Almost 70% of people on the government's Work Programme fail to secure long-term employment, according to a committee of MPs.
Launched in 2011 at a cost of £5 billion, the Work Programme was designed to help people get off benefits and into work. But the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee said the Work Programme was "not working well", but did say it was "at least as good" as previous schemes.
The government, however, described the Work Programme as a "real success".
With just over 30% of people on the two-year scheme able to find long-term work, the committee said the Work Programme needs to better serve the needs of alcohol and drug addicts, the homeless, and those with literacy and numeracy deficiencies.
Committee chairman Frank Field said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) "deserves credit for implementing a programme which, in general, produces results at least as good as before, for a greatly reduced cost per participant".
He added: "But we must not forget that nearly 70% of participants are completing the Work Programme without finding sustained employment. We must do much better."
A DWP spokesperson said the department would address the committee's recommendations in "due course".
He said: "Almost half a million of the hardest to help claimants have been supported into employment through the Work Programme.
"That's a real success, and we welcome the committee's finding that the programme is better value for money to the taxpayer than any previous scheme."