Boris Johnson’s flagship jobs scheme was a failure, new figures reveal | Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson’s flagship jobs scheme appears to have failed, despite his claim that it has helped half a million people find work.

The Way to Work scheme aims to help 500,000 people find jobs by reducing jobseekers’ benefits after four weeks unless they apply for work outside their usual occupation .

Figures from the Office for National Statistics released last week show the number of unemployed people finding work actually fell by 148,000 from the six months before the start of Way to Work, despite a record number of vacancies.

The government also questions why it set a target of 500,000 when on average almost a million unemployed people have found work in similar periods each year since 2001.

On July 28, the official statistics watchdog challenged the Department for Work and Pensions over why it had failed to explain how its target was set or measured, a month after the government’s triumphant claims.

Ed Humpherson, chief executive of the Office for Statistics Regulation, wrote: “There is no clear explanation of how the Way to Work objective was defined, how it would be measured and the methods used to support the affirmations… that the objective has been achieved .

“It is difficult to publicly attribute and quantify the impact of a campaign like Way to Work in the absence of a clearly defined and published objective, and details of how the objective will be measured and reported, at the beginning.

“It is important to measure government programs in a robust and transparent way, and the statistics/data that underpins any measurement must adhere to the principles of reliability, high quality and providing public value. The manner in which the department communicated information in this case does not respect these principles. »

In late January, Johnson announced that a “Way to Work” campaign would help 500,000 people find jobs through Universal Credit Intensive Job Search or Jobseeker’s Allowance, at a time when he there were a record 1.2 million vacancies.

Five months later, the DWP tweeted: “We did it!”, and Johnson listed his achievements in the House of Commons on July 6, the day before his resignation announcement, including “helping a half -million people to find work, through the The Way to Work programme.

Analysis by the Observer seasonally adjusted figures from the ONS Labor Force Survey show that 867,310 people moved from unemployment to employment from January to June, with the majority finding work before March. In the previous six months, 1,015,954 people found jobs. The average figure from January to June since records began in 2001 is 948,000.

The ONS figures include ‘people who are not claimants – for example many married women starting work – who have no contact with the Jobcentre. That said, there is obviously a big overlap [with unemployment benefit claimants]said Dr David Webster, from the University of Glasgow.

He added that the DWP had never released data on people getting jobs after being part of the job-intensive group Universal Credit, which represents most of the unemployed.

Way to Work did not have a separate budget and its central policy change was to cut jobseekers’ benefits within four weeks instead of three months if they were not deemed to be trying hard enough to find work by applying for jobs outside their normal profession.

A five-year study published in January suggested that benefit penalties are counterproductive, and Therese Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, blocked research assessing their effectiveness – one of several reports on the welfare that the government has been accused of concealing.

Stephen Timms, Labor chairman of the work and pensions select committee, said he would look at the figures as part of an inquiry when MPs return in the autumn. “The refusal to expose the evidence behind the claim, unfortunately, is normal at the moment,” he said. “We will try to get to the bottom of things in our investigation into the government’s plan for employment, which will begin when parliament returns next month.

“To say that their policy has been a success seems to be the status quo. Maybe there is something more we are missing. If there are, they must tell us what it is.

The DWP said it would respond to the statistics regulator in due course and that unemployment had been low so there were fewer people to find work.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Way to Work has successfully helped half a million people find jobs, helping employers fill vacancies the economy needed to recover, and boosting incomes as people can earn up to $6 £000 better working full time than unemployed.

“When there are fewer unemployed people in the labor market overall, the number of people moving from unemployment into employment is naturally lower. Prior to the Way to Work campaign, the unemployment rate had fallen below pre-pandemic levels, meaning 500,000 was a lofty and ambitious target.

theguardian Gt

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