Tories decry `failed' New Deal scheme

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT'S New Deal programme was attacked by the Tories after it emerged that only 3.8 per cent of lone parents invited to enter the scheme got jobs after doing so.

After the publication of January's figures, which showed the success rate had dropped from 7 per cent, Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory social security spokesman, accused ministers of wasting pounds 200m on the initiative. Since the programme was set up, 163,383 letters have been sent to lone parents inviting them for an interview but only 6,262 got jobs as a result.

Under the Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill, now going through Parliament, lone parents will have to attend interviews with benefits staff or have their benefits cut.

During question time Mr Duncan Smith added that a fifth of lone parents who did get jobs left them after six months. "The whole New Deal for lone parents has proved nothing more than an expensive failure. This is because ministers did not listen or study the project properly," he said.

The figures were published as the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, was expected to expand the programme to over-50s in his Budget today.

A big extension of the New Deal, seen as a vital plank of the welfare- to-work initiative, with the creation of 60,000 places for long-term unemployed, was announced in the November pre-budget statement.

Earlier this month it was disclosed that 43 per cent of the young unemployed who enter the education and training option of the New Deal find jobs, down from 47 per cent.