Homeless people 'not being treated with dignity or respect'

The Government's Work Programme is failing homeless people with over half (58%) complaining that they have not been treated with dignity or respect, a new report has found.

The report, compiled by homelessness charities Crisis, Homeless Link and St Mungo's, reveals that 58% of those surveyed were not asked about the barriers they face getting into work, and 54% said they saw a Jobcentre Plus adviser less than once a month.

Michael, a former long-term rough sleeper, said: "It has been a very patronising service. When I attended a mandatory computer course I was told off in front of the class and the tutor made me cry. I don’t expect to be treated this way."

Rory, homeless for several years, told researchers: "The action plan does not consider the problems I have with addiction issues or offending and physical health issues."

The report acknowledges "occasional glimpses of hope where individual advisors are working hard to provide personalised support" but says there are "few examples of people with an experience of homelessness who have been helped into employment by the Work Programme".

Another homeless person, Jack, said that he believed his Work Programme provider had treated him "very poorly".

The report claims that homelessness charities are effectively subsidising the Work Programme by helping homeless people to move into employment because the contracted providers are not giving them the help they need.

The report calls for Jobcentre Plus staff to identify and assess claimants who are homeless more effectively and provide a better standard of service for them, including through working with charities that already have specialist experience and successful track records of helping homeless people back into work.

Leslie Morphy, Crisis chief executive, said: "We know that work is an effective route out of homelessness and that homeless people do want to work. Our biggest concern is that in its current form the Work Programme is not reaching people who are furthest from the job market. We urge the Government to find ways to make sure thousands of people whose lives have already been devastated by homelessness are not written off for good."

Charles Fraser, St Mungo’s Chief Executive, added: "Too many of the people who we work with are being failed badly and, without immediate action, that will continue to happen. We know from experience that many homeless people need a second chance to get skills and a job. As charitable agencies, we want the Work Programme to work for homeless people. Specialist, individual support is what will make the difference."