Work Programme (Job Outcome Payments)

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 25th February 2015.

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Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East 11:30 am, 25th February 2015

For what proportion of participants in the Work programme in Scotland job outcome payments have been made to providers of that programme.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Work programme participants are some of the hardest to help and can experience multiple barriers to finding work. There are two providers in Scotland: Ingeus has supported 21.2% of all claimants into a job outcome; and Working Links has supported 20.4% of claimants into a job outcome.

Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East

The Work programme has performed worse in Scotland than in any English region. In the meantime, successful local projects such as the Engine Shed in my constituency have had to close. Does the Minister agree that powers over this should be devolved as quickly as possible—and not just to the Scottish Parliament, but to local authorities?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I certainly agree that the Engine Shed was a great project. I have made it clear to the Deputy First Minister that if proposals are brought forward after the election for the devolution of the Work programme, separate from other items to be devolved, I would have an open mind about that.

Photo of Mary Macleod Mary Macleod Conservative, Brentford and Isleworth

Thanks to this Government, those helped into employment though the Work programme do not have to pay income tax on the first £10,000 they earn. Does the Minister agree that that represents progress towards economic growth in Scotland and opportunities for its young people?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Absolutely. Some 32,620 people in Scotland have found work through the Work programme, which means they can bring home a wage, support their family and play a part in their wider community.

Photo of Eilidh Whiteford Eilidh Whiteford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Women), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Agriculture and Fisheries)

By any measure the Work programme has been a failure. It has wasted public money and let down the people depending on it. When will the Government listen to not only the Smith commission, but the dozens of civil society organisations in Scotland that have called for employment support to be devolved so that we can develop an integrated system in Scotland that actually works?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I do not think that the 32,620 people who have found work through the Work programme would agree with the hon. Lady’s assessment. It is now time for her party to come forward with its proposals for an alternative to the Work programme, rather than just criticising the Government and calling for more powers. This Government have given a commitment to effect a transition to such a programme, but first we need to know what it will be.

Photo of Jim McGovern Jim McGovern Labour, Dundee West

The Work programme is obviously failing in my constituency and in the city of Dundee as a whole, where only one in seven participants actually get a job. What will the Minister do to address that problem?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I fully acknowledge that the hon. Gentleman has been a fervent campaigner on this issue—and, indeed, on employment—in his constituency, but I am sure that he welcomes the fact that over the past five years, under this Government, the number of jobseeker’s allowance claimants in his constituency has gone down by 842—some 27%.

Photo of Frank Roy Frank Roy Labour, Motherwell and Wishaw

Unemployment in the Motherwell, Wishaw and Bellshill area rose again last month, with more than 500 young people now unemployed. Why has the Tory Work programme failed them?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I absolutely dispute the claim that the Work programme has failed them. The Work programme looks to help the most vulnerable people into work, and people have moved into work over the past five years in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, where the JSA claimant count has come down by 1,403—some 39%. I am sure that even he welcomes that.