News published by the Guardian has shown that welfare firms admit to focusing on job seekers that are more likely to generate a fee and are ready to work, ignoring vulnerable jobless clients that require more investment and that are considered as “too costly” to help.
The research into flagship coalition initiative, revealed that the quality of services offered to job seekers is being affected by the way the Work Programme was designed, in which companies are not paid until customers have been in work for two years, creating a huge financial stress that many providers have no option but to prioritise on “easy customers” that are more likely to generate a fee.
Despite concerns over the Work Programme, the government has announced plans to use a similar payment by results system as it prepares to introduce market reforms to the probation service.
In addition, the study revealed a widespread concern that the “payment by results” approach has been undermining ministers’ stated aim of getting “hard to reach” customers, such as those with disabilities, off benefits and into work.
The study is based on a series of interviews with welfare providers of all sizes, both private companies and charities and focus groups conducted by the Third Sector Research Centre at Birmingham University.