Thanks to Bob E and MBK for the various links.
The basic template for the Work Programme, also known as "back-to-work" or "work for dole", is as follows:
1. Two large political parties whose policies once in government are largely identical (it is merely the rhetoric which is different). This ensures continuity for all the people who are milking the taxpayer.
2. A "financial crisis" which is the inevitable outcome of a house price bubble, for which you need a good sold basis of Home-Owner-Ism.
3. This leads to more job insecurity and a climate of fear, which The Powers That Be use to...
4. Create a desperate desire among the populace that the government "do something" to sort all this out, they can get away with outrageous measures that would not be accepted in peacetime, such as massive bank bail outs, which is by and large outright theft, but they can easily sell this to the Home-Owner-Ists on the basis that the banks have to be bailed out and subsidised or else house prices will start falling...
5. To distract the electorate's attention from this massive 'bezzle, The Powers That Be have to play divide and conquer, which means pitting those who still have jobs against those who don't. The number of unemployed increases during a "financial crisis" so the cost of the welfare state also goes up, so it is not difficult to somehow convince people still in work that the recession is all the fault of people who have lost their jobs (or never had one). This is a bit like blaming the First World War on those who died in the trenches, but hey.
6. The Powers That Be can't all be bankers of course, so we have another group of people who realise that they can cash in on the anti-welfare claimant mood by setting up back-to-work schemes. The idea is that by spending a few hundred quid up front, they can somehow get people back into work, thus saving thousands of pounds a year in future. Which would be fine if there were any jobs available, but there aren't, but let's gloss over that.
7. They in turn need cheerleaders in the fakecharity sector, for example the Social Market Foundation who recommended something along the lines of the Work Programme back in 2009. That little report was of course funded by yet another taxpayer funded body called Remploy.
8. None of these back-to-work schemes actually work of course, the number of people on the schemes who find work is only about 3%, which is lower than the natural rate which would happen anyway of about 5%.
9. Even some of the politicians realise that this is all a complete waste of money and that it cannot possibly work, and the Public Accounts Committee mumbles about there a) not being enough jobs for the back-to-work people to fill and b) the whole thing being riddled with fraud.
10. At which stage the fakecharity cheerleaders suggest that maybe the back to work providers aren't successful because... the bar was set too high. All it needs for them to be successful is for the pass mark to be lowered, which is referred to as "grade inflation" when the same technique is used with GSCEs and A Levels.
11. So people on the dole are averse to going on the schemes. At which stage the lovely river of taxpayers' cash dries up a bit. No problem - all these private firms need is to be able to impose criminal penalties on claimants who refuse to go along with the charade.
12. At this stage, the back-to-work providers have achieved the same glorious positive feedback loop as the bankers: the bail outs (and the Quantitative Easing and so on) are supposed to help the economy recover, but this doesn't work of course, so a few months later, the banks come back and ask for another, bigger bail out. This doesn't work either, so a few months later, etc.
This is again similar to the tactics used in the First Word War - sending ten thousand men over the top to be slaughtered didn't work, so next time let's send twenty thousand.
No sane person would keep doubling up each time if something isn't working, unless of course he is the beneficiary of the doubling up rather than the person paying for it. Which applies to the back-to-work scheme, it doesn't work, but instead of just shutting them down, what they recommend is lowering the bar, increasing the payments to the scheme providers and allowing them to impose criminal penalties on those who refuse to play along.
13. While we're in the mood for harsh measures, the old give them vouchers instead of cash idea has reared its ugly head again.