Welfare-to-Work Programme Failed Participants

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 17 December 2009

Reference: PAC 07/09/10

Fewer than 20% of New Deal 25+ participants secured employment on leaving the programme, despite the £69 million spent on implementing the scheme from 1998 to 2007. This is one of the key findings emerging from the Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee, which today published its report on New Deal 25+, a welfare-to-work programme for the long-term unemployed.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Paul Maskey MLA, Chairperson of the Committee, said: “While New Deal 25+ brought a number of benefits to the long-term unemployed, it was clear that the overall impact of the programme was limited and often short-lived. This is particularly disappointing given the fact that, during the period under review, the economy was relatively buoyant.”

One of the issues that concerned the Committee was the high number of repeat participants who, despite completing the programme on multiple occasions, failed to find a job.

Mr Maskey continued: “One of the main weaknesses of New Deal 25+ was its “one size fits all” approach. The Committee found that not enough was being done to tackle two of the most fundamental and common problem areas — a lack of qualifications and difficulties with basic literacy and numeracy skills. In the Committee’s view, these were key factors in the poor employment outcomes of the programme.

“Overall, we can only conclude that New Deal 25+ provided a poor return for taxpayers’ money.

“The Committee was encouraged to learn that the Department’s new programme, Steps to Work, is more flexible and allows for tailored support. As the Department for Employment and Learning moves forward with this venture, it must aim to help significantly more people into employment. The Committee calls on the Department to rise to this challenge, make a greater impact on long-term unemployment and deliver better value than was evident under New Deal 25+.”

ENDS

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