According to the report there is currently no provision on the Work Programme for homeless people in London, 22% of homeless claimants have had benefits sanctioned whilst on the scheme and Work Programme contractors are picking up huge job outcome fees for work the charities have done themselves.
The report, authored by St Mungo’s, Crisis and Homeless Link, comes in the week that performance figures are expected to be released showing the Work Programme is an hugely expensive disaster.
St Mungo’s have already handed back their Work Programme contract after claiming they were unable to place a single person into work under the scheme.
Whilst these charities were only too happy to endorse the scheme when they thought there might be some money in it for them, this report does suggest a change in direction from some of those in the third sector. The report warns of the crippling poverty inflicted by sanctioning vulnerable claimants and also highlights how many homeless people had been forced to give up college or volunteering to attend the Work Programme. Showing that these charities have a long way to go before they truly get behind there service users however, the report stops short of calling for an end to the brutal sanction regime.
Concerns are also raised about how claimants are treated on the scheme, with 58 per cent of homeless people surveyed stating they were not treated with ‘dignity or respect’ by Work Programme providers.
The report also claims that Work Programme contractors such as A4e and G4S often pick up huge job outcome fees for claimants who found work through schemes the charities themselves ran and funded. This means that someone could successfully find work after a course with a homelessness charity – funded by donations from the public or other funding body – and all the Work Programme contractor has to do is get some paperwork signed and they can trouser up to £6,600. The most lucrative benefit scam in history is taking place right under the noses of the DWP and yet still Iain Duncan Smith sings the praises of the whole shabby racket.
The document also highlights how in some cases the Work Programme has effectively destroyed people’s lives:
Sam lives in a St Mungo’s hostel. When he told his Work Programme adviser that he wanted to work in construction, his adviser suggested that Sam become self-employed.
He was assured that he could claim different benefits and led to believe that his income would not be affected. Sam followed this advice and signed-off JSA, which meant that his housing benefit was also stopped. He tried to claim benefits for those who had declared themselves self-employed, but was told by the Jobcentre that he was not eligible.
“They said I would get help and my benefits wouldn’t get cut off, but that’s not how it went – it put me in jeopardy for three or four weeks. My housing benefit was cut off, my JSA stopped….I was misguided.” He was left with no income apart from a £51 one-off grant from the Work Programme provider. After several weeks Sam started to receive JSA again.
Around this time he was planning to move-on into more independent accommodation but he had to abandon this move because he had no housing benefit to pay the rent. Because he had signed off JSA, Sam also became ineligible for Social Fund grants that would have helped him to furnish a new flat.
The report can be read in full at: http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/policy_research/TheProgrammesNotWorking_final_23-11-2012_PDF.pdf