208,000 jobless are helped to find work

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The Government has insisted its flagship Work Programme is helping to get growing numbers of long-term unemployed into jobs despite Opposition claims that the scheme is “failing.”

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showed that the numbers finding work under the programme had increased from 55,000 to the end of September 2012 to 208,000 by this September.

Around 40,000 had found lasting work, normally at least six months, in the past three months thanks to the scheme, which was launched in June 2011.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “It is really encouraging that increasing numbers of people at risk of long-term unemployment are finding lasting jobs thanks to the Work Programme, a key part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to get people off benefits and into work.

“With a record 30 million people now in work, we are determined to do everything we can to support those people who are hardest to help into work, and that is what the Work Programme is designed to do, whilst also being a good deal for the taxpayer.”

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said: “These new figures show David Cameron’s flagship Work Programme is still failing.

“It’s astonishing that people who use the Work Programme are more likely to return to Jobcentre Plus than find work, while just one in six have got a long-term job and less than 5 per cent of those claiming a disability benefit have found work.

“Labour would introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee, funded by repeating the tax on bank bonuses, and limiting pension tax relief for the very highest earners.”

The DWP said Work Programme providers had improved significantly, although some were “lagging behind”.

More claimants are now being referred to better-performing organisations.