You're coming to the end of your two years on the Work Programme. What now? After all that "tailored support" (don't laugh) you still can't get a job. Perhaps now they'll get off your back for a while. But no. According to a government press release, "Work Programme leavers will be targeted by a hit squad of specialist advisers as part of a tough approach to get them into a job."
You see, it's your fault. You've had all that help but you remain stubbornly unemployed, so clearly what you need is an "intensive and uncompromising regime ....... with rigorous monitoring to ensure they are doing everything they can to find work". This will be delivered by the Jobcentres. People will be put onto training schemes, Mandatory Work Activity placements or "intensive work preparation" as soon as they come off the WP. An extra £30m is going on this, for extra training and specialist help such as counselling for drug or alcohol dependency. Another requirement: "Every Work Programme returner will also be required to register with Universal Jobmatch to aid work search and job matching and to allow their adviser to check their work search activity online." There has, apparently, been a pilot scheme (where?) which proved, said officials, that "claimants targeted by an intensive approach were much less likely to stay on benefit." (Telegraph) No figures, you notice, but we would have no reason to believe them if there were.
This is a tacit acknowledgement that the WP is a waste of money. Two years in which all this stuff was supposed to be happening and obviously wasn't - so throw a bit more money at it, cutting out the WP providers. But the attitude is ingrained in this government that people are out of work by choice, and if you just keep cranking up the pressure they'll get a job. Or, at least, they will disappear from the lists of benefits claimants.
Labour has said that WP leavers would be forced to accept a paid job, but we wait for them to fill in the details. It surely has to be better than this government's clueless plan.
One bit of good news: the BBC reports that in 2012-2013, 708 employers have been fined for paying less than minimum wage, and affected workers have got an average of £300 in back pay. One of the guilty employers is described as a "national retailer", but is not named. Why not?
Update: Today, Saturday, the odious Express tells the story in its own disgusting way. "Hit squads to force workshy back into jobs" is the headline. It goes on: "At the heart of the Government’s reforms is frustration at a generation of lifelong layabouts, immortalised by fictional Frank Gallagher from TVs Shameless", and there's a photo to illustrate these workshy people. As we've said before, it suits the government to have its actions portrayed in this lying way, and no recourse for the long-term unemployed who are being traduced.