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Single or duplicitous Work Programme?

We are experiencing an interesting increase in calls, shall I say, from prime contractors to the Single Work Programme. These calls are regarding the placing of individuals on the vocational and personal development programmes that my staff strive so valiantly to obtain funding for and then to deliver.

Am I mistaken in my developing view that a strategy in making savings in the benefit system as a result of reductions in claims and the return of our serially disadvantaged to work (and of course, private sector profit) is an abuse of the dedication and endeavours of small voluntary sector organisations performing miracles in a landscape increasingly hostile to them?

I thought that perhaps I might glean some guidance from the ‘Merlin’ document so often referenced by government ministers in defending the failure to date to all but minimally stimulate inclusion in the programme. No Luck!

I pondered upon the information both reported in third sector publications and shared with me by other leaders in the sector on unsustainable and undeliverable financial offers linked to programme delivery. My views seem to resonate to some degree with Sir Stephen Bubb, no less, who is a tad more direct in his view of our sector being “screwed over”. I however am a great believer in a continuing link between public service delivery and local authorities.

At the same time it is difficult to ignore the daily commentary on the sluggishness of the economy, the regular downward revision of predictions on growth, the depressing unemployment statistics, especially those relating to our young people. Given that we haven’t yet cut as far as the coalition require in our public services then all of these factors look set to deteriorate even further with significantly greater demand and pressure on those services and organisations (like mine) that hopefully will survive.

If part of this future scenario then is a political acceptance and indeed tacit support for the exploitation of the efforts of small organisations whose services are vital to our disadvantaged, disaffected, disenfranchised, those without hope, then this urgently need to be exposed. If it isn’t the case then where is the regulation (as opposed to the rhetoric)? Who is charged with the responsibility for ensuring equity, integrity and true transparency?

However in my region of the north east… increasing unemployment, decreasing job availability, slow/no economic growth… the other big question is: Are the government continuing to flog a programme that was from the outset anachronous?

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