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?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Graduate / Junior Web Developer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Upholstery Fabric Cutter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fabulous opportunity for an experien...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Carpenter / Joiner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fabulous opportunity for an experien...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders