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Iain Duncan Smith has failed to get Work Programme providers to “support” harder-to-help claimants into work, according to the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee.

It used the example of Employment and Support Allowance to illustrate its criticism, saying almost 90 per cent of claimants on the Work Programme have not moved into jobs.

This is no surprise to anybody. If it’s news to you, where have you been for the last three years?

Work Programme providers hit back against criticism in 2013 by saying they needed more money – a move that Vox Political reported as “an insult to everyone they have mishandled”.

This week, that criticism was justified: “Evidence shows that differential payments have not stopped contractors from focusing on easier-to-help individuals and parking harder-to-help claimants, often those with a range of disabilities including mental health challenges,” said the PAC report.

“Data from Work Programme providers shows that they are, on average, spending less than half what they originally promised on these harder to help groups.”

Here’s the knockout blow: “It is a scandal that some of those in greatest need of support are not getting the help they need to get them back to work and are instead being parked by providers because their case is deemed just too hard.”

Why is it a knockout blow? Because it is using the language of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan ‘Returned To Unit’ ‘Services No Longer Required’ Smith.

Almost two years ago, on November 22, 2012, that blowhard appeared on the BBC’s Question Time, where he told Owen Jones that his DWP would make sure that nobody stayed parked on benefits.

“I didn’t hear you screaming about two and a half million people who were parked, nobody saw them, for over 10 years, not working, no hope, no aspiration,” he ranted.

And yet, here we are today. “Some of those in greatest need of support are… being parked by providers [chosen by Iain Duncan Smith, no less] because their case is deemed just too hard.”

In February 2013, Vox Political received BBC figures that suggested the Work Programme providers were being paid £1 billion per year by Iain Duncan Smith’s DWP – to park people on benefits where “nobody saw them”.

That day’s article suggested that the government should “adopt a strategy that we all know these companies use in order to boost their profits. Because they get paid on results, they concentrate on people more likely to generate a fee and sideline jobless clients who need more time and investment – a process known as ‘creaming and parking‘.

“It’s time to “park” all the work programme provider companies… The money saved will total billions.”

Alas, VP‘s recommendation fell on deaf ears and we have all paid the price – literally – in the year and nine months since.

Of course, as with all critical reports by Parliamentary committees, the PAC report falls flat where it makes its own recommendations.

“The Department must do more to encourage providers to work with harder-to-help groups by tackling poorly performing prime contractors and sharing information on what works. It should also collect and publish information from each provider on how much they are spending on different payment groups.”

For crying out loud – what’s the point of that? We know that Work Programme providers are never going to do anything other than park people in the ‘harder-to-help’ groups, as long as the taxpayer is funding them for results.

This report says nothing on how ‘poorly performing contractors’ are to be ‘tackled’, therefore that is not going to happen.

And publishing information on how much providers are spending on different payment groups – why? This information will not be made available if it is uncomplimentary to the government. Freedom of Information requests will fall on deaf ears – like those relating to the deaths of ESA claimants.

No, there’s only one way to use this information: As ammunition against Iain Duncan Smith.

He said he was going to help people who had been parked. He didn’t.

He said – to the Work and Pensions committee only yesterday, that the Work Programme was “outperforming” expectations and was “set to do even better”. It isn’t.

Let’s tell everybody we know about this liar. Get him kicked into his own Work Programme and see how he likes it.

Further reading

Other sites have produced excellent articles on this subject; here are some that have come to VP‘s attention:

Order of Truth

Ipswich Unemployed Action

Same Difference


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