(This is the text of my latest Opinion column that was first published in the Brighton Argus on 24th September 2015)
It was rumoured before the general election that one change that would be made should the Conservatives be re-elected was to fundamentally change the Work Programme.
The Work Programme is a multi-million Pound initiative which is not achieving the outcomes we all hoped it would.
One of the fundamental flaws of the Work Programme is that it has betrayed the principles of Localism by awarding regional contracts that only large multinational companies could possibly bid for.
How much better it would have been had smaller, local and community based organisations been asked to provide Work Programme services. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that organisations such as the Hangleton and Knoll Project, The Bridge, and BHT’s own Whitehawk Inn, would have vastly outperformed the current Work Programme providers.
At a time when we are constantly told that there is a need for austerity measures, how can it be sensible to continue to invest hundreds of millions in a failing scheme. Suggesting that “the Jury is still out” on the Work Programme’s effectiveness no longer washes.
The mental health charity, Mind, last week said that the Work Programme was taking entirely the wrong approach with people with mental health problems, undermining work, making their lives worse, and actually making them less able to work.
I support the principles behind the Work Programme but I am amazed that the DWP continues to flog this dead horse when there is clear evidence that the Work Programme simply isn’t working.