the State is strong, but there is plenty more to do.
  • Dependency has fallen by 2.7 percentage points since 2010, but over half of households still receive more in benefits (including benefits in kind) than they pay in taxes.Welfare reform appears to be reducing dependency. 19% of households subject to the benefit cap were in work after a year.
  • Children growing up in workless households have, on average, poorer key stage 1 attainments, lower cognitive ability and are more likely to be NEET.
  • New Government must continue incentivising work by reducing marginal tax rates and carefully evaluating the National Living Wage policy.

Anybody using the ‘verb’ ‘incentivising’ deserves a week-long course for those with language difficulties.

Boiled down what the Centre – remember a group with real influence on government policy – is suggesting is more benefit caps, more dependency on dodgy employers and charity and fewer rights at work and on benefits.

This article tackles the core assumption of the Centre: that redistribution of wealth from the rich, and the better off, to the less well off, and using benefits to help people stand on their own two feet, is wrong.

‘Welfare dependency’ or essential redistribution? By Bernadette Meaden

  • The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has issued an Economic BulletinThe Independence Revolution Must Go On’, based on figures from a recent Office for National Statistics publicationThe effects of taxes and benefits on household income’.
  • The ONS figures show that “over half of households received more in benefits (including  benefits in kind) than they paid in taxes for the  year 2014/15…It is estimated that 50.8 per cent of households are net dependents”. The closer one looks at these figures, however, the more questions arise about how we define dependency, who actually benefits from benefits, and how we think about the redistribution of wealth.
  • The CPS views the ONS figures largely in terms of ‘welfare dependency’, concluding that, “The Government’s record in reducing dependency on the State is strong, but there is plenty more to do.’ It even takes the opportunity to mention that “children growing up in workless households …have, on average, lower cognitive ability.” saying that, “This highlights the social cost of welfare dependency and need to reduce welfare dependency in society.” Even ‘the so-called ‘intergenerational transmission’ of worklessness’ gets a mention.
  • But wait a minute – as the CPS itself has just pointed out, over half of UK households are classed as ‘dependent’ because they are deemed to receive more from the state than they pay in. ‘Worklessness’ is a factor in only a fraction of those households. There is much more going on here.
  • If we view the same ONS data from a different perspective, it is possible to draw very different conclusions, and to raise questions about how and why people are considered ‘dependent’ on the state. (The data used by the ONS can be found in Table 2 here )

It’s a long article but well worth reading: more here.

We can only endorse Meaden’s conclusion:

Reducing ‘dependency’ via welfare reform threatens this redistribution and may tip people at the bottom of the income scale into deeper poverty. As the ONS says in another publication, “Most recently, the average cash benefit rate has fallen which, along with decreasing progressivity, means that the overall redistributive impact of cash benefits has been reduced.”

More welfare reform, which will no doubt reduce this redistributive impact even further, seems destined to produce not independence, but increasing poverty and destitution.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 22, 2016 at 10:30 am

Strive ‘Training’ Scheme that Fines 10 for a ‘Tut’ Under Investigation but Workfare Abuse Continues.

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https://i2.wp.com/www.ardrossanherald.com/resources/images/4902072.jpg

This story broke last week (signaled here Hat-Tip Enigma):

A NORTH Ayrshire Council scheme designed to help out people who are searching for work has been lambasted for fining people who attend it for as little as tutting or having their hands in their pockets.

And the Department of Work and Pensions has now suspended referrals to the STRIVE programme pending investigation into the workings of the fines system.

North Ayrshire Council have hit back at the claims and have backed their programme but one person who attended the course, who wishes to remain anonymous, has hit out at the fines system and explained what it is like.

Herald.

Scheme that fines jobless 10p for tuts is investigated

JOB seekers in Ayrshire are worried they might be sanctioned for tutting.

It comes as details emerge of a controversial “job readiness” programme that fines those taking part for as little as chewing gum and having their hands in their pockets.

The Department for Work and Pensions yesterday suspended referrals to the STRIVE programme in North Ayrshire while it investigated the claims.

