The boss of Britain’s largest welfare to work provider believes that claimants are better off in low paid, insecure temporary work “rather than sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle” according to the Telegraph newspaper.
He also argues that the government have to get the “people who are technically unfit to work, back to work” and believes that the appointment of Maximus to carry out medical assessments will lead to a surge in work for his company.
Andy Hogarth runs Staffline ,which bought out A4E last month in order to become Britain’s largest provider of welfare to work services. He believes that if the government is to succeed in its aim of cutting £12 billion from the benefits budget it will have to get people off employment and support allowance and back into work.
“For a government looking to save £12bn from welfare one of the things they have to do is get the people who are technically unfit to work, back to work, which sounds a bit brutal on the face of it, and that is exactly what a lot of welfare groups are saying, but in reality they can work.”
According to the Telegraph, Hogarth believes that his company will get an extra 2.5 million people referred to his company over the coming years as a result of Maximus taking over the work capability assessment from Atos.
Hogarth appears to believe he is particularly suited to working with the sick and disabled claimants because of his own life experiences.
When he was in his thirties, Hogarth sold a successful business for an undisclosed sum of money and then spent a year at home with “deep depression”, finding it difficult to leave the house and splitting up with his girlfriend.
He overcame his depression by going back to studying and retraining in his mid thirties.
According to the Telegraph, Staffline has grown rapidly with turnover increasing from £100 million ten years ago, to £503 million last year and aiming to hit £1bn within two years.
Much of its income comes from placing “up to 35,000 workers each week in temporary jobs, such as food processing, factory assembly lines, and picking items in warehouses.”
Hogarth believes that jobcentres only work “if you are a well motivated guy”. And while some local authorities don’t approve of his company putting people in minimum wage temporary jobs, Hogarth thinks they are mistaken, explaining:
“I personally think they are totally wrong, I think a temporary job, even if it is just for a week, is better because it then gives you a step to better pay, rather than sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle.”
Hogarth expects to have to deal with “kicking and screaming” from claimants and from pressure groups and admits that “It is hard to justify to welfare groups the profits we make . . .” .
But he claims that only 20p in every pound they make is paid as dividends to shareholders.
Rather than simply being there to make money, Hogarth assures Telegraph readers his staff “are genuinely here to help people”. And, in a gesture that would delight Norman Tebbit, they generously “buy a lot of bikes so that people can get to work”.
In separate news ERSA, the umbrella body for welfare to work providers, says that the “backdrop of continued austerity and welfare reform” looks like offering their members a great opportunity.
The leases on many Jobcentre plus offices come up for renewal in this parliament and ERSA hope that the government will take the opportunity to privatise the whole jobcentre network and its services.
Which would, of course, mean many more Andy Hogarth’s having the opportunity to drag claimants “kicking and screaming” into a better life.
See the Telegraph for the full story.
Source – Benefits & Work, 26 May 2015
Welfare-to-work providers will receive undeserved bonuses of up to £25m even though they have failed to hit government targets for placing people in to long term jobs, official auditors have found.
The National Audit Office has discovered that flaws in work programme contracts meant that the Department for Work and Pensions is obliged to make incentive payments to even the worst performing providers.
In a report released today, auditors also say the success rates of contractors has fallen. Around nine in every 10 claimants of employment and support allowance, who include many people with illnesses and disabilities, are failing to maintain a job.
The report is the latest damning assessment of Iain Duncan Smith’s £2.8 billion programme which has been beset with problems since its inception in 2011.
The amount paid out in bonuses from the public purse is likely to be around £31 million in 2014-15, whereas a measure of performance more dependent on results would have triggered payments of just £6 million, according to the report.
“Flawed contractual performance measures mean the department will have to make incentive payments to even the worst performing contractors,” the report said.
Auditors said that the way the contracts were drawn up also made it more expensive to sack under-performing providers. When the Department for Work and Pensions decided it wanted to drop the Newcastle College Group, it was unable to argue it had breached its contract by failing to meet minimum performance levels and instead had to use a voluntary break clause to negotiate the termination costs.
Despite claims by ministers that the work programme would be an improvement on previous schemes, auditors found that the actual performance levels were very similar.
Performance for the harder-to-help groups was also below expectations with only 11% of claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) – paid to those with disability or long-term illness – finding work compared to a forecast of 22%, according to the report. The contractors’ own estimates showed they were now planning to spend 54% less on the harder-to-help groups than they were when they originally submitted their bids, auditors said.
Margaret Hodge, the chair of the public accounts committee which oversees the work of the NAO, expressed anger at the failure of the DWP to help those who needed it the most.
“The work programme is absolutely critical to getting people, especially some of the most vulnerable in society, into work and helping to keep them there in the longer term,” she said.
Unusually, the report was not signed off by the DWP prior to publication on the grounds that it did not reflect its view of “the relevant facts”.
The department said that no incentive payments had been made so far, and that any future payments would be included in ongoing contract negotiations.
“The work programme is helping more people than any previous employment programme and has already helped half a million people start a job and 300,000 into lasting work,” a DWP spokesman said.
The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), representing work programme providers, insisted the scheme was working well.
“It’s quite an achievement that performance is the same level as predecessor programmes despite there being less cash in the scheme,” said ERSA chief executive Kirsty McHugh.
This article was written by Rajeev Syal, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 2nd July 2014
Source – Welfare News Service, 02 July 2014