Five things the government won’t tell you about Workfare

The Department of Work and Pensions today rushed through emergency legislation to ensure that job-seekers unfairly sanctioned by their policies are unable to claim compensation. This provides an opportunity to look at how utterly infective they have been at getting people into work.

The Department of Work and Pensions today rushed through emergency legislation to ensure that job-seekers unfairly sanctioned by their policies are unable to claim compensation.

The move follows a ruling by the Court of Appeal last month that rules governing the government’s work programmes were illegal – albeit on fairly narrow technical grounds.

While the vote today wasn’t really about the effectiveness of the government’s work programmes as such, it does provide an opportunity to look at how utterly infective they have been at getting people into work.

1. Mandatory Work Activity doesn’t improve job outcomes but it does increase disability claims. According to a study published last June, it has no impact on employment and may even lead to those on the programme moving from Jobseekers’ Allowance to Employment and Support Allowance instead.

2. The Work Programme actively reduces the chances of people finding a job. Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showed that just 3.6 per cent of people on the work programme had found work on the work programme, below the contractual minimum of 5.5 per cent.

3. The Community Action Programme has no impact on how many people find work. Under this six month workfare placement, just 15-18 per cent of people found work – roughly the same percentage as those receiving standard JobCentre Plus support.

4. The rate of people on the Work Experience Scheme leaving benefits is the same as it is for people not on the scheme (see the graph at the bottom of the page). To quote the Center For Economic and Social Inclusion:

“This [graph] appears to show that the youth work experience scheme has had no additional impact on the speed at which young people leave benefit, and may have actually led to them spending longer on benefit than they would have done. However, these figures require some caution – the stated intent of the Department has been to target work experience at those with the biggest barriers to work, who would likely have had rates below the average for all claimants.”

5. Workfare schemes haven’t helped people into work when the schemes have been tried in other countries. As the DWP noted in 2008:

“There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers.”


Work programme

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14 Responses to “Five things the government won’t tell you about Workfare”

  1. Newsbot9

    There’s no “albeit”. It was illegal. This is covering up for illegality and needs to be challenged. That Labour refused to speak up against it shows another move to the right on their part.

  2. Mick

    Conservatives should perhaps have known they were on a hiding to nothing.

    Giving contracts to the likes of A4e, catapulted to national prominence by our last Labour masters.

    Good grief…. Cameron should know not to handle anything previously treasured by Labour! It’s a poisoned chalice, as the voters know!

  3. Carole Frost

    there are no real jobs in this country ..forcing people onto workfare is wrong where is the morals of employment as far as i am concerned workfare is not the solution to gaining experience we need more industry to the labour market..industry want skilled people where are people going to find the skills if they have no real experience..this government are doing a lot of illegal things via the DWP and jobcentre plus ..forcing disabled and sick people through the workfare schemes is wrong it is just to boost the government figures so no one gets any benefits etc.

  4. Charles Patrick O'Brien

    Funny how the government changes the rules every so often,they changed the rules to steal the TSB banks from the people that owned them,they stole the Hydro system in Scotland that the people paid for with higher bills for 30 years to build,and some now find it odd that they wont just keep on doing it,not long till they call us serfs again.back to the aristocracy and serfdom.The other cracker is giving money to people for child-care now that is a very Soviet Socialist way of doing things,keep the two parents working for the state and professional child carers look after your children,you will be too tired to have some of that good family time(that the Tories say they are all about) and you wont be able to think what the government is doing to you or where its leading you,until its too late,Pension ha ha ,work most to death so that you die before you reach pension age except in the South east those folk get 20 years more than us in the northern part of the UK,so best we die younger to (again) subsidise the South.

  5. Felix

    “The Department of Work and Pensions today rushed through emergency legislation to ensure that job-seekers unfairly sanctioned by their policies are unable to claim compensation.”

    Gaping omission here: with the connivance of the Labour Party.

  6. Lin

    I live in the South, and actually our local Council has been sending £3million quid EVERY YEAR for the last ten or so years back to central government to be distributed to Councils in the North of England who cannot manage their own housing stock, so to make sweeping statements like you just did is vastly unfair. We should all be in this together! It’s bad enough that the low paid working man thinks he is better than the sick or disabled man, and the well paid working man thinks he is better than all three of those groups and that the rulers of our land think they are God without us being divided as well!

  7. Newsbot9

    Actually – and I have checked – no member of the Labour Party voted for either reading of the bill yesterday. Also, some of them were absolutely savage in ripping apart the Government’s position.

    But they haven’t taken it to the country either.

  8. Newsbot9

    Ah yes, tribalism.

  9. Welsh not British

    RE Workfare, why buy the cow when the clichés are free. Or something like that.

  10. treborc

    Yes bet those MP’s were the same ones cheering for Labour WCA and workfare

  11. treborc

    abstaining of course means labour cannot be blamed…

  12. treborc


  13. Rosie2

    There is a petition to the Lords here – the Lords debate it Monday.

  14. HopeNotHateBNP

    I agree that workfare is morally wrong despite what the right wing say. The so-called “work” programme is nothing to do with work as this article so correctly points out!

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