More than nine in 10 people enrolled in the government’s flagship scheme to tackle long-term unemployment have failed to return to work.
Restart scheme figures published in response to a parliamentary question by Labour MP Alison McGovern show that just 16,180 (7%) of the 226,785 people who joined the scheme since July 2021 have left it because they have been able to find work.
The Restart scheme was launched at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and is intended to help one million people find jobs through enhanced support, training courses and local partnerships. It is mandatory to Universal Credit claimants who have been out of work for at least nine months.
McGovern told The Observer that the Restart scheme figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions were “completely damning”, adding: “We’re supposed to be in a vacancies crisis and these people are trying to get back into work”.
A DWP spokesperson told the newspaper: “Thanks to our balanced approach to managing the economy, unemployment is its lowest since 1974 at 3.7%. Less than a year after its launch, the Restart scheme is already supporting a quarter of a million people who have been long-term unemployed – with more to follow. Providers are paid on the basis of how many jobseekers they manage to support into work, delivering value for the taxpayer.”
The £2.9bn scheme is operated by contractors including Serco, G4S and Maximus.
In April, a report for the Institute of Public Policy Research found that the UK labour market has lost more than 1.1 million workers since the Covid pandemic began, around 400,000 of whom hav left due to ill-health and pandemic-related factors.