A FLAGSHIP government project designed to help workers off benefits has been slated after new figures showed it has helped just three in every 100 back into employment.
Edinburgh MP Sheila Gilmore has warned that jobseekers are being badly let down by the UK Government’s under-fire Work Programme.
There were 11,020 people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in the city as of last month – with almost 3000 out of work for more than a year.
Of these, 2615 were aged 18-24 and 400 of them had not worked for more than 12 months, falling into the category of long-term youth unemployment. Another 380 young people had been out of work for at least six months.
Labour leader Ed Miliband accused David Cameron of presiding over a 96 per cent rise in long-term unemployment since the Work Programme was introduced 18 months ago, at a cost to taxpayers of £435 million so far.
UK-wide, around 785,000 people have taken part in the programme, but just 18,270 held down jobs for six months.
However, Mr Cameron, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, insisted that around 200,000 had started new jobs and that the scheme needed time.
In Edinburgh East – which is represented by Labour MP Sheila Gilmore and includes Lochend, Craigmillar, Craigentinny, Duddingston and Portobello – just two in every 100 found a job after joining the scheme.
Edinburgh South saw a marginal improvement, with nearly four in every 100 landing work.
The Work Programme was introduced last year and involves 18 private, public sector and voluntary organisations taking over responsibility for training unemployed workers.
They then attempt to place those signed up to the programme in paid jobs and get them off benefits.
But all 18 firms, which are each paid hundreds of millions of pounds by the UK Government, have failed to hit the already low target of a 5.5 per cent success rate.
In February and March this year, unemployment in Edinburgh peaked at 12,110 – the highest level since July 1997, according to the Office for National Statistics.
This represents unemployment of around 3.2 per cent of the city population, which is lower than other UK cities.
Ms Gilmore said: “The figures reveal the Work Programme is comprehensively failing. The Work Programme is doing worse than if the Government had done nothing.
“Meanwhile, there are 2835 people in Edinburgh who have been out of work for more than a year. And there are 2.8 claimants chasing a single vacancy. This government is letting local people down.
“The time has come for decisive action. George Osborne must now take the big steps Labour propose to drive down unemployment and start with a big plan to get our young people into work.”