Just 5% of all the claimants so far referred to the work programme are in receipt of employment and support allowance (ESA), according to figures produced by the DWP. This is a much smaller proportion of sick and disabled claimants than was expected. Whilst many ESA claimants may be relieved, some charities are complaining that it is causing them financial difficulties.

Statistics published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on 21 February 2012 show that 370,000 claimants were referred on to the Work Programme between 1 June 2011 and 31 October 2011. Of the 370,000 claimants referred, 332,000 have had an “​initial engagement activity”​ with a Work Programme provider. Of these, however, just 17,000 are ESA claimants, the remainder are all in receipt of jobseeker’​s allowance (JSA).

Charities have expressed concern at both the low level of referrals being made to the voluntary sector and the small number of referrals being made for ESA claimants.

Paul Winyard, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) welfare-to-work lead, told the Third Sector website:

“​People receiving ESA tend to be the harder-to-reach groups that are more closely associated with voluntary sector provision. It seems that low numbers of these people are being placed in the Work Programme, which supports concerns raised by our special interest group that referrals to voluntary sector groups have been lower than expected.”​

He also raised concerns about the adequacy of the data being published by the DWP:

“​We would like to see a more detailed breakdown of where jobseekers go after being sent to prime contractors so that we could ascertain the level of voluntary sector involveme​nt.”​

The full article is available on the Third Sector website


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