June 19, 2014 12:05 pm Published by

The Work Programme is working: 551,000 jobseekers move into employment, but those with the most serious health needs falling behind  

Figures released today by ERSA, the representative body for the employment support sector, show that 551,000 long term unemployed jobseekers have now gained employment through the Work Programme, an increase of over 50,000 on three months ago.

ERSA is also releasing, for the first time, figures showing the marked differential in performance between jobseekers on Employment and Support Allowance with different levels of health needs according to their Work Capability Assessment (WCA).  The statistics indicate that jobseekers whose WCA show them as likely to be job ready within three to six months are more than three times more likely to find work than those whose WCA indicates they are 12 months or more away from being ready to find employment.

The ERSA Job Start statistics provide the most up to date snapshot of Work Programme performance available in the public domain. They are designed to be read alongside official DWP figures which show the number of jobseekers who have achieved sustained employment, usually meaning they have spent at least six months in a job.  The government will release its official statistics on Work Programme performance on Thursday 19 June.

Key findings from ERSA statistics include:

  • Overall 551,000 jobseekers have now started employment on the Work Programme between its launch in June 2011 until the end of March 2014. This is a rise of 53,000 on three month previously.
  • The Work Programme has supported over 143,000 long term unemployed young people to find at least one job, up from 130,000 three months before.
  • By the end March 2014, 24,116 jobseekers on Employment and Support Allowance had started a job on the Work Programme, still markedly lower than for those on Jobseekers Allowance. However, these figures mask a marked differential in performance between those with a shorter and longer prognosis according to their Work Capability Assessment.

Kirsty McHugh, ERSA Chief Executive, said:

“The news that over 550,000 jobseekers have now found work through the Work Programme is deeply encouraging and shows that the sector is helping the long term unemployed share in the economic recovery.

On Employment and Support Allowance, however, we have a more complex picture. For those on ESA for whom the programme was originally designed, in many cases targets are being met.  However, with the inclusion of those with far more serious health needs in November 2012 the goalposts changed.  This new category of jobseeker needs far more support and it is clear that without access to health related budgets that it’s unlikely that many will gain employment in serious numbers.’


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