Tuesday, 24 January 2012

It won't work

It's in all the papers this morning; a damning report on the Work Programme by the National Audit Office. The Telegraph reports it straightforwardly. It says that only 26% of those referred to the programme will get work, not the 40% forecast. "Fewer people than expected are being referred on to the work programme in the 'harder to help' category, as providers scramble to cover upfront costs by helping the easiest set of jobless back to work, such as the highly qualified or experienced, to ensure they collect money under the contracts." Some providers will get into serious financial difficulties. The government paid out £63 million to terminate the FND contracts, only to give the WP contracts to the same companies. The Financial Times points out that some companies offered price discounts to get the contracts. Not surprisingly, the industry says it doesn't recognise the figures. And Chris Grayling says it's all guesswork, and it's all right because it's the companies which are taking the risk, not the taxpayer. No, Mr Grayling, it's the unemployed who are taking the risk. He also says that the providers will be able to release "limited information" before the official release of data in March; so watch out for loads of spin - numbers of job outcomes without any start figures. What's important about this, of course, is that the government is waving the Work Programme as the solution to everything, especially in its determination to reduce welfare benefits.
No one has yet related this to the release of figures for Flexible New Deal by the DWP. They show that the total cost (money paid out to providers) was £770m. The percentage of "sustained" jobs to number of starts was 12.2%. Yes, just 12.2%.

Do you remember an exercise you used to do at school called "comprehension"? You had to read a piece of text and then answer questions to show you'd understood it. Well, if you were any good at that you might like to try reading a submission A4e made to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee on community budgets and tell me what the point of it is.


  1. Guess what? BBC R5l just had a phone in about the above topic hosted by Victoria Derbyshire. Thankfully I managed to get my tuppence worth in.

    One chap complained he was ignored for weeks on end. One young woman said the jobs she was presented with were unsuitable and out of date.

    I gave my experiences which were similar to other callers. No one on this phone in (apart from a chap from CDG I think) had anything good to say about the WP. Messer's Grayling and Smith really should listen to progs such as this. Would it make a difference to their approach though? I very much doubt it would!

    Next month BBC R5L are having a debate on employment, the WP, Jobcentres etc. It will be hosted in Salford. Chris Grayling will be the minister taking questions. I only hope I can get on the phone lines again!

  2. P.S. Lines are still open! The employment minister and his shadow opposition counterpart are due on soon! Will keep you all updated as to what they have to say for themselves.

  3. Right, here goes. Chris Grayling and his opposite number Stephen Timms were just on BBC R5L interviewed by Victoria Derbyshire. Here is a rough summary:

    CG: Said the NAO is wrong. Says it's all guesswork. The WP had been analysed by the likes of KPMG. Grayling is saying that there is no risk to the taxpayer as WP providers risk their own money.

    VD: So the WP is just the ND (New Deal) tweaked.

    CG: The previous govt handed £1,00 to every person attached to the old ND. We only pay when someone has been in work for 6 months or more. CG claimed that people had found employment under the WP but cannot give figures yet. He said that he was bound by the statistics. He did say he was trying to bring forward some figures. Also said he would love to be able to reveal even more but was bound by ministerial code.

    ST: Said that the NAO was "almost certainly right" in its findings. Siad the big problem is that there is too much secrecy. ST said he agreed with the principles of the WP as it was based on the ND. Also said that Computer systems are still not working. The program is "rushed and bodged".

    CG: We're dealing with 18 organisations. If they commit fraud, then they'll have their contract terminated.

    ST: Biggest problem is a shortage of jobs. The NAO is right to point out that the WP is overoptimistic. Charities signed up to the WP had not been sent a single person. Said the solution to creating jobs was to not do what the coalition govt were doing which is "cutting too far and too fast".

    VD: Mentioned 10 callers (including myself) who had phoned in about the WP. She admitted it was a small sample but only one person had anything positive to say abot the WP.

    CG: Most people who have found work under the WP will be in work now and will not be phoning your program at 11am. He did not accept that people had not been seen for up to 3 months. If they had, they should write to the DWP.

    So there we have it! A rough summary, but it shows that Grayling is blind to the damning evidence lapping around his ankles, soon to be up to his waist if not his neck!

    There is an old saying, "arguing with this guy is like trying to nail jelly to a wall". This is what you got with Grayling. If someone on the WP disagrees with it and phones the BBC, then it's because they're simply not one of the success stories who will be at work thus not having an opportunity access a radio phone in.

    Timms had nothing else to offer sadly. Not surprising as his New Labour govt was responsible for the introduction of ND, FND and Pathways which were abject failures.

    Out of 15 or so people on Victoria Derbyshire's prog, only TWO had a positive experience. One of these said he had nothing but praise and his views were at odd with other callers. He claimed his provider had gotten him interviews but as yet had not found a job. He admitted that others had qualifications and experience he lacked. Another chap said that at his wife's workplace, a bakery people on the WP had been sent there as unpaid labour (workfare). As a result his wife had to seek a second job as her hours had been cut back as a result.

  4. "The previous govt handed £1,00 to every person attached to the old ND. We only pay when someone has been in work for 6 months or more."

    Whoops....! This should be £1,500, not £1,00!

  5. How Grayling isn't riddled with cognitiive dissonance I do not know. One one hand he talks up the WP like an evangelist. Yet on the ohter his own government's estimates are less than half the people sent there will find work (the rest then face the Community Action Programme I'm guessing - 6 months workfare).

  6. The employment debate is on R5L is on the 15th of Feb.

    1. Listening to Victoria Derbyshire's discuission from yesterday was somewhat sobering. Complete waste of time. You've got the people ringing in saying, on balance, it's useless. Then on the other hand Grayling is there with his fingers in his ears (though not present to hear and respond to the calls) going 'la la la'. I don't know how anyone can function so much in denial. What hope is there? He bangs on about some place in the NW that has a ' miniindustrial estate' where they are teaching people restaurant, building and security guard skills, and then getting them into work. But what's the reality of this? And what about the peopel that don't want a career in either of those fields: the WP is meant to help people do what they are skilled and interested in, not to forcibly transform people to be security guards.

      Derbyshire's a waste of space anyway, laughing her ass off when someone mentions they have property in Scotland. She's then corrected when the guy points out he has savings from a job prior to signing on. Of course this chap's biggest 'mistake' was admitting to refusing a two week shit shovelling placement over the holidays. Why should he take a job like that? It'll screw his claim up. Who cares if it looks good on the CV. There's more to life than a curriculum vitae!

    2. I've heard that R5L's drive-time programme at 4pm on Feb 15 will be talking to four young people about their job seeking experiences as well.

  7. They may be teaching them, or trying too, but will it lead to a job.. or is this place just a way to hide the unemployed.


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