The Work Programme, intended to get the long-term unemployed back to work, is failing miserably according to the government’s own figures released yesterday. Despite the Employment Minister, Chris Grayling trying desperately to talk up the figures, the statistics show that in fact less than 25% of Work programme attendees have had any true break from being on benefits and when they have, it is not necessarily because they have found work.
The true analysis also suggests that the profit making comapnies supplying the service – known as ‘providers’ – are concentrating on helping those unempolyed persons that are easy to place whilst ignoring people with criminal records, low educational abilities or who are over the age of 50; something TheOpinionSite.org revealed months ago.
Grayling, dishonestly anxious to hide the degree of failure demonstrated by the figures from the Department for Work and Pensions said, “People I meet in the industry already say that performance is well ahead of where it was at the same stage with the Flexible New Deal from which it took over, and this data gives further encouragement. Now the welfare-to-work industry really has to demonstrate that it can reach new levels in helping the long-term unemployed back to work.”
More proof of the government’s failure was forthcoming when TheOpinionSite.org asked the DWP what the government was doing to help those with criminal records find work: the DWP simply declined to comment.
The government attaches great importance to the fact that the figures demonstrate that many people on the Work Programme have come off of Job Seekers Allowance, the benefit paid to those ‘actively seeking work’. However, TheOpinionSite.org must point out that all is not as it may seem.
The fact that someone temporarily comes off benefit does not necessarily mean that the Work Programme has found them a job. In short, the government figures are presented in a deliberately misleading way.
Around 25% of the early participants in the government’s flagship back-to-work scheme were off benefits after 36 weeks which appears to be a reasonable result. The first analysis of entrants into the Work Programme also found that around half – 48% – of the total 28,600 taking part had some break in their benefit claim during the period from last June to the end of March.
However, in reality only around 46% of people who moved off long-term JSA between March and May 2012 went into work with certainty. Others simply moved onto another benefit. Around one in five of those moving off benefits fall into the ‘unknown destination’ group, so it may or may not be that many of them are going into work.
So in fact, however one looks at it, the critical off-benefit figure doesn’t appear to show much ’sustained employment’ (more than 3 months) at all.
The published figures completely ignore any reference to those with criminal records and whether or not they have benefited from the Work Programme.
Ministers are terrified of criticism and they do not want it to appear that those people with a record are getting more help than those who have not committed any offence. The Daily Mail and the Sun would be the first in line to criticise if such were the case.
As a result, the government have chosen to do what it always does when faced with awkward questions about sex offenders, violent offenders and others who cannot find work: it has decided not to talk about the problem.
This is no small problem either. With nearly 2 million people in the UK already having a criminal record and employers refusing to even give most of them an interview, the number of permanently unemployed continues to rise.
Some taxpayers would immediately respond to the above with “Serves them right” but, before the more sanctimonious amongst the working public start feeling too smug, they may want to reflect upon the fact that they are the ones who are supporting these permanently unemployed – possibly for life.
The government has failed to deal with unemployment itself and hoped that by passing the responsibility to private enterprise, the problem would be solved. It would seem that nothing could be further from the truth, whether the unemployed person has a record or not.
The programme allegedly offers ‘training’ to all those that need it (and many who do not) and also provides mandatory Internet access to force the unemployed to search for non-existing jobs. The ‘training’ also helps attendees to produce a CV for them to send to employers who are never going to read it.
The whole thing is a sham; a make-believe solution to a problem that can only ever be solved by a change in culture and a change in attitude.
The ‘providers’ get paid £400 up front for each person who joins the Work Programme and receive up to £4,000 for each person they keep in work for 2 years. As a result, it comes as no surprise to that these companies concentrate on the easier cases whilst being careful to ignore those that are more difficult.
For example, TheOpinionSite.org has been told by one Work Programme ‘advisor’ that despite the fact that she has asked senior management again and again how she should proceed with regard to unemployed sex offenders, she has been told “Don’t go there.”
When the present writer asked a provider the same question, the answer was: “There is no clear policy laid down by government under the terms of the Work Programme contract as to how providers should deal with those on the Sex Offender Register, those supervised by MAPPA or other offenders convicted of serious violent offences.”
The spokesman went on:
”The fact is that most employers are too frightened of critcism from their existing employees to take on anyone with a criminal record and especially those convicted of serious sexual or violent offences. The solution is for the government itself to employ these people. Nobody else will.”
The government is constantly telling the public that it is necessary “to get people off benefit and back into work,” an aspiration that is fine in principle but ignores the fact that there are few jobs available generally and almost no jobs for those who have been unemployed for any significant length of time, let alone the ever increasing number of those with a criminal record.
If the long-term unemployed are truly to find work, there is only one potential employer that is capable of offering them the work necessary – the government itself, dishonest though it may be.
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