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Work Programme

Volume 541: debated on Monday 5 March 2012

14. What assessment he has made of the effect of employment trends on the operation of the Work programme. (97703)

We published adjusted projections of attachments to the Work programme in December. Those revised projections have been communicated to providers and published in the House of Commons Library. The revised projections take account of the latest Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts, observed trends in referrals since June, and policy changes.

I am grateful for that answer. The Work programme is a crucial element in helping the long-term unemployed back into work, and I particularly welcome the emphasis on payment by results. However, as our economy emerges from its current problems, there will be some regional variations in the job market. What is the Minister doing to monitor the situation? If necessary, might he consider a regional element to the pay structure?

I am pleased to be able to reassure my hon. Friend on this. I was in his county of Cornwall last week to meet Work programme providers in both the private and voluntary sectors, and what I saw was very encouraging. The progress they are making is similar to that being made elsewhere in the country, and there is no obvious sign of the regional variation he describes. I wish to pay tribute to the voluntary sector organisations I met, which are very involved in the Work programme. I pay particular tribute to Groundwork, which is running one of the most innovative motivational programmes for some of the hardest to help I have yet seen in the Work programme. That is, of course, helping his constituents and will do the right thing to help them into work.