DWP ‘Work and Health Programme’ is failing people with disabilities

Nearly 9 out of 10 participants (88%) have not obtained a ‘job outcome’.

The Work and Health Programme was first introduced in England and Wales between November 2017 and April 2018. Its aim is to support disabled people as well as the long term unemployed. Job Centre Plus staff refer clients to public, private or volunteer providers.

The providers are paid a service delivery fee as well as outcome-related payments when a person reaches a specified level of earnings once in employment, or reaches six months of being in self-employment.


The latest statistics by GOV.UK, show that, by May 2019, 76% of all individuals referred have started on the Work and Health Programme.

75% of all people starting the Work and Health Programme are from the Disability group, which is the majority group to be referred to the programme.

9% are from the Early Access group, 16% are from the Long-term Unemployed group. Participation of this group is mandatory. 63% of all people starting the Work and Health Programme are male.

The programme’s jobs outcomes show 27% of starts from the first monthly cohort (December 17) achieved a job outcome within 17 months of starting.

Of those 24% come from the Disability group. 3% from the Early Access group. The latest is the only voluntary group.

Since this programme started, out of the 103,420 referrals for 87,400 individuals and 66,100 starts, only 4,920 individuals secured a ‘job outcome’.

The figures for the disability group are stagnant, with little improvement since November 2017. Nearly 9 out of 10 participants (88%) have not obtained a ‘job outcome’.

Sophia, a 40 years old woman from South East London, was referred to her local Maximus Work and Health program in January 2019.

The first appointment was a group assessment during which attendees had to fill in some forms about their work experiences. Health issues were then discussed in a group setting, with little privacy to address those personal issues. The focus solely remained on work.

She was then booked for a psychological assessment which was on the phone, with a mental health therapist she has never met before.

During this phone assessment she was asked to give her history of Child Sexual abuse and Domestic Violence experiences. Sharing such personal information was really distressing which she told the assessor, who confirmed Sophia wasn’t ready for work.

After this assessment, Sophia wasn’t contacted again until the 26th of March. She met her Key Worker who wasn’t aware of the psychological assessment and had no record of it. She asked her more questions about her past, distressing Sophia further.

The Key Worker persisted to talk about work. When Sophia presented her with a GP’s note, she declared: “It doesn’t matter, you can still work.”

The assessment outcome that Sophia wasn’t fit for work was also dismissed. Sophia felt her Key Worker didn’t have any real knowledge about mental health and that her main role was to push her into work.

She was told that no matter what her health issues were, she could take control of her life and work if she really wanted to.

On the 3rd April, Sophia called her Key Worker who didn’t get back to her until the 13th of April. During their next appointment, Sophia was given forms to fill in about personality, skills, qualities and on how you could improve professional skills.

In August, Sophia had help updating her CV and was advice to complete two online courses: 10 Steps to Confidence and First Aid at Home. Sophia has had no contact since.

The programme lasts 15 months with the promise to support the most vulnerable UK citizen into employment that best suit their needs.

In the eight months Sophia has been referred to Maximus, she only met her Key Worker 4 times and it has only been for the last 6 weeks that they offered to help her with her CV and such, however her mental health kept being dismissed.

Sophia’s experience and the latest statistic from the program clearly show that the Work and Health programme doesn’t work for its Disability group.

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