Well would you believe it? According to this Guardian piece, Professor Roy Sainsbury of York University has discovered that:-
The government's flagship welfare-to-work programme is giving priority to "job-ready" claimants ahead of those who have been unemployed for long periods because of sickness, an official assessment has found.
In the first official evaluation of the £3bn work programme, the report, by York university's social policy research unit, says private firms, which are paid for getting an unemployed person into a long-term job, are "openly seeing their most job-ready participants more frequently than those with more severe barriers to work".
But of course the suspicions about 'creaming and parking' have been around for a long time as discussed here in 2010 in relation to Pathways to Work:-
A new research report on the "impact of outcome-based contracting" in provider-led Pathways contains awkward conclusions about the effects of outcome based delivery. It shows that providers have been driven towards "creaming" and "parking" of clients. And it concludes that "providers should be paid on the basis of a wider range of outcomes".
The report says that a culture of “business survival and job security” led to creaming being considered “as appropriate behaviour” in a target-setting environment. Equally, ‘parking’ was seen as acceptable “where there was a clear management steer, for disengaged clients lacking in motivation and for clients who were seriously ill or awaiting treatment.”
The full report can be accessed here. All this is of course extremely relevant to Chris Grayling's recently announced privatisation of the vast bulk of probation's work. Contractors will be rewarded on a Payment by Results basis and the term 'disengaged clients' is one very familiar to probation officers.