From 2013: Private Eye on the Government Doctoring Workfare Stats

As numerous left-wing bloggers have pointed out, the government’s welfare-to-work programme has been a disaster from the start. Johnny Void in particular has repeatedly pointed out how you are actually more likely to get a job using your own initiative, than if you are one of the hundreds of thousands of unfortunates pressganged into workfare. I’ve posted up several pieces from Private Eye supporting this, and showing that the workfare sector can only succeed and make a profit through continual bail-outs. In some cases, employees for the workfare companies have even been reduced to committing fraud by falsifying the names and details of claimants, who have found work through the system.

In their issue for the 19th April – 2nd May 2013, Private Eye carried this story reporting how the government itself was falsifying the statistics in order to present workfare not as an appalling shambles, but as a success. The story ran

Emails between employment minister Mark Hoban and lobbyists representing Work Programme contractors reveal how the coalition tried to massage the pisspoor results of its welfare-to-work initiative last year “for public consumption.”

The correspondence, released to Private Eye, under freedom of information rules, show that Hoban pushed for “simple” figures to be publicised instead of the grim official statistics – a pattern likely to be repeated when the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) releases more Work Programme results next month.

The first figures, released in November, sowed that firms like A4e were not meeting minimum performance levels. The DWP had estimated that 5.5 percent of the unemployed would find jobs without the programme; and as no workfare firm has exceeded this, performance was thus worse than useless.

Hoban responded by meeting Kirsty McHugh, head of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), which lobbies for A4e, Working Links and others who are paid to get the jobless off benefits and into work. She told Hoban: “On performance overall, I think it is really important that both the industry and the department are robust in terms of defending the Work Programme as much as we can.”

Instead of castigating failing contractors, Hoban agreed and emailed McHugh to thank her for “discussion around the November publication and the simplicity of messages required for public consumption”. He told her he was keen on the ERSA figure of “200,000 Job entries” which, he said, would be “much more understandable to the media/public than discussion around Job Outcomes.”

This “simple figure” was misleading, however. Official “job outcomes” numbers show the proportion of the unemployed who find and keep jobs via the Work Programme. Baldly stating that 200,000 people started jobs means little without counting the far larger official number who did not start or hold on to a job.

Hoban preferred to push unofficial industry figures over official ones, however, and set up teleconferences and meetings between ERSA and the DWP press office. The emails also suggest he considered simply ignoring the contractors’ failure to meet minimum performance levels. But McHugh wasn’t so sure. She emailed Hoban to say: “On Minimum Performance Levels we absolutely take the points made by the department of these. However, our view is that the existence of Minimum Performance Levels are in the public arena and we need to prepare for questions around them.” In the event she was right. Hoban’s official DWP press release avoided all mention of minimum performance failure – but this damning statistic still grabbed the headlines.

It really isn’t surprising any more that Hoban should prefer to publish industry spin, rather than any kind of objective assessment. The Tories see themselves as the party of business, to the near absolute exclusion of any other concerns. Furthermore, all the parties have developed almost symbiotic links with the major government contractors. Private firms, like the big accountants, send staff to help the political parties formulate policy. They sponsor the party political conferences, and then afterwards offer politicians and senior civil servants well-paid seats on their boards. Hoban was probably thinking of this, when he went off to get McHugh’s advice.

And massaging statistics seems to be second nature to the Tories. Mike and the other left-wing bloggers have in vain tried to get the figures for the number of people, who have died after being assessed as fit for work under the Work Capability Assessment, from the DWP under the Freedom of Information Act. The DWP have repeatedly turned this down, often under the most spurious claims. They have also released completely different sets of figures on similar issues, but subtly different, in order to present the situation as being much better than it actually is.

This is a mendacious government, which has been lying almost since before Cameron was elected. It’s high time it was gone.

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2 Responses to “From 2013: Private Eye on the Government Doctoring Workfare Stats”

  1. Jeffery Davies Says:

    It was never about helping one it was never about getting one back to work it was only about going private allowing yanky companies to help themselves to that pot of tax payers monies
    it was only that were they the tories received backhanders and jobs gor the boys it was never about saving monies or helping one jeff3

  2. Chris Says:


    Those sanctioned and workfare are not listed in the unemployment figures.

    The raised retirement age of those 60 and over not listed in the unemployment figures.

    97 per cent of the benefits bill actually going to the working poor and poor pensioners,
    with those losing disability / chronic sick benefits
    dumped onto unemployment benefits or losing in-work benefits and then sanctioned into ‘economically inactive’.

    And the working poor and poor pensioners being the same person for a great many men and women.


    The DWP sanction decision-makers staff trebling in number,
    whilst private workfare providers expanding in staff, with at least such salaries as from £20,000 and above for workfare co-ordinators.

    And then we hit Universal Credit, replacing most benefits, including working tax credits.

    Sanctioning the unemployed of all ages and
    the working poor part timers of all ages
    with permanent sanctions
    from Hardship Payments
    becoming recoverable loans,
    by direct deductions from future benefit or wages.

    So from babes in wombs to grannies and grandads,
    Universal Credit and the Flat Rate State Pension leaves huge numbers ever growing in penniless starvation.

    See why under:

    But if we do not vote in small left wing parties as new MPs into Westminster, there is a nightmare scenario coming.

    As pundits predict the most severe hung parliament in UK history, the Tories intend to just sit in power,
    even if Tory MPs lose their seats,
    in a caretaker government
    for the next 5 year fixed term parliament.

    This happened before.
    A Daily Mirror headline in the days of The Beatles, ran

    Labour Surge
    But Tories Still in Command

    All parties are small.

    No SINGLE OR EVEN TWO PARTIES TOGETHER will be able to rule UK’s Westminster London parliament that rules over England and the Celtic nations.

    That is was is meant by a hung parliament.

    A group of parties reaching a threshold of 323 MPs can rule and shut the Tories out of power.

    The Scot SNP offers over 50 votes. Labour will get a few.
    Plaid Cymru only single figure MPs.

    But there are anti austerity, anti welfare reform, anti workfare, anti bedroom tax, the whole bundle,
    left wing parties out there,
    being ignored by blogs and national press and TV news alike.

    And these small left wing parties have a unique set of circumstances that give them the best chance to win big and get MPs in to the ruling UK parliament this year.


    Yes, the victims of welfare and state pension reform are more like half the UK’s population.

    We don’t need statistics from politicians to know just how many different peoples are hit by the cuts.

    The parties of the poor are running more candidates this year than any other.

    England is the best place for slim majorities of how many votes the sitting Tory and Lib Dem MPs got to put them in the job in 2010.

    So voting would work this year.

    You do not need to have a party with 323 MPs.

    No one or two parties will achieve that on their own ever again.

    But a group of parties achieving that, shuts the Tories out of government.

    It is the only way it can be done on Thursday 7 May.


    Gathered together on me personal website,
    as a voter and not a member of anything,
    to inform the poor of the greatest power
    they have had since voting began
    only about a century ago.

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