Government Work Programme Yet To Deliver

17:25 Tuesday 27th November 2012
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: The Government’s missed its own target for getting the long term unemployed back into work. Figures just out show only three out of every hundred unemployed people got jobs lasting longer than six months. The target was five. Employment Minister Mark Hoban said thousands of lives had already been changed, and argued the programme was only in its first year. .. Labour says the Government is failing the long term unemployed. The Shadow Employment Minister is Stephen Timms, and he joined me earlier with his reaction to those figures. (TAPE)
STEPHEN TIMMS: Well they’re desperately disappointing figures. Two years ago the Government said if there was no programme at all, five per cent of people getting in to one year plus unemployment would see job outcomes within twelve months. This programme however has delivered barely three and a half per cent. So less than they said would happen if there was no programme at all. For people on ill-health benefits the proportion is just one point three per cent in these figures published today. They really are very very poor. And I think the Government needs to take some urgent action to sort things out.
CHRIS MANN: What they’re saying is give it a chance. This is the first set of figures. It’s early days yet. Things are going to get better.
STEPHEN TIMMS: Well I don’t see any sign of that happening. I think the real problem, the Minister was blaming the work programme providers, saying that they needed to get their act together. But the truth is it’s very very difficult to get people into jobs if there aren’t any jobs to get them into. That’s what the Government needs to address. They said that their economic policy would lead to growth and falling unemployment. It simply hasn’t happened. And we do urgently need a change of direction on economic policy. We also need to make some changes to this work programme. For example, it’s been shrouded in a ridiculous cloak of secrecy throughout the past eighteen months, while it’s been running. Up until today, we’ve had no information at all about how many people were getting into work through this. In the past, these organisations would regularly publish details about how many people they were getting into work. This government have banned them from doing that. And so only now, eighteen months in, do we see just how badly things are going wrong in some areas, and that will require some changes. But the changes should have been made months ago.
CHRIS MANN: What the Ministers are saying is that they’re doing better than you did. They’re saving money compared to Labour’s plan, and that their targets for people not on benefits are working. They say the cost of every job secured under this work programme is about £2000. But it cost you £7500 under your Future New Deal for every job.
STEPHEN TIMMS: That’s a very misleading comparison. They said two years ago if you did nothing, five per cent of people would get these job outcomes within twelve months. Today they’ve announced that three and a half per cent have done. It’s clear that this programme is not delivering what this government said it would deliver, and they need to sort that out.
CHRIS MANN: What about their claim that this is saving money? The contractors aren’t paid the full amount until someone’s got a job for six months, so it’s actually incentivising them to do better next time.
STEPHEN TIMMS: The point of this programme was supposed to be to get people into work. A budget has been allocated for that purpose. Today we’ve discovered it is not delivering. And it’s no comfort to people who are unemployed to know the Government has saved money, if they’re not getting the help that they need. And that’s the reality, that very large numbers of people who have been placed on this programme are getting absolutely no help at all. And that’s what Ministers now need very urgently to address.