How much help is Help to Work?

28 April 2014

"…what we saw was that if people had been on the community work programme then they had a benefit that they were more likely to be in work by nine extra days. And if they had done the more intense regime they were more going to be in work for an extra eleven days against the control group, which was less." Esther McVey, Today programme, 28th April 2014

Employment minister Esther McVey appeared on this morning's Today programme to talk about the Help to Work scheme, which begins today. Presenter Evan Davies questioned the minister on the effectiveness of a pilot scheme into the programme, which published its findings last year.

The scheme requires long-term benefit claimants to join one of a number of programmes assigned to them by job centre staff. It means they could be required to either sign on every day, undertake a six-month community work placement, or join an intensive support programme that may include training or some travel costs being covered.

The research found that 91 weeks after being assigned a programme, participants had spent an average of 9 or 11 extra days in employment depending on which programme they completed. At the 91-week point those who had been given intensive support were 1% more likely to be working than the control group, while there was no significant difference for those who had done a community placement.

The research didn't look specifically at the impact of daily job centre visits.

Between 9 and 11 extra days in employment over 91 weeks

The pilot scheme followed 15,000 participants who were randomly assigned to take part in 'Ongoing Case Management' (OCM) or the 'Community Action Programme' (CAP), or were assigned to a control group who did neither.

The OCM involved a mixture of more contact with personal advisers at the job centre, more training, and work experience. The exact mix of these for an individual participant was at the discretion of the job centre, and could include mandatory daily appointments for part of the period. Results were not broken down by whether or not this happened so we don't know the impact of daily appointments on employment.

The separate CAP programme requires participants to take on unpaid community-based work experience of up to 30 hours each week and lasting up to six months.

Compared to the control group, CAP participants spent on average 9 days more in employment over the 91 week period. The figure was slightly higher for OCM participants, at 11 days. The data used to count the number of days in employment came from tax forms. This meant time spent in self-employment or time in jobs paying below the PAYE threshold was excluded.

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