It is astonishing that the ‘minimum expected level’ of people finding jobs on Iain Duncan Smith’s Work Programme is the same as would be expected had he done nothing at all.
What this means is that as long as the Work Programme isn’t making long term unemployment worse then both the DWP and the private sector parasites who run the scheme can claim it is a huge success when in fact it’s nothing of the sort. It is just not doing any damage. The problem is that in many cases the Work Programme is not meeting the ‘minimum expected levels’. It is worse than doing nothing and from the latest figures appears to be creating, not curing long term unemployment amongst some groups.
This has left Iain Duncan Smith with nothing to shout about except for the huge numbers of people who have been forced to waste their time on the scheme. And so that’s what he’s done today as the latest dismal performance figures are released with a jubilant press release declaring that the Work Programme has ‘helped’ more people than any previous employment scheme. The truth is that the Work Programme has failed more people than any scheme before at a time when we are constantly being told how many jobs are now available.
Of the one million people who have been sent on the Work Programme over 700,000 were back at the Jobcentre after two years of expert help from companies like G4S, Maximus and A4e. Only a quarter of those on the programme had a spell of 3-6 months in work – slightly below the ‘minimum expected level’.
This is less than the number of people who would have been expected to get jobs if the Work Programme had never existed. Tax payers have forked out over a billion pounds for this fiasco. The suffering of claimant’s sanctioned on the scheme is well documented. The lives lost little more than human sacrifice – scapegoats for a failing economic system. If there was any more proof needed that benefit sanction harm rather than help then today’s Work Programme statistics provide it.
For sick and disabled claimants the level of failure is shocking. Just 3.4% of current claimants of sickness benefits (ESA/IB) who started on the scheme in December 2013 had a spell of at least three months in work a year later. This is barely a third of the number who would have been expected to get a job under their own steam without any compulsory ‘help’.
Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of the Work Programme is what has happened to all those found ‘fit for work’ by Atos and told to frantically look for work or face their benefits being stopped. Hundreds of millions has been spent harassing this group of claimants, who in many cases are not really well enough to work at all. Just 1.5% of this group had found a job lasting over 3 months after completing a year on the scheme in December 2015.
Overall the Work Programme is only performing above minimum levels for mainstream Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants who have been on the scheme a year, and then only by a couple of percent. There is a dirty fucking trick being played here however. The most successful group of claimants are ‘other JSA’ which represents around a third of unemployed people sent on the scheme. Over 20% of this group found work after a year.
Other JSA is largely made up of Early Entrants, which means those referred onto the Work Programme before they had been unemployed for over 12 months. These are often people who have recently left work and are therefore the most employable claimants. They are not the people the Work Programme was designed for. They are also by far the most likely to get jobs on the Work Programme.
Documents leaked onto the internet by bungling A4e showed how Work Programme companies can receive huge payments even when someone has found a job themselves and not even started on the scheme. All they need to do is make sure the paperwork is filled out correctly. Jobcentre staff are also under huge pressure to produce job outcomes. By encouraging the most employable claimants to sign up for the Work Programme then Jobcentre staff get a pat on the head when they inevitably find a job and the company running the scheme gets a cheque in the post. And Iain Duncan Smith can pretend the Work Programme is doing better than it is. Everybody wins. Except the tax payer and all those sanctioned or forced into workfare and who were back in the Jobcentre after two years wasted on the disastrous Work Programme.
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