The DWP published its latest statistics for the Work Programme just before Christmas, and the good news is, it’s now better than doing nothing – but only just.
Click the image to enlarge. The dotted lines show the minimum expected levels. These are based on what would be expected if the long term unemployed were just left to their own devices. The second graph shows the proportion of people who stayed on the Work Programme for 2 years, but who had a spell of employment during that time lasting for 6 months or more (or 3 months for certain groups). Of the almost 1 million people who spent 2 years on the Work Programme, just 28% fall into this category, while almost 70% were sent back to the Job Centre having been failed to be helped into sustainable work. This 28% is a mere smidgeon above the figure DWP thought the long term unemployed would achieve on their own devices. Better than nothing then!
This is a programme that has cost billions, but achieved astonishingly little. When the Work Programme started, the job market was in the toilet, so job outcomes were incredibly low. As the economy started to recover, it became easier to find unemployment people poor quality temporary and/or part time work, so the job outcome figures have picked up (while still remaining poor). In effect all it has done has transferred public resources into the hands of private outsourcing companies like Serco and A4E, who do little more than cherry pick the easy cases, while ignoring the rest. The job outcome figures for those who have come to the Work Programme via sickness/disability type benefits has been particularly poor, achieving barely half the job outcome rate deemed achievable without any intervention at all. A lot of these people are probably not well enough to be actively seeking work, but the Work Programme is failing badly for those who may be ready to return to the workplace.
Instead of wasting resources on pretending people can be got back into employment through improving their ‘soft skills’ or CV writing abilities, why not actually create some jobs?