Work Programme not doing enough for sick and disabled, providers say


Providers of the government's flagship Work Programme have told ministers the costs of helping sick and disabled jobseekers into employment cannot be met under the scheme.

Of those who have been on the scheme for at least a year, a third have begun a job, figures seen by the BBC show.

But in the most challenging group - who claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - only 10% have found work.

Work Programme providers say the needs of these jobseekers are too great.

The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), representing the providers, says those receiving ESA have complex health and skills requirements and the Work Programme can not "fix all these problems alone".

"The costs of helping jobseekers on ESA back into work are significant and cannot all be met by the Work Programme," says the Association's chief executive, Kirsty McHugh.

What is the Work Programme?

The Work Programme was launched in June 2011. Its aim was to get long-term unemployed people in jobs and consolidate previous welfare-to-work schemes.

It uses approved providers, mostly private companies, to find work for claimants. The providers are paid by results.

The government aimed to get 5.5% of those in the programme into jobs lasting six months or more. In its first year, this figure was only 3.5%.

Last month, MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee said the programme's record was "poor" but improving and accused providers of "parking" the most disadvantaged jobseekers.

"In order for there to be a significant step change in performance in helping these jobseekers into employment, we need greater use of skills and health budgets."

The call for spending from other parts of the public sector to be channelled in to support the Work Programme is an embarrassment for this flagship government scheme.

The Department for Work and Pensions says the payment-by-results contracts agreed with Work Programme providers already give them "a clear financial incentive to support the hardest to help into work".

ERSA figures suggest around a quarter of ESA jobseekers have been unemployed for at least 11 years. The DWP says it recognises the "particular barriers facing many of the hardest to help".

The Labour Party has seized on the request for extra resources as evidence that "there is something seriously wrong with the Work Programme".

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said: "It's now crystal clear the system is failing - and the government isn't fixing it.

"Three quarters of unemployed on the scheme haven't even started a job, and half of young people still haven't found their way into a single day's employment."

Total wreck
Julia Page Julia Page has not had a job for more than 30 years

One Work Programme provider, Bromford Group, tries to help some of the most challenging people referred to the scheme in the West Midlands.

Julia Page, 58, suffers from clinical depression and anxiety and has not had a job in over 30 years.

Getting her even to the point where she can attend an interview has already taken over 12 months.

"I was a total wreck. I would cry all day everyday, literally" Julia says.

Start Quote

It is a tough job. You don't cure long-term unemployment in two years”

End Quote James Walsh Bromford Group

"It takes a heck of a lot of time to get through it but unless the government is willing to help, people like me and others aren't going to have that support and I will end up back on the dole."

Bromford Group is a not-for-profit housing association often working with people facing multiple challenges.

Its enterprise and employment manager James Walsh says the organisation cannot make the numbers add up when trying to help ESA claimants into work.

"We need more money to make it stick, to make it sustainable," he argues.

"I think everyone would probably say that the forecasts that they made have not proven to be accurate and the issues have proved somewhat more engrained.

"It is a tough job. You don't cure long-term unemployment in two years."

There are success stories.

Annie Hunter-Wem has been on ESA for a number of years but, after intensive help from Bromford Group, has now got a job working in a supermarket warehouse.

"I just couldn't believe I'd done it!" she says. "I broke down when I got in. I just sat at home after I had calmed down and I thought I could have done this a long time ago."

Work programme success rates
Mark Easton, Home editor Article written by Mark Easton Mark Easton Home editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Strictly limit comments

    Comments should be serious and credible not stereotype hearsay

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Rather than give agencies government money, would seem logical to give employers the benefits for hiring disabled people. No National Insurance for a start. Or does this happen already ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Looks a complete waste of money; the example quoted of a coaching a lady close to retirement age for a year just to attend an interview is just ridiculous!

    As someone else said earlier, this whole setup looks to be for the benefit of the agency rather than the actual people wanting work.


