Disabled people are being failed by the Government’s flagship Work Programme, aimed at assisting the long-term unemployed move back into work, with just 7% in Stockton finding employment.
And Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North, has rounded on the Government’s Minister for Disabled People for his complete disregard of the needs of disabled people and those with greater health needs who are clearly receiving inadequate and ineffective support.
Under the Work Programme, organisations from both the private and public sectors are contracted to get people into work, being paid for the results they achieve with extra incentives for successfully supporting those deemed to be in greatest need.
Yet, while 860 disabled people from Stockton North have been referred to the Work Programme for assistance, only 60 have secured employment as a result.
During questions in the House of Commons to the Secretary of State for Women and Equalities today, Alex pressed the Government on the matter by asking:
“Does the Minister agree that a 7% success rate is appalling, and will he tell the House what he will do to ensure Work Programme contractors provide greater specialist support for disabled people to help get them into work?”
However, with a leaked report indicating that half of those organisations contracted to deliver the Work Programme thought it to be ineffective, the Minister sidestepped the question and attempted instead to lay blame at the door of previous administrations for failing to do enough to help disabled people.
Alex said: “The Minister is in denial that the Government’s key programme to help the long-term unemployed and those with additional and complex needs is collapsing around him. But what’s worse is the utter contempt he has shown for disabled people in Stockton North by refusing to address the clear issues that exist.
“Over £1 billion has been spent on the Work Programme, yet those who go through the programme are more likely to return to the Jobcentre than they are to secure sustained employment. And while it is clear that the Work Programme is failing and reform of disability benefits is in chaos, the Government continues to stymie access to a report on the extent of these shortfalls.
“We need comprehensive action, in the shape of a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, that will make it easier to help the long-term unemployed get back to work and provide additional assistance to those that require it. By not doing so, this Government is continuing to fail disabled people across the country.”