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Work Programme Working

Work Programme Working

More than 130,000 jobseekers have escaped long-term unemployment and found lasting work thanks to the Work Programme, according to new statistics published today.

The numbers of people finding lasting work – at least six months for most people, or three months for the hardest to help – has soared from 9,000 in March 2012 to 132,000 in March 2013.

The figures demonstrate the growing success of the scheme, with all jobs achieved before people had completed the full two years on the programme. Many had received help for only a matter of months.

The success of the scheme is specifically measured on those who find sustained work and so today’s figures only count those who have been in work for long periods – six months in most cases, or three months for the hardest to help. Figures published by the industry last week showed that so far 321,000 people have gone into work through the Work Programme.

Today’s figures also reveal that 488,000 people – 62 per cent – of those who joined the scheme in its first 12 months have spent at least some time off benefits.

Mark Hoban, Minister for Employment, said:

“The Work Programme is helping large numbers of people escape the misery of long-term unemployment and get back into real jobs.

“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.”

The Work Programme was launched in June 2011 and offers two years of tailored support to those at risk of long-term unemployment. Providers from the voluntary, private and public sector are paid according to results to get people into work, with extra incentives to support the hardest to help.

By the end of March, 1.02m people had been referred to the Work Programme and been on it for long enough to count in today’s employment performance figures.

Today’s statistics also show that:

132,000 people stayed in work for at least six months (or at least three months for a smaller number of the very hardest to help) by the end of March 2013. This is up from 9,000 by the end of March 2012.

110,000 people have stayed in their job beyond the three or six month point rather than returning to benefits. Around 80,000 have stayed in work for an extra three months or more.

More people are getting into work within a year of joining the Work Programme. The UK Statistics Authority has said that it does not regard the calculation by commentators that 3.5% of people got into work in the first year of the scheme is the most relevant figure on which to assess performance. It agrees with the DWP that performance is better measured by counting how many people referred to the Work Programme get into sustained employment within a year of being referred to the scheme. On this measure, while just 8.5% of those who started the Work Programme in June 2011 completed at least three or six months of work in their first year, this success rate has increased dramatically to 13.4% for more recent recruits who joined in March 2013.

Performance has improved significantly in the second year of the scheme. Provider contracts are measured on how many participants they get into work each year as a proportion of people referred to the scheme in that 12 months: For JSA claimants aged 18 to 24, providers averaged 31.9% into sustained work in year two of the scheme against contracted levels of 33% for JSA claimants aged 25 or over, providers averaged 27.3% into sustained work in year two against contracted levels of 27.5%. This is a big improvement from year one, when no provider reached their contracted level of 5.5% for either group.

Compared to many employment schemes under previous governments, the programme targets the hardest to help into work, such as those claiming Employment and Support Allowance. Some people have been out of work for more than 10 or 15 years, so it will take time to help them back to work, and some are not even assessed as being fit to start work yet. But the Work Programme is offering them more support than previous employment schemes, and 6,000 of the hardest to help have now found lasting work. DWP expects providers to deliver improving results as they share best practice.

Although many providers are now meeting their contracted levels for helping JSA claimants, some are lagging behind. From August, DWP will be referring more claimants to better performing providers in at least 16 instances.

In addition, Performance Improvement Notices have also been issued for 12 contracts where providers must show significant improvement over the next four months or face the contract being terminated.


The CBI today responded to the latest official Work Programme performance data for year two which shows that over 132,000 people have found and kept work.

Jim Bligh, CBI Head of Public Services Reform, said:

“These figures show a significant improvement in the performance of the Work Programme, which has helped over a hundred thousand long-term unemployed people into sustained employment.

“Performance in supporting the hardest to help jobseekers needs to improve, but these people have significant barriers to work which take time to address.

“Providers and the government must continue to drive improvements. This can be achieved by aligning the scheme with the skills system, integrating it with other public services and championing it with employers.”


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