The Work Programme is not doing enough to move the hardest-to-help members of society closer to work, three large service-providing charities have said in the wake of a critical Work and Pensions Committee report.
The three charities, Crisis, DrugScope and Mind, have said they support the conclusions in the select committee report, released yesterday, which said the Work Programme was not reaching the most disadvantaged and was failing small, specialist providers working with these client groups.
The three charities said that those people who are homeless, have mental health issues or drug and alcohol problems had received little benefit from the Work Programme and should receive tailored support and extra help to get closer to work.
They said the companies delivering the Work Programme lacked the necessary expertise to help the most disadvantaged, who were often 'parked' and received no support at all.
The charities said they supported recommendations that 'milestone' payments should be introduced to reward providers who move hard-to-help individuals closer to the market, and there should be a mandatory minimum service standard for all clients.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: "The Work Programme has been a huge disappointment for too many homeless people.
"The support they’ve received has been minimal and, at worst, clients have been hit with sanctions rather than offered support."
Martin Barnes, chief executive of DrugScope, said: "The findings of the committee confirm our concerns, and those of our members, that the Work Programme isn’t working for those with particular needs and facing barriers to employment, including people with significant drug and alcohol problems."
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: "We know that the majority of people claiming benefits want to get back to work, but many need extra support to get back into the job market, especially those with fluctuating conditions such as mental health problems. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening and those who need most support are being ‘parked’."
The three charities wrote a joint letter making these points to The Times yesterday.