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Row over Work Programme

Row over Work Programme
The Government has come under attack for its flagship Work Programme after disappointing figures today.

After statistics showed the scheme has missed its projected target, Labour leader Ed Miliband branded the scheme "a miserable failure".

But writing for PoliticsHome, Employment Minister Mark Hoban insisted that the Work Programme was "making a difference" and will not be scrapped.

Official figures this morning showed only 3.53% of people found a job for six months or more - below the programme's 5.5% target.

It was suggested that even if the Government had done nothing, five out of every one hundred would get into work.

In an article for PoliticsHome, Mr Hoban said the Government would not cancel the scheme.

"Critics call for us to change course, but we won’t be doing that," he wrote.

The Employment Minister said that 19% of those who have entered the scheme had spent at least three successive months off benefits, with 56% of those taking part coming off benefits at some point.

He added: "The bottom line is that the Work Programme is about people. It is about helping people who previously had been given up on by the welfare state and had themselves given up on the idea of ever working again."

However, Mr Miliband said: "Today we've learnt that the Work Programme turns out to be a miserable failure. It's just not working."

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said he thought the scheme was a "comprehensive failure", adding that it was "worse than doing nothing".

Downing Street this morning said it was too early to fully evaluate the scheme. But the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman added: "I don’t accept that it’s worse than doing nothing."

Asked when it would be clear if the scheme was a success, he said: "We’ll have been through the first cycle after two years."

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