The Lennox Partnership, which operates the programme, also runs similar courses with similar fines for West Dunbartonshire and Renfrew councils. It has also been asked to deliver the course four times nationally for service provider Ingeus, although no fines are involved in those courses.

Fines start off as little as 10p for tutting, or having hands in pockets, but can rise up to £1 for swearing or £5 for using phones.

One job seeker told our sister paper, the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, that the fines had even left one of his fellow course mates in debt. “Now most of these fines are really cheap for things like hands in pockets etc … but checking your phone or having it go off outside of break time is an instant £5 fine and if you don’t pay it on the spot you get kicked off the course … and since the Job Centre sent me there, getting kicked off the course is an instant sanction.

“One person got fined when their phone went off but only had £3 and had to borrow the rest from other people on the course.”

The Lennox Partnership insisted that non-payment of a fine would not lead to sanctions, and said no one on the programme has been sanctioned.

A spokeswoman for the partnership said: “The fine system replicates behaviours that would not be acceptable in most workplaces and is utilised as a preventative measure to change those behaviours, which could subsequently impact on clients both securing and sustaining work.

“We have been delivering STRIVE in North Ayrshire since 2011 and the fine system has been an integral part of all delivery. Our success rates have seen 80 per cent of graduates securing employment and 84 per cent retention rates with employers across a range of industry sectors. This demonstrates the success of STRIVE and what we are trying to achieve.”

Unemployed people taking part in STRIVE must wear “business dress”, and, according to the Lennox Partnership’s website, obey: “the same rules / disciplines that would be expected during a probationary period in a new job”.

The aim of the course is to “empower participants and develop the soft skills, the attitudes and behaviours that employers in the job market are seeking”.

Kim McLauchlan, a 19-year-old from Kilwinning, who went through the programme recently and now works as a chef, told The National she had found the experience rewarding: “I was such a quiet person. I’d be the last person to speak in a group. They helped me get the confidence to do the job I’m doing today.”

STRIVE fines were all part of the “learning process”, she said.

A spokesman for North Ayrshire Council, defending the scheme, said: “The STRIVE programme has an extremely successful track record with 90 per cent of candidates on our most recent programme going on to secure employment. Most participants find the course highly beneficial and carry forward the skills learned into their working life.”

“The ‘fine’ system is used as a preventative measure to change behaviours and instil a professional attitude that employers will be impressed with.

“Any monies collected go towards a fund to provide provision for interview clothing, haircuts and interview travel expenses.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We have suspended the referral of claimants to North Ayrshire Council’s STRIVE programme while we investigate these claims.”

The Void has looked at the scandal.

Even the DWP are appalled, with the Daily Record reporting they have suspended referrals to the STRIVE  programme run by the Lennox Partnership.  Those behind the schme are unrepentent, with North Ayrshire Council claiming that they are just trying to “change behaviours and instil a professional attitude”.  Participants who refuse to pay the fines are required to leave the course raising fears they may face benefit sanctions for refusing to take part in ‘work related activity’

You can tell the Lennox Partnership what you think of this vile practice on twitter @TheLennoxP.

This however is yet to face a serious investigation:

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) insists it is a voluntary scheme known as a “sector-based work academy”, which offers benefit recipients a chance to gain work experience with the possibility of a job at the end.

However McGregor, who has eight years’ experience working in the care sector, said he felt he was being “railroaded” into taking part in the scheme, which is taking place at Kyle Court and Hillside View Care Homes in Paisley.

A letter sent to him states in certain circumstances benefits may be stopped if the claimant, without good reason, does not “take the opportunity of a place on an employment programme or training scheme”.

McGregor said he refused to participate in the scheme as a matter of principle and that he was only promised a “one-to-one” interview at the end of the scheme.

He said: “I went on a people handling course for one day, then I was meant to start and do a 36-hour week for six weeks without any pay, apart from my unemployment money.

“I used to earn £110 a night for a 12-hour shift, but they are expecting me to do 36 hours for £73.10, it is absolutely shocking.

