Work Programme 'parking' hard-to-help - MPs

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 13:02 -- nick

The Work Programme is 'parking' hard-to-help clients, a committee of MPs has found.

Parking means providing the bare minimum of support to those deemed unlikely to find work due to having personal barriers.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee believes that the higher payments provided to work with hard-to-help clients - including lone parents, older people, those with illnesses and homeless people - are not working.

The Programme's poor performance was revealed when first figures showed it was only supporting 3.6% of clients into long-term work, against a minimum government target of 5.5%.

This led another group of MPs, the Public Accounts Committee, to call the Programme "extremely poor" in February.

It is understood that performance has improved since then for mainstream clients with few work barriers, but this will be revealed in next month's official release of statistics.

Dame Anne Begg, the Labour chairman of the Work and Pension Select Committe, said the Government must work to make the scheme effective for all jobless people – not just those who are easy to help:

β€œThe 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.

The payment structure may not be having an effect because providers believe that the large payments they receive for achieving long-term jobs for clients are unlikely to be received when few of the hard-to-help get work.

The committee called for more money to be made available to support the specific needs of disabled and ill people within the programme.

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