Belfast Telegraph

Work Programme helps more into jobs

An increasing number of long-term unemployed people have found a job under the Government's flagship back to work scheme, new figures have shown.

More than 168,000 jobseekers have been helped into a lasting job through the Work Programme to the end of June - two years after it was launched.

The figure is an increase of 37,000 in the three months to June, said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Ministers said the programme, which has been criticised by unions and the Labour Party, was "significantly improving", with growing numbers finding a permanent job.

Providers involved in the scheme get paid most of their money when someone has stayed in work for six months, or three months for the hardest to help.

The DWP said many more people have started work under the programme but have not reached the six-month point yet.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: "Previous schemes didn't provide the right support for the long term unemployed and offered poor value for money for the taxpayer. We launched the Work Programme to tackle this so people got the help they needed to find a job and, crucially, given support to stay in work.

"Today's figures show that large numbers of people previously at risk of long term unemployment are finding a job and staying in work for six months and more. This gives people hope that they can achieve their aspiration of looking after themselves and their families."

By the end of June, more than 1.1 million people had been referred to the Work Programme, which will run until 2016, mainly aimed at people who have been unemployed for a year.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Despite the official spin, the Work Programme is still failing to deliver for many jobseekers.

"Just one person in 25 is able to find a proper job after a year on the scheme, and disabled people have seen virtually no benefit since its introduction. Although there has been an increase in placements for those on the dole these improvements are starting to tail off.

"The Government is obsessed with punishing those out of work, rather than helping them find jobs. The best way to get to grips with our unemployment crisis would be to offer a jobs guarantee for anyone out of work for at least a year."

Public and Commercial Services union leader Mark Serwotka said: "This multi-billion pound gamble has succeeded in doing one thing only - siphoning money to private providers. It has monumentally failed to provide jobs for the long-term unemployed.

"The Work Programme should be scrapped immediately and the work to provide support for people who are looking for work should be brought back in-house to Jobcentres where proven expertise exists."

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite said: "People shouldn't be duped by the coalition's spin. While they demonise and punish those out of work the ranks of the long term unemployed rise to levels not seen since the 1990s.

"It is clear that with just one in 10 still in a job after two years of the Work Programme, that the Government's approach is working for the private providers delivering the scheme, but not the people desperate for work. Our nation desperately needs decent and secure jobs that pay a fair wage for a fair day's work, not the coalition's recipe of failing schemes like these and the exploitation of workfare."