Work programme - not working


Standby for data which will show that the government's work programme is, well, not working. One senior Whitehall figure described it to me as a "failure"

The work programme was part of what ministers called a revolution in welfare. It paid private companies by results in order to get the long term unemployed back to work.

A minimum target was set for those firms. They should get sustainable jobs for 5 in 100 job seekers. For months there has been speculation that they will miss that figure as stories have emerged of charities and firms involved with the scheme hitting financial problems, with some going bust.

I am told that the figure - which will come out at 9.30 this morning - will, in fact, be around 3%. The 5% target was what the Treasury calls the deadweight cost. In other words, the stats will suggest, as many unemployed are getting sustainable jobs as if the Work Programme had never existed.

The government will, nevertheless, not accept that their scheme is a failure. One well placed source has claimed that it is still "on track" and here's why:

- they claim that the Work Programme is taking longer than expected to succeed but argue that the next set of figures will be better. It is, they say, taking contractors longer and, sometimes, several placements to find sustainable work for the unemployed. They point to figures released last night by ESRA - the trade body which represents the 18 prime contractors - which works with the government on the Work Programme which suggest that, since the scheme was launched in June last year, more than 200,000 people have been found a job after 800,000 attachments

Updated: Apologies for saying in the original post - now corrected - that people do not get benefit when on the Work Programme.

Ministers claim that they are meeting their "off benefit targets" and that they are saving money too. The cost of every job secured under their Work Programme is, they say, just over £2,000 compared with a cost of almost £7,500 under Labour's Future New Deal because the contractors are only paid 60% of their fee once someone is in a sustainable job: ie for six months.

Labour says that today's figures show that the government is failing the long term unemployed at a time when the numbers without work long term have risen by 200,000 over the past year.

You pays yer money and you....

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    The only people who can & ever will benefit from this fiasco are the private companies involved & 'employed' as people shufflers. If more real jobs are not being created then how is it possible to put more people into long term employment? Is the mere shuffling of people combined with the manipulating of facts & figures the new growth industry for the UK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The important point here - made by Mark Easton right at the start - even if these schemes 'work' they do not create a single new job. All they do is put person B in an existing job, not person A who would have filled it under his own steam.

    The only people benefitting from this are the tories private sector chums - some of whom have picked up literally millions of pounds from the tax

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I went on the work program in 2010, 12 months after unemployment started.

    The first agency was called Creating Futures, the second was called Flexible New Deal, the third was called Babcock International, the fourth was called Avanta, the fifth and current one is Maximus.

    They still haven't found me or anyone else registered work, which is hardly surprising as there are no jobs available.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    It's really clear what's happening.
    Artificially low interest rates mean struggling companies can survive instead of failing. BUT they are not able to offer many long term (or full time) jobs.
    This has little to do with the jobseeker or their attitude to work. The unemployed want work. Those in work want more hours, longer contracts. The weak economy prevents this, not 'workshy' unemployed

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Nick, Let me tell you about my experience of the Work Programme. I was told I had to take part in it on 5/10/2012. A letter from TCV, a partner of the JHP Group Ltd (Work Programme suppliers) arrived 11/10/2012 inviting me to an induction on 15/10/2012. Induction took about 1/2 hour and I was told I would be contacted by a personal advisor and I would meet them. That was the last I heard from them


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