By Aaron Barbour
Here’s a tasty little research report, which has been commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions themselves, the report is entitled: ‘A comparative review of workfare programmes in the United States, Canada and Australia’ (report 533)
This report examines the impact of workfare schemes that mandate participation in unpaid work activities as a condition of receiving social assistance (‘work for benefits’).
It finds that:
- There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers.
- Subsidised (‘transitional’) job schemes that pay a wage can be more effective in raising employment levels than ‘work for benefit’ programmes.
- Workfare is least effective in getting people into jobs in weak labour markets where unemployment is high.
- Levels of non-participation in mandatory activities are high in some workfare programmes.
- Workfare is least effective for individuals with multiple barriers to work.
- Some states in the US have scaled down large-scale, universal workfare programmes in preference for ‘softer’ and more flexible models that offer greater support to those with the most barriers to work.
Our Community Allowance model, which are keen to pilot and campaigning DWP to enable us to do so, would offer people the opportunity to try out small bits of work PLUS they would get the support that is so essential.
The DWPs current direction of travel is to get people on benefits to ‘sing for their supper’. This is very worrying. From our own experience at Community Links we think it simply will not work. It will push more people off benefits, forced to fend for themselves, possibly by doing cash-in-hand work. (See previous blog entries)
It’s not just us saying it … it’s in their own research. A bit more evidence based policy making please.