“You are looking after people who are vulnerable – such as taking them to the toilet.

“I have no qualms about the job, I did that job for years, but I want to be paid for it.

“They are saying it is six weeks probationary, but they could pay me – and at the end of that time if they don’t think I am fit to work there they can tell me to go somewhere else.”

He added: “They didn’t ask what days would suit you, it was basically you were to work to their rota.

“I don’t know how they can turn round and say it is completely voluntary.”

Sarah Glynn, of the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network, said they were against the principle of anyone being made to work for their benefits.

“A lot of things are branded as work experience and they are not, they are free labour,” she said. “Do you need work experience stacking shelves? That is not work experience, that is exploitation.

“It is affecting the whole labour market as these are jobs that people should be paid for.

“Even if people have no qualifications and they have come straight from school, they shouldn’t be asked to work for nothing – if they are working they should be paid for it, it should just be a basic principle.”

Glynn said she had made a complaint to the Care Inspectorate over the scheme, which confirmed the issue had been raised and information was being carefully assessed.

The DWP said all participating claimants had to meet eligibility criteria including identification and disclosure checks, references and a successful application form and interview to ensure they were suitable for working with elderly and vulnerable people.

It confirmed that once participants agreed to take place in a DWP “sector-based work academy” they could risk being sanctioned if they failed to meet conditions. These can include a failure to meet “basic standards of good behaviour”, according to the letter sent to McGregor.

The Herald.

Is it just because my dad was Scottish but is it true that because the Scots are pretty stroppy and likely to complain that these scandals come out so quickly?

I would bet there’s plenty going on in the rest of the country.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 4, 2016 at 9:59 am

Benefit Sanctions Saga: MPs Call for Independent Review.

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With so many controversies about welfare cuts, Iain Duncan Smith throwing a wobbly, and the new religious bigot in charge of the DWP, this has tended to pass beneath the radar.

Our own opinion is that there is no need for any ‘review’ of this system: it should be got rid of immediately.

Along with the ‘Help to Work’ programme, notably the ‘Bullies’ Charter’ that can oblige claimants to attend the ‘Jobcentre’ every day, send them out of ‘community service’ (workfare), and have intensive ‘Jobcentre’support’ from the amateur psychiatrists and other odd-balls they have to undertake this task.

Or as the DWP mischievously  puts it, “Jobcentre advisers will tailor back-to-work plans for individuals according to the particular barriers to work they may have. The new measures include intensive coaching, a requirement to meet with the Jobcentre Plus adviser every day, or taking part in a community work placement for up to 6 months so claimants build the skills needed to secure a full-time job. “

We note, “Those who fail to participate in the scheme will face potential sanctions that could see them lose their benefits for a period of time.”

Abolish Sanctions now!

MPs call for full independent review of benefit sanctions.

Parliament.

24th of March

A full independent review should be established in the new Parliament, to investigate whether benefit sanctions are being applied appropriately, fairly and proportionately, across the Jobcentre Plus (JCP) network, says the Work and Pensions Committee in a Report published Tuesday 24 March 2015.

The Committee reiterates this recommendation, originally made in January 2014 but rejected by the Government, in the light of new evidence which raises concerns about the approach being adopted in a number of individual Jobcentres, and more broadly, including concerns about whether targets for sanctions exist.

The report calls for the independent review also to examine the legislative framework for benefit sanctions policy, to ensure that the basis for sanctioning is well-defined, and that safeguards to protect the vulnerable are clearly set out.

Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:

“Benefit sanctions are controversial because they withhold subsistence-level benefits from people who may have little or no other income. We agree that benefit conditionality is necessary but it is essential that policy is based on clear evidence of what works in terms of encouraging people to take up the support which is available to help them get back into work. The policy must then be applied fairly and proportionately. The system must also be capable of identifying and protecting vulnerable people, including those with mental health problems and learning disabilities. And it should avoid causing severe financial hardship. The system as currently applied does not always achieve this.”

