NCVO responds to the publication of statistics relating to the Work Programme
Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO said:
"The figures are disappointing – the Work Programme is clearly not working well enough for many people that are struggling to find and stay in stable employment. Charities involved in the programme have been sounding the alarm bells on this since day one and NCVO has consistently been calling for changes to improve the programme. The employment market, at present, is incredibly tough and the Government, the private sector and charities need to work together to ensure the scheme delivers for job-seekers. We need to act urgently to ensure that outcomes improve dramatically –and there are some early positive signs– but we must not be complacent.
"We desperately need robust and timely data on what is happening in supply chains, particularly lower down the chain and not just at prime contractor level. The public has a right to know about how its money is being spent and this would enable us to see clearly which groups require additional support. Of particular concern is the plight of the most vulnerable who require specialist support in order to return to the job market, the methods being used to assess the needs of claimants are at risk of letting down some of the most disadvantaged people in society. These should be urgently re-examined to ensure that the needs of everyone in the Work Programme can be served, especially given the scale of the difficulties faced by charities, and the fact that our research shows that almost 50% feel their contracts are at risk of failure within six months.
"Often it is charities, that are best placed to provide this specialist support and we are urging the Government to make a number of changes that would enable charities to play a fuller role. We know from our own research that charities are working extremely hard to service even the hardest to help, often by having to dip into their own reserves."
NCVO coordinates a Special Interest Group (SIG) for Work Programme sub-contractors from the voluntary sector. The group enables sub-contractors to share their experiences; provides them with information and advice; and enables NCVO to feed their feed their concerns to Government. The group is free and open to all voluntary and community organisations who act as sub-contractors in the Work Programme. Membership currently stands at around 150 civil society organisations and growing.
NCVO published a report in October 2012 entitled ‘The Work Programme – Perceptions and Experiences of the Voluntary Sector’. The report found that
7 out of 10 charity sub-contractors say that their Work Programme contracts were at risk of failure. The report also found that half of the charities (48%) were subsidising the delivery of the Work Programme from their own reserves. Find out more about our report.