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New research: Work Programme is not working for homeless people

Many homeless people are being failed by the government's flagship Work Programme says a new report from Crisis, Homeless Link and St Mungo's, with the charities calling for urgent reform.

The Programme’s Not Working draws upon surveys and interviews conducted by the three homelessness charities. It found that homeless people are being failed by the Work Programme. 

Findings from the report:

  • 58 per cent of those surveyed were not asked about the barriers to work that they face, and Jobcentre Plus is not identifying homeless people eligible for additional Work Programme support 
  • 58 per cent said they were not treated with dignity or respect
  • 54 per cent saw their advisor less than once a month
  • 22 per cent had their benefits sanctioned

While the report acknowledges “occasional glimpses of hope where individual advisors are working hard to provide personalised support”, it also says there are few examples of people with an experience of homelessness who have been helped into employment by the Work Programme - “in practice this is not happening.”

The report calls for Jobcentre Plus staff to identify and assess claimants who are homeless more effectively and provide a better standard of service for them, including through working with charities that already have specialist experience and successful track records of helping homeless people back into work.

The report says homelessness charities are effectively subsidising the Work Programme, as they continue to help homeless people to move into employment because the contracted providers are not giving them the help that they need. The majority of these charities helped hundreds of homeless people into work, but received no Work Programme funding for this. 

The government must take action now to ensure that homeless people get the correct support to move towards sustainable employment and that the work that homelessness organisations deliver is recognised and rewarded.

Leslie Morphy, Crisis Chief Executive, says:

“We know that work is an effective route out of homelessness and that homeless people do want to work. Our biggest concern is that in its current form the Work Programme is not reaching people who are furthest from the job market. We urge the Government to find ways to make sure thousands of people whose lives have already been devastated by homelessness are not written off for good.” 

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