By Liam Byrne MP - 28th November 2012
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne says figures published yesterday show the Government's Work Programme has been a 'desperate failure'.
So now we know why they wanted to keep it secret. Labour has been pushing the government to publish its statistics for his flagship back to Work Programme for over a year.
We wanted to know where the problems lay so we could set about fixing them fast. And now we have the truth. The Work Programme has proved worse than doing nothing. Literally.
You had to work hard to dig out the truth from yesterday’s figures. Last week Mark Hoban was warning colleagues that he had to release a battery of 'ad hoc' statistics' to soften the abject picture of failure. So it was no surprise that Ministers tried to muddy the waters yesterday. But they could not obscure the truth for long.
The figures are shocking.
Quite simply, the Work Programme is not working. Just over two in every hundred people have been getting a job. If the government had done nothing that figure would have more than doubled. In the South West, just 1.4% of people got jobs. In Wales it was 1.8%.
One senior Whitehall source told the BBC’s Nick Robinson the scheme is a failure. What else could they say? They missed their own minimum standard by a mile. Not their target, their absolute minimum. A desperate failure.
The result is car crash for public finances. Long-term unemployment is up more than 200,000 since the Work Programme began and that’s costing us more than £750million in JSA payments alone.
Yet the government did inherit a scheme that was working – Labour’s Future Jobs Fund. On Friday, DWP finally admitted the scheme benefitted the country to the tune of £7,750 per participant – it was a roaring success.
So what did they do? They scrapped it to make a cheap political point.
That catastrophic decision has left Britain with almost a million young people out of work and long-term youth unemployment spiralling out of control.
By any measure this is incompetence on a grand scale.
The truth is the welfare revolution we were promised is descending into welfare chaos, and it’s Britain’s strivers who are picking up the tab. The government’s failure to tackle unemployment is costing the country a fortune. Ministers have been forced to revise up their welfare projections by a staggering £20billion.
Tax credits for hard working families have been cut by £14bn - around a third of the total welfare cuts. They have been cut so hard that if you were a working couple with kids doing a part-time job – say 16 hours a week – you will now be £728 a year better off on benefits than in a job.
Across the board what we are seeing from this government is a total failure to reform welfare. Welfare bills are going up not down because their plans aren't working.
The time for inaction and excuses is over.
The Government’s disastrous week must now be a watershed – it’s not too late for ministers to change course.
The first thing they should do, line one of the Autumn Statement next month, should be a fair tax on bankers bonuses to pay for a Real Jobs Guarantee to get more than 100,000 young people into jobs.
That's the way we can really reform welfare, pulling together as One Nation and each taking and delivering on our responsibilities.