27 Nov 2012

Work Programme results: the long wait is over

The government has finally released the first official results of its Work Programme – the controversial payment by results scheme which sees private companies and charities charged with the task of getting the unemployed back to work.

When it was launched back in 2011 it was lauded as a “revolution” in welfare to work.

The question is: how many have sustainable jobs?

So, the key figures to look out for are how many people on the programme have actually got what are known as “sustainable” jobs, that’s work which has lasted for three or six months, depending on the individual’s status within the programme.

It’s only then that the crucial sustainment payments are triggered to the programme providers – companies like, Ingeus and Serco alongside a raft of smaller voluntary organisations.

While we don’t know for certain what the figures will say – the government has delayed their release a couple of times since the summer – here at Channel 4 News we have seen results for A4e, one of the biggest work programme contractors.

We saw a leak of year-end figures and they were failing to meet the government’s minimum target of finding 5.5 per cent of the clients on their books sustainable work.

Sometimes only three in 100 clients has long-term work

In some areas the company was only finding three in 100 clients long term work.

The company and the Department for Work and Pensions have always insisted the figures we broadcast were misleading and incomplete and that we should wait for their official numbers. Well the wait is nearly over.

It’s fair to say that expectations are being managed with talk from within the department suggesting that despite having set targets for the first 12 months, the line now is that a year isn’t really long enough to let the programme bed down and really start delivering.
A clause in providers’ contracts warning them that they could lose market share if they don’t meet minimum targets won’t apparently be triggered until some time next year.

So after the long wait, it may just be a question of business as usual for the companies and regroups more importantly for those people desperate to get back to work. But behind the scenes there’s little doubt that unimpressive results tomorrow will be more than a worry for the government.

It has staked a lot on this particular “revolution”. It needs it to deliver.

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