Three new criticisms of the DWP

“A target-driven culture created perverse incentives” – I think we can agree with this recent article from charity Turn2us relating to a report by the National Audit Office.



The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are letting down disabled people who want to get back into work, overworking their Jobcentre work coaches and being too target driven, according to a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The report highlights three significant failures with the DWP and Universal Credit that need to be fixed.

jobcentre plus

Disabled people and work

Firstly, the report finds that the Government’s goal of getting 1 million more disabled people into work cannot actually be used to measure the success of its efforts as it cannot be linked to any specific policy.

Additionally, factors such as people who are already in work now reporting a disability may skew the figures. The NAO says this target means the Government cannot be held to account.

Before this target of 1 million, the Government’s original goal was to halve the disability employment gap. That gap has actually only narrowed by 4 percentage points since 2015.

Overworking Jobcentre staff

The second main finding from the NAO report was that work coaches are at risk of being severely overworked which affects the quality of the service.

While some work coaches are already saying they are overworked, the number of claimants they each work with is expected to more than double from 130 to 280 over the next few years.

Within this, the number of claimants per work coach in the intensive work search group (who require the most time with work coaches) is expected to increase from 96 to 133 (an increase of 39%).

Overly target driven

Finally, the report highlights that the DWP has created a target-driven culture which results in perverse incentives, according to the NAO.

Work coaches were often focusing on claimants who were easiest to help into work, so they could meet there targets, rather than focus on those who need help the most.

Work coaches were also happy to get people into temporary employment to meet targets instead of getting them long term and meaningful employment.

Read the full NAO report



Multi-million pound fund to help tackle the disability employment gap launched

The fund is the latest in a range of government measures that aims to see 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027.


A £4.2 million challenge fund to support people with mental health or musculoskeletal conditions to stay in work has been launched by the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton, and the Minister for Mental Health and Inequalities, Jackie Doyle-Price.

The fund is the latest in a range of government measures that are part of a 10-year strategy which aims to see 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027.

The challenge fund, run by Rocket Science on behalf of the government, is aimed at testing new approaches to help people experiencing mental ill health or musculoskeletal issues to remain in employment.

They might be at risk of losing employment because of the effects of their condition, or may already be temporarily off work through ill health.

Department for Work and Pensions

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton, said:

We know there is a gap between disabled people who want to work and those who have the opportunity to do so.

With 78% of people acquiring their disability or health condition during their adult life, it’s crucial that we support disabled people who want to work to stay in or return to employment.

The joint initiative between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care will fund projects that help people to stay in work by:

  • increasing their ability to self-manage their conditions
  • helping people access advice and support about what sort of work they might be capable of doing

Minister for Mental Health and Inequalities Jackie Doyle-Price, said:

For too long if you had a disability or serious mental health issue the world of work was off limits, potentially affecting the lives of millions of people across the country.

This fund will help people overcome the barriers that so many still face when trying to get into and progress in the workplace.

Other areas to be tested will include new approaches to help employers and employees develop workplace solutions, and developing ways of working that facilitate greater participation of those with mental health or musculoskeletal conditions.

Applications are welcome from organisations in any sector, including employers, charities, social enterprises, local authorities, health bodies and others, with applications from smaller organisations particularly welcome.

More information

Visit the Challenge Fund website for information on how to apply.

The challenge fund is open for applications until 5pm on 17 August 2018.