Government claims to be 'getting disabled people into work' mask the larger failure of the programme aimed at doing so, says a major UK disability alliance.
DWP work programme statistics published this month assert that more than 500 disabled people a week are being supported into work or training.
However, Disability Rights UK says that this claim needs to be viewed in context with the full official statistics. These show, they point out, that up to end of June 2013 1.31 million have been referred onto the work programme. Of those 14.7 per cent of referrals have achieved a ‘job outcome payment’ of which 3.19 per cent are considered to be disabled.
Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK, commented: "Of course it’s good news that 41,530 disabled people have got employment or training. But we really need to know two things:
"What do these numbers mean in relation to the targets that government set? The last official statistics showed that the Work Programme is massively under-performing in getting disabled people into employment, especially new claimants of Employment and Support Allowance.
"Why is government now switching from giving us percentage performance against performance targets, to giving basic numbers? Is it because numbers sound better than percentages that show the targets missed?
"What kind of jobs and training people are getting into/ Are they sustainable – or short term and insecure? Do they offer development opportunities – or are disabled people trapped in ‘in-work' poverty’?
"Disabled people want real career opportunities and we need reporting that shows us how well that is or is not happening. So let’s not celebrate too soon,’ said Ms Sayce.
Disability Rights UK has already published the results of their own survey about into work support, which reaches rather different conclusions to the Department of Work and Pensions -- which many critics now regard as an unhealthily politicised, partisan department.
The report Taking Control of Employment Support argues that the government's huge Work Programme is failing disabled people.
It suggests that it has at least an 88 per cent failure rate and is very poor value for money.
Work Choice – a more specialist programme – does some good work in spite of a payment incentive system which steers them away from the very people the programme is supposed to help (those facing complex barriers), says the charity.
Disability Rights UK wants the Government to put power in the hands of the people who can really make employment support work – disabled people, and employers – with advice available to them as needed.
* Taking Control of Employment Support report: http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/policy-campaigns/reports-and-research/...
* Disability Rights UK: http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org
* The DWP statistics can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-than-500-disabled-people-a-week-...