Press release

Work Programme: more than 168,000 people escape long-term unemployment

Latest published figures show over 168,000 jobseekers have escaped long-term unemployment and found lasting work through the Work Programme.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


More than 168,000 jobseekers have escaped long-term unemployment and found lasting work – normally at least 6 months – through the Work Programme, an increase of 37,000 in 3 months, new figures published today (26 September 2013) show.

The figures, which show Work Programme performance up to the end of June 2013, also show that the vast majority of these – 149,000 people – have then gone on to work for an average of another 6 months.

Work Programme performance is significantly improving since being launched in June 2011 to give tailored help to people who have already been out of work for some time, or are in danger of becoming long-term unemployed. After the first 12 months of the scheme, 24,000 had found lasting work. By June 2013 this had increased dramatically to 168,000

Work Programme providers get paid the majority of their money when someone has stayed in work for 6 months, or 3 months for some of the hardest to help, so today’s figures don’t tell the whole story. Many more people have started work but not reached the 6 month point yet. Industry figures published last week showed that 384,000 people had started a job thanks to the Work Programme.

Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said:

Previous schemes didn’t provide the right support for the long-term unemployed and offered poor value for money for the taxpayer. We launched the Work Programme to tackle this so people got the help they needed to find a job and, crucially, given support to stay in work.

Today’s figures show that large numbers of people previously at risk of long-term unemployment are finding a job and staying in work for 6 months and more. This gives people hope that they can achieve their aspiration of looking after themselves and their families.

The Work Programme gives at least 2 years of tailored support for some of the hardest to help jobseekers. Only those who joined in the first few weeks of the scheme will have completed the full 2 years, so the majority of jobs have been achieved before anyone had finished the Work Programme.

Nearly a quarter of the people who joined the Work Programme right at the beginning – many of whom had been out of work for over a year when the scheme began – have had at least 6 months in work (or 3 for the very hardest to help).

But performance also continues to show improvement, with those people joining the scheme more recently more likely to spend more time off benefit than those who joined in the first few months.

Unlike the short-term job focus of previous schemes the Work Programme is about keeping people in work. Providers are incentivised to keep people in work past the 3 or 6 month point and up to June 2013, nearly 1 million ‘sustainment payments’ had been made for 149,000 people. This is the equivalent of 4 million extra weeks’ work beyond outcome payment, or an extra 6 months in a job per person.

Work Programme providers have improved significantly, but we have always been clear that, while many Work Programme providers are performing well, others are lagging behind. That is why, in order to drive up performance, help as many people into work as possible, and give the best value to the taxpayer, from August this year we began referring more claimants to the better performing providers.

By the end of June 2013, 1.14 million people had been referred to the Work Programme and been on it for long enough to count in today’s employment performance figures.

Case study

Allan, 52, from St Bee’s Cumbria was helped by A4E.

When he was made redundant by the textile factory where he had worked for 20 years, Allan Johnstone’s world fell apart.

At around the same time his marriage disintegrated, leaving him homeless, and he was diagnosed with diabetes, which led to depression.

But now he is well – working hard as a carer – and says he is feeling on top of the world.

Allan credits his dramatic reversal of fortune to the Work Programme. He was supported to gain relevant qualifications in social care, health care and mobility – and put on a computing course to brush up his IT skills and help with his jobsearch.

Allan is now working happily as a carer and says:

I wanted to share my story in the hope it might help someone else. Being referred to the Work Programme isn’t the big stick I thought it was. There is all the help there you need, you just have to ask.

More information

The Work Programme was launched in June 2011 and is aimed at those at risk of long-term unemployment. Providers are paid according to results to get people into work, with extra incentives to support the hardest to help.

Providers have flexibility to innovate and to design support that addresses the needs of the individual and the local labour market, rather than having to follow one size fits all processes. They get a small amount of money up front but most payment comes after someone has been in work for up to 6 months, and extra payments for each month afterwards.

Once referred, claimants remain on the Work Programme for 2 years. Even after a participant has started a job their provider will offer them in-work support for the balance of their time on the programme.

Outcome payments are usually made after someone has been in work for 6 months, or 3 months in the case of the very hardest to help.

Read the Work Programme official statistics

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Published 26 September 2013