The government’s flagship back-to-work scheme, the Work Programme is failing to help people with mental ill health into sustained employment, according to the latest figures.
Latest statistics show that 162,130 people with mental health problems have been attached to the Work Programme, but of this number, only 13,380 – 8% – have gained sustained employment.
Overall, more than 433,000 long-term unemployed people are in now in work because of the Work Programme, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
These figures are “hugely concerning”, according to Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind.
“On top of this inappropriate support, many people find the constant threat of benefit sanctions is making them feel more unwell and less able to work,” he added.
“We support the government’s aspiration of helping more people with mental health problems to find work, but the current approach needs completely overhauling if it is to provide appropriate and effective support. People on ESA [Employment & Support Allowance] should be taken off the Work Programme and moved onto specialist, personalised and local schemes.
“We already know of schemes, such as WorkPlace Leeds, delivered by Leeds Mind, which cost much less than the Work Programme and achieve far better outcomes, with 32% of people with severe and enduring mental health problems gaining paid employment.
“The Government needs to learn the lessons from effective schemes like these in order to reshape the support offered to people with mental health problems. This would help to achieve long-term, sustainable savings to the welfare budget, as opposed to making short-sighted cuts to disability benefits, which would only make it harder for people with mental health problems to recover and live independent lives.”