The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the representative body for the employment support sector, has welcomed government figures published today showing that over a quarter of a million formerly long term unemployed jobseekers are now in sustained employment as a result of the Work Programme.   This is a rise of 43,690 jobseekers on three months ago and further evidence that the Work Programme is delivering for jobseekers. 

Today’s official figures refer to the number of jobseekers who have been in work for a sustained period of time – usually six months.   ERSA’s own figures, released 6 March, show that 498,000 jobseekers had started a job on the programme by end of December, indicating that the number moving into ‘sustained work’ and thus showing on the official government statistics is set to grow.  ERSA statistics are not official data, but are collected and released on behalf of ERSA members with the intention of increasing transparency.

In particular, ERSA welcomes the news that young people are doing well on the programme.   ERSA figures show that 129,913 young people have gained a job on the programme to date, 49% percent of all those referred.  Of these, 60,400 have now moved into sustained employment.

Key points from today’s release are:

• 1.48 million people were referred to the Work Programme to the end December 2013.  Of these, 251,640 jobseekers have now reached the Job Outcome point.   ERSA figures showed that 498,196 jobseekers have had a Job Start on the programme, nearly double those who have reached the Job Outcome point. 
• Of those who have been on the programme for at least one year, 10.7% of December 2012 intake had attained a Job Outcome payment after 12 months.  This compares to 8.4% at the equivalent point for those who started the programme in June 2011.
• Jobseekers are more likely to achieve work the longer they are on the scheme, reflecting the amount of support that many long term unemployed people need to access the labour market.
• Young people are still faring best on the programme.  60,400 young people (JSA 18-24) have now reached the Job Outcome point, which is 22.8% of all those referred.  This compares to 18.19% of those in the 25+ JSA group. 
• The proportion of those on Employment and Support Allowance (Payment Group 6) to reach the Job Outcome point is currently 6 percent.  At the programme’s start, this group consisted of those whose Work Capability Assessment (WCA) said they would be work ready in 3-6 months.  With the inclusion in November 2012 of those assessed as being at least 12 months away from the labour market in this group, ERSA believes it is going to be difficult to make significant performance gains without further resources being made available. 

Kirsty McHugh, ERSA Chief Executive, said:

“These new figures show clearly that after a slow start the Work Programme is now performing at a consistently high level. With the economy beginning to recover, it’s essential that the long term unemployed have the chance to get into the new jobs being created.  We all need to back the Work Programme, employers, jobseekers and the general public, to make sure everybody can benefit from economic growth.

This is particularly the case if we are to increase the number of people on Employment and Support Allowance moving into work. Barriers to work for this group can be far higher and often people will have a range of needs that cannot be met by Work Programme providers alone. We need a concerted partnership between government and the sector to make a difference for these jobseekers.”

Notes to Editors

1. The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the sector body for those delivering or with an interest in employment support services, sometimes called welfare to work.  ERSA’s membership spans the private, voluntary and public sectors and ranges from large multi-nationals through to small specialist charities.  It has over 140 members including all prime contractors of the Work Programme.
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. ERSA’s Work Programme Performance Report is designed to provide statistical information on the performance of the Work Programme. It provides the most up to date information on ‘Job Starts’, the number of participants starting a job on the programme.  The report can be found here.
4. The Government’s official statistics on sustained Job Outcomes, jobseekers who have been in work for (in most cases) six months are available here.
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 and on YouTube. Interviews with ERSA’s Chief Executive Kirsty McHugh are available on request.