The number of people out of work for over two years has risen almost every month ever since Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled Work Programme, his magical cure for unemployment, began two years ago. Today’s unemployment figures show this number has risen yet again, to 458,000 people whilst the number of those out of work over a year has jumped by 11,000 to just below 900,000.
This is despite the fact that the Work Programme, which has already cost hundreds of millions of pounds, was specifically designed to bring down long term unemployment.
It has been a dismal failure, with recent news of yet more charities abandoning the scheme. Even Tomorrow’s People, the Tory dominated front organisation for brewing giant Diageo, announced they were leaving the Work Programme at the beginning of the month.
The Chief Executive of Tomorrow’s People is Baroness Debbie Scott, a Tory life peer who used to run Iain Duncan Smith’s think tank the Centre For Social Justice. They are most famous as the organisation who forced young people to sleep under a bridge under threat of benefit sanctions during the Queen’s Jubilee. The charity say they are leaving the Work Programme due to a lack of referrals. Coming from his own side, this is a hugely embarrassing snub to Iain Duncan Smith which shows that even if you’re a Tory you can’t trust a Tory.
They are to be joined by the Volunteer Centre Kensington & Chelsea who have also announced they are leaving the Work Programme. The charity say they are withdrawing from the scheme due to restrictions placed on how they work with service users – meaning long term unemployed people, or those claiming sickness benefit ESA in the Work Related Activity Group. According to Third Sector, the charity claim: “We thought that the best way to influence the service was to be inside it, to speak with the voice of evidence back to the primary contractor and say ‘This works and this is great, but this doesn’t and this is our suggestion’,”
“But our experience was that they simply didn’t want to listen.”
The primary contractors on the Work Programme are the welfare-to-work companies such as A4e, Ingeus, Working Links and G4S. These companies have fleeced the tax payer for billions over the years by feeding off the orchestrated attack on those claiming social security benefits. This multi-billion pound benefit fraud has tricked both the current and the last government into believing that unemployment can be fixed by harassing claimants with workfare and benefit sanctions.
None of the schemes these companies have leeched off have ever made the slightest difference to the unemployment figures, although the appalling performance of the Work Programme represents a new low. This is hardly surprising as these companies have been given free reign to do whatever they choose under the payment-by-results model. This has meant for those long term unemployed people who are hardest to help find work – and therefore unlikely to be profitable – they have chosen to do nothing at all.
Instead they have picked up lucrative job entry payments by claiming credit for the people who would have almost certainly got jobs under their own steam. The scrounging welfare-to-work sector have fooled the DWP into thinking that no-one unemployed has ever managed to get a job before attending an A4e CV workshop, or being forced to work in a charity shop without pay.
The end result of this has been the tax payer handing over hundreds of millions to welfare to work sharks whilst long term unemployment – the very thing they are being paid to fix – has sky rocketed.
Every modern capitalist country in the world has high unemployment. In times of economic growth unemployment comes down and when the economy stagnates unemployment rises. This has nothing to do with people suddenly becoming lazy or workshy. Unemployment is still so high because George Osborne fucked the economy.
All the Work Programme has achieved is yet more profits for the welfare-to-work sector. Mass workfare has meant the number of real jobs has shrunk, whilst benefit sanctions lead to people queuing up outside foodbanks rather than trying to find work.
An individual less arrogant, or less stupid, than Iain Duncan Smith might at least acknowledge the evidence and stop spending millions of pounds forcing people into destitution. As well as being inhumane, it is gross incompetence. But with such huge sums being trousered by the private sector it appears to be full steam ahead on the welfare reform gravy train.
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