The Department for Work and Pensions has today released official statistics covering the performance of the Work programme in its first year.
The Work programme was launched in June 2011 and is part of this Government’s welfare reform. Long-term unemployed people, or those most at risk of becoming long-term unemployed, are referred to a range of external employment support providers. These providers get the bulk of their payments based on the results they achieve. They are paid a job outcome payment only when they get a participant into long-term employment, and are then paid sustainment payments for every four weeks the participant stays in work, up to a maximum of two years. This payment-by-results format offers the taxpayer better value for money than previous schemes.
The Work programme encourages innovative employment support as it offers providers the freedom to tailor services to each individual. Moreover, it takes into account that Work programme participants are often a long way from entering the labour market by giving providers up to two years to help each participant find work.
The Government have today published ad hoc statistics covering the movement of Work programme participants off benefits. These show 56% of participants who started on the Work programme in June 2011 have had a break in their benefit claim, and 30% are off benefit in just over a year. In addition, ERSA—the trade body for the welfare-to-work industry—has also released figures showing over 200,000 Work programme participants had started a job by the end of September 2012.
In addition, the Government have released official statistics which cover job outcome payments and the sustainment payments up to July 2012, and are available on the Department’s website today. They show that by the end of July 2012, providers across the country had successfully claimed over 31,000 job outcomes. A tabulation tool is also available to break the figures down further by constituency.
While these figures show progress is being made the Government are clear that there is more to be done. Each provider has a performance development plan and the Department is managing them vigorously to constantly improve performance. Formal contract letters requiring improvement have been issued to those providers with the lowest performance to date. We are going to look at what can be done to get national employers better engaged with the programme; improve access to skills support for participants; enable better sharing of best practice between providers and across their supply chains; build understanding and expertise in supporting harder-to-help claimants; and improve data transparency.