UK: Flagship work programme under fire

Looking for work

Looking for work - Credit: PA

The long-term unemployed have hardly benefited from the improved labour market, with almost 900,000 out of work for at least a year, according to a new report.

The TUC said the total was 16,000 higher than a year ago, and more than twice as high as pre-recession levels.

The union organisation urged the Government to do more to tackle the problem, warning that being out of a job for so long can permanently scar people’s careers.

The TUC said the UK’s unemployment rate was 2.7% higher than its pre-recession level, above the average increase across the OECD of 2.3%.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s worrying that even as the labour market has improved slightly, long-term unemployment has continued to rise.

“While all job losses are painful, long-term joblessness is particularly damaging as it can permanently scar someone’s career prospects and it also has wider social and health costs.

“Evidence from around the world shows that well-designed, properly-funded employment programmes can make a huge difference in getting people back into work.

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“Unfortunately our government’s flagship scheme the Work Programme isn’t working, with just one in eight people being helped into a proper job. A radical rethink of jobs support is needed.

“Ministers need to spend less time demonising and impoverishing those can’t find a job and more money actually helping them to get into work.”

The report was released ahead of the latest unemployment figures tomorrow.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “This government is committed to tackling the scourge of long term unemployment, and helping those who aspire to get on in life to get off benefits and into work. That’s why we introduced the Work Programme which has so far helped more than 130,000 jobseekers escape long-term unemployment and find lasting work.

“Long term unemployment doubled between 2008 and 2010, but since then the increase has slowed. The overall level is now lower than it was six months ago, and long term youth unemployment fell by 22,000 on the quarter.”