By Daniel Hunter

The Government's Work Programme, the multi-billion-pound scheme to help long-term unemployed people into work, has been come under fire by MPs.

The Programme only managed to get 3.6% of the people on the scheme off benefits and into secure employment in its first 14 months, the Public Accounts Committee said.

The government said it was "early days" for the scheme and the committee's report had painted a "skewed picture".

But Labour said the programme was "worse than doing nothing".

The 3.6% of claimants on the scheme who had moved off benefits into sustained employment between June 2011 and July 2012 was a mark well below the target of 11.9% that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) expected to achieve, the MPs said.

The committee's report pointed out that it was also below the official estimate of how many of those claimants would have found work anyway if the programme had never been launched.

“The initial work programme results were disappointing, but the statistics represent a snapshot during the roll-out of the scheme and should be viewed in this light. The programme is in its infancy and gains will come over the longer-term," Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, said.

“Providers are paid by results and so are incentivised to improve performance. But to deliver the best outcomes we also need to ensure that they are working closely with local authorities, FE colleges and businesses.

“As the PAC highlights, it’s important that statistics on the programme are set in context and explained clearly to ensure a rounded assessment of performance can be made.”

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