In the Guardian, Patrick Butler explains why some welfare-to-work charities are less than enthusiastic about the new Work Programme:
We are just two weeks into the scheme, and already specialist charities involved in welfare to work have reported either big cuts in contracted work (and are laying off staff) or declaring that they won’t get involved, because the deals on offer don’t stack up financially.
Ministers described the Work Programme as a “massive boost” for the “big society”. But it’s increasingly looking anything but: not only did private sector corporates win 90% of the prime contracts, but it appears the much-trumpeted sub-contractor market is not looking too healthy for the voluntary sector either. Charities complain they are mere “bid candy”: used as window dressing by big corporates keen to buff their bid credentials, then quietly ignored or squeezed out once the contract is in the bag.
You can read more here.
Also in the Guardian, you can read about Lady Stedman-Scott’s (who is herself a Tory) critique of the program:
Lady Stedman-Scott, the founder of Tomorrow’s People, an award-wining employment charity that works with jobless youngsters, said commercial firms would not be prepared to take on the financial risk of helping difficult clients such as ex-offenders, homeless people and the long-term jobless, especially in areas where there are few jobs.
Ministers could not rely on the work programme to support hard to help benefit claimants, but must set up a separate fund to invest in specialist charities which carry out the expensive long-term work necessary to get them ready for work, she said.
Read more here.