The government has been criticised by an influential group of MPs to for failing measure the value of its New Deal programme for helping the over-50s back to work.
The all-party Commons Public Accounts Committee said ministers had spent £250m on the New Deal 50-Plus programme, helping an estimated 158,000 people find jobs, but had still not carried out a proper economic evaluation of the scheme.
The committee said there were currently between 700,000 and one million over-50s who wanted to work but were unable to find jobs, at an estimated loss to the economy of between £19bn to £31bn a year.
It called on the Department for Work and Pensions to make better use of performance targets to encourage staff to help the people in the greatest need.
Committee chairman Edward Leigh said: “Over 50 does not mean over the hill. Joblessness among people over 50 is costly to them as individuals and incredibly wasteful to the economy as a whole.
“New Deal 50-Plus is the flagship programme for helping older people get back to work, but we have no way of knowing how effective it really is because, unlike other New Deal initiatives, it has not been subject to a proper economic evaluation.”
The Department for Work and Pensions said it will consider the recommendations and will respond “in due course”.