AN increasing number of long-term unemployed people have found a job under the government’s flagship back-to-work scheme, new figures have shown.
More than 168,000 jobseekers have been helped into a lasting job through the Work Programme in the two years to the end of June.
Two such schemes have been working in Portsmouth.
The Debra charity’s furniture shop in Elm Grove, Southsea, has found one of its participants a permanent job.
Deborah Taylor, who manages the Debra shop, said: ‘They come here as a dedicated work experience placement.
‘They don’t get paid, but they get their benefits still, they have to do their job searches, but they are getting experience while they do it.’
Ministers said the programme, which has been criticised by unions and the Labour Party, as well as some councillors in Portsmouth, was ‘significantly improving’.
The DWP said many more people have started work under the programme but have not reached the six-month point yet – the measure of permanent employment.
Employment Minister Mark Hoban, who is MP for Fareham, said: ‘Previous schemes didn’t provide the right support for the long-term unemployed and offered poor value for money for the taxpayer.
‘We launched the Work Programme to tackle this so people got the help they needed to find a job and, crucially, given support to stay in work.’
By the end of June, more than 1.1m people had been referred to the Work Programme, which will run until 2016, mainly aimed at people who have been unemployed for a year.
Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite said: ‘People shouldn’t be duped by the coalition’s spin. While they demonise and punish those out of work the ranks of the long-term unemployed rise to levels not seen since the 1990s.’