Figures show Work Programme is leaving disabled jobseekers behind


theweeksubFresh concerns have been raised over the government’s Work Programme after new figures showed that only a tiny proportion of disabled people have gained a job since the scheme launched two years ago.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said its report showed a sharp increase in the overall number of jobseekers finding work through the programme, compared with the previous figures released in November 2012.

But the DWP figures also show that less than three per cent of claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) – the new out-of-work disability benefit – have secured at least three months’ paid work since the scheme started in June 2011.

The number of former incapacity benefit claimants who have found jobs through the Work Programme after being reassessed for their “fitness for work” and found eligible for ESA was even lower, with less than one per cent of them finding a job (0.8 per cent) by the end of March 2013.

The figures reveal that just 210 former IB claimants have so far had a “job outcome” of at least three months since the Work Programme began.

The disabled Labour MP Dame Anne Begg, who chairs the Commons work and pensions select committee, said the report showed “an improving general picture”, but “does nothing to reduce the fear that the Work Programme is failing to reach harder-to-help jobseekers”.

She pointed out that only 5.3 per cent of new ESA claimants found “sustained” work between April 2012 and March 2013. This compares with 32 per cent of jobseeker’s allowance claimants aged 18 to 24.

She added: “We remain deeply concerned that the Work Programme, as currently designed, is insufficient to tackle the problems faced by more disadvantaged jobseekers.”

Dame Anne called on the government to accept the recommendations made by her committee in last month’s report on the Work Programme, including better support for disabled people and other disadvantaged jobseekers.

She said: “I urge the government to carefully consider our report. Doing nothing and hoping things improve is no longer an option.”

27 June 2013