6 November 2014
The Public Accounts Committee has today (6 November) published its report on the work programme.
The PAC denounced the programme’s failure to achieve its aims, finding that the companies running the Government scheme to cut joblessness have reneged on promises to focus on hard to help claimants – spending less than half what they had originally promised to.
The programme, which was launched three years ago, has resulted in disabled people being “parked” rather than helped back into work, according to the committee.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said:
“The Department has not succeeded in incentivising Work Programme providers to support harder-to-help claimants into work. Almost 90% of Employment and Support Allowance claimants on the Work Programme have not moved into jobs”.
“Evidence shows that differential payments have not stopped contractors from focusing on easier-to-help individuals and parking harder-to-help claimants, often those with a range of disabilities including mental health challenges.”
She also warned that the Department for Work and Pensions’ sanction regime could cause “significant financial hardship” to individuals.
Iain Duncan Smith was questioned yesterday (November 5) at the Work and Pensions Select Committee. Debbie Abrahams MP confronted Duncan-Smith with new research which suggests that claimants are being sanctioned in order to massage joblessness figures. “Sanctions are being applied unfairly to job-seekers, as well as the sick and disabled” she said. “People have died after being sanctioned, Minister” – referring to David Clapson, who died after being sanctioned for missing a single Job Center meeting.
The committee has called on ministers to make firms involved in the programme publish information about how much money they are spending on different groups.