Published on 8 Oct 2013

It’s the non-work programme, charity says

The government’s work programmes, designed to help the disabled into employment, are failing, according to a leading disability charity.

Calling for a radical rethink, Disability Rights UK points to the government’s own figures which reveal a 95 per cent failure rate in finding sustainable work for those on the work programme.Liz Sayce, the charity’s chief executive, described the work programme as the “non-work programme”. In the past year, 5.3 per cent of people who receive the employment and support allowance and who have been referred to the programme have been found work.

At best, Ms Sayce said, this will rise to 12 per cent, which is an 88 per cent failure rate.

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Work Choice, which is for those with more complex problems, has a 31 per cent success rate. But when broken down the figures look worse. Half of all ESA and incapacity benefit claimants have mental health problems.

Yet, since 2011 only 58 a year have been placed in long term employment. This is especially stark when compared with one London NHS trust – Central and North West London – which has placed more than 200 in employment in the space of just one year.

The charity says that successive governments have set up huge, centralised employment programmes, at vast expense. There are concerns that the payment-by-results incentives are leading to those providing the work programmes to cherry pick the easier cases, and that employers themselves are disadvantaged by not having access to the “widest possible pool of talent”.

The CNWL NHS trust has developed an individualised approach to helping those with mental health problems over 10 years. Each claimant is given an employment specialist, who works as part of the clinical team. Emphasis is placed on readiness to return to work, but it is also time sensitive, with job searching beginning within one month.

And in today’s report, Disability Rights UK strongly advocates this more personalised approach. Indeed, their report Taking Control of Employment Support shows that 60 per cent of disabled people surveyed want more individualised plans, with more control over the support needed to find work and stay in it.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said that previous schemes had not done enough for disabled people and those on sickness benefits. “This is why we introduced the work programme to give tailored support to address individual barriers to work. Thousands of the most hardest to help people have already found lasting work through the scheme.”

But what the charity hopes is that with the DWP due to publish its disability employment strategy later this year, it will review its approach.

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8 reader comments

  1. Brennan says:

    “This is why we introduced the work programme to give tailored support to address individual barriers to work”

    Nice soundbite. But what actually happened is that existing programmes were cut and replaced with new programmes that had (even) less funding. The results were predictable (and indeed widely predicted by all outside observers.)

  2. William chick says:

    Ask anybody who works or has any think to do with the disability works program knows is failing and it’s failing in all sorts of areas,
    it’s not getting people back into employment or any think in fact it’s probably making matters even worse by putting people under so much stress and strain with ESA, the government’s free main targets are trying to get people back into work back into some sort of education back doing voluntary work, it’s a joke the jobs aren’t out there anyway nobody really wants to employ anybody who has mental health problems and if they do they are normally low paid low status jobs morping floors and cutting sandwiches, as were trying to get people back into education that is a joke unless it is a simple three week course on how to mop of floor or cut a sandwich you are really up against it I know I’ve tried, I suffer from depression and a couple of other problems a few years ago I wouldn’t have even been able to go out of the house but now I want to go back to college thanks to the support of a number of organisations one of them a daycare centre which thanks to local authority cuts and stupid ideas has now been reduced to no more than a skeleton service, but if I want to go back to university which I can do I have to give up all my benefits and take out a massive loan which given the course I’d like to do is three years would work out to roughly £30,000 at 51 years of age I don’t see them getting their money back as well I do not have the bank of mum and dad to bail me out when things go wrong like most students, the only overall turnout is go back to college people my benefits but I cannot access this the disabled student grant and I will get no help whatsoever even excepting a £50 bursary from the college would be seen as income and would be breaching the rules,

    if I want to do a HNC course I have to take out another loan to pay for it but the last time I tried I was told they would only give me 50% because there was no chance of me getting a long-term job afterwards, and if you go into voluntary work all your end up being is a dead-end job mopping floors and cutting sandwiches which seems to be all that there is on offer so when people talk about us parasites workshy scroungers some of us are trying but if the very system itself which is denying us the opportunity of achieving our full potential it’s a joke like everything is governed us it’s a joke, a scan a lie.
    William

  3. Andrew Dundas says:

    When I started work, employers with 20+ employees were required to employ a minimum percentage of disabled people: the minimum was three percent.
    Consequently, it was common to meet disabled folks at work. That was good for everyone. Disabled people were not cut off from the social environment and everyone got used to working with people who had some form of challenge. Often they were war-wounded. Telephone exchanges were populated by blind workers and most receptionists were former soldiers, usually disabled by some wound.
    But the Heath Government (a Tory administration) abolished the legal requirement. Since then we’ve gone steadily downhill and encouraged disabled folks to believe they should work. It’s not a useful development.
    Maybe we should re-start some form of obligation on employers?

