Last week it was revealed that workfare company A4e is failing to meet even the minimum requirements for finding people work on the Work Programme. A4e have gone through £45 million and only placed 3.5% of the people referred to them into employment of more than 13 weeks. This means A4e is costing the taxpayer about £11,250 for each person who finds work for more than three months.
This news comes hot on the heels of a DWP study which showed that Mandatory Work Activity “had no impact on the likelihood of being employed”. This on the same day Chris Grayling announced he was expanding the scheme so that it could be used to force 70,000 people to work without pay each year.
To most people, this would signal that Work Programme contracts need to be withdrawn and workfare written off as a costly mistake. However, the welfare to work industry is already making the case to get more money for doing even less.
In an interview with Channel 4, Ian Mulheirn from the workfare industry think-tank Social Market Foundation, which claims it was behind the idea for the Work Programme, said “I think that the government will have to accept it’s not working, I think that there’s no real way that they can change the figures that will be in front of them.” However he claims the problem is too ambitious DWP targets rather than workfare company failings! So while the evidence and the arguments for ditching workfare are clear, the government and industry are maneuvering to hand out even more cash to the likes of A4e.
The companies are failing, but it is people looking for work who are being punished. This weekend, Corporate Watch revealed that sanctions – which stop benefits for up to six months – have more than tripled. Last week, it was reported that in desperation one man attempted to set fire to himself at a job centre. This is a stark reminder of why we must challenge workfare, which hands millions to the rich, whilst threatening the poor with destitution if they do not work for nothing.
Take action with Boycott Workfare on 7-14 July: The week of action against workfare.