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Disabled people feel “abandoned” by work programme
Wednesday 28 November 2012
New figures show that only 3.5% of people referred to work programme find long-term jobs
New official figures, released yesterday (Tuesday 27 November), show that the government’s welfare-to-work programme has failed to hit its main target.
The scheme pays firms and charities to help find jobs for the long-term unemployed. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) told providers they should get 5.5% of people on the programme into sustained employment. But only 3.53% of people found a job for six months or more.
The figures, covering June 2011 to July 2012, showed that of the 878,000 people who joined the programme, only 31,000 found a long-term job.
Mark Hoban, the employment minister, told a press conference that there are “measures in place to deal with underperformance and we will be writing to providers to ask them to set out their plans to improve their performance”.
People with a disability
Mencap believes that very few of the people getting a job are people with a disability. “The lack of data on the outcomes for disabled people makes it impossible for us to know if the system is working, and the government must commit to collecting and publishing these figures,” says Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive.
“However, Mencap has serious concerns that disabled people are not being supported through the government's flagship programme. We estimate that just 1 in 10 of the disabled people who have been assessed as being able to move towards work with specialist help, are actually being supported through the work programme. Many disabled people feel abandoned by a system which requires them to prepare for work, but doesn't provide them with the help they need to find a job.”
The release of the figures follows controversial comments from work and pensions minister Lord Freud’s about incentives to work, in ‘The House’ magazine. He said that “poor people have the least to lose so should take the biggest risks” in terms of coming off benefits and getting a job.
Mencap is concerned that his comments show that he is seriously out of touch with the realities of poverty for many disabled people, who are struggling to make ends meet and are living in fear of big cuts to vital benefits and support next year. “Many disabled people want to work, and the minister is right to identify that there are major barriers in the current benefits system, which can make it risky for people to enter work,” continues Mark Goldring. “However, it remains to be seen whether the government’s flagship policies, the Universal Credit and the work programme, will actually help them to do so.”