Work programme ‘not working’ for disabled people, say charity chiefs

Charities supporting disabled people have noted  the statistics relating to the government’s Work Programme released today do not show positive results for disabled people.

Figures released today by the Department of Work and Pensions show that out of 79,000 Employment and Support Allowance claimants, only 1,000 have been in work for six months – that’s just 1.3 percent.

The Work Programme is a welfare-to-work programme, with cash incentives for employers giving work to people in long-term unemployment.

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope said of the figures: “We have known for some time now that the Government’s fitness to work test is deeply flawed and is wrongly pushing many disabled people onto the Work Programme.

“Today we learn that only 1.3% of disabled people claiming employment and support allowance have actually found a job through the Work Programme.

“These shocking figures indicate a system that is not working for disabled people.”Disabled people want to work but face multiple barriers such as a lack of skills and experience, confidence and even negative attitudes from some employers.

“They need tailored and targeted support to find a job and the Work Programme just doesn’t offer them this.

“We desperately need the Government to re-think its approach if we want to see more disabled people in work in the future.”

Mencap chief executive Mark Goldring added: “Disabled people feel abandoned by a system which requires them to prepare for work, but doesn’t provide them with the help they need to find a job.

“DWP figures show that only 3.53% of people have been placed in work for more than 6 months via the Work Programme. We believe that very few of these will be people with a disability. The lack of data on the outcomes for disabled people makes it impossible for us to know if the system is working, and the Government must commit to collecting and publishing these figures.

“However, Mencap has serious concerns that disabled people are not being supported through the Government’s flagship programme. We estimate that just 1 in 10 of the disabled people who have been assessed as being able to move towardswork with specialist help, are actually being supported through the Work Programme. Many disabled people feel abandoned by a system which requires them to prepare for work, but doesn’t provide them with the help they need to find a job.”

The government, however, is pleased with today’s figures. Employment Minister Mark Hoban said:  “The Work Programme is succeeding in getting people off benefits and into work. It’s still early days but already thousands of lives are being transformed.

“One in four people have been in work, more than half of the early starters have been off benefit and performance is improving.

“Previous schemes paid out too much up front regardless of success, but by only paying providers for delivering results, the Work Programme is actually offering the taxpayer real value for money.

“Clearly these figures only give a snapshot picture as we’re one year in, and the Work Programme offers support to claimants for two years, but these results are encouraging and something Providers can look to build on.”

The stats

Out of 79,000 Employment and Support Allowance referrals, 6% (4,769) job starts were achieved according to Employment Related Services Association (ERSA).

1.3% (1,000) out of 79,000 were in work for six months.

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