Obviously yes, but was he a lying bastard when he claimed at Prime Ministers Question Time this morning that half of all participants in the government’s Work Experience scheme had got jobs. The answer is probably, although it’s impossible to know for sure because the government appear to have given up telling us how many people get jobs from their workfare programmes.
The only figures which have been released are based on just 1,300 (out of 34,200) people who have participated in the work experience scheme. The figures (which can be viewed here – PDF) show that after 13 weeks, 49% of people remained on benefits. 2% have disappeared from the stats due to administrative fuck ups, and this leaves 49% of people who appear to have come off benefits.
However young people come off benefits all the time, for all different reasons. Some attempt to sponge of mum and dad instead, some disappear off travelling, some move in with a working partner and lose benefit eligibility and most commonly they start a college or university course. And of course this scheme being what it is, some of them will have been sanctioned.
The government know how many of these young people actually got jobs because job centres record the information. But they’ve chosen not to tell us that, which begs the question, why? Was Cameron lying to the Parliament, and if not will he back up his claims with proof? Don’t hold your breath.
What’s also interesting though is that of the 49% who came off benefits, a third of them stopped claiming in the first four weeks and half of them in the first fortnight of commencing workfare. This suggests that even if they did leave to start work it’s not very likely the Work Experience Programme had much to do with it.
(there is one possible explanation for this incidentally. Jobcentres are under just as much pressure as private contracters to make these schemes appear a success. One nifty trick is to find someone who’s already been offered a job and sign them up to a scheme with a nod that they probably won’t ever have to attend. Then they can be claimed as a succesful ‘job outcome’. )
Cameron also claimed in the house that this was significantly more successful than Labour’s Future Jobs Fund. Which is strange because earlier in the year Cameron condemned the Future Jobs Fund as a failure because half of participants were back on benefits within a month of taking part. Almost the exact same figure as the number who remained on benefit after leaving the Work Experience scheme.
You might have thought someone from the Labour benches would have mentioned this. Truth is Labour are in such a mess due to their own very public support for workfare that once again they are left high and dry whilst the internet does all the work.