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Work Programme

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 10th July 2013.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

(1) if he will make it his policy to permit individuals who volunteer for the Work Programme to leave before the end of the mandatory two year period if they are dissatisfied with the Work Programme; how it is communicated to people who volunteer for the Work Programme that they will be on the programme for two years and not permitted to leave if they are not satisfied, change benefit or move into employment; and if he will make a statement;

(2) for what reason people on the Work Programme who have moved into employment must remain with the Work Programme provider for two years from the date they joined; what payments are received by the provider in such circumstances; what figures on the number of people in this position he requires Work Programme providers to provide; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mark Hoban Mark Hoban The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

It is not Government policy that individuals who are dissatisfied with their Work programme provider should be able to leave the Work Programme.

When a claimant volunteers for early access to the Work programme, they will have a Work programme referral interview with their Jobcentre Plus adviser, who will set out all the circumstances around their referral of which they need to be aware.

In order to incentivise sustained employment outcomes, it is necessary that the claimant spends a sustained period with the Work programme provider. Therefore, once a claimant is attached to the Work programme, they remain with their provider for two years, or until all sustainment outcomes have been achieved, or the claimant is referred to specialist disability support through Work Choice. Where claimants move off benefit and into work, their provider is not able to require them to participate in any activity—however, if this claimant returns to work within their two year allotted period on the programme, then they will continue to be supported by their Work programme provider.

While a claimant is attached to the Work programme, the conditionality to which they are subject is dependent on the level of conditionality that is applied more generally to claimants on that benefit. This is true of volunteers and those who are referred on a mandatory basis; therefore, some volunteers, such as those in the ESA Support Group, are not required to participate in activity while they are on the programme, while others, such as JSA early access volunteers, are required to participate.

Details of the Work programme fee structure and the number of payments were published in the Work programme Official Statistics on 27 June 2013, and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/work-programme-statistical-summary-june-2013

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