Work Programme 'is giving least help to worst off' and failing single parents

 

Private companies who win government contracts to help the jobless find work are “parking” some of the most disadvantaged people on benefits, MPs warn today.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee said the flagship Work Programme, which pays private firms and voluntary groups by results, risks leaving the hardest to help with little or no support. 

Although contracts are designed to give the providers an incentive to get the long-term unemployed into work, they are not having this effect in practice, MPs believe. An inquiry by the MPs found that the scheme’s poor performance in its first 14 months had improved for mainstream jobseekers but that the hardest to help remained at risk of being “parked”.

Dame Anne Begg, the committee’s Labour chairman, said the Government must ensure the scheme is effective  for all unemployed people – not just those who are the easiest to help. “The Work Programme has proved much less successful to date in addressing the problems faced by jobseekers who face more serious obstacles to finding a job – people with disabilities, homeless people, and those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse. It is clear that the differential pricing structure is not a panacea for tackling creaming [off the easiest cases] and parking,” she said.

Under payment by results, the firms and voluntary groups receive small, advance fees and are paid much more when jobless people remain in work for 13 or 26 weeks within a two-year period. Fees are bigger for those on incapacity benefit than those on jobseeker’s allowance.

The committee calls on the Government to consider moving away from the current pricing model based on the benefit claimed to a much more individualised, needs-based system. It also calls for a £248m underspend on the programme – because of  “under-performance” by providers – to be ploughed back into helping disabled job-hunters.

Figures published last November showed that the programme got off to a slow start in its first 14 months, with only 3.2 per cent of those entering keeping jobs. But new figures next month are expected to show that its performance has improved.

The Department of Work and Pensions said last night: “According to industry figures, already more than 207,000 people have been helped into a job through the Work Programme by the end of September 2012 and performance is clearly improving. 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.”

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the charity Scope, said: “It is absurd that disabled people who face the biggest barriers to employment are receiving the least amount of support. No wonder so few are actually finding jobs through the Work Programme.”

Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:  “This report is fresh evidence that Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron are failing the test they set themselves in opposition. Unemployment is rising in three quarters of Britain’s poorest estates and now we know why – the Work Programme is simply not working for them.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works