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Shiv Malik, Thursday 28th June 2012 18:58
The second biggest company involved in the government's flagship employment scheme has managed to get just 3.5% of its unemployed referrals into long term jobs, according to leaked figures.
The statistics obtained by Channel 4 News show A4e is failing to meet the minimum targets set for it by the Department of Work and Pensions in the first year of the Work Programme.
The company, which said the figures were partial, has contracts to run the programme across six areas in England and has also been involved in a number of fraud allegations. Last month the government stripped the company of a recently awarded contract due to fears around weak internal controls and "seriously inadequate" paperwork.
According to the statistics seen by Channel 4 News, by March 2012 nearly 115,000 people were referred to A4e under the Work Programme, in the 10 months since the programme started.
A4e's average success rate across the country was 3.5% , 2% below the minimum contract terms set by the government.
While 18.5% of clients started a job in the first 10 months of the programme Channel Four found that in some areas of England performance for long term outcomes was well below the 3.5% average.
In the Thames Valley , the success rate was 2.8% while in east London, where almost 25,000 people are on A4e's books just 830 people secured jobs lasting 13 weeks or more.
A4e told the Guardian the figures were "misleading" as the programme was for the long haul adding and that the full set of analysed figures across all providers would be released in the Autumn.
"The Work Programme is just one year into a five year, outcome based, programme. The statistical data will undergo robust validation in DWP, compiled and released in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
"Any data released before then is therefore unreliable and risks misleading the public as to the performance of the Work Programme."
Ian Mulheirn, Social Market Foundation director, who analysed Channel 4 figures said: "It could be a reflection of poor performance … But most obviously, I think most obviously it's a reflection of over-ambitious projections from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) about what was possible with these programmes."
The Department of Work and Pensions said: "The period covered by this data makes it virtually impossible for any provider to have built up a significant number of job outcome payments, most of which are only payable after someone has found a job and stayed in it for six months."
"To try to draw conclusions when most people have not even been on the programme for six months would be ludicrous.