Two years ago, I raised questions with the UK Statistics Authority about the figures that had been released on the Work Programme. My concerns at the time were that
- political claims had been made for the success of the Work Programme that could not be scrutinised by outsiders
- it was not clear what the criteria were for success, and
- the cohort of ‘early’ service users had been selected.
The current crop of figures, which has information to the end of 2013, is not much better. It covers only ‘job outcome payments’, and doesn’t include information about referral, speed of placement, or sustainment payments. It also doesn’t refer to sanctions for non-compliance, which David Webster has noted is larger than any other outcome of the Work Programme.
The UKSA has just published its assessment of the Work Programme statistics. They have been critical of two issues: the incomprehensibility of referring to job outcome payments, and the misleading press releases about the programme, which they think might undermine confidence in official statistics.