Some 90 per cent of employers taking part in the Work Programme could have their contracts ended as unrealistic government targets threaten the financial viability of the government flagship scheme.
Research from The Social Market Foundation (SMF), which initially advocated a payment by results work programme, now believe the government targets are "unreachable". Comparing the results of previous similar programmes the SMF found the target of getting one in three participants in to stable, long term employment is unrealistic; previous retention rates are somewhere closer to one in four.
Ian Mulheirn, director of the SMF now believes that the future of the scheme hangs in the balance, "The programme aims to get some of the hardest to reach people off benefits and into work, but past performance shows that providers will be unable to meet the criteria required of them by the DWP."
The current state of the labour market also adds further instability to the scheme with the latest figures showing a rise of 110,000 in those claiming Jobseeker's Allowance since bids were invited for the Work Programme. The deteriorating state of the labour market is, according to Mulheirn, "making the outlook for the scheme even more precarious".
Source: Conservative Party
The government has sought to defend its flagship back to work policy with Chris Grayling, the work and pensions secretary, taking to the airwaves on Monday to defend the merits of the scheme, which he says will offer "much greater operational freedom" than the previous scheme, thereby ensuring better results than the previous government's Flexible New Deal programme (the scheme which the Work Programme is replacing).