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Work Programme

Volume 565: debated on Monday 1 July 2013

7. What assessment he has made of the performance of the Work programme in helping young people into work. (162095)

Just under half the young people who had been on the Work programme for a year had work, and over 46,000 had had more than six months of work.

I do not know whether the Minister is as disappointed as I am at the sniping negativity of Labour MPs towards the Work programme, when what they should be doing is rolling up their sleeves and making it work in their constituencies. In that spirit, will the Minister applaud the 50 small businesses in Bedford which, working in conjunction with the two Work programme providers, will on 11 July be giving 200 young people the equivalent of a day of speed-dating interviews to give them a good restart in their careers?

That is a fantastic example of how local employers can work with the Work programme to deliver good outcomes for people and get them into work.

From this month, hundreds of jobseekers, including young people, will be returned to jobcentres. The DWP originally said they would be asked to come in weekly, but I think I heard the Secretary of State say they will be coming in daily, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that new jobseekers will be coming in weekly. The problem here is that the National Audit Office has said job advisers are seeing far more jobseekers than ever before, that the time they spend with jobseekers is down, and that the DWP budget fell by 9% in last week’s spending review. Is this not just a lot of hot air? Is it not something that is not actually going to happen?

I remind the hon. Lady that over the last seven months the number of jobseekers has fallen. She has not welcomed that, but it is good news for her constituents and for people across the country. We want to make sure Jobcentre Plus advisers offer a good quality service. They do that, and I am very disappointed that a member of the Select Committee cannot see fit to thank Jobcentre Plus advisers for their hard work.

Indeed, they are at their highest level since 2008. That is why we have record numbers of people in work, record numbers of women in work, and a record number of hours worked. It is about time the Opposition welcomed that.

In the invitation to tender for the Work programme, the Minister’s Department said it expected providers significantly to exceed the minimum standards it had set out, but the facts are that they have not even reached the minimum standards, including for young people getting back into work, and that about half the providers have not even met the standards his Department said would be met without a programme in place. Is not the Minister even a tiny bit embarrassed?

I am pleased to be able to say that performance is improving. Across the country the performance of Work programme providers has improved, and about half of providers have significantly exceeded the minimum standards. That is why people are getting into work; that is why we are seeing lives transformed. I wish the Opposition would stop carping and congratulate the work the providers are doing to get people into work.

18. Until recently, a significant part of the labour market, including young people, was referred to as unemployable. May I congratulate my hon. Friend and the Secretary of State on challenging this deeply negative assumption? To be getting 132,000 previously unemployed people into employment is a considerable achievement. Does my hon. Friend agree that the payment-by-results model has been instrumental in this achievement? (162107)

Under previous schemes, money was paid upfront to providers without much attention being paid to whether people got jobs and work. Under this scheme, the interests of taxpayers, the unemployed and providers are closely aligned, because providers get paid only if they get people into work for six months.