St Mungo’s has pulled out of the Work Programme after receiving no referrals from any of its three prime contractors.
Mike McCall, St Mungo’s executive director of operations, said: “We have written to the three prime contractors with whom we were sub-contractors under the Work Programme, withdrawing our involvement.
“We took the decision with regret as we had hoped that, by delivering our services through the Work Programme, we would be able to assist people who were long-term unemployed and multiply-disadvantaged gain jobs.
“We had not, however, received any referrals so have withdrawn but look forward to participating in future activities when we can be assured that there is sufficient emphasis on working with those that are furthest from the labour market.”
Another sub-contractor, Single Homeless Project, exited the Work Programme in late March, claiming the model is not financially viable.
The Work Programme has come in for a barrage of criticism from various quarters lately. In January, NCVO and the Employment Related Services Association warned that the sustainability of charities involved in the Programme is under threat, as they are not being adequately shielded from financial risk or getting enough referrals.
The first release of official data from the work programme did not include data on referrals to the voluntary sector.
In February Baroness Stedman-Scott, chief executive of Tomorrow’s People, told the Public Accounts Committee that her charity, which is sub-contracted on the Work Programme, is probably carrying more risks in delivering the programme than its prime contractor.
At the NCVO annual conference in March, chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington described the scheme as a “slow motion car crash” in his keynote speech.
At the same event, Bernadette Benn, chief executive of east London employment charity Barnabas Workshops, revealed that some Work Programme prime contractors are referring clients to voluntary sector agencies without telling the agencies, and then claiming payment for helping the client find a job.