London Councils report finds that Work Programme is failing those with complex needs

18 August 2015

London Councils, which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London, has released a new report “All’s Fair in the Work Programme?”, analysing the impact of the Work Programme in London whilst focusing on results according to the age, sex, ethnicity and disability of participants.

The analysis by London Councils has strengthened concern about the ability of the Work Programme to support those with complex needs, particularly those with physical or mental health needs and older participants, with just 15.7 per cent of over 50’s finding work – dropping to less than 7 per cent for over 60s.

The report suggests that contracted providers lack the ability and capacity to provide the integrated network of services required to provide the necessary support for those with complex needs, whist highlighting the long term costs of failing to help at-risk groups into work.

Comparison of Work Programme results with similar employment projects within London further illustrates the poor performance of the government’s flagship welfare reform, with participants of local government schemes performing much better due to local schemes’ ability to ‘prepare [participants] for the world of work by tailoring support to individual circumstances’, whilst utilising their expertise and local knowledge to ensure that all Londoners can find employment.

London Councils made a clear case for the expansion of local government’s role within employment projects across the capital; however warn of the dangers of cuts to local government finances and the consequential impact on their ability to “fill the gaps in provision left by national employment programmes”.

Councillor Muhammed Butt, London Council’s spokesperson on equalities told LocalGov “Significant improvement is needed if we are going to offer these groups, and others, a real prospect of employment. London local government continues to demonstrate its ability to address complex needs through targeted, local help. In order to design services that better serve communities at the local level there is a strong case for devolving this function to the boroughs.”