Newham Mayor attacks Work Programme for employment

New employment scheme the Work Programme is “fatally flawed” and “destined to fail”, according to Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales, as he made a speech at a major welfare-to-work conference.

The programme plans to replace existing support for the long-term unemployed receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance by paying a network of voluntary and private organisations to help them back into work.

But Sir Robin criticised the new initiative, saying that it is under-funded, too complex and overly-centralised and it will fail because the government is trying to solve a local issue nationally.

Speaking at the CESI National Welfare to Work Convention in Manchester, an annual event for around 1,000 work providers and government experts, Sir Robin said: “Despite having years of experience and expertise in welfare-to-work and all the will in the world to get involved, we were unable to – the offer just doesn’t work. The money makes no sense. Unfortunately we had to walk away.”

He said: “Local communities and local authorities should be at the heart of the fight to tackle worklessness, not marginalised on the side lines.”

Since October, unemployment in Newham has risen by almost nine per cent, while national unemployment figures fell.

Employment minister Chris Grayling said: “We will do our bit and get people ready for work and in exchange we will expect people to take up the work that is available. We are sending out a clear message: If you can work, and we can help you find a job, you must work.”