No jobs. Just sanctions.
Yesterday the news we already knew. The Work Programme isn’t working. It’s a £5 billion pound failure. Not one of the 18 contractors reached the target set by the government of getting 5.5% of clients a job for at least six months. Only 3.5% of people referred to work programme found jobs lasting six months. But that’s not even the whole story. Workfare industry lobbyists the CESI have calculated that the real figure of people getting any kind of employment on the scheme in its first 12 months, is in fact just 2.1%. The government’s target for minimum performance by providers is 5.5%. Even these pro-workfare industry lobbyists have now stated that:
“This suggests that the Work Programme as a whole is underperforming against contractual expectations, even when accounting for changes in the economy.”
The cost of this £5 billion failure can also be measured in human misery. You have a one in ten chance of being sanctioned on the Work Programme but less than a one in twenty chance of finding work. 15,000 people a month are currently being sanctioned, with the total number of people sanctioned and therefore plunged into dire poverty since the scheme began currently likely to stand at more than 150,000.
Whilst failing providers such as A4e happily sanction people’s £71 or £56 per week JSA, their profits are entirely funded by the taxpayer through their £438 million contract, which they maintain despite being investigated for fraud. The data shows that providers such as A4E, Ingeus, REED, and G4S are more interested in stripping people of benefits than finding people work. There are no jobs, just sanctions.
It is nothing short of scandalous that the employment minister Mark Hoban, and Work Programme providers can blame a weak economy for the scheme’s failure, yet people who are unemployed and sent to A4e, Reed, Ingeus are constantly told as part of their ‘induction’ that the reason they are unemployed is due to personal failure. It has never been clearer that the real reason people are unemployed is that there is a lack of jobs. This is made worse when providers supply employers with unpaid staff, on threat of joining the ranks of the 150,000 people who have faced sanctions.
The Work Programme, like the other 6 workfare schemes, was an economic failure from the start. Workfare was never designed to create jobs, it has never boosted employment anywhere in the world. Workfare was however designed to cut the benefits bill, and to deter people from claiming state support when times are hard. It is also being used to hide the true number of unemployed, as the Office of National Statistics has confirmed.
Workfare also replaces paid jobs. After all with stores like Argos, Superdrug and Shoe Zone to name just a few using workfare to reduce hours and keep costs down instead of providing paid employment, where were all the jobs needed for the Work Programme to succeed going to come from anyway?
Given the misery workfare causes, the role that some charities are playing is shameful. They are directly increasing poverty for the poorest by taking part in workfare and putting people at risk of sanctions. The Salvation Army – a key proponent of workfare – has an annual income of £207,011,000. Yet it is actively increasing poverty for people both in and out of employment by taking part in the government’s workfare schemes.
So the question is why are so many charities who should be opposing poverty taking part in a scheme that is increasing it? Join us to ask them just that, and let them know we won’t be shopping or donating until they pull out, in the upcoming week of action…