PAC calls back to work scheme “extremely poor”

Jobcentre-plus-The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has slated a hefty priced scheme aimed at helping the long-term unemployed get back into work.

The MPs have called the  Work Programme “extremely poor” after its research found that in the 14 months of the scheme being up and running only 3.6 percent of those involved moved off benefits into sustained employment.

PAC said that the performance was also “so poor” that it was “actually worse” than the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) own expectations of the number of people who would have found work if the Programme didn’t exist.

It also pointed out that the Programme was particularly failing young people and the hardest-to-help.

Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee of cross-party MPs, said: “It is shocking that of the 9,500 former incapacity benefit claimants referred to providers, only 20 people have been placed in a job that has lasted three months, while the poorest-performing provider did not manage to place a single person in the under-25 category into a job lasting six month.”

The programme was introduced in June 2011, at an estimated cost of between £3 billion and £5 billion over five years. However, PAC said that none of those contracted to help place workers had met their targets and their performance “varied widely”

It said that it was also concerned that some providers were focusing on people more likely to generate a fee, and sidelining jobless clients who required more time and investment.

“Given the poor performance across providers, there is a high risk that one or more will fail—either they will go out of business or the Department will cancel their contracts,” the report added.

This isn’t the only DWP scheme that has caused recent controversy. Back in January the department came under fire after French benefit assessment company Atos ordered 50,000 disabled Scots to go back to work.

The company was hired by the UK Government to help cut the welfare bill by assessing whether those on disability benefits were actually eligible for work.

Atos’s Work Capability Assessments aimed to do this by asking benefits claimants to complete a long questionnaire and attend an interview with an Atos employee.