St Mungos have handed back all 3 of the contracts they were involved in, claiming the scheme does ‘not have sufficient emphasis on those furthest from the labour market’. Astonishingly they say they have not been able to place a single person into work since the scheme began. St Mungos join the ever growing number of charities who have abandoned the Work Programme which appears to be falling apart at the seems.
Homelessness charity Single Homeless Project (SHP) also recently pulled out after raising concerns about the brutal sanctions regime which they say will force vulnerable people to beg and steal to survive. In yet another blow to the Government, homelessness charity Crisis also appear on the brink of pulling out with a senior executive saying they have only received three people referred onto the scheme so far and warning that St Mungos’ decision is likely to be the start of a trend.
With typical posh boy arrogance Chris Grayling has said that charities unable to make money from Work Programme are simply ‘not good enough’ at what they do. This claim is undermined by the lack of referrals being sent to charities by the ‘prime contractors’, largely private sector parasites like A4e. Whilst charities may be able to source some participants through their own user base, if the numbers aren’t coming through the doors then the scheme is clearly not viable.
St Mungos have many years experience supporting homeless people into employment and have successfully completed many contracts with Jobcentre Plus. Crisis recently merged with OSW, formerly known as Off The Streets And Into Work, possibly the largest and most experienced training and employment charity for homeless people. If these organisations are unable to place homeless people into work then the idea that cost cutting private sector poverty pimps like Serce and A4e will be successful is possibly Chris Grayling’s biggest delusion yet.
It is clear, that for homeless people at least, the Work Programme hasn’t worked. With the big disability charities reporting similar difficulties with the scheme, it is likely that more major charities will pull out.
Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling are pretending everything’s fine and dandy on the Work Programme, but in reality it’s been catastrophe after catastrophe. One of the main contractors, A4e, is currently under police investigation for fraud. The recent workfare row means sanctions have temporarily been dropped from any attempt to force people into unpaid labour on the scheme. This was a key strategy of many of the prime contractors, who will no doubt now be asking for yet more money. And with A4e mired in investigations over dodgy dealings, Work Programme contractors can’t even get away with cooking the books anymore.
The Government is still refusing to say whether anyone has actually got a job after attending Work Programme, but the figures A4e managed to leak on their own website suggests the results so far are pitiful.
Iain Duncan Smith has bet his career on reforming welfare, but his plans amount to little more than fantasy. His ludicrous obsession, that if only unemployed people were less lazy then uemployment would disappear, is not being borne out in reality. The two million unemployed are slowly being joined by up to a million sick and disabled people forced into the labour market after benefits are ruthlessly stripped away by the new assessment regime. Some of these people would have been sent to St Mungos on the Work Programme. Where they will end up now is anyone’s guess.
It is to St Mungos shame that money, rather than the sanctions - which still apply to all activity on the Work Programme except workfare - is the reason they have pulled out of the scheme. They should never have connived with the Government to inflict a regime on their users that mean chaotic or vulnerable people can be stripped of benefits if they miss a meeting or can’t attend a training session. But the fact they are out is yet another crushing blow for Iain Duncan Smith’s attempts to reform welfare based on blind ignorance, prejudice and some stuff he read in the Daily Mail once.