Is driving people to a state of poverty and desperation the most effective way to get them into work?
Last week, the Prime Minister received a letter coordinated by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, bearing an unprecedented 100 signatures from British organisations, all urging him to rethink the £20 cut in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit. While there has been some coverage of this in the press, there is one fundamental question that no one is asking. Why is there no focus on the quality and performance of employment support programmes helping people get back into work?
The £20 cut implies more people will be looking to return to work, but if the training programmes offered by the majority of UK job centres are not up to scratch, people will then be left both out of work and out of pocket.
John McDonough, MD of Recro Consulting, who specialise in getting the long-term unemployed back into work, explains: “Everyone looking for work should have access to the best possible support programmes and that means transparency of performance. You wouldn’t sign up to a programme that gets 10% of people back into work when you could be on a programme that gets at least 50% back into work. The fact that this information is not known or used is stifling innovation, the economic recovery, and will have an adverse effect on the majority of people who are out of work.”
He goes on to state that the DWP need to start measuring performance with urgency and intent and encouraging innovation rather than recycling old programmes that struggle to perform: “If you analyse the percentage of candidates that get jobs from these programmes, we don’t have enough people in the UK to fill 1.6 million jobs. That means something has to change, and the starting point is better quality programmes. But quality will never improve if DWP aren’t measuring.”
Recro’s courses are performance-oriented and many of their programmes get 50% of their candidates into work. Their concern is that if someone is under enormous stress, hungry, and desperate, how are they going to think, act, and perform? They do not believe that the slogans ‘Plan for Jobs’ and ‘Levelling Up’ reflect the reality these cuts will create.
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