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From: The Socialist issue 754, 27 February 2013: Austerity... Anger... Action!

Search site for keywords: Incapacity - Jobs - Benefits - A4e

The Work Programme isn't working

Michael Johnson
Scotland Youth Fight for Jobs arrives in Glasgow, 20 October 2012 , photo Matt Dobson

Scotland Youth Fight for Jobs arrives in Glasgow, 20 October 2012 , photo Matt Dobson   (Click to enlarge)

20 out of 9,500. That's how many former incapacity benefit claimants were placed in jobs lasting longer than three months through the Tories' much-lauded (by them) and controversial (for nearly everyone else) Work Programme.

A recent report by the Public Accounts Committee into how successful the scheme was, found that, at best, the private companies receiving money to take part in the scheme were only able to move 5% of the people using the scheme off benefits and into work, and at worst a pitiful 2%.

Throwing money away

Anti-workfare protest in Bristol, 3.3.12 , photo by Bristol SP

Anti-workfare protest in Bristol, 3.3.12 , photo by Bristol SP   (Click to enlarge)

This meant that not one of the 18 companies that signed up to the scheme were able to meet the target (which, at less than 12%, seems to show a lack of confidence in the scheme from the start).

This is despite these private companies including notorius names such as A4e, G4S and Seetec, getting extra money for being able to keep people in work for three to six months.

But even though these results have been called 'abysmally low,' that the programme has 'spectacularly underachieved' and is 'worse than doing nothing,' ministers involved seem to have decided the best course of action is to get firmly behind this apparently essential programme.

The government claims reported figures give a skewed picture and that the programme is doing really well.

It's just that it's doing great outside of the dates that these figures are drawn from. Or that its performance will start getting better any time soon. Promise.

Despite these desperate attempts to save face it's crushingly obvious that the Work Programme isn't working.

Companies using the scheme see it as a way of getting money for free labour and are deliberately pushing aside anyone that might need more time and training, and for people on incapacity benefit this means they might as well give up on the scheme now.

This useless scheme should be scrapped and instead the money spent on it (up to 5 billion in the first five years) should be used to create real jobs with a living wage that can offer people the training and support they need, rather than see a whole section of society tossed on the scrap heap.

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