Jobcentre Plus and Work Programme providers

I’m concerned about the cooperation and coordination between Jobcentre Plus and the various private companies and charities that deliver the Government’s various back to work schemes. This is reflected in a case brought to me by a constituent undertaking Mandatory Work Activity, which is similar to the Work Programme.

My constituent was sent to work in a Salvation Army shop, an organisation that aims to advance religion. My constituent felt that this amounted to expecting him to engage in activities that ran against his personal beliefs, which contravenes guidance for MWA providers published by DWP. Although he raised this with Jobcentre Plus, they failed to provide a satisfactory response.

While I do not take issue with the Salvation Army myself, I was happy to raise this case in a letter to the Minister responsible, Mark Hoban. In his reply he suggested that my constituent should have raised his concerns with his MWA provider and, if still unhappy, with the Independent Case Examiner. I find this response most unsatisfactory. The Jobcentre Plus advisor should have acted upon my constituent’s concerns when they were initially conveyed.