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Local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales are issuing a call for a radical re-think of welfare-to-work policies.

The Industrial Communities Alliance, the all-party association representing more than 60 local authorities in Britain’s older industrial areas, says that welfare-to-work policies have nearly always been based on the false premise that there are plenty of jobs available.

The Alliance also says that the unemployed are now being blamed for their own failure when the true cause lies with the weakness of so many local economies.

In a new report (pdf), the Alliance highlights disturbing evidence on the failure of current welfare-to-work policies:

  • Participants on the government’s flagship Work Programme are almost twice as likely to be sanctioned as to find sustained employment
  • The official target is still that only 36 per cent of Work Programme participants will secure sustained employment
  • The Work Programme is failing claimants with health problems or disabilities – only 11 per cent of new claimants of Employment and Support Allowance are finding sustained work after two years, and only 6 per cent of claimants transferred across from Incapacity Benefit

In older industrial Britain the numbers out-of-work on sickness and disability benefits generally outnumber the conventional unemployed (on Jobseeker’s Allowance) by two-to-one.

The Coalition Government in Westminster and the Labour Opposition are both considering devolving more responsibility for welfare-to-work away from Whitehall. The local authorities in the Alliance are calling for more fundamental changes:

  • A greater emphasis on growing the economy in weaker local labour markets
  • A targeted job creation programme to provide routes into work
  • A new focus in welfare-to-work on the obstacles of low skills and poor health
  • Less emphasis on compulsion, more on working by consent

Cllr Terry O’Neill, Chair of the Industrial Communities Alliance, said:

“Most men and women have a fair grasp of their chances of finding work, and the value of the help on offer. Welfare-to-work should be about supporting them in ways they find relevant and appropriate.

“Too often it has become the mechanism for imposing punitive and unnecessary sanctions, fuelling business for food banks, pay-day lenders and loan sharks.”

Bernard Pidcock, Manager of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Blyth, Northumberland, adds:

“Every day we see decent men and women not only being pushed onto failing welfare-to-work programmes but also being squeezed financially by welfare cuts. This adds up to little short of a vendetta against many of the most disadvantaged in society.”

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  1. I suspect some w/ps were bullied at school, hence the need to persecute jobseekers, these people are the same as traffic wardens and bailiffs, no compassion..i believe in karma and one they will get there come uppance..

  2. some wps are just little hitlers, power mad.,i suspect they were bullied at school and are now taking it out on everyone else, I view these scumbags the same as traffic wardens and compassion whatsoever..
    i don’t know how they sleep at night after persecuting their fellow human beings.

  3. I am on the Work Program, have been with my current provider since February, they refuse to help with travel costs for any interview either not local or one I have arranged myself, it is now 4 interviews i have secured I have been unable to get to, for one I had to sell a ring given to me by my Dad after my Mom died, I am now having to underpay rent to travel to interviews and am in arrears the JCP state you must be willing to travel 90 minutes one way to look for work I am based in Sheffield the WP has refused to help with interviews in Leeds,Bradford, Doncaster and Worksop and has refused to pay for 2 in Sheffield I got myself, I have not had one interview through them

  4. It doesn’t need me to tell anyone thats been unemployed or on WRAG how awful the work programme has been. My daughter was forced to work for Poundland and it caused unemployment because they wouldn’t take on any paid staff whilst they had had a steady supply of jobless to slave for them for nothing,not to mention it HINDERED her search for paid employment. Suffice to say: no thanks to the JCP she found pay employment.

  5. It’s the state of the Work Programme staff, I’ve been on four DWP schemes since December 2011.
    The first was the two year work programme, not one advisor was capable of performing their tasks, 3 of them with serious drug problems not only effecting their jobs, but leading to sanctions for me and others because of it, mine was for 6 months yet they were not turning up for their mandatory appointments from the first advisor to the last, not one part of their timetable happened I went for the first 10 months with no meeting, appointments or anything else. This is their timetable here

    Second scheme was the “ECDL PT 2” Which you learn from a computer disc, but they did not have them, some were Sanctioned here too, accused of “Not Paying Attention”. Well seeing as this was a self teach course with no tutors, who were they “Not Paying Attention To”? Ad they did not have the discs the course was meant to be on.

    Third sheme could not refund out fares but wanted us to pay £38 a week for Work Placement journeys.

    The Fourth scheme was drugs again, staff with eyes watering and unable to perform, this was a CSCS card course, but although we sat the required exams, they are incapable of telling us if we passed them or not!!

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