Following the Select Committee’s recent inquiry into the Work Programme, Dame Anne led a debate in Westminster Hall highlighting that, while the programme might be delivering sustained job outcomes for some people, it was not effective in helping those who have major barriers to work, in particular, those who have a disability or health problem.
In fact, where previous specialist welfare-to-work programmes for people with disabilities achieved job outcomes between 10% and 30%, recent statistics show that the Work Programme has achieved a success rating of only 5.8%.
Dame Anne said: “The Work Programme is failing those furthest from the labour market.
“Major changes to the way in which the contracts are delivered, and to how the differential pricing structure works, need to be made if the Work Programme is to begin properly delivering job outcomes for those with the highest barriers to work.”
The new Minister for Employment, Esther McVey MP admitted that the Work Programme was “not perfect”.
Dame Anne attended Scope’s Parliamentary reception in Westminster which launched the charity’s campaign for better local services for disabled children and their families.
To launch the campaign, Sally Phillips (known for her roles in ‘Miranda’ and ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’) was at the reception.
Taking centre stage during the reception was a giant Christmas tree adorned with handmade ‘wish stars’ decorated by members of the public and inscribed with messages to the MPs stating why supporting disabled children and their families matters.
Dame Anne said: “I am in support of Scope’s campaign and share their belief that it is vital for all who need services to have access to them in their local area.”
Dame Anne appeared on last night’s Newsnight on BBC Two alongside Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg discussing the changing levels of benefits. The programme can be watched again on iPlayer (interview starts at 21mins).
Today in Parliament, the Work and Pensions Select Committee, which Dame Anne chairs, questioned the Rt. Hon Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud, on Universal Credit. This highly controversial system was under direct scrutiny from the committee today.
“The Paralympics were a huge success and the Channel 4 coverage was wonderful. Does the right hon. Lady agree that it was particularly insensitive of Atos to sponsor not only the games but the lanyards, so that every Paralympian was forced to wear the name of Atos around their neck? Perhaps Atos had a perverse reason for doing that, because a much wider audience now knows how it has been treating disabled people in the work capability assessment.”
Also in the debate, Katy Clark MP pointed out that “in contrast to the fantastic performances by the Paralympic athletes, the performance of Atos was slammed by the National Audit Office.”