Experience of charities

At the outset Ministers promised that the voluntary sector and social enterprise would play a big part in the Work Programme. However the tendering process in Scotland resulted in two large private companies (with little track record of work in this field) winning most of the contracts, with only 8% made up of voluntary sector or social enterprise partners. I put this to the Prime Minister David Cameron on 11 May 2011 and his answer was simply wrong!

In 2012 a report from homelessness charity St Mungo’s found that:

  • 58 per cent of those surveyed were not asked about the barriers to work that they face, and Jobcentre Plus is not identifying homeless people eligible for additional Work Programme support
  • 58 per cent said they were not treated with dignity or respect
  • 54 per cent saw their advisor less than once a month
  • 22 per cent had their benefits sanctioned

Homelessness charities are effectively subsidising the Work Programme, as they continue to help homeless people to move into employment because the contracted providers are not giving them the help that they need. Across the UK the charities helped hundreds of homeless people into work, but received no Work Programme funding for this.

The report makes a number of recommendations. It calls for Jobcentre Plus staff to identify and assess claimants who are homeless more effectively and provide a better standard of service for them, including through working with charities that already have specialist experience and successful track records of helping homeless people back into work.