On Tuesday 27 March, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) released details of the ‘success rates’ of one of its most controversial schemes. But the figures show it was nothing short of an abject failure.
Helping who to work?
‘Help to Work‘ was launched in 2014. The Coalition government said at the time:
New intensive measures to help the long-term unemployed into work will begin… as the government continues its push toward full employment…
Help to Work… will give Jobcentre staff a new range of options to support the hardest to help get off benefits and into work.
Jobcentre advisers will tailor back-to-work plans for individuals according to the particular barriers to work they may have. The new measures include intensive coaching, a requirement to meet with the Jobcentre Plus adviser every day, or taking part in a community work placement for up to six months so claimants build the skills needed to secure a full-time job.
The scheme, parts of which were mandatory [pdf, p1] for people who’d been on the DWP’s two-year ‘Work Programme’, officially ended in March 2017. But now, the DWP has released the details of how many people actually got back into employment after being under Help to Work. The statistics raise serious questions about the scheme’s effectiveness.
An abject failure?
The DWP said [pdf, p1] that, of the 220,000 people who went through the Help to Work scheme up to March 2017:
- 28% spent at least 13 weeks in work in the year following referral to the scheme.
- 39% spent “some time” in work; the DWP does not specify [pdf] the time criteria for this measurement.
The detail of the figures [xls] shows that only 20.1% of people spent [xls, table four, row 44, column D] at least 26 weeks in work after being on the scheme. But perhaps most concerning are the figures surrounding the controversial Community Work Placements.
Campaigners criticised the placements because claimants had to do 30 hours a week unpaid work and could be sanctioned for up to three months if they didn’t comply. As Joanna Long from campaign group Boycott Workfare told the Mirror in 2015:
It was finger-twiddling work that should have been done by real employees or real volunteers. People I know who were forced onto it were left with no time to actually do the work of finding a job.
But the main reason we opposed it was that it didn’t work.
Now, the DWP has shown that Community Work Placements absolutely ‘did not work’. Figures show that, of the 92,000 people [xls, table one, row nine, column E] who were forced onto the placements [xls, table four, row 44, columns K, L, M] up to March 2016:
- 33.3% spent “any time in work” during the year following the referral.
- 23.4% spent at least 13 weeks in work.
- 16.3% spent at least 26 weeks in work.
The DWP says…
The DWP told The Canary:
The Help to Work programme was designed to support the long term unemployed who already had three years of intensive support but still not moved into work.
It successfully helped many long term unemployed find a job, with 39% spending some time in work in the year after they were referred. We are introducing a new Work and Health programme to continue giving tailored support to help the long term unemployed and people with health conditions.
Another DWP white elephant
Help to Work is another example of questionable ‘money-saving’ government initiatives. The scheme cost £420m in its first two years [pdf, p5] alone. But with no details of how many people actually remained in permanent employment after being ‘helped to work’ by the DWP, Help to Work’s legacy will be that of another controversial white elephant, meted out on claimants with little tangible success.
Featured image via UK government/Wikimedia
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?