Work Programme - Channel 4 wins

Wed, 28/11/2012 - 12:20 -- nick

Back in July, Channel 4 carried a report on A4e's performance on the Work Programme.

It claimed to have received inside information that showed A4e was supporting only 3.5% of its clients in to long-term work, well below its 5.5% target.

The company responded in a statement that these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt until the official numbers were known in the Autumn: "Any data released before then is therefore unreliable and risks misleading the public as to the performance of the Work Programme."

So were they unreliable?

The Guardian yesterday released detailed figures on each company's performance for the first year of the Work Programme's operation, and A4e managed the following:

Contract area                                                       Percentage of people in to work for 6 months

East Midlands: A4E Ltd                                         3.49%

East London: A4E Ltd                                            3.22%

Merseyside, Halton, Cumbria, Lancs: A4E Ltd        3.35%

Thames Valley, Hamps, Isle of Wight: A4E Ltd       2.78%

South Yorkshire: A4E Ltd                                      3.55%

The overall performance of the Work Programme in getting unemployed people in to sustained work was 3.53%.

It is notable that A4e were below this average in four of its five contract areas, and that Channel 4 was, if anything, slightly generous with the 3.5% figure it released in its report.

The response of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is also notable:

"The period covered by this data makes it virtually impossible for any provider to have built up a significant number of job outcome payments, most of which are only payable after someone has found a job and stayed in it for six months. To try to draw conclusions when most people have not even been on the programme for six months would be ludicrous."

This response may have led Channel 4 viewers to doubt the report they had seen, and may have given the broadcaster pause to reflect on whether to show it, so respect is due to it for having confidence in its sources.

Channel 4 was right to highlight the performance problems in the Work Programme, and the official figures have only confirmed this.

Read UnemployedNet's blog on Channel 4's report here.