UK government refuses call to cancel Work Programme and Work Choice in Scotland
Scottish Government ministers have repeated their call to the UK government to cancel contracts for the Work Programme and Work Choice.
The Work Programme, a UK-wide scheme to help jobseekers back into employment, and Work Choice, a specialist disability employment programme, were specifically highlighted by the Smith Commission among the employability support services that should be devolved to Scotland – and on expiry of the current contracts.
The UK government has written to the Scottish Government to again refuse to cancel contracts for the programmes that take them up to 2017.
Digging their heels in, when the contracts should not have been renewed in the first place, is against the spirit of Smith
Cabinet secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “We have consistently called for accelerated devolution of the powers and resources that will allow us to redesign the employment support services in Scotland.
“We need powers that meet the needs of unemployed Scots, those of businesses and employers and which are based on our core aims of sustainable economic growth, of fair work, and of social justice.
“The UK government has again refused. The renewal of these contracts is just another barrier to helping more Scots into work.
"Digging their heels in, when the contracts should not have been renewed in the first place, is against the spirit of Smith.
"I would echo the First Minister's words and again demand that these contracts be cancelled and for immediate transfer of the resources and legal powers that will enable us to provide an alternative service for unemployed Scots.”
Under the scheme, a key plank of the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s strategy, companies and charities are paid "by results" for every long-term unemployed person they help find work for six months or more.
According to the Scottish Government, figures released last week demonstrate that the Work Programme scheme is still not delivering for Scots.
Donna Mackinnon, director of employment initiatives at the Scottish Council for Voluntary organisations, said: "All the evidence tells us that the Work Programme simply does not work. In fact, only getting 18% of people in the scheme actually get a job.
“We already have the highly successful Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) which has changed the lives of over 5,000 young unemployed people by creating paid jobs for them in charities and third sector organisations right across Scotland.
“This includes young people facing the biggest barriers to work, including low skills and qualifications. Overall, more than 60% of people taking part in CJS go on to either full time employment or take up further training."
She added: “We need to invest more in approaches like this which are proven to create real jobs for people instead of punishing and exploiting them.
"This is the time to invest in what works not what doesn't.”