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A new report by the National Audit Office has claimed that job centres have coped well in the face of the economic downturn, but has recommended that the Department for Work and Pensions must improve how it tracks and understands Jobcentre Plus performance. Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, agreed that Jobcentre Plus had met key targets, but called for standardised comparison between jobcentres and other programmes such as the Work Programme.

Responding to the report Chief Executive of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), Kirsty McHugh, commented:

“The Employment Related Services Association welcomes the NAO report and the call from the chair of the Public Accounts Committee for a standardised comparison between the performance of job centres and outsourced employment programmes. 

“As the voice of the welfare to work sector we are particularly keen to see greater alignment of targets for all services supporting people into employment including providers of the Work Programme, Work Choice and Jobcentres.  At present, Jobcentre Plus is incentivised to move people off benefit, but, unlike the Work Programme has no targets to get people into sustained employment.  We believe measuring the performance of Jobcentre Plus in moving people into sustainable work would be a great step forward. The NAO’s recognition of this is therefore most welcome.’