Hardship payments

A system of discretionary hardship payments exists to mitigate the risk of sanctions causing severe financial hardship. However, the Report concludes that changes are required to the system, to ensure that it is more effective in achieving this.  In particular, the report emphasises widespread concern that standard JSA (Jobseeker’s Allowance) hardship payments are not available until the 15th day of a sanction period.

Dame Anne Begg commented:

“Recent research suggests that benefit sanctions are contributing to food poverty.

No claimant should have their benefit payment reduced to zero where they are at risk of severe financial hardship, to the extent of not being able to feed themselves or their families, or pay their rent.

DWP’s (Department for Work and Pensions) discretionary hardship payment system is intended to prevent this happening, but it does not always do so. This is often because JSA hardship payments are not available until the 15th day of a sanction period.  It is not reasonable to expect people to live without any source of income for 2 weeks. DWP should make all hardship payments available from day one of a sanction period.

Problems also arise because the claimant is not aware of the application process for a hardship payment or because they are put off applying because of the difficulty in understanding and navigating the system. This needs to change. DWP should not wait for the claimant to apply for a hardship payment. It should initiate the process itself, and then coordinate the decision on hardship payments with decision-making on the sanction itself, particularly where the claimant has dependent children or is vulnerable.”

Investigating the deaths of vulnerable benefit claimants

The report notes that DWP currently investigates all deaths of benefit claimants “where suicide is associated with DWP activity”, and in other cases where the death of a vulnerable benefit claimant is brought to its attention, through a system of internal “peer reviews”. Since February 2012, DWP has carried out 49 peer reviews following the death of a benefit claimant.

DWP has stated that 33 of the 49 cases have resulted in recommendations for change at either local or national level. However, it was unable to confirm in how many cases the claimant was subject to a benefit sanction, or provide any details about how its policies or procedures had been altered in response to the death of a claimant.

Dame Anne Begg said:

“We have asked DWP to confirm the number of internal peer reviews in which the claimant was subject to a benefit sanction at the time of death, and the result of these reviews in terms of changes to DWP policy.

It is important that all agencies involved in the provision of public services are scrutinised, to ensure that lessons are learned after members of the public are let down by the system, particularly where the failures of a public body may have contributed to a death.

We believe that a new independent body should be established to fulfil this role.”

Increasing the evidence base on financial sanctions

The Committee finds that more “active” regimes, in which unemployed claimants are required to do more to find work, have been shown to be relatively effective; however, evidence on the specific part by played by financial sanctions within successful active regimes is limited and far from clear-cut. The report calls for a series of evaluations to increase the evidence base, particularly around the efficacy and impacts of the new sanctions regime introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012.

Dame Anne Begg said:

“The Government introduced longer minimum sanction periods without first testing their likely impacts on claimants. The minimum sanction period is now four weeks, rather than one week. It is important that the impacts of the new sanctions regime are properly evaluated.

There is currently no evidence on whether the application, or deterrent threat, of a four-week sanction makes it more, or less, likely that a claimant will engage with employment support or gain work.

This is an area of policy which must be based on robust evidence. The Department needs to demonstrate that the application of the new sanctions regime is not intended to be purely punitive.”

Full implementation of the Oakley review

The Oakley Review of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) sanctions in relation to Back to Work Schemes, published in July 2014, made a number of recommendations aimed at improving some aspects of the sanctions system. This has already led to welcome changes, including improvements to DWP’s information to claimants about the sanctioning process, and the clarity of its claimant letters.

However, a number of the Oakley recommendations are yet to be fully implemented, in part due to the requirement for legislative change and/or contractual negotiations with Work Programme providers. The Committee believes that DWP should take more urgent steps to fully implement the outstanding recommendations.

Dame Anne Begg commented:

“DWP must take a more common-sense approach to mandatory Work Programme activity and sanction referrals. For example, it makes no sense, and is a considerable waste of administrative resources, for Work Programme providers to have to refer a claimant back to DWP for a sanction decision, even where they know that the claimant had a perfectly good reason for not meeting a particular requirement.

