The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published the first official performance statistics from the Work Programme. These show the number of job outcome payments made to providers between June 2011 and July 2012.
In total 31,000 job outcome payments were paid to Work Programme providers. This is equivalent to 3.2% of individuals referred to the programme in the three main groups achieving a job outcome. The figure for all participant groups is 3.5%.
Inclusion estimates that this is 56% lower than DWP’s minimum performance level (MPL) when commissioning the programme and 47% lower than the Inclusion benchmark, which adjusts for the weaker than expected economy. This is equivalent to 28,000 fewer job outcomes over the 14 months against the Inclusion benchmark.
Focusing on the first full operational 12 months of the programme (July 2011 to June 2012), Inclusion estimates that the minimum performance benchmark was 5.2%. Against this, performance was 2.1% of referrals in the three main groups achieving job outcomes.
Performance is far below both DWP’s MPL and Inclusion’s benchmark. This suggests that the Work Programme as a whole is underperforming against contractual expectations, even when accounting for changes in the economy.
Work Programme performance also appears to be below the performance of previous programmes at the same point in time. However, these differences are likely to be explained by a weaker than expected economy. Focusing specifically on Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants aged 25 or over, the Work Programme has achieved job outcomes for 4.5% of referrals in its first 14 months, compared with 5.0% for the Flexible New Deal and 5.6% for the predecessor New Deal programme.
Looking ahead, separate data published by the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade association, shows that job starts have increased in the months since today’s figures were published. This suggests that subsequent job outcome data is likely to show improvement on today’s figures.