New Deal ‘faltering’, MPs warn

Efforts to improve Britain’s employment rate are struggling to maintain positive momentum, a report from MPs says today.

The Commons’ public accounts committee (PAC) finds the New Deal programme, which aims to raise the employment level to 80 per cent, is seeing the number of people entering work levelling off or reducing.

It criticises the lack of a unified strategy between the many government agencies involved in the New Deal and proposes unifying JobCentre Plus’ role with those of local authorities and voluntary organisations.

The committee estimates 1.6 million people out of work for a long time will have to be found jobs. With many of those coming from households heavily reliant on benefits, PAC chairman Edward Leigh believes achieving this goal will be “no easy task”.

“The evidence is that many New Deal programmes are becoming less successful at finding work for their clients, perhaps because the hardest to help are becoming an increasingly large proportion of those clients,” he said.

The Conservatives criticised the government’s progress so far, pointing to rising unemployment among young people despite over £3.5 billion spent since 1997 on encouraging them into work.

And Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesperson Danny Alexander also attacked the “one-size-fits-all” approach, claiming those who are hardest to reach had been let down.