Work and career support for the long-term unemployed

Only 10% job seekers have found work

  • The Work Programme has been the Coalition Government’s flagship programme for the long-term unemployed. It has had a mixed success for the 1.7 million people joining in the last four years. 
  • Overall, one in four participants achieved sustained employment. Young people on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) have been the most successful at 32 per cent, with adults on JSA at 26 per cent. However, only 10 per cent of Employment and Support Allowance claimants found and kept work. There are also signs that the more disadvantaged claimants have lost out – older people, prison leavers, all disabled participants have lower than average job outcomes.
  • The Work Programme is funded through ‘payments by results’ which has had a significant impact on the nature of provision, who delivers it and how it integrates locally with other support for the unemployed. There are examples of ‘prime contractors’ helping participants gain qualifications and Apprenticeships but few have benefited. Overall, investment for disadvantaged groups is lower than planned, not higher. As JSA numbers decline the Work Programme’s sucessor needs to work better for disadvantaged people – both JSA and ESA claimants.

100 Day Actions

  • Government should ensure the replacement of the Work Programme is fit for purpose for the most disadvantaged claimants. The level of funding and the nature of payments should reflect the priority to improve job and skill outcomes for the most disadvantaged.
  • Government should involve local areas in the commissioning of provision either through co-commissioning or by fully devolving, so that local provision can be integrated and deliver more sustainable job outcomes. LEPs should take on an oversight role to ensure that local skills providers prioritise long-term unemployed adults such that adequate volumes of skills provision are made available to them.
  • Providers should be paid according to the earnings of customers and take-up of Apprenticeships, not just sustained employment. This would ensure support not just to get into work, but also to get on at work.
  • A new offer should be made to all claimants so that they receive the right support at the right time to help find work and improve their employability, according to need rather than the welfare benefit they are claiming. These new service standards should be at the heart of all services.


Download Ten Policies for Ten People or return back to our proposals page.

In the next in our series of blogs, Rob Gray discusses how the next Work Programme can foster innovation, partnerships and collaboration.