In the negotiations to re-let the Work Programme contracts in 2017, DWP should prioritise the development of a more flexible approach to the setting of mandatory conditions.

There is also widespread support for pre-sanction written warnings and non-financial sanctions. The Department should get on with piloting this approach. If it requires legislation, the Department should bring it forward as soon as possible in the new Parliament.”

Committee recommendations

The report makes a number of further recommendations, including that DWP should:

  • Not proceed with in-work sanctions beyond the existing pilot areas until robust evidence is available from the pilots to demonstrate that in-work conditionality can be effectively applied. [paragraph 56]
  • Establish a small-scale pilot to test the efficacy of a more targeted approach to sanctions based on segmentation of claimants by their attitudes and motivations. [paragraph 93]
  • Develop new and more effective systems to monitor the destinations of claimants leaving benefit in general and, in particular, those leaving benefit following a sanction. [paragraph 66]
  • Expedite the evaluation of the Claimant Commitment, including a review of the appropriate use of Jobseeker Directions. [paragraphs 74 and 84]
  • Develop guidance which is specifically intended to assist JCP staff to identify vulnerable claimants and tailor conditionality according to the claimant’s individual circumstances. [paragraph 80]
  • Improve JCP staff training on the statutory single parent flexibilities designed to protect single parent JSA claimants from inappropriate benefit conditionality; and produce a simple, plain English guide to the flexibilities for all single parent claimants. [paragraph 88]
  • Review Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) sanctioning within the Work Programme, and continue to develop alternative approaches to employment support for this group, including voluntary models, such as Individual Placement with Support, for some groups. [paragraphs 134–35]

Written by Andrew Coates

April 1, 2016 at 9:00 am

Help to Work a Failure.

with 168 comments

As many of us are on schemes for the unemployed, not to say long-term unemployed, and know the insides and outsides of these programmes all too well, this comes as no surprise.

Before reading it bear in mind that the prospect of adding cognitive behavioural therapy to the list of tortures – which include having to listen to people  unable to provide any actual offers of work – they make us undergo is becoming more and more probable.

The picture above, of somebody forced to attend the Jobcentre every single day, and workfare, illustrates why people hate the system as well.

Figures prove Help to Work doesn’t help and doesn’t work

Reports Sentinel News.

  • Compulsory government welfare-to-work scheme has no effect for most people
  • Huge levels of failure to meet targets by companies delivering the programme
  • Help to Work was launched despite a pilot scheme failing

By Chaminda Jayanetti

Newly released government figures show that Help to Work, its flagship welfare-to-work programme for the long-term unemployed, has only seen one in five of the people referred to it progress into even remotely secure jobs.

Help to Work, which includes three intensive schemes, was launched in April 2014 as a compulsory programme for those who had been unemployed for more than two years.

At the time, David Cameron said: “This scheme will provide more help than ever before, getting people into work and on the road to a more secure future.”

But figures published yesterday by the Department for Work and Pensions reveal that of the people referred to Help to Work between April and December 2014, less than half – just 44 percent – went on to spend any time in work at all during the year following their referral.

Thirty percent went on to complete at least 13 weeks in work, and barely 20 percent made it to 26 weeks of work – half a year – in the year after their referral.

In other words, four in every five people referred onto the scheme did not progress to even medium-term work.

It is the first time the DWP has published data on the amount of time spent in work by those on the Help to Work programme. The statistics exclude those who became self-employed, but the figures are nevertheless dire.

Three schemes, all failing

Help to Work comprises three separate schemes, with each long-term Jobseekers Allowance claimant forced on to one of them. If they refuse, their benefits can be docked. The schemes are:

  • Community Work Placements – six-month compulsory unpaid work experience placements of up 30 hours a week, plus up to ten hours of “supported job search activity” every week
  • Mandatory Intervention Regime – claimants receive “intensive support” from Jobcentre staff, who can refer them to other local services and training
  • Daily Work Search Review – claimants have to attend the Jobcentre every single day for up to three months to discuss the job applications they have made

The three schemes saw tens of thousands of people forced onto them between April 2014 and December 2015 – 80,000 on Community Work Placements, 47,000 on Daily Work Searches, and nearly 100,000 on the Mandatory Intervention Regime (which can include people who completed one of the two other schemes).

