Room for Improvement in Government ‘s Work Programme

The government ‘s current welfare-work programme has achieved positive results but could “do much better”, according to MPs.

The programme was introduced in 2011 in an effort to consolidate and improve various schemes operated by the previous Labour government and carries a cost of around £5 billion.

The programme is designed to offer support to the long-term unemployed, providing experience, training and general help for up to two years for those on Jobseeker ‘s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.

The programme is voluntary, but some may be required to join it if they have either been on JSA for over three months; or if they are receiving ESA and are in the Work-Related Activity Group.

The problem is that, according to the Work and Pensions Committee, a whole 70% of those who have participated in the Work Programme for the full two years have still failed to find full employment.

Frank Field, chairman of the WPC, said that the Department for Work and Pensions, who are responsible for the Work Programme, “deserves credit for implementing a programme which, in general, produces results at least as good as before, for a greatly reduced cost per participant.”

However, he did not let slide the large number of participants for whom the programme was clearly failing.

“We must not forget that nearly 70% of participants are completing the Work Programme without finding sustained employment,” he implored, adding that “we must do much better.”

The fundamental problem was found to be that many of those with more particular needs, such as those suffering with addictions or disabilities, were not being sufficiently served by the scheme.

The MPs at the Work and Pensions Committee called for an overhaul of the current payments model which they described as “complicated and less than effective.”

The MPs comments have been welcomed by representatives for the programme ‘s contractors at the Employment Related Services Association who ensured that they would take note of what had been said, using it to “build on success.”

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