‘Let councils take the strain on employment’


theweeksubLocal authorities in London have questioned why the government’s Work Programme is finding jobs for so few disabled people, when council-run schemes are much more successful.

London Councils pointed to an analysis of government figures, which showed that fewer than five per cent of disabled people who claim employment and support allowance (ESA) are finding a job after being referred to the Work Programme in London.

The figures, from April 2012 to March 2013, show only 370 ESA claimants across London found at least three months’ paid work through the Work Programme in the entire year.

But some council-run employment schemes have reported far higher success rates than the Work Programme, which launched in June 2011.

Conservative-run Wandsworth council, in south London, has found sustained employment for 37.5 per cent of the disabled people who enter its employment scheme Workright.

The new report calls for “devolution” of the Work Programme, and other employment support programmes, so there is a single pot of money managed by groups of boroughs, which can then link that support with other services provided by councils, such as childcare, support services for drug or alcohol problems, and information and advice services.

Cllr Peter John, London Councils’ executive member for Employment and Skills, said: “The Work Programme is failing those most in need.

“For welfare-to-work schemes to support the most vulnerable successfully, there needs to be exceptionally strong links between the scheme, the people and the services on which they depend.

“By devolving the scheme to councils the government would radically improve employment support and offer real hope to those who need it most, reversing years of low-expectations of what can be achieved.”

Last September, almost half of London’s local authorities said they had “no influence” over the Work Programme in their local area.

18 July 2013