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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas