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The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade body for the welfare to work industry, has today commented on government figures showing that 132,000 people have achieved a sustainable job on the Work Programme to the end of March 2013. This is a significant improvement on the 31,000 people who had achieved a sustainable job in the first year of the scheme and is in line with ERSA predictions that official government statistics would show a marked improvement in performance.

Responding to the statistics, Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA, said:

“Today’s figures reinforce ERSA data that shows the Work Programme is performing.The way the programme is structured means that it was always going to take time for the hard work of providers and jobseekers to show through in government statistics.  These figures show clearly that Work Programme providers are not only getting long term unemployed jobseekers into jobs, but are helping them stay there too.

“Despite the increasing success of providers in helping the long term unemployed into sustained work, it is taking far longer to help those on Employment and Support Allowance into jobs. Many have been out of work for many years and have complex health and skills needs.  Not all these needs can be funded through the Work Programme alone and it will need a concerted effort across agencies to help these jobseekers into employment.

“We remain concerned that the government’s methodology for measuring provider performance is flawed. Targets were set in a very different labour market and economy and need to be far more responsive to the economic conditions in which providers operate.

The Government has published statistics on the number of Job Outcomes, which in most cases report those who have been in work and off benefits for at least six months. To augment these statistics, ERSA publishes data on the number of people who have entered a job, known as Job Starts. The latest Job Start statistics up to the end of March 2013 show:

  • 321,000 people had entered work, compared to the 207,000 at the end of September 2012.
  • A third of all individuals who have been on the programme for at least a year had found employment.
  • Young people have to date done best on the scheme, with 49% of those who have been on the scheme the longest having found a job.
  • The rate at which providers are placing jobseekers into work is increasing. All months since May 2012 show a higher number of people entering work than at a comparable point in the previous year.

Press enquiries should be directed to Philip Curry on 07919 622 053 / philip.curry@ersa.org.uk

Notes to Editors

1. The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the trade association for those delivering or with an interest in welfare to work services.  ERSA’s membership spans the private, voluntary and public sectors and ranges from large multi-nationals through to small specialist charities.  
2. The Work Programme is the government’s largest back to work scheme and caters for the most disadvantaged jobseekers in the labour market. Further information about how the programme operates, including the financial model, is available in this Policy Briefing on ERSA’s website.
3. Full details of today’s statistical release, including information on Job Outcomes and Sustainments is available from DWP’s website.
4. ERSA’s Work Programme Performance Report is designed to provide statistical information on the performance of the Work Programme. It provides information on ‘Job Starts’, the number of participants starting a job on the programme.  
5. ERSA is able to set up interviews with jobseekers who have found work, Work Programme providers and employers who are recruiting form the scheme. Case studies are available on ERSA’s website. Interviews with ERSA’s Chief Executive Kirsty McHugh are available on request.