Ahead of the official publication of Work Programme Outcome Statistics by ONS this morning, ministers have been preparing the ground for low expectations.
The Telegraph reports unofficial figures showing 70% of participants remain jobless after a year on the scheme:
Unofficial figures released ahead of the government’s own results showed 71 per cent of those who joined the £5 billion Work Programme when it started in June 2011 had not found employment by September this year.
This amounted to about 53,000 individuals. About 22,000, or 29 per cent of those who entered the schemes in June last year, had successfully started work.
Out of the 248,000 long-term unemployed adults who joined the programme in June, July and August 2011, about 180,000 were still out of work in September 2012.
As the New Statesman’s Rafael Behr blogged last night, ministers have been preparing the ground for bad news – with a leaked letter from employment minister Mark Hoban revealing the coalition’s attempts to “move the goalposts”:
It has been hard to judge the effectiveness of the policy because the DWP has prevented providers from publishing their data on how many people have actually been placed in work. We have had data on the number of people referred to the Work Programme which suggest that not enough of the long-term unemployed are even getting help through the scheme.
What he haven’t seen - because ministers have continually delayed publication - is how many people have actually been found jobs and how many are staying in work long enough to trigger the payments on which the providers depend if they are not to go bust. In other words, we have yet to get a clear sense of whether the Work Programme is actually working.
That wait comes to an end tomorrow, when, at last, the DWP will publish the numbers. There are hints already that they won’t be encouraging.
“As the Work Programme supports people for two years or more, it is too early to judge Work Programme performance by Job Outcome and Sustainment Payment data alone.”
“To better explain Work Programme preferences so far, I will also be releasing a number of ad hoc statistics which show how the programme is moving people off benefits and compare what we have spent on the programme with the cost of the previous employment programme, Flexible new Deal. ERSA, the providers’ trade organisation, will also publish information on how the programme is helping people move into jobs.”
The official figures will be released shortly…