The way private companies have been running the Work Programme under contractual conditions imposed by Iain Duncan Smith and his Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has been called a ‘scandal’ by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Despite ‘promises’ to focus in hard-to-help claimants, less than half of the financial resources companies originally pledged to help claimants with disabilities and mental health problems have been spent.
The companies have been concentrating on finding jobs for people considered easier to help in to employment, and have ‘parked’ people with more complex needs who have been placed in the ‘work related activity group’ of the Work Programme by the DWP.
Margaret Hodge, the PAC’s chairman, said: “Evidence shows differential payments have not stopped contractors from focusing on easier-to-help individuals and parking harder-to-help claimants, often those with a range of disabilities including mental health challenges.
“Data from Work Programme providers shows that they are, on average, spending less than half what they originally promised on these harder to help groups.
“It is a scandal that some of those in greatest need of support are not getting the help they need to get them back to work and are instead being parked by providers because their case is deemed just too hard.
“The Department must do more to encourage providers to work with harder-to-help groups.
Mrs Hodge also warned that the DWP’s sanctions regime could cause “significant financial hardship” to individuals.
“Feedback from some constituents suggests the number of sanctions has been increasing, and some providers have been recommending sanctions more than others,” she said.
Many of the work programme providers are subsidiaries of large, government ‘preferred partners’ such as Serco.
The £5 BILLION scheme has been criticised and been described as ‘worse than doing nothing’.
In half the areas where the scheme is being run, people would have been more likely to get a job if they hadn’t taken part in the programme.
Other figures showed that just one in 20 people on sickness benefit who were on the programme found work. The target was one in six.
The government has been accused of “spin” after claiming that there had been a “profound” improvement since the scheme was launched in July 2011.
The facts are that the Work Programme has cost the taxpayer far more than if the scheme had not been implemented, primarily because of the lucrative contracts given to private companies, and the government has used the programme to manipulate unemployment figures.
The number of people who have found employment is no higher than would be expected without the scheme, and there have been no savings in welfare payments. In fact, costs have sky-rocketed directly because of the incompetence of Iain Duncan Smith and his ‘reforms’.
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