SHP withdraws from the Work Programme

29 March 2012

SHP has today announced an end to its involvement in the Work Programme – the Government’s main welfare-to-work programme. After nine months of working as a sub-contractor to support homeless people to find jobs, we have withdrawn from the Work Programme because we have been unable to make the financial arrangements work given the multiple problems faced by many of the clients referred to us.

Commenting on the decision, SHP Chief Executive Liz Rutherfoord said:

“People with experience of homelessness often have complex problems and require intensive support before they are ready to work.

“We had high hopes that the Work Programme would enable us to help more homeless people to find work and ultimately regain their independence. Especially as one of its professed aims is to accommodate people who need extensive support to be job ready.

“However, we’ve found that the scheme is just not adequately resourced or structured to do this.

“We did not receive as many referrals as we had expected and the majority of those referred to us were nowhere near ready for work – struggling with immediate issues such as rough sleeping, mental ill health and drug use and unable to take on work-related activity. While we have successfully supported people to find accommodation, access ongoing support and treatment and, in some cases, to either find work or be job ready, the Work Programme does not adequately fund the intensive preparatory work required to achieve these results. We just do not have the resources to effectively subsidise a national government programme.

“We have also become concerned that the Work Programme structure leaves those who need the most support, at greatest risk of benefit sanctions. Sanctions don’t serve a constructive purpose for society’s most vulnerable and marginalised people. Rather, the sanctions system compounds the problem, pushing individuals further into poverty with little option other than to beg, steal or work for cash in hand in order to find the means to survive.

“It is with regret that we are leaving the programme, but if the Government really wants to help people furthest away from employment they need to ensure there is adequate funding and reward for those who are supporting people to the point of being job-ready. Otherwise people who, with the right support and investment, could be helped to find work, will be neglected in favour of people seen as needing less support and assistance.”

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