New figures released by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) reveal that the government’s Work Programme is still failing disabled people.
Less than 9% of sick and disabled people find employment lasting at least three months, after one year of taking part in the programme.
The number of ‘new’ Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants finding work through the Work Programme has increased from 3.9% in 2011 to 8.5%, but campaigners say the programme is still failing sick and disabled people.
The failure of the Work Programme is even more evident among ‘other’ (longer-term) ESA claimants, with only 4.3% finding a job – down from 7.1% in 2011. According to the DWP, this is because of more ‘harder to help’ people joining the programme.
Success of the scheme is measured by how many jobseekers find work lasting more than three or six months, with the lower measure being used for sick and disabled people claiming ESA.
Tory employment minister, Priti Patel, boasted that 433,000 have found work through the Work Programme since 2011, but DWP figures show that 70% of all participants return to jobcentres after two years on the scheme.
The charity Mind criticised the scheme for supporting just 13,000 of 162,000 participants with mental health problems into work.
Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind said: “It’s hugely concerning that the Work Programme is still failing to support people with mental health problems into jobs.
“On top of this inappropriate support, many people find the constant threat of benefit sanctions is making them feel more unwell and less able to work.”
“We support the Government’s aspiration of helping more people with mental health problems to find work, but the current approach needs completely overhauling if it is to provide appropriate and effective support.
“People on ESA should be taken off the Work Programme and moved onto specialist, personalised and local schemes.”
“We already know of schemes, such as WorkPlace Leeds, delivered by Leeds Mind, which cost much less than the Work Programme and achieve far better outcomes, with 32% of people with severe and enduring mental health problems gaining paid employment.”
“The Government needs to learn the lessons from effective schemes like these in order to reshape the support offered to people with mental health problems.
“This would help to achieve long term, sustainable savings to the welfare budget, as opposed to making short-sighted cuts to disability benefits, which would only make it harder for people with mental health problems to recover and live independent lives.”
Kate Green MP, Labour’s shadow minister for Disabled People, said: “Fewer than one in ten disabled people on the Work Programme have found a job. This shows the Tories’ Work Programme is failing people who want to find a job and earn a living.”
Employment Minister Priti Patel said: “Everyone – whatever their background or situation – should have the opportunity to get on in life and support themselves and their families, and our reforms are doing just that.
“Behind these figures are countless stories of hard work and determination. These are individuals who, until the Work Programme, were locked out of the system through illness or time spent caring for their families.
“Because of this scheme, they now have the chance to get on, with the dignity of a job and security of a pay cheque.”