The Government's flagship employment scheme has been condemned as a "miserable failure" after figures showed only 3.5 per cent of those taking part had found jobs.
Figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showed that 837,000 people had started the Work Programme since it was launched last year, but only 31,000 stayed in a job for six months. Young people were even less likely to find jobs through the programme, with fewer than 6,000, or 2.5 per cent, finding sustainable work.
Yesterday, the new Employment Minister, Mark Hoban, admitted the programme had fallen far short of its 5.5 per cent target for getting the unemployed into work.
The DWP's own tender documents for the programme give a "do nothing" rate of five per cent – the proportion of people who would find work without any intervention.
The figures will embarrass Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, who has put the programme at the centre of his reforms.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the figures showed the Work Programme was turning out to be a "miserable failure" and was worse than doing nothing. He said: "It is just not working."
Under the scheme, which was launched in June, 2011, firms and charities are paid to find jobs for the unemployed. Providers can earn between £3,700 and £13,700 per case.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "It beggars belief ministers are trying to spin these figures as good news."
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