The number of people finding work through New Deal programmes is levelling out or falling according to a Public Accounts Committee report out today.

The Committee has said that if the Government is to achieve its target of 80% employment then it will have to get 1.6 million back to work, many of whom face the greatest barriers in getting back into work. The report said that: "Many people in workless households have multiple barriers to work including skills deficits, disability and caring responsibilities. Early intervention and targeted support are essential for helping them back into work. "

The report revealed that the majority of New Deal programmes cost more than the subsequent savings in getting participants back to work, with only two programmes "“ for the over 50s and disabled people "“ showing a positive return on cost per participant.

The committees chairman, Tory MP Edward Leigh said:

"The evidence is that many New Deal programmes are becoming less successful at finding work for their clients, perhaps because the hardest to help are becoming an increasingly large proportion of those clients.

"The effectiveness of employment support programmes in reducing the numbers of the long-term unemployed will depend on their ability to reach those people.

MPs on the Committee recommended that programmes were made more flexible for applicants, making access easier. They said that outreach services for workless people do not reflect the fact that 60% of workless households are concentrated in 40 districts across the United Kingdom and recommended that Jobcentre Plus districts should work with local partners to develop outreach strategies which reflect local priorities and goals.

The Committee also said that DIUS and the Learning and Skills Council should market basic skills and employability skills courses so as to ensure that workless people are fully aware of the impact that the qualifications will have on their employability.

Employment minister Stephen Timms said: "We have a record number of people in work in the UK and since 1997 have cut the number of workless households by almost 200,000. We are introducing a flexible New Deal with a more personalised approach, enabling us to tailor the support available to individual needs and address the specific barriers preventing individuals from working.

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