Will the Work Programme work?

I have had exclusive access to the first few months of the government's flagship Work Programme.

The government's hope is that the scheme will get a million people off welfare and into jobs in two years - in the teeth of the downturn and without costing the taxpayer a penny.

The programme is delivered by both profit-making employment companies and not-for-profit organisations on a payment by results basis - they receive virtually nothing until people have been in work for several months. The money comes from savings in the welfare bill.

However, there are big questions as to whether the Work Programme will work.

How will it fare in places with very high levels of unemployment? Will the agencies charged with finding the jobs be able to deal with the often profound problems of people who have been without work for years?

I went to Liverpool on the basis that, in the words of the song, if they can make it there, they can make it anywhere…

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Media captionA million people off welfare is the plan but will it work in practice?