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New work programme will crack down on 'parking and creaming', says DWP

The Department for Work and Pensions says the new Work and Health Programme will be designed to prevent providers from ignoring the unemployed people who are the hardest to reach

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The Department for Work and Pensions says the new Work and Health Programme will be designed to prevent providers from ignoring the unemployed people who are the hardest to reach

The government’s new welfare-to-work programme is being designed to prevent providers “parking and creaming” vulnerable people, a government official has revealed.

The current Work Programme, which comes to an end in March 2017, has faced significant criticism since it was introduced in 2011.

A series of targets for helping people into work set by the government have been missed, while a report by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, published last year, warned that 70 per cent of participants were still not progressing into long-term jobs.

Experts have warned that the payment-by-results system has led to a growth in the practices of “parking and creaming”, meaning that the most difficult-to-help people have been ignored, while providers have instead focussed on working with those easiest to help into employment to increase their chances of receiving government funding.

Speaking at the IntoWork Convention in Birmingham today, Phil Martin, deputy director for labour market interventions strategy at the Department for Work and Pensions, told delegates that the replacement Work and Health Programme (WHP) will “learn the lessons” from its predecessor programme.

“We want to put in a process to disincentivise parking and creaming by providers,” he said. “Realistically we can’t afford to be sending tens of thousands of people on to the programme for the course of its life and have them not doing anything. That’s just not something that is an acceptable outcome.”

The DWP would be clamping down on the practices, “both through the payment system and also through the proper enforcement of contracts,” Mr Martin added.

He also revealed that the system would be simplified, as assigning Work Programme participants into different “payments groups” had “added complexity without adding performance”.

The WHP had initially been expected to start after existing Work Programme contracts come to an end on 31 March 2017, but Mr Martin said it was now expected to launch “by the end of next year”.

Last week, TES revealed that research by the Learning and Work Institute found that, at the current rate of progress, meeting the government's target of halving the disability employment gap would take more than 200 years.

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