  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Having just become unemployed, I can only agree with #14. Jobcentre plus has a generic one size fits all mentality that helps no-one, whether they be disabled, sick, healthy, young or old. Their formulaic approach does absolutely nothing to help the individuals that are looking for work, or support those who are unfit for work for whatever reason. And it's obvious their staff know this too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Government programme fails - maybe we should just stop the Government programmes and cut taxes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Remove IDS (Biggest benefit claimant in the House of Parliament - including child tax credits, that probably paid for their private education, because his millionaire wife must of been skint at the time)

    Remove the Tories (They stand for total inequality, they do NOT work for their constituents and are all up to no good)

    Remove the Lords (Who are certainly all up to no good)


  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    In these days of multiple applicants for each job, employers are tending to hire only those capable of a full day's hard graft. If they turned down an able bodied applicant for one a bit less capable, they would want a big subsidy from the government. Meanwhile, the able bodied chap still stays drawing the dole.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    The Work Programms isn't doing enough for able bodied, young people either. After an intitial intensive introduction part and some appointments (as with the jobcentre), the contact and support has been slim to none.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    @13. The aim was never to save cash at all, the aim of the pogrom against the sick and disabled was to satisfy the dullards who believed the government propaganda regarding benefit fraud. Actual fraud on incapacity was and is 0.5% (DWP fig) yet from IDS's briefings you would think anyone on IB was dancing in the streets and sticking two fingers up at anyone who worked. Disgusting policies of hate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    The system depends on mass unemployment. Quite clever how they've got those who're victims of this evil system to take the blame for their own penury. Or perhaps not so clever, people will always want people to hate and blame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Why not bring back the workhouse?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    The scheme is a complete waste of taxpayers money. I know as I'm unfortunately on it and it's given me no help whatsoever just hindrance. Any job interviews have been through my own searches.
    It doesn't get to the root of the problem that jobs need to be created as not enough jobs for all the unemployed. Better spending money on creating jobs beforehand or schemes are bound to fail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    The sad thing is that I don't think this is even in the top ten of worst things this government has done. It was clear from the outset, like every other Tory scheme, the Work Program would cause massive harm and no benefit

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    From personal experience of having a few bouts of unemployment I can say that the job centre/private companies involved in the work programme simply patronise anyone who can spell their name and address. Some do need the help but others need to be left to get on with it. The Job Centre/Private companies didn't helped me find employment 1 bit.You can be sure MPs have interests in these companies to

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Wasn't the DWP under heavy fire only weeks ago because work programme providers were 'parking' the most difficult claimants - admitting there was no way to get them into jobs?

    This is the same story, but now the providers have got the begging bowl out. They're already paid millions but they want more money.

    Have they forgotten the aim is to SAVE the taxpayers' cash?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.


    There are over 2 million unemployed. There are 500k jobs. That isn't including those who are on working tax credits (one of the biggest chunks of benefit payout).

    So care to tell me where all these jobs will be for when people run out of time on benefits? Or how about all the people made redundant when companies have to pay a living wage instead of relying on benefits for workers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    7. phillip - What is the point in asking the question if you are going to answer it assuming our answer would be no? I and now my children, have never been out of work because I followed and taught them the same that it is best to look for work while you are in work. If that happens to be sweeping streets etc! while looking, then so be it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Moved onto Work programme by JCP. Have disabilities mobility and medical -do not prevent me working but restrict what I can do - office work is fine, but lifting a no-no and walking distance >1/2 mile is a problem.Advisor's comment at first interview "What sort of a job do you expect me to find you ?" Was then parked until moved to another provider. Only 'match' was as Furniture delivery driver

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Strictly time limit benefits.

    Benefits should be a safety net not a hammock

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    It's not the work programme that's the problem - it's the fact that the courts aren't taking employers to task over disability discrimination.

    For myself the court service claims that I'm not disabled because I worked for a charity for over ten years. A charity for the disabled no less!

    I was blatantly dismissed for having Asperger's Syndrome - see facebook . com / nodismissalfordisability


Page 29 of 30



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