Tower Hamlets job seekers are the least likely in London to find sustainable employment through the government’s £5 billion Work Programme, according to a report released last week.
The report, by the local government group London Councils, slams the performance of the Work Programme, especially in finding jobs for those receiving employment and support allowance.
Under the Work Programme, providers from the voluntary, private and public sectors are paid according to results to get people into work, with extra incentives to support the hardest to help.
In Tower Hamlets only 790 out of 8,510 people, or 9.3 per cent of referrals to March 2013 resulted in a job outcome payment to the private companies delivering the Work Programme.
A job outcome payment is made once a participant referred to the Work Programme achieves a 13 or 26-week job placement in a 12-month period. A participant can achieve a job outcome in a single job or in a series of short-term jobs.
A Tower Hamlets Council spokesperson said: “Long term unemployment for some remains a real problem and the approach of the government’s Work Programme, designed for 16 London boroughs was too generic to address the very local and personal challenges faced by people in our borough.
“The Work Programme’s structure also proved very difficult for many of our local community and voluntary organisations to apply and win a contract, which meant they were unable to get involved. In order for employment programmes to work locally they need to invest locally, in the local people and organisations who know and can meet the needs of the community.”
Councillor Peter John, London Councils’ Executive Member for Employment and Skills, said: “The Work Programme is failing those most in need. For welfare-to-work schemes to support the most vulnerable successfully, there needs to be exceptionally strong links between the scheme, the people and the services on which they depend.”
“By devolving the scheme to councils the government would radically improve employment support and offer real hope to those who need it most, reversing years of low-expectations of what can be achieved.”
Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of the industry body the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), told the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, in May, that economic conditions made it uncertain as to whether providers would hit or get close to performance targets.
A September 2012 survey by London Councils found that almost half of London’s boroughs say they have “no influence” over the Work Programme in their local area.