Here is an article, found on Twitter, from the Shaw Trust commenting on the first year of our beloved Work Programme. Some parts of this I do not like.
"I can best describe the Shaw Trust and its Work Programme by talking about our new office in Stafford. From that base – so new that we can smell the paint on the walls – we operate the Work Programme (a government-supported service that helps clients prepare for, find and remain in work) and Work Choice provision (the government’s specialist employment programme for disabled people)."
I can also describe the Shaw Trust: they were happy for me to self refer to them a few years ago and have me sign forms enabling their funding. But when it came to actually providing real help, particularly when I asked about making a living selling stuff on Amazon (hey, I thought it was a good idea!) they didn't want to know. In fact they did absolutely nothing. Still what do I know? Mine is but one experience.
Work Choice is just a lighter, 6 month, version of the WP for people with disabilities. I have commented on almost being referred to it in January. I refused after realising that a) it wasn't what it was cracked up to be and b) if I didn't get a job after 6 months of this I'd end up on the WP anyway. It's just another scheme with another buzzword title run by the same old providers. Business as usual.
"We provide what we call ‘person-centred’ support to our clients, helping them into jobs and the increased independence that employment brings. Our Stafford base includes a café and a charity shop – one of 50 that the Shaw Trust runs throughout the country. The manager of our shop is actually an alumnus, and both our shop and café provide work experience opportunities for our clients to develop skills in a real-world setting."
I have no idea what 'person-centred' actually means. It's just more americanised corporate sounding buzz-bollocks. Every provider will claim they are 'person-centred'. It's meaningless.
Lucky how the Shaw Trust has a ready supply of 'volunteers' for it's cafe's and shops. Nice to know you don't have to pay them a wage!
"In the West Midlands, Serco is the prime provider of the Work Programme provision. Combining forces means we can add range and scope, plus commercial nous, to our shared enthusiasm for tackling unemployment."
So you aren't providing it there at all then, and all your buzz-bollocks and hype is meaningless to the people of the West Midlands, victims of the Serco Work Programme postcode lottery. This business of being able to sell your commitment seems to me wholly at odds with the enthusiasm for supporting people you talk about in this article. I find this whole ability to just shirk your responsibilities by means of subcontracting really quite odious. Perhaps I could subcontract my commitment to someone else?
"Is it perfect? Well, no."
Says it all really.
"Anecdotal evidence suggests that we’re seeing clients on the Work Programme – especially those with both diagnosed and, more often, undiagnosed mental health or learning problems – who may be better served by Work Choice."
I'm not sure I like where this is headed. You providers all jumped at the chance to get your fingers into the public purse through this scheme and now when you find it's not quite the golden goose, the cracks start to appear. We all know this was a scam, and here you are telling us that vulnerable people are finding it tough. Well blow me down, really?
"However, when you take into account the continued stormy economic waters and weak labour markets in many of the areas in which we work, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved over the past year."
Why didn't you lot take these factors into account instead of placing claimants into precarious positions where they can find themselves the victims of a draconian sanction regime at the whim of WP staff?
"One key part of our goal is to help people stay in employment. During the first 12 months of the Work Programme, we’ve seen a customer on ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) start and stay in employment for 11 months in the same job – and counting. "
I suppose it would be churlish for me to criticise - but seriously? A month into the WP's existence and one person finds a job (with no evidence provided by you that he found this directly because of your intervention) that has lasted almost a year. Sorry but that's not good enough at all. Not compared to all the hype we've had to listen to from the industry and from the government. Especially when we're told we need tough love and not actual support and protection from vicious economic backdrafts caused by capitalists.
"But on the other hand, we’ve seen JSA (Jobseeker’s Allowance) customers start six or seven jobs, simply to obtain the milestone of six months in sustained employment."
Now this is the reason I'm posting about this at all. This is disgraceful; it seems to be saying that the provider (and probably a lot of them) is able to claim their payment from a customer if that customer has managed a enough jobs to meet the 6 month requirement. That is not how this is supposed to work; it's meant to be a single job that's sustained long term (6 months). This is a scam!
"We need to exploit every opportunity to support our clients in the right ways, so they develop the right skills for the right long-term jobs for them. "
An unfortunate choice of word - exploit. But it's clear to me that the industry and the WP is not remotely interested in developing anything, let alone the right things. Evidently, even from this article, it seems they are more interested in making a fast buck.