Programme to get people back into work is criticised as failing by MPs

Ian Lavery
Ian Lavery

THE government’s flagship welfare-to-work programme has failed to get people in Northumberland back in to work, MPs claim.

The scheme was introduced a year ago where companies and charities are paid to help find jobs for the long-term unemployed.

But since the scheme was launched, only 80 of the 4,570 people in Northumberland referred to the programme have found a job.

Nationally just two out of every 100 unemployed people referred to the programme from their local Jobcentre after receiving benefits and allowances for a minimum amount of time, have found work through the scheme.

Wanbeck MP Ian Lavery said: “What the figures strikingly reveal are that Work Programme is miserably failing the people of my own Wansbeck constituency and further afield throughout Northumberland.

“This is a much-vaunted coalition government flagship scheme yet it is creating fewer jobs than would have been created had no programme been in place at all.

“Government ministers are hailing the success of the scheme saying it is on track to achieve results.

“But their statements beg the question, what would happen if we were not on track?”

“In my Wansbeck constituency, 26 people are chasing every single job, which means 25 people are disappointed every time they look for work because it is simply not there.

“Sadly, we also have a low level of business start-ups but also the highest rate of bankruptcies in the country.

“The number of vacancies for young people is particularly disturbing, and at the moment nearly 16 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 in Wansbeck are out of work, and that is a dreadful state of affairs.”

Mr Lavery said the programme figures proved the government’s failure to reform welfare with costs going up not down.

“What we need to do is to invest the £435m that has been spent already on the Work Programme, along with the £725m that will be spent in the next five years, on people who have a stake in their communities and who want to create employment for the right reasons and not just mass profit,” he said.

In a House of Commons debate following the publication of the government’s autumn statement, Mr Lavery highlighted to chancellor George Osborne the jobless figures for young people in Wansbeck.

Mr Osborne said: “Our welfare to work schemes are helping people get back into work and our work experience scheme in particular is doing a great job of getting people into work.

“So I would ask those young people to go into their Jobcentre and see the schemes that are available.”

The chancellor added that 1.2 million jobs have been created in the private sector over the past couple of years in what are very difficult circumstances.

However, Blyth Valley MP, Ronnie Campbell, said the programme is also failing unemployed people in his constituency.

Mike Dungworth, one of the trustees of the Blyth Resource and Initiative Centre (BRIC), a charity which provides unemployed people with services and opportunities, said: “We had a contract for the Work Programme but we pulled out of it because it is not getting people into jobs and it is too expensive for us to run.

“So the charity was actually subsidising the Work Programme.

“The amazing thing is, we got towards ten per cent into work, which is pretty pitiful, but we are being told that is as good as anybody in the north region.

“We get lots and lots of unemployed people coming in and asking for help and we do all we can for them, but we do not get any help.”