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Work Programme

Volume 534: debated on Monday 24 October 2011

4. If he will publish monthly information on the number of people successfully placed in jobs by Work programme contractors and the cost per job outcome. (75987)

We are working to guidelines set by the UK Statistics Authority to ensure we publish statistics that meet high-quality standards at the earliest opportunity. Statistics on referrals and attachments to the Work programme will be published from spring 2012 and job outcome data from autumn 2012. We will also publish the average cost per job outcome for claimants who have been on the programme for 24 months as part of our transparency indicators.

I have to say that I am very, very disappointed with that reply. I cannot understand why it will be more than 12 months before the Government produce statistics on job outcomes and the cost per job. After eight months of the future jobs fund, we had the statistics on job outcomes for the first four months of the scheme. I cannot see why the Government should take any longer than that. What do they have to hide?

I have the utmost respect for the hon. Lady, but she needs to look again at how the Work programme works. We are not making an outcome payment to providers for six months. That is a really good deal for the taxpayer, because before providers can receive payment, they must ensure not simply that that have got somebody into work for a week to boost statistics, but that they keep them in work for a sustained period. The Government cannot produce robust statistics under the guidance produced by the UK Statistics Authority if we try to do so earlier.

Is not the key point about the Work programme that payment by results and packages tailored to individual needs are likely to make the cost per successful job outcome lower, and the number of jobs achieved higher?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The whole point of the Work programme is real investment in the long-term unemployed. Providers will take the requisite time to get them into work, but the Government will pay the bill only when people are successfully in long-term employment. That is a much better deal than under previous schemes from the previous Government. He is right that the Work programme is a much better deal for the taxpayer.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General says that openness and transparency on public services data will be a

“core part of every bit of government business”,

so why not this bit of Government business? Why is the Minister not only refusing to publish performance data but banning Work programme providers from publishing their own data, as many did under the new deal and would like to do now? He is threatening to withdraw their contracts if they publish that data. What is he trying to hide, and will he at least lift that ban?

The right hon. Gentleman clearly was not listening to the answer I gave a moment ago, but he would also do well to remember that his Government set up the current rules on national statistics. He would surely want statistics to be published properly and in an appropriate time frame, under the guidance of the UK Statistics Authority. I do not believe in giving information out haphazardly. Let us do it properly, according to the guidance and process he set up when he was in government.