But nearly two years on from their launch, all three schemes are failing to have a meaningful impact. Under both the Mandatory Intervention Regime and the Daily Work Search Review, around 45 percent of the referred claimants found any paid work (excluding self-employment) in the year after their referral. About 30 percent found 13 weeks of work, and one in five found six months of work.

CWP at the DWP

The worst performance, however, was in the Community Work Programme. Given that this includes six-month placements, it is perhaps unsurprising that only 18 percent of claimants had time to fit in an additional six months of paid work in the year following their referral.

But barely a quarter completed 13 weeks in paid work, and less than two in five of all claimants undertook any paid work at all, excluding self-employment.

The Community Work Programme is the only one of the Help to Work schemes that is delivered by private companies – and their performance has been terrible. Just one of the 18 regional contracts met its target for “short completions” in 2015 – that is where a claimant completes between 12 and 21 weeks of employment after being on the programme.

Just three of 18 contracts met the target for “long completions” – between 22 and 26 weeks of employment – with ten contracts falling well short of expectations. Six of the 18 contracts met the target for job outcomes, where claimants found more than 26 weeks of work.

Seven companies hold the 18 contracts between them – led by G4S with six and Seetec with five. Ten of the contracts – more than half – missed every single target.

A bad idea from birth

The DWP conducted a fully-fledged pilot scheme in 2013, which was widely seen as a failure – almost as many people who undertook the pilot help to work schemes were still on benefit two years later as those who’d had no support at all. Despite this, the government decided to bring forward implementation of the full Help to Work scheme.

Interestingly, the programme was expected to cost £300m a year, but has in fact come in at £190m in 2014/15 and £230m in 2015/16. This may be because the private companies on the Community Work Programme were paid by results – an initial payment for claimants starting a community work placement, but further payments only if employment outcomes were met. The failure of so many providers to meet their targets may have reduced the scheme’s cost – although the annual burden on the taxpayer remains in the hundreds of millions.

The government announced last year that the Community Work Programme would be abolished from 2017 along with the controversial Mandatory Work Activity programme, which is outside the Help to Work scheme. These will be replaced by a new scheme, the Work and Health Programme, targeted at both disabled people and the long-term unemployed. The conflation of health and work is likely to be the source of ongoing controversy.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 23, 2016 at 11:28 am

Work and Health Programme: Will it Treat the Unemployed as “ill”?

with 88 comments

Is this what the DWP Plans? 

The Mirror raises issues about the new scheme that is to replace the failed Work Programme, notably Mandatory Work Activity and Community Work Placements.

The new one is called, The Work and Health Programme.

Its aim is to help long-term sick people find a job, but a DWP spokesman could not confirm whether it will involve forced labour because the details have not yet been drawn up.

Ms Long (of Boycott Workfare)  said: “We’re concerned about any trend towards making unemployment look as if it is a symptom of mental illness rather than a symptom of the economy.

“It does seem quite sinister that they’re shifting towards health interventions.”

Iain Duncan Smith said in a statement: “Our welfare reforms are fundamentally about delivering greater opportunity through life change: supporting everyone who is able to work to do so, while at the same time maintaining the valuable safety net for those that need it.

“This government has made remarkable progress but there’s more to do.”

Now we are well aware of schemes to treat the unemployed as “ill”.

The Mirror report indicates that the long-term sick will be on the same programme as everybody else.

What exactly is the ‘Health’ part of the scheme for those who are healthy?

What is this “life change” Iain Duncan Smith mentions?

Boycott Workfare raises a good point which refers, without doubt, to this:

June 26th this year:  Mental health workers protest at move to integrate clinic with jobcentre.

Mental health workers and their clients marched on a jobcentre in south-west London in protest at a scheme they say frames unemployment as a psychological disorder.