  4. Andy Rickell says:

    Action on Disability and Work UK is almost unique in being an organisation that is led by disabled people, concentrating on providing employment support for disabled people. Part of the reason for our uniqueness is that the government funding structures and schemes for employment support exclude small but effective organisations from bidding. A new approach, which allows disabled individuals to have personal budgets for their employment support, as already works very successfully in social care, not only empowers the disabled individual but also those disabled-led organisations that offer peer support and have a track record of successful outcomes in other aspects of disabled people’s lives. This option of personal budgets is necessary if real improvement is to be made in the percentage of disabled people in work. Otherwise disabled people who are now being expected to work will languish on low out of work benefits in spite of their wish to have working careers. The government’s anticipated disability employment strategy offers the best opportunity to change the system, at least in the use of funding for speciality disability employment support.

  5. Jean McQueen says:

    The model featured on CH4 News yesterday, known as the individual placement support model has been shown to be much more effective than current programmes. The evidence is both national and international yet this growing evidence base has been largely ignored. Why re-invent the wheel when there is something out there that works. It relys on partnership working between health and employability and is much more responsive to individual needs and therefore likely to lead to sustainable employment.

  6. Ellen says:

    The charity I work for supports drug and alcohol misusers back into meaningful employment. We have done this for over 20 years with great success. Our clients have many additional health, social care and mental health problems associated with their addictions. Our employment projects are not associated with the Work Programme and are helping an average 44% of our clients sustain the jobs in excess of 26 weeks. How are we achieving this? Simple – we’re not driven by money and we actually care about the people that walk through our doors.

    We do not get paid for any of the outcomes we achieve for our clients so creaming and parking is not an incentive for us. Our commitment and experience of working with our client groups is the sole reason for our success.

    Following a brief and very unhappy flirtation with one of the main Work Programme prime providers we decided to pull out due to lack of referrals – they wanted to keep everyone for themselves to hold onto as many attachment fees as possible because in my opinion to keep the cash flow in the black.

    The few clients they did refer to us were so poorly the likelihood of them ever getting to a job interview was highly unlikely. Yet this did not deter them from setting totally unachievable targets for us – 59% in some cases. Given they and the majority of the Work Programme providers struggle to achieve double figures themselves, we felt we had no choice other than to pull out. Beating our heads against a brick wall wasn’t an option for us, nor was playing fair for them.

    Placing vulnerable people in the hands of private companies whose sole aim is to make a profit will only ever result in those that are most able will the chosen few, those that are less able will be left to rot.

    The DWP is totally responsible for the abysmal performance of the Work Programme. It was they that commissioned the prime providers based on their bank balances rather than previous performance levels.

    As a tax payer I feel totally frustrated and angered by this government wasting my hard earned taxes on helping these useless private companies become fat and rich on the backs of the unemployed. As a moral person I feel totally disgusted how unemployed and vulnerable people are being treated under this government.

    The poor are blamed for being poor and the unemployed are just seen as plain lazy. Create more sustainable jobs and invest more money into re-training people for the few vacancies that are out there. That way at least people will stand a chance.
    .

  7. Ken Stapleton says:

    Given the current inertia and lack of aspiration there is no surprise in the inexcusable and lamentable lack of numbers of disabled and vulnerable people in full time work.
    The root of this problem,clearly as good an example of the social model of disability as there is,lies in the lack of awareness and aspirations of families,children and young people,but arguably mostly within schools and colleges who task is to educate and prepare young people for valued roles in adulthood.My experience and impression is that most of our so called learning institutions whether mainstream or “special”,can we have a different word,only pay lip service to preparing young disabled talent for full time employment.So called traditional work experience does not get to the root of preparation.Job immersion as described in the work of “Project Search” in Cincinatti and developed in a few sites in the UK can enable “learning disabled” students to access full time work upon leaving school or college.
    There is some excellent pioneering work being developed in Greater Manchester involving a number of schools whose population are largely students who would meet Adult Social Care criteria.The employment of this pool of talent could significantly reduce the demand for the “special” life still on offer in much of adult provision,notwithstanding the personalisation,personal budgets agenda.
    It was a Dr Grossman,responsible for the birth of the paralympic games at Stoke Mandeville Hospital shortly after the 2nd World War, when he expressed his aspiration for his “patients”,described by his colleagues as objects simply to be looked after until death,”to become tax payers”

  8. David Johnson says:

    For the first time in over a century being poor has been criminalised. When we have a government which holds this belief an article of faith can we expect anything other than what is taking place? Those who attempt to argue the contary belief that being poor and disabled is not the fault of the individual are shouted down or humiliated by load mouthed politicians seeking the public limelight. I was suprised in the recent cabinet reshuffle that the management of EasyJet were not brought in to run the DWP. I am sure that IDS would argue the benefits of strong management in welfare payments. Whilst in the press we have the Daily Mail marching in the footsteps of Julius Streicher to demonise welfare benefit claimants being prompted by a hot line from Conservative Party Central Office. We can only sit it out and watch our Care system collapse.

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