Ministers hail success of employment scheme

A greater number of unemployed people are now finding work through the Government's flagship employment scheme.

Ministers claim the Work Programme has shown a "profound" improvement over the past year, helping 132,000 people find work in the 12 months to March.

The figure is up 9,000 on the previous year, when the scheme helped 123,000 people into work, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is hopeful this "growing success" will continue.

Some quarters have attacked the programme since its launch in June 2011 for not doing enough to help long-term unemployed find work, but the latest figures should silence most of these critics.

"The Work Programme is helping large numbers of people escape the misery of long-term unemployment and get back into real jobs," said Employment Minister Mark Hoban.

"The improvement in performance over the past year has been profound and the scheme is getting better and better. And because providers are rewarded for success, the Work Programme is designed to give taxpayers a far better deal than previous schemes."

Every single one of the 132,000 jobs was achieved before people had completed the full two years on the programme.

The majority of providers are currently meeting their contracted levels for helping claimants, although the DWP said some are still "lagging behind".

Improvement notices have been issued for 12 contracts, with providers facing the prospect of losing their contract if they do not show "significant" changes in the future.

Over a million people had been referred to the programme by the end of March. Just 8.5% of those who started the Work Programme in June 2011 completed at least three months of work in their first year, increasing "dramatically" to 13.4% for more recent recruits who joined in March of this year.

For 18 to 24-year-old Jobseeker's Allowance claimants, just under a third found jobs in the second year of the programme, and the figure was 27% for over 25-year-olds - both just under contracted levels.

This is a significant improvement on the first year, when no provider reached their contracted level of 5.5% for either group.

Copyright Press Association 2013