The Government’s flagship Work Programme – Does IT Work?

An analysis by the Guardian shows that none of the 18 contractors to the flagship Work Programme have reached their target of keeping at least 5.5% of jobless people referred to a scheme job for half a year in the year until July 2012.

Now that’s a pretty bold opening statement.

Believe it or not, in these austere times, the government have already pumped £435 Million pounds into this scheme. I’m not opposed to helping people find work, why would I be, but this just smacks of yet more government wastage and incompetence. We’ve long since known that successive governments move people between lists to massage the unemployment figures, or whatever the current flavour is.

However, fewer than one in a hundred unemployed people on sickness payment, employment and support allowance, were found jobs by the scheme.

Possibly unsurprisingly the most successful area up to July this year has been the affluent Thames Valley, Hampshire and Isle of Wight region but the success rate here has only been 5.1%. The worst (so far) has been Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Swindon and West of England (yes I know Swindon is in Wilts, I don’t know why it’s been separated either) at 2.2% success rate.

The work programme in Middlesbrough, where 8% are unemployed, found 100 jobs for 4,500 people referred.Similarly deprived Blackpool, with 6% unemployment, only 50 jobless people were found “sustained employment” out of 3,500 referrals.

In West London Maximus Employment, with £176 million of contracts, got 760 unemployed people into sustained employment out of 18,830 referrals, a success rate of 4%. Or put another way, a quarter of a million pounds for each person placed into lasting employment.

Personally I think that even the best of those figures hardly qualifies as an unequivocal success. Good value for £435 Million? Don’t get me wrong, I want people to work, but is this really a good result?

The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade body for the welfare-to-work industry, said more than 200,000 jobseekers have found employment through the programme, since it was launched in June 2011.

Sean Williams of G4S, which has three work programme contracts worth £200m, said criticism of the scheme was “just unfair”, predicting an increasing number of people will be helped into a sustained job. “The work programme is the most cost effective welfare-to-work scheme the government has ever produced. At £2,097 per job, it’s less than a third of the previous flexible new deal,” said Williams.

G4S has £200 Million worth of government Work Programme contracts and is defending the government. Surely this is just a coincidence?

Last month Channel 4 News claimed that A4e had had 94,000 referrals in the first 12 months of the scheme, and had found six-month jobs for 3,400 of them, suggesting a performance level of 3.6%.

Two independent studies, both claim that the success rate is not significantly better than 5%.

Under the work programme, providers can earn between £3,700 and £13,700 per person, depending how hard it is to help an individual, with an initial payment of between £400 and £600. No wonder these companies like the scheme.

Data shows Work Programme failures | News | guardian.co.uk.

The New Statesmasn reports that “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 we 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.”

Someone with a better knowledge of the Work Programme than me has pointed out another little bit of potential subterfuge. A letter from Mark Hoban MP, to his fellow coalition MPs,refers to performance data from June 2011 to July 2012, whereas the DWP’s own standards for minimum performance are supposed to be measured according to results achieved in a calendar year – so the period that counts for judging whether the programme is working would be June 2011 – May 2012. Of course, if you count a year as 13 or 14 months you can squeeze in a few more job placements and claim the system is closer to meeting the required targets …

So there we are the government’s Work Programme, working? I think not, but you decide.

Total Referrals (Thousands) Total Job Outcomes (Thousands) Key Performance Measure
Thames Valley, Hamps, Isle of Wight: Maximus Emp UK Ltd 17.74 0.91 5.13
East Midlands: Ingeus UK Ltd 29.51 1.48 5.02
Coventry, Warwicks, Staffs, Manchester: ESG 16.29 0.81 4.97
West London: Ingeus UK Ltd 19.16 0.91 4.75
Coventry, Warwicks, Staffs, Manchester: Serco Ltd 16.48 0.76 4.61
Manchester, Cheshire, Warrington: G4S 19.33 0.88 4.55
East of England: Ingeus UK LTD 30.93 1.35 4.36
Surrey, Sussex, Kent: G4S 21.5 0.9 4.19
Birmingham, Solihull, Black Country: EOS-Works Ltd 21.8 0.91 4.17
Scotland: Ingeus UK LTD 43.73 1.77 4.05
West London: Maximus Emp UK Ltd 18.83 0.76 4.04
Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Somerset: Working Links 12.02 0.48 3.99
West Yorkshire: Ingeus UK LTD 21.14 0.81 3.83
Surrey, Sussex, Kent: Avanta Enterprise Ltd 21.44 0.82 3.82
Manchester, Cheshire, Warrington: Seetec 19.22 0.71 3.69
West London: Reed in Partnership 18.87 0.69 3.66
South Yorkshire: Serco Ltd 13.45 0.48 3.57
Scotland: Working Links 43.48 1.55 3.56
Total 877.88 31.24 3.56
South Yorkshire: A4E Ltd 13.52 0.48 3.55
Birmingham, Solihull, Black Country: Pertemps 21.78 0.76 3.49
East Midlands: A4E Ltd 29.26 1.02 3.49
NE Yorks, The Humber: G4S 13.25 0.46 3.47
East London: Careers Development Group 26.63 0.91 3.42
Merseyside, Halton, Cumbria, Lancs: Ingeus UK LTD 28.11 0.96 3.42
Wales: Working Links 22.41 0.76 3.39
Merseyside, Halton, Cumbria, Lancs: A4E Ltd 28.09 0.94 3.35
North East: Ingeus UK Ltd 27.6 0.92 3.33
East London: A4E Ltd 26.69 0.86 3.22
Manchester, Cheshire, Warrington: Avanta Enterprise Ltd 19.46 0.59 3.03
Wales: Rehab jobfit 22.35 0.63 2.82
East of England: Seetec 30.25 0.85 2.81
Thames Valley, Hamps, Isle of Wight: A4E Ltd 17.65 0.49 2.78
West Yorkshire: Business Employment Services 21.04 0.57 2.71
North East: Avanta Enterprise Ltd 27.86 0.73 2.62
East London: Seetec 26.55 0.68 2.56
Birmingham, Solihull, Black Country: Newc College Group 21.84 0.53 2.43
Glouc, Wilts, Swindon, West of England: Rehab jobfit 11.7 0.28 2.39
NE Yorks, The Humber: Newc College Group 13.2 0.31 2.35
Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Somerset: Prospects Serv Ltd 11.89 0.27 2.27
Glouc, Wilts, Swindon, West of England: JHP Group Ltd 11.82 0.26 2.20
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