People with mental health problems failed by Government back-to-work scheme

Posted On: 
22nd December 2016

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has today (Thursday 22 December) released statistics showing the numbers of people moving into work through their flagship back-to-work scheme, the Work Programme. 

Most people in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will be mandated to engage in back-to-work support through the Work Programme or Jobcentre Plus. The figures show:

  • 10.86% of people with mental health problems attached to the Work Programme achieved a job outcome
  • 33.79% of people with no recorded health condition attached to Work Programme achieved a job outcome

Responding to these data, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns said:

“After nearly six years of the Work Programme, it’s clear that it’s been catastrophic when it comes to helping people with mental health problems into work, with these latest figures showing just one in ten being helped into employment. A huge part of the problem is that the scheme isn’t voluntary. 83 per cent of people with mental health problems we surveyed said being forced into undertaking inappropriate tasks under the threat of having their benefits cut made their mental health worse or much worse, and therefore less able to work.

“The Government wants to help more people with mental health problems into work, and we also believe the right kind of work can help people stay well. But their current approach is cruel, punitive and flawed – causing a huge amount of distress without achieving results.

“Next year is going to bring significant changes to back-to-work support. With the Government’s new Work and Health Programme expected to be 80% smaller than the Work Programme, thousands more people with mental health problems will be seen in Jobcentres often by staff who have had very little training in mental health. Now more than ever the Government need to learn from the failures of the Work Programme. People with mental health problems tell us that they want to be able to access tailored support based on their individual and unique skills, ambitions and barriers to getting and staying in work. Most crucially of all, this support needs to be voluntary so people feel supported rather than threatened.”