Monday 30 September 2013

Case Studies Please! Is the Work Programme working for you?

Catherine Hale is researching the Work Proramme for those in the WRAG (Work Related Activity Group of ESA). She's written this guest post asking for case studies to help....

"Hi, I’m on ESA because of a chronic health condition and I’ve been put on the Work Programme to support me into work. The results from the first two years of this new scheme show that the Work Programme is not doing as well as the government hoped at helping disabled people into work.

I want to help policy makers understand what’s going wrong. I’m conducting research to see if other people are having the same kinds of experience with it as I’m having.

I’ll be putting a proper tick box survey online in the next few weeks with the charity Mind. But in the meantime, could you help me gather as many people’s experiences as possible to get first impressions?

If you’re on ESA and have been referred to the Work Programme, either by choice or by compulsion, please could you write in (as much or as little as you like) about whether it has worked for you? The Work Programme is separate from Jobcentre Plus and there are different organisations running it depending on where you live, with names like Ingeus, Serco, A4E etc.

Please write to me at Or of course, leave comments below

For example you could think about:

Has it helped you identify and move towards a form of work that you could manage within your health/impairment limitations?

Do you feel your support needs are being addressed? Is the programme of activities accessible to you?

Have you been able to meet the conditions laid out by your adviser to avoid sanctions?

What has been the impact on your health and wellbeing of taking part in the Work Programme so far?

You don’t have to answer everything. I want to hear all stories, good and bad.

Thank you very much. I want the government to hear it from the ground. Our lives and our aspirations are too precious to allow a multi-million pound scheme like this to go wrong.



  1. I had a couple of face to face interviews, and suggestions that I train. I got a call out of the blue for them a few weeks ago, and when I mentioned that I'm now a single parent with a 5 and 3 year old, and I just needed a few weeks to settle my daughter into pre-school, the guy on the phone said "Ah." I haven't heard back since. Nothing.

    Consistently, it seems to have been me that has to follow up anything. If I missed an appointment for health reasons, weeks would go by before i heard back. And of course, suggesting I train is all very well, but that doesn't help me find a job with someone who doesn't mind that I *will* have seizures in the workplace.

  2. I was dropped from the work programme after a year of self employment because i didn't meet the minimum income floor for my business despite doing the hours... the provider got paid for a successful out come but I've been left struggling with my business with no support from them or access to work... No it's not working, it's not flexible enough and the providers have little to no self employment training or training in tax, insurance, benefits they farmed me out to a so called professional at £50.00 a hr who basically told me to goggle it! and left me to do my business plan by my self yet billed them for supporting me ... total crap... Dxxx

    1. Thanks. Can you explain how the Work Programme "dropped" you after a year? I thought they were contracted to "support" people for two years whether or not they had found employment/self employment

  3. I had an appointment with Ingeus in 2012. I was told by Jobcentre plus that I had a choice between themselves and Ingeus, but had to keep this one appointment with Ingeus.

    A young, somewhat manic, gentleman asked to see the "ESA experience group" that turned out to be me, just me!!

    I was led into a large room which contained a large table with approx 40 chairs around it. The "upbeat" young man was joined by an older guy, and two ladies.

    I explained that I had suffered from agoraphobia since my ex husband had attacked me with an axe and that now, at age 58, I also had arthritis of the spine, hips and knees which causes me to be in pain all the time. I told them that I had tried to think of work I could do from home and gave them several examples. Each time I mentioned one of these the manic young guy said "that's a good idea, we could set up a website to help you do that" I explained that all of my ideas had come accross stumbling blocks which were either financial, legal, attainability isues etc etc. All the young man kept saying was that they could get me some business cards printed and create a website, there was no feedback whatsoever on the problems I had cited. He then said that he empathised with me as he had had agoraphobia and he thought that people on the bus were talking about him!! I could not believe my ears, I told him that that was being paranoid not agoraphobia!!

