Ministers terminate back-to-work firm’s Yorkshire contract

Employment minister Esther McVey
Employment minister Esther McVey
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MINISTERS have terminated the contract of a back-to-work firm in Yorkshire after figures showed 88 per cent of its clients did not find a long-term job.

Employment Minister Esther McVey announced yesterday she is ending the contract held by Newcastle College Group (NCG) to deliver the Government’s flagship Work Programme across North and East Yorkshire after figures showed it helped just 2,400 of its 20,000 referrals to find lasting work between 2011 and 2013.

Ms McVey said NCG’s performance in Yorkshire was the worst of all 40 private work programme contractors across the UK. A further 10 companies have been placed in ‘special measures’ and ordered to improve.

The Work Programme is the Government’s main scheme for helping the long-term unemployed into work. People who have been jobless for at least a year are referred to private back-to-work firms who provide support and training. The companies receive payment each time one of their clients goes on to hold down a job for at least six months.

However, the programme has been heavily criticised for poor performance. since its launch in 2011. Ms McVey insisted performance has “dramatically improved” over the past year, with the number of people finding lasting work soaring from 55,000 to 208,000 in the 12 months to September 2013.

However, data shows just 15 per cent of the people referred to the programme since June 2011 have actually found long-term jobs.

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary and the MP for Leeds West, said: “The termination of NCG’s contract is another blow to the Government’s failing Work Programme.

“Ministers have spent over £1bn on Work Programme providers, yet people who go through the scheme are more likely to return to Jobcentre Plus than get a sustained job.”

NCG said it was “extremely disappointed” with the decision, insisting its own performance has improved over recent months.