Embarrassment for Government as only 3.5% of participants in its work programme find long-term jobs

 

The Government today defended its flagship employment scheme against fierce criticism after new figures showed only 3.5% of those taking part had found sustainable jobs.

Figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions showed that 800,000 people had started the Work Programme since it was launched last year, but only 31,000 stayed in a job for six months.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said that improvement notices had been sent to a number of organisations involved in the programme, asking them to come up with plans to improve their performance.

He said that 56% of people who joined the scheme have come off benefits, with one in five of the earliest participants spending at least six months off benefits.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Work Programme was turning out to be a "miserable failure".

During a visit to Stevenage, he said: "It is just not working. What we've seen from the Government is a failure to reform welfare."

The 3.5% figure is short of a target of 5.5% set for finding sustainable jobs.

Mr Hoban said the programme was showing "promising signs" against a tougher economic backdrop than was expected when the scheme was launched in June last year.

Providers were having to find more than one job for some long-term unemployed, but the minister said the performance of some firms varied.

"Some are hitting the standards we expected, others have some way to go. The challenge for providers is to turn more job-starts into sustainable work.

"No one should under-estimate the challenges some of the providers face in getting some of the hardest-to-reach back into work."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "It beggars belief that ministers are trying to spin these figures as good news. Fewer than one in 25 have found sustainable jobs through the Work Programme, with the figures for young people even worse.

"Just 2.5% of young people moved into a long-term job and today's findings once again highlight the folly of cutting programmes like the Future Jobs Fund, which had a much better record of getting young people back into work and which was saving the taxpayer £7,000 a year."

Katja Hall, the CBI's chief policy director, said: "We should remember that today's statistics show performance for the first year of a scheme where the greatest gains will come over the long term.

"In challenging economic circumstances, the Work Programme has already helped to turn around the lives of thousands of people and is delivering the taxpayer value for money."

John Walker, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "It is disappointing that only 3.5% of people stayed in a job for more than six months through the Work Programme. Our own research shows that small firms and self-employment are the most important routes back into work for the long-term unemployed.

"However, those firms are being hit by weak demand and rising cost of doing business.

"The single most effective way of helping the long-term unemployed back into work is to support small firms hiring. This means cutting the red tape burden for small firms taking on staff."

The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade body for the welfare to work industry, said criticism of the scheme was unfair, predicting that an increasing number of people will be helped into a sustained job.

The ERSA said the programme was proving better value for money to the taxpayer than any comparable welfare to work scheme in the past 20 years.

The Work Programme will save the taxpayer around £1 billion, with an average "cost per job" of just over £2,000, compared with £3,300 under Labour's New Deal, or £7,800 for Employment Zones.

Under the Work Programme, providers can earn between £3,700 and £13,700 per person, depending how hard it is to help an individual, with an initial payment of between £400 and £600.

Mr Hoban said the programme is succeeding in getting people off benefits and into work.

"It's still early days, but already thousands of lives are being transformed," he said.

"One in four people have been in work, more than half of the early starters have been off benefit and performance is improving.

"Previous schemes paid out too much upfront regardless of success but, by only paying providers for delivering results, the Work Programme is actually offering the taxpayer real value for money.

"Clearly these figures only give a snapshot picture as we're one year in, and the Work Programme offers support to claimants for two years, but these results are encouraging and something providers can look to build on."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SEO Manager

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a white-ha...

Recruitment Genius: Operations and Administration Support Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Solar P...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Specialist

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is changing the way at...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Web Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor