Cameron’s PMQs Work Programme claims don’t add up

Ed Miliband reiterated his claim the Work Programme had a success rate of just 2% at Prime Minsiter's Questions today - a figure dismissed by David Cameron.


Ed Miliband reiterated his claim the Work Programme had a success rate of just two per cent at Prime Minsiter’s Questions today – a figure dismissed by David Cameron.

Miliband said:

“The scheme is supposed to create sustained jobs for people – and in a whole year of the programme, out of every hundred people, just two got a job, that is a success rate of 2%, and the government estimates that without a Work Programme… five out of every hundred would get a job.

“Isn’t it a historic first to have designed a Welfare To Work Programme where you’re more likely to get a job if you’re not on the programme?”

With Cameron replying:

“I have to say to the Leader of the Opposition, I listened very carefully to what he said, and what he said was wrong, he said only two per cent of people on this programme got a job, that is not correct.

“There are over 800,000 people who’ve taken part, over 200,000 people have got into work, if you look at the specific figure he was referring to yesterday, which is those people continuosly in work for six months, but of course, he’s only looking at a programme that has been going for a year, that figure is 19,000 people…”

Here’s how one gets to the 2.3% figure (and why it’s the measure that counts):

The government’s Invitation to Tender for the Work Programme (page 13, pdf) said performance levels should be assessed on a 12 month-basis:

“The Key Performance Measure: 3.13 Performance will be measured by comparing job outcomes achieved in the previous 12 months to referrals in the same period. In years six and seven there are no referrals and performance will be measured by jobs outcomes achieved in the previous 12 months divided by year five referrals.”

In the first 12 months of the Work Programme, 785,360 people were referred to the Work Programme, with only 18,270 thousand have found a job. The Work Programme helped only 2.3% of people referred to it into jobs. Download spreadsheet (xls) for calculations.

Cameron also claimed the Work Programme was delivering “the same result as the Future Jobs Fund”.

Miliband said:

“Let’s talk about the Future Jobs Fund, because last Friday the government issued a very interesting document. He spent two years rubbishing the Future Jobs Fund – what did this document say? It said the scheme provided net benefit to participants, their employers, and society as a whole. In other words it was a success.

“And he’s rubbished the programme, and it helped 120,000 people into work. His Work Programme has only helped 3,000 people… He got rid of a Labour programme that was working and replaced it with a Tory one that isn’t.”

To which Cameron replied:

Once again, he’s completely wrong and let me give him the figures – our work experience programme is seeing half of the young people taking part getting into work – that is the same result as the Future Jobs Fund and it cost 20 times less – that is the truth – our programme is good value for taxpayers’ money, is getting people into work.”

However, according to the DWP’s own document, “Impacts and Costs and Benefits of the Future Jobs Fund” (page 65, pdf), the FJF, scrapped by Cameron, was a huge success:

The FJF programme is estimated to result in:

A net benefit to participants of approximately £4,000 per participant;

A net benefit to employers of approximately £6,850 per participant;

A net cost to the Exchequer of approximately £3,100 per participant; and

A net benefit to society of approximately £7,750 per participant.

As NIESR director Jonathan Portes blogged last Friday:

The prime minister might have been right that the FJF would turn out to be a waste of money. But, until we had proper evaluation and analysis, we didn’t know.

And we knew at the time we didn’t know, as the work and pensions committee pointed out:

“We found that it was too soon to assess whether the Future Jobs Fund has been successful in supporting unemployed young people in finding permanent employment. It is also too early to say whether the FJF is a cost-effective method to support young people facing significant obstacles to employment.”

Well, we know now; the prime minister was wrong. But it’s too late: the programme has already been cancelled, so instead of spending money on something we now know works – for young people on the dole, for employers, and for society as a whole – we’re spending it on other things.

And we don’t know (yet) if they work or not. That’s a real waste.

That’s what happens when you put ideology before evidence.

See also:

The Work Programme isn’t workingNovember 27th, 2012

The abject failure of the Work ProgrammeNovember 27th, 2012

Unofficial figures show 70% on Work Programme still jobless after a yearNovember 27th, 2012

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