Welfare to Work

ERSA reaction to official Work Programme data

ERSA reaction to official Work Programme data

21 February 2012


ERSA reaction to the publication of the first official data about the Work Programme


The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade body for the welfare to work industry, has today welcomed the publication by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of the first official statistics relating to the Work Programme.


In response to the news that referral figures for the first five months of the Work Programme were significantly higher than those previously predicted, Kirsty McHugh, ERSA’s Chief Executive said:


“The much higher than expected number of referrals has presented a significant challenge to welfare to work providers and it is a credit to the industry that it has been able to accommodate these so flexibly.”


The figures reveal that the composition of referrals is different to that which was anticipated, with a lower number of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) jobseekers coming onto the Programme. On this point, Kirsty McHugh continued:


“The low level of ESA referrals has a number of implications: first for provider cashflow, as ESA customers attract a higher payment level from government; secondly for voluntary and community sector providers of the Work Programme, as the sector disproportionately services these customers; and third and most importantly for customers themselves, as low referrals mean that they will not be accessing the specialist support to find and sustain employment to which they are entitled.


“ERSA is therefore calling on the Government to take action to increase the flow of ESA jobseekers so that they can benefit from the tailored employment support our members provide.”


Official statistics relating to the number of job outcomes will by published by DWP later this year. However, indicative data supplied to ERSA from some of the largest prime contractors of the Work Programme, indicates that between 18% and 23% of customers who were referred to the Work Programme in June 2011 have already started employment, meaning that one in five customers who have been on the programme for at least six months have already found a job.



Press enquiries should be directed to Philip Curry on 07919 622 053 / Philip.curry@ersa.org.uk


Notes to Editors


  1. The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the trade association for the welfare to work industry. Established in 2005, for the industry by the industry, it exists to help its members achieve their shared goal: to help people achieve and sustain employment.
  2. ERSA’s membership is as diverse as the welfare to work industry itself. Its members deliver a wide range of government-commissioned welfare to work programmes, including the Work Programme, Work Choice, Mandatory Work Activity and ESF Families, plus other employment-related services.
  3. ERSA represents 95 percent of Work Programme and Work Choice prime contractors, plus a larger number of subcontractors. ERSA’s members are drawn almost equally from the private and voluntary sectors, with a small number of public sector organisations also in membership. It is the diversity of its membership that gives ERSA its strength to speak as the authoritative voice of the sector.

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