29 Jun 2012

Figuring out the Work Programme

No one ever said it was going to be easy. But getting people back to work clearly looked less challenging back in 2010 when the Work Programme was conceived.

The Government certainly raised expectations though. They said it would be a “revolution” in welfare to work. Up to five billion pounds would be given out in contracts to private companies to help two and a half million people back to work.

Little wonder that we’re all desperate to know whether it’s working.

Last night we  were able to broadcast the first real data from the Work Programme as it hits its first birthday. We obtained performance figures from A4e, the controversial welfare to work company and the second biggest contractor.

My colleague Job Rabkin has done a full resume of the cross country figures on the main newspage.

But the headlines make grim reading – and not just for the company but for the Government too.

A4e are falling well short of the minimum targets set by Government for the end of the first year, getting on average, only 3 in a 100 people into what’s deemed sustained work, a job for at least three months.

Now these are tough times and jobs are hard to find. Ok. But even in places where there’s very little unemployment, A4e are performing very poorly.

Look at Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire: 419 jobseekers were put on the Work Programme with A4e between June 2011 and the end of March. Yet A4e succeeded in placing just 7 people into jobs which lasted 13 weeks or more – a success rate of just 1.7 per cent. And this in a town where unemployment is only just over 2 per cent.

Under the hugely complex contractual arrangements of the Work Programme,  sometimes A4e are the “secondary providers” – essentially under contract to another company.

So in the north-east where the programme is run by Avanta and Ingeus Deloitte, A4e’s figures as the sub-contractor had a success rate of 4.18 per cent.

There are clearly enormous questions for A4e. They say they can’t talk about how things are going until official statistics are released later in the year.

The DWP says the same and that analysing the figures we have for the ten months from last June to March is “ludicrous.”

So we wait for the whole-year figures in the autumn sometime. Will A4e’s performance be better by then? Are the other contractors doing so much better that the Work Programme will have proven itself to truly have been a revolution?

I can’t wait.

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9 reader comments

  1. Kate says:

    Good work, Jackie – thank you.

  2. Gopher says:

    The next 6 to 8 weeks aren’t going to make much difference. Some current clients may start a job, while others will drop out of the short-term work.

    What’s the point in paying a private company £££££ when someone fills a vacancy that would be quickly filled anyway in the current labour market conditions.

    The work programme doesn’t “create” any jobs, it’s just an odious waste of tax-payers money.

  3. Philip says:

    It was always a con & the targets were totally unrealistic at a time of double-dip recession. But I’m sure Cameron will blame the “work-shy” & require them to lose benefits if they don’t go to these non-existent jobs not provided by get-rich-quick providers

  4. stopbeing a bankerand doyourjobproperly says:

    To drawn conclusions from this data set is not only ludicrus, its poor judgement.Not only does it create an environment that damages the chances for job seekers, but it incorrectly infers that the programme isn’t working. It is and it does lots of good work. So do your maths properly, research your stories properly and then come back with some well thought out conclusions.

    1. Philip says:

      And you evidence is?

  5. Philip Edwards says:


    Do you think for a single moment the final statistics will make the slightest bit of REAL difference to British society? Even if the “success” rate was doubled?

    The fact is, this is nothing more than a privatised bureaucratic scam. It cannot even scratch the surface of the problems of unemployment and poverty faced by our country. But then it was never intended to, whatever the ultraright propaganda says.

    In this country we have 2.6 million unemployed and one quarter of the population living in poverty. This was brought about deliberately through deindustrialisation in the 1980s. Since then unemployment and poverty have been built into the economy as “structural” (read: what the establishment can get away with).

    Do you REALLY think there can be a cure while the establishment hands corrupt, useless contracts to suited-up thieves like A4E? They are merely a licence to print money and make profits from misery.

    You night as well hand everything over to the Gordon Gekkos of this world and say you prefer greed to everything else. In which case you can’t rightly whine about inequality as it worsens. Which, trust me, it will.

  6. Robert Taggart says:

    Scrounger calling Taxpayers…
    Those of you who are taxpayers should be most concerned…
    You may well hate us scroungers who live-off your hard won and easily ‘stolen’ earnings, but, what about those parasites who you also pay for in order to make us work ? Those ‘trainers’ are having a laugh – at your expense…
    They have the respectability of employment, but, if they were of any use to any body – they would find ‘economically productive’ employment – for themselves !
    They cost you taxpayers far more than us scroungers – even after they have ‘paid’ some of ‘your money’ back !!

  7. Caliban says:

    The Elephant in the Corner that nobody wants to talk about is immigration.

    If you import around 5 million unemployed foreigners into your country, you are likely to have a lot more unemployed people.

    If you also decide it would be a really good idea to pay your own people quite a lot of money for not working, many of them will not work. And, the foreigners will do the work instead.

    To me, this does not seem a very difficult concept to grasp. But many politicians and journos seem to struggle with it.

  8. Wrong says:

    Emma was right, your figures are wrong. By making calculations based on out of date data you are missing months of completed outcomes which would fall into 1st year stats. Emma cannot say what the actual performance is just as all other providers can’t. They are not contractually able to. This is right and proper as poor and incomplete analysis such as this distorts the performance and muddys the water.
    When DWP release the one version of the stats in November, a complete picture of year 1 will be apparent. I am confident that this will show on target performance albeit with some expected regional variations. Urban areas good, rural areas less so.

    Additionally, the idea that WP is performing below natural job uptake is illogical. What is being suggested is that A4es 15 minute meetings once a month, as you reported, is preventing people finding a job.
    Thats quite an assumption to make and clearly an ill conceived comparison. This alone raises doubts about the robustness your data set.
    Although a competitor, I feel for A4e and it’s staff. Their job is tough enough without having to justify themselves and their action to job seekers they are trying to help, as you have forced them to do.
    You may shrug and say you are just reporting what’s in the public interest. It’s only in the public interest if it’s robust. Your analysis and your subsequent reporting of it is not.
    Roll on November!

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