The Department for Work and Pensions has told charities running the government’s Work Programme that they cannot publish any figures on how well their schemes are doing.
Charities and companies acting as prime contractors and subcontractors on the programme, set up to move benefit claimants into employment, have signed contracts with the DWP that say they must not publish their own data on the programme.
A spokesman for the Shaw Trust, a Work Programme subcontractor in three regions, told Third Sector: "We want to talk openly about our figures, but we can’t. We think open access to the data would allow providers to share information about what’s working and what’s not, so that they can deliver the best services. But no provider is allowed to share this data. I think there is a good case that it should be out there."
Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the newspaper columnist Polly Toynbee said she was aware of the DWP’s restriction on publishing the data. "Charities are not employees of the government; they are independent," she said. "They should never sign a contract that says they can’t release the figures. They should always be transparent."
A spokeswoman for the DWP confirmed that the department would not allow providers to publish the data. She said the government’s "proper process" would have to be applied to the publication of data, and the figures would have to go through the Office for National Statistics.
She said the DWP would publish data on the Work Programme in due course, and that she hoped charities would still be able to share good practice without publishing data.