Despite the alleged ‘payment by results’ model much hyped by Iain Duncan Smith, tax payers could have paid out up to £60,000 for every job gained by sickness or disability claimants on the Work Programme.
Whilst much of the attention this week has been focused on the appalling job entry rates for those on mainstream unemployment benefits, the performance figures for those on sickness or disability benefits has received less scrutiny.
Under the Work Programme, claimants on the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG), are now forced to attend job search sessions or face losing benefits. This group represent those who have been assessed as being able to work at some point in the future and therefore not eligible for full sickness or disability benefits.
In a damning admission the DWP this week showed that just 1000 people in this group had gained work out of a total of 79,000 people referred to the scheme. Most of these claimants will have be sent to carry out job search with charities who are sub-contracted to deliver the Work Programme.
Charities share lucrative Work Programme pay outs with the prime contractors, the welfare-to-work parasites such as A4e and G4S who run the scheme. Each referral to the programme for WRAG claimants comes with a £600 ‘attachment fee’ meaning that around £47.4 million pounds has been paid out so far.
On top of this the providers are paid a job entry fee after the participant has been in work for six months. They are then paid further fees for up to two years as long as the job lasts. The maximum that can be paid out for someone who stays in work for two years is £13,720 – the minimum for a job that lasts just six months is £1,200.
This means that between somewhere between £48.6 and £60 million pounds has been handed over to charities and their poverty pimp bosses. With only 1000 people finding work this works out at a cost of a staggering job outcome cost of between £48,000 and £60,000 pounds each.
The total spend on Work Programme for sickness and disability benefits is around the same as the money saved by the Remploy closures. Since a small amount of WRAG claimants would have been expected to find work without any help from the Work Programme, it seems this money has simply been flushed down the toilet.
Perhaps most galling of all, some of the money spent has been handed to the very same charities who supported the closure of Remploy such as Mencap.
Under ordinary circumstances this amount of money being spent on providing access to work for those who are disabled or unwell might be seen as a positive step. Yet all of those in the WRAG group have been signed off work by their own GPs. With long term unemployment soaring, all the Work Programme has represented is a programme of harassment and benefit sanctions for people unable to work due to illness or disability. Money that could have Saved Remploy, or the Independent Living Fund, has been squandered by charities and private companies involved in the Work Programme.
Work Programme charity Scope have been quick to condemn the dreadful Work Programme performance figures. Yet they themselves are one of the largest charities to profit from the scheme. Scope claim disabled people need more “tailored and targeted support to find a job and the Work Programme just doesn’t offer them this.”
If Scope haven’t been offering this support then it begs the question of what exactly have these tens of millions of pounds been spent on? The Government has responded by giving charities the powers to force disabled people to attend full time unpaid workfare. The very strategy which has been so disastrous for non-disabled unemployed people is now to be inflicted upon people who are unable to work due to sickness or disability.
Whilst some charities, including MIND, and Addaction have announced they will not co-operate with workfare for disabled people, the silence from @scope so far has been deafening.
On December 8th a National Week of Action Against Workfare Charities will take place with protests, pickets and actions already expected in Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, Brighton, London, Edinburgh and Liverpool.
Service users and supporters are waking up the true motivations of these organisations who have so willingly profited from the most inept and brutal welfare-to-work programme ever devised. It’s time to hold so called charities to account for their involvement in a scheme that seems to do little more than punish claimants with workfare and benefit sanctions simply for being sick or disabled .