The Welsh Affairs Committee has published its Fifth Special Report for Session 2013-14, HC 1035 on The Work Programme in Wales: Government Response to the Committee’s Third Report of Session 2013-14 (PDF 893.90KB).
The Government has responded to the Committee’s recommendations in its Report on the Work Programme in Wales, which it sent to the Committee on 10 January 2014.
Responding to the Government reply, Chair of the Committee, David TC Davies MP, said:
“I welcome that the Government has taken on board many of the Committee’s recommendations.
“The Committee’s report highlighted that one of the challenges with the Work Programme in Wales was that Work Programme participants were not able to access the full range of training courses available to them, unlike in England. We called on the UK and Welsh Governments to resolve this issue as a priority. It is pleasing to see that, since the Committee’s report was published, the two governments have held positive discussions and are working collaboratively to secure access to skills training for Welsh jobseekers. The Government has said it will report back to the Committee with progress, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
The Committee’s key conclusions were:
- The Work Programme was designed to be an improvement on previous welfare-to-work schemes by incentivising providers to support jobseekers with the most severe barriers to employment, such as those on Employment and Support Allowance (which replaced Incapacity Benefit and Income Support). This is a worthy ambition, and a significant challenge, but the programme’s success in assisting the most challenging claimants is yet to be proven.
- The Department for Work and Pensions should review—including a review of the differentiated pricing structure—whether there are means better to incentivise providers to support jobseekers with the most severe barriers to employment, including Employment and Support Allowance claimants.
- Working Links Wales and Rehab Jobfit—the two providers operating in Wales—must ensure that both they and their subcontractors have specific measures in place to support lone parents, who the Committee is concerned are particularly struggling to find sustained employment through the Work Programme in Wales compared to other parts of Great Britain.
- Work Programme participants in Wales—unlike those in England—cannot access European Social Fund training and skills courses: this is hampering the performance of the Work Programme in Wales and ultimately the opportunities available to the long-term unemployed. The DWP and Welsh government must resolve this by February 2014.
- Similarly, DWP must enable participants to exit the Work Programme if required in order to access Jobs Growth Wales.
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