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Flagship Work Programme criticised

The long-term unemployed have hardly benefited from the improved labour market, with almost 900,000 out of work for at least a year, according to a new report.

The TUC said the total was 16,000 higher than a year ago, and more than twice as high as pre-recession levels.

The union organisation urged the Government to do more to tackle the problem, warning that being out of a job for so long can permanently scar people's careers.

The TUC said the UK's unemployment rate was 2.7% higher than its pre-recession level, above the average increase across the OECD of 2.3%.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "It's worrying that even as the labour market has improved slightly, long-term unemployment has continued to rise.

"While all job losses are painful, long-term joblessness is particularly damaging as it can permanently scar someone's career prospects and it also has wider social and health costs.

"Evidence from around the world shows that well-designed, properly-funded employment programmes can make a huge difference in getting people back into work.

"Unfortunately our government's flagship scheme the Work Programme isn't working, with just one in eight people being helped into a proper job. A radical rethink of jobs support is needed.

"Ministers need to spend less time demonising and impoverishing those who can't find a job and more money actually helping them to get into work."

The report was released ahead of the latest unemployment figures on Wednesday.

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