27 Nov 2012

Work Programme figures prove Emma Harrison wrong

“All your numbers are wrong,” former A4e boss Emma Harrison told Channel 4 News after leaked figures showed the company found work for four in 100 people. But official figures contradict her claims.

Government figures out today show that just 3.5 per cent of long-term unemployed people found a sustainable job through the government’s flagship Work Programme.

That is around 2 per cent short of the government’s target – and worse than the target expected if there had been no government scheme in place at all.

The figures, which cover the 14 months from June 2011 to July 2012, are consistent with those obtained by Channel 4 News for A4e – one of the private companies paid millions by the government to find work for the long- term unemployed.

‘Making up stories’

Channel 4 News last month revealed that less than four in 100 of A4e’s clients found “sustainble” jobs lasting more than three or six months. Data seen by the programme covered June 2011 to June 2012, and relates to the 93,000 unemployed people who were “attached” to A4e and on their books during this time.

When confronted with the figures, former A4e boss Emma Harrison – who has made hundreds of thousands of pounds through the contract with the government – accused Channel 4 News of “making up stories” and denied the figures [see video above].

“A lot of the detail you have in that (report) are wrong,” she told Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

“I cannot recognise these numbers,” she added.

However, Ms Harrison declined to explain exactly which figures were wrong, saying “stop bullying me… you’ve been making up stories, having a go.”

“I have invested £50m in the success of the Work Programme… I remortgaged my house to do it,” she added.

Bad news for A4e

Social Affairs Editor Jackie Long has been analysing the official Work Programme figures, including the detail of how A4e fared during the 14-month period.

“We established back in May and again in October that A4e were consistently falling short of the minimum performance levels required – with a job outcome rate of around 3.6 per cent,” she writes in her blog.

“A4e final official figures for the first full year show that we were slightly out. Their outcome rate is actually lower now, at 3.35 per cent.”

Emma Harrison declined to comment on today’s figures.

Read more on FactCheck: Why leaked A4e data suggests Work Programme isn’t working

Welfare to work

The coalition government launched the Work Programme in June 2011, hailing it as the biggest welfare to work initiative in history and a revolution in helping the long-term unemployed find work.

The scheme divides the country into regions, with each comprising a range of private, public and voluntary sector organisations.

The companies involved are contracted by the government and paid by results. But the figures out on Tuesday show that just 3.5 per cent of people have found sustainable jobs through the scheme.

Unemployment is now slowly falling despite a stagnation in GDP, a phenomenon that has become known as the “productivity puzzle”.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said the programme was showing “promising signs” against a tougher economic backdrop than was expected when the scheme was launched in June last year. Ministers have also said it is still “early days” to assess the success of the scheme overall.

According to the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, even if targets were revised down to accommodate for the economic climate, the Work Programme would still have underperformed.

“This suggests that the Work Programme as a whole is underperforming against contractual expectations, even when accounting for changes in the economy,” the think tank said in its analysis.