Headlines: August 24th, 2011

At least 90 per cent of organisations involved in delivering the Government’s flagship back to work scheme, the Work Programme, risk having their contracts terminated because of unreachable performance targets set by the Department for Work and Pensions. The Social Market Foundation, the think tank originally behind the idea for the Work Programme and responsible for the analysis, said that without an urgent rethink of the performance criteria this could lead to the failure of the entire scheme with potentially dire consequences for the 2.4 million long term unemployed it is designed to help.

The SMF’s analysis uses new data on performance levels of welfare to work providers under Labour’s back to work programme, the Flexible New Deal, to forecast the likely performance of organisations delivering the Work Programme.

Looking at the Government’s stated minimum performance levels for getting adult jobseekers, the main target group, into work, the analysis finds that the Work Programme will get around one in four adult Jobseeker’s Allowance clients into work, significantly below the rate needed to meet the Department for work and Pension’s expectations for minimum performance. The analysis also shows that Providers will fail to meet the minimum performance expected of them by the Department by around 30,000 jobs over three years.

The effect of this will be that over 90 per cent of Work Programme providers will be at risk of having their contracts terminated by the Department even by year three of the scheme. Another outcome will be that funding per jobseeker will be significantly less than anticipated, threatening the financial viability of providers.

Ian Mulheirn, Director of the SMF said: “The future of this vital employment scheme hangs in the balance. The programme aims to get some of the hardest to reach people off benefits and into work, but past performance shows that providers will be unable to meet the criteria required of them by the Department.”