The Department for Work and Pensions announced in March that Streatham’s jobcentre would be the first to have therapists giving mental health support to help unemployed people back into work.

The DWP has now said that announcement was a mistake. But by coincidence, next week Lambeth council will open a £1.9m mental health clinic in the same building.

Mental health workers and service users, furious at what they see as an attempt to embed psychological treatment in a back-to-work agenda, were to go ahead with their demonstration anyway.

This is the crucial bit,

Anger has been growing since the March budget announced a scheme to bring counsellors into jobcentres to offer “integrated employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions”.

Under the plan, therapists from the NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme would support jobcentre staff to assess and treat claimants, who may be referred to online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) courses.

According to a recent DWP reply to a Freedom of Information request, the therapists would provide “Nice [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence]-approved and evidence-based psychological therapies to treat people with depression and anxiety disorders”.

And more here:  Counsellors in Jobcentres or Agents of Social Control ?

It’s time to make a stand, I am not the only therapist who is concerned that individuals who are claiming benefits may be forced to undergo therapy or be sanctioned.

The government announced in March’s budget an, “Integrated employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions”.

This “initiative” will see therapists from the NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT),) “co-locate” to more than 350 jobcentres.

As anxiety about the Work and Health Programme grows (no doubt abated by the Little Book of Calm and aromatherapy), we need to know the details.

Now.

DWP Publishes Death Statistics: 80 Average a Month Die After Being Declared “Fit for Work”.

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https://i2.wp.com/i.huffpost.com/gen/3062154/images/n-IAN-DUNCAN-SMITH-large570.jpg

Iain Duncan Smith, still “Fit for DWP Work”.

The Department for Work and Pensions has admitted defeat in its attempt to hide the number of people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits since November 2011 – and has announced that the number who died between January that year and February 2014 is a shocking 91,740.

This represents an increase to an average of 99 deaths per day or 692 per week, between the start of December 2011 and the end of February 2014 – compared with 32 deaths per day/222 per week between January and November 2011.

The DWP has strenuously asserted that “any causal effect between benefits and mortality cannot be assumed from these statistics”.

Read more on Vox Political.

The Guardian reports:

Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show

Campaigners demand welfare overhaul after statistics reveal 2,380 people died between 2011 and 2014 shortly after being declared able to work.

More than 80 people a month are dying shortly after being declared “fit for work” according to new data, prompting campaigners to call for an overhaul of the government’s controversial welfare regime.

Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions on Thursday show that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were able to work.

The administration of the WCA by officials has been widely criticised as crude and inaccurate by campaigners. There have been hundreds of thousands of appeals of fit-for-work decisions over the last few years, about four in 10 of which have succeeded.

But there was widespread acceptance that the data should be treated with caution. Because the cause of death was not recorded, it is impossible to show whether a death was linked to an incorrect assessment.

Of this number, 2,380 – or 4% – had received a decision that they were fit for work, meaning that they were at risk of losing their ESA benefit.

Of the 50,580, 7,200 claimants had died after being awarded ESA and being placed in the work-related activity group – a category which aims to identify claimants who are unfit to work but may be able to return to work in the future.

Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind, said: “We’re not able to comment on these specific statistics as they only tell us the number of people who have died while on employment and support allowance [ESA], not the circumstances or details of these deaths.

“Nevertheless, we do have serious concerns about the benefit system, particularly for those with mental health problems currently being supported by ESA.

“The assessment used to decide who is eligible for ESA does not properly take account of the impact having a mental health problem can have on someone’s ability to work. As a result, many people don’t get the outcome that’s right for them, and have to go through a lengthy and stressful appeals process.

“We desperately need to see an overhaul of the system, with more tailored specialised support for people with mental health problems and less focus on pressuring people into work and stopping their benefits.”

 

Official Files:   Mortality Statistics:  Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance.

Additional information on those who have died after claiming Employment and Support Allowance(ESA), Incapacity Benefit (IB) or Severe
Disablement Allowance (SDA).

You can read the report: here.