As announced by the DWP/Mark Hoban today, people who have been failed by the Work Programme for two years “will be given an end-of-term report from their Work Programme provider assessing what progress they have made and their ongoing needs, to inform their new adviser before facing the toughest Jobcentre regime to help them find work”.
It’s this word ‘tough’ which indicates the nature of this policy. It isn’t about helping people find employment, or undertake actual training – both of which the Work Programme was ostensibly designed to do. Quite the contrary, this is about the DWP being purposely vindictive. Let’s look at the content outlined by Hoban:
Claimants will be expected to be on a training scheme, Mandatory Work Activity placement or intensive work preparation within days of finishing on the Work Programme – losing their benefit if they fail to comply. An extra £30m will be available to pay for extra training and specialist help to prepare them for work, for instance counselling for people dependent on drug and alcohol.
Claimants will also have to attend the Jobcentre far more frequently than other jobseekers, with weekly signing on being routine and some people being required to meet their adviser every day.
The advisers, who will be focused on working with those returning from the Work Programme, will take a tough approach to monitoring whether claimants are sticking to their plan with anyone failing to participate losing their benefits.
The programme comes after Jobcentres involved in a trailblazer found that claimants targeted by an intensive approach were much less likely to stay on benefit.
The last sentence is the true purpose here: it’s not about providing support to anybody – it’s about making it virtually inevitable that somebody will be sanctioned, and therefore deprived of any support at all. In fact, as another blogger has written, the DWP’s own report on the impact of sanctions demonstrated how severe and counterproductive they are. It is especially noteworthy that the latest statistics on sanctions and their consequences were due to be published this month, but the government has delayed them. This putative ‘programme’ will last for six months. It is just plain wicked.