The DWP has released a slew of new figures on the Work Programme, taking the story up to March. The main statistical release is lengthy, and difficult to interpret; the headline figure is that job outcomes, and outcome payments, have improved to something like 11-13% of referrals, depending on the gloss that’s put on it. There is helpful coverage from a Financial Times blog. Some newspapers – who are usually the Government’s supporters – have been fairly scathing: the Daily Mail complains that this has costed £40,000 a job, the Telegraph that this has been worse than doing nothing.
There is also an informative (and shorter) Excel spreadsheet which lists the actual numbers of ‘Job Outcome Payments’. The payments fall due when a claimant has been in work for 3 or 6 months, depending on the category. In the spreadsheet, it emerges that there have been 139,000 payments. However, more than 132,000 of them were in three categories: JSA 18 to 24, JSA 25 and over, and JSA early entrants. The rest – less than 7000 nationally – were mainly on ESA or transferred from Incapacity Benefit.
The progress relating to those groups generally falls below the target figures at which providers get paid. The longer report explains that while results for year 2 have been better than for year 1, “In this second financial year (April 2012 – March 2013) the contractual performance level for the JSA 18 to 24, JSA 25 and over and ESA new customers Payment Groups were 31.9%, 27.3% and 5.3% respectively. This was against a Minimum Performance Level of 33%, 27.5% and 16.5% for each group respectively.” That might sound as if the programme is coming close to targets, but the situation is worse than that; the figures relating to ESA, including people who have volunteered to be supported into work, show an almost complete failure to make a positive contribution in relation to people who might be considered more difficult to place.