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21.05.13

Work Programme ‘not reaching most disadvantaged’ – MPs

The Welfare to Work programme may still be failing people in most difficult circumstances, MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee have found.

Their report highlights evidence of ‘parking’ – where those most difficult to get into work are ignored by the providers as the costs and problems outweigh the benefits to them.

The dwindling job market is also negatively affecting their chances of getting jobs.

Welfare to Work aims to help people who have been unemployed for over a year to find jobs. It is run by 18 prime contractors, who are paid by results; when a participant stays in work for at least six months.

In November, the first set of results showed only 3.6% of those referred to the scheme stayed in employment for six months, less than the Government’s target and even below the predicted rate of employment without Welfare to Work.

The next set of results will be released in June.

MPs called for better relationships with external stakeholders to improve the effectiveness of the programme, and the development of a much more thorough needs-based assessment of jobseekers. Alternative funding models should also be considered to recognise the upfront costs of more intensive interventions.

Dame Anne Begg, chairman of the committee, said: “Too often, the reality seems to be Work Programme advisers swamped by caseloads of 120-180 jobseekers and employers deluged with poorly-matched CVs and under-prepared candidates.

“Work Programme providers need to focus on preparing jobseekers for real vacancies and offering an effective recruitment solution to employers.”

The report states: “There is growing evidence that differential pricing is not having its intended impact: the Work Programme appears not to be reaching the most disadvantaged jobseekers. The current pricing structure, based largely on the type of benefit jobseekers are claiming, is a very blunt instrument for identifying jobseekers' needs.” 

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: “Instead of continuing to fund failing programmes, the government should introduce a job guarantee for all those facing long-term unemployment.”

But a DWP spokesman said: “The payment-by-results model goes further than any previous scheme to encourage providers to help all claimants, including the hardest to help. The key point is they earn the majority of their payment for helping someone into work and keeping them there.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Image c. HelenCobain

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