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Thursday, June 27, 2013 

The coalition still isn't working.

It's a sign of just how desperate ministers are for any sort of good news that they'll spin figures that still show their pet schemes failing as being a success.  Last week the BBC's Mark Easton was handily shown advance figures on the impact of the work programme, suggesting that there had been a major improvement over the dismal performance from last year, when the scheme was literally doing worse than nothing.

While it is indeed the case that there has been a noted improvement for those referred onto the scheme who are claiming JSA, with 18 out of the 40 contractors either hitting their minimum performance level or exceeding it, it's the other 22 that are bring the average down.  Overall then, the contractors are still not hitting their targets, as this graphic shows:

The figures also indicate that Easton was misled as to just how many who were/are on Employment and Support Allowance have been helped into work.  His report suggested 10% of those referred had found a lasting job, while it was in fact almost half that, a miserable 5.3%, over 10 percentage points off the already low target of 16.5%.

What these figures don't show is the brutal reality: that however hard the contractors work, there simply aren't enough jobs available for those on JSA, let alone those in the work activity group of ESA.  At the same time, George Osborne proposes to make life even more unpleasant for those unemployed, regardless of the facts.  The FT posits that this increased contact with the Jobcentre could be the government subtly admitting that the work programme isn't working, and that the old methods might be better.  This will only be the case if the Jobcentre gets more funding to do this extra work, which seems unlikely to be the case.  More likely is that this increased contact is designed to lead to the sanctioning of even more of those who can't find a job despite trying their hardest.  Coincidentally, we're still waiting for the figures on just how many have been sanctioned since the introduction of the "tougher" regime back in October, the publication having been delayed for over a month now.  Burying bad news?  Judging from today, the coalition will more likely present the numbers being denied even the means to subsist as a triumph.

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