Work progamme ends after 'helping 840k people'

24 Mar 17

The government’s flagship welfare-to-work scheme is closing next month having helped 840,000 jobseekers find work, says the body representing the employment support sector.

Research released on Wednesday from the Employment Related Service Association shows since its introduction in 2011 the Department for Work and Pensions’ programme has helped 824,092 individuals get a job.

When the Work Programme launched it was expected to help 2.5m people in five years with the total value of seven-year contracts reaching £5bn.

Referrals for the scheme will be ending next month as the government prepares to launch its Work and Health Programme. This programme will start in the autumn this year and have a smaller budget of £130m a year by 2019/ 20.

ERSA believes the Work Programme has been successful and says its “dramatically smaller” replacement will help fewer jobseekers.

Kirsty McHugh, chief executive of ERSA, said: “It is deeply concerning that far fewer jobseekers will have access to this kind of specialist support [given by the Work Programme] moving forward.

“As recent ERSA research found, the size of the new Work and Health Programme means that only one in eight disabled people who want to work will have specialist help to do so.”

She urged the government to continue investing in high quality specialist employment support for the long-term unemployed.

The Public Accounts Committee produced a damning report on the policy in November 2014 saying: “[The DWP] has not succeeded in incentivising Work Programme providers to support harder-to-help claimants into work.” It said 90% of Employment and Support Allowance claimants on the Work Programme have not moved into jobs.

The PAC also found some providers of the government’s Work Programme refer twice as many people for sanctions as other providers in the same area, without finding any explanation for the variation, as reported by Public Finance.

ERSA’s figures are from prime contractors and are not official.

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