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Work Programme

Volume 570: debated on Monday 18 November 2013

9. When he estimates the Work programme will provide the same number of job outcomes as the flexible new deal. (901076)

The flexible new deal ran for two years from October 2009 to the end of September 2011, by which time 50,000 people achieved a six-month job outcome. By August 2012, after only one year and two months, 47,000 people achieved a six-month job outcome through the Work programme. Only one month later —in September 2012, after one year and three months—63,000 people were in a job. Simply put, the Work programme is outperforming the flexible new deal.

It is not so much a work programme, as a Government do not work programme. Whatever the Minister says, the figures she commissioned from a private company state that the flexible new deal created more jobs over a limited period than the Work programme.

I think I set out plainly how many jobs the flexible new deal did not create. To date, 117,000 people have achieved six-month outcomes through the Work programme, so it is working. I am pleased to note that in the Vale of Clwyd the level of jobseekers is at 3.6%, the lowest it has been since November 2008. We must be getting something right.

The Work programme is failing disabled people badly, with only 5.8% getting into work—worse than if there was no programme at all. Meanwhile, specialist disability charities are complaining that they are getting only a handful of referrals. The employment and support allowance is costing the public purse £1.4 billion per year. When will the Minister get a grip on this failing programme, so that disabled people can receive the expert support they need to get them into work?

I have just had a successful meeting with the Shaw Trust. Its latest report calls for the Work programme to be refined, not redone. The Work programme is working, but we need to make it better. The Opposition left 1.4 million people without support or help, and those people are being helped for the first time. Although it is tough, we have got significant numbers into work.