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It’s amazing how the Department for Work and Pensions will bend over backwards to make it seem one of its madcap schemes has been successful.

It’s also amazing how little evidence DWP press officers will provide to support the claim.

Today we’re being told that more than a quarter of a million people have escaped unemployment via the Work Programme. The fiddle? This is an aggregate figure, including all placements – not people – since the scheme was launched in June 2011.

To register as someone who has achieved a lasting job through the programme, one must stay in work for six months or more (three months in “hardest to help” cases). Participants cannot be re-referred within a period of 104 weeks (the support period), but this means people referred within the first nine months, who subsequently became unemployed, may have returned to the Work Programme.

Never mind. How many people – who are currently in work as a result of time on this scheme – have, in fact, been employed for six months or more (three months for the “hardest to help”), as this is the only relevant period of time that can be applied?

No comment.

The press release has nothing to say about this.

It seems 44,000 people were “helped” into work during the last three months, but that’s neither here nor there. The DWP does not measure its success that way, and neither should we.

But the figure by which we should be judging this work is conspicuous by its absence.

In a similar vein, we learned yesterday (March 19) that unemployment fell by 63,000 in the last three months. But the number of employees also fell by 60,000, while registered self-employment has risen by 211,000 in the same period.

Remember the scam in which DWP employees at job centres dupe people into pretending they are self-employed when they really aren’t, in order to claim tax credits rather than unemployment benefits?

If you are one of these ‘self-employed’ people, were you told that HM Revenue and Customs might investigate your circumstances and demand repayment of all tax credits paid to you, if investigators decide that you’re not doing the work?


I’d have a little think about what might happen, if I were you.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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