Work Programme a travesty, says SCVO chief executive

Martin Sime says the third sector 'gets the crumbs off the table left by big business'

Martin Sime
Martin Sime

The government’s Work Programme has been described as a "travesty for the big society" by Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Sime’s criticism came after a summit on the new welfare-to-work programme in Edinburgh yesterday, attended by Chris Grayling, the employment minister, Michael Moore, the Scottish secretary, and representatives of voluntary and private sector organisations.

Grayling had previously hailed the award of contracts potentially worth billions of pounds as "a massive boost for the big society" and claimed voluntary organisations would receive 40 to 50 per cent of work under the programme.

But Ingeus and Working Links, the two private companies awarded prime contracts in Scotland, have proposed giving only 8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively of work down the supply chain to the voluntary sector, the SCVO said.

"This whole process has been a travesty for the big society," said Sime. "But at least we now know what the big society really means. It means the third sector gets the crumbs off the table left by big business."

The Wise Group, a Scottish social enterprise, failed in its bid to win the five-year, payment-by-results contracts. It was chosen to deliver prime contracts under the DWP’s former Flexible New Deal programme, which was replaced by the Work Programme.

A DWP spokeswoman said: "The competition to deliver the work programme was a fair and open process and, when we announced the preferred bidders, their supply chains included almost 300 voluntary sector organisations across the UK.

"Our only target is to make sure everyone who has the potential to work is supported and not left behind." 

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