    Then it was the turn of one of the women who said she would help me "manage my arthritis pain"!? The other woman said she could help with psychological problems and told me, and I quote, "agorophobics need to get out more on their own" This was a "No Shi* Sherlock" moment AND the moment I chose the Jobcentre!

    Then o

  4. Hello and thanks for these responses. They seem pretty typical. I probably didn't make it quite clear that this was my guest post, and thank Sue for giving me a slot to gather your case studies.
    Thanks again

  5. Lol, Catherine, I'm sorry, I just cross posted it. I've got the horridest fluey bug and I'm sort of typing through treacle. I'll amend it now.

  6. Last Year they changed my Benefit's from Income Support to ESA after the Job Center had sent me for a review on my disability. I Have Myalgic Encephalitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for over 15 and a half years - this has caused my Muscular/Skeletal Pain in my coccyx and spine/back, which means I have to use a 4 wheeled walker ( which has a seat) to get around when I go out.
    I have no idea why they decided to put me in the Work Programme, but I went along to the Job Center Plus in Hull City (which by the way is 1hr 20mins away from where I live & I have to use Public Transport) to see what they wanted me to do. They "suggested" that I attend the Programme to see if I was able. I went just the once ( I'm sorry that I can't remember the Company that ran it) there was about 7 people as well as myself, we were given a sheet of paper that had what services they offered - like getting your GCSE's in Maths/English, Learning to use a Computer etc.. Well I left school in 1991 with my GCSE's and I know how to use a Computer - I might be physically bad, my memory is idiotic plus my dyslexia ( thank goodness for spell checker!) but none of what they were offering if I was physically able to attend on a regular basis was relevant to me. There was only one lady out of our group who was interested in the Computer skills, the rest were like me who had there own disability problems and knew it wouldn't work for them.
    But this comes to the crunch of the matter, having ME/CFS means I don't know how I will be from day to day - if I've been out,like going into the City for a day out. The next day I'm floored, literally all I can do is shuffle between my bedroom and bathroom, that is if I'm awake ( sometimes I can be out asleep for 12hrs)
    Anyway I've not been back since then and if they ask me again to attend I shall say no (that's if it is an option to say no). Time is precious and I don't like to waste it when I'm awake.

    1. Thanks for this Kitty. I have ME/CFS too.. At least they've not called you up again yet.

  7. I was placed in ESA WRAG and immediately mandated to A4E ... it took them 3 months to even contact me. I was in their office for 2 hours in a group introductory session (when I was told would be a 30 minute appointment) where we were all treated like illiterate 3 year olds who just needed to 'cheer up' (no-one's physical issues were ever addressed, only glossed over or ignored), and again I didn't hear a thing for about 8 weeks after. By this time, my husband (also disabled) had found some part time work, so I lost my ESA award due to income ... but A4E don't want to let me go ... which I wouldn't mind if they were actually doing anything for me, but instead I am on monthly phone calls ... the latest took 1 minute 28 seconds, and consisted of the advisor cheerfully putting the fact that I could barely construct a sentence that day down to 'Monday morning blues', then two questions ... 'has anything changed in my situation' (ie have I got a job) and 'can they do anything more to help' to which I said I didn't know what they could offer (they already know I could really do with retraining in things like office IT skills, as my lack of current experience has already prevented me from applying for work that I could otherwise do) ... no further information was proffered, instead the call cut short. The cynic in me says they're just staying in contact so they can claim their money if I find work, but considering how long it took them to do anything even while I was receiving ESA, I doubt it would have been much better if my claim were still active. My condition btw is so far undiagnosed due to my GP, but presenting like CFS, just as Kitty described (that unexpected 2hr appt knocked me out for about a week), with added depression, anxiety and mental blackouts.

    1. Thanks for replying. It seems shocking that they won't even offer the IT training that you're actually asking for! x

    2. Training like that costs them money ... while an in-house 'how to write a CV' type of course doesn't (or at least, not as much) ... and talking to others in similar situations, that's all they ever get offered.

  8. Hi im on esa with depression and pain in my arms legs and back i have received a letter to go to a work programme is this right

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