The size of the challenge: Unemployment up, Support to get a job could reduce

Unemployment unexpectedly rose last month, official figures reveal today, underlining the challenge facing people looking for a job and the challenge for the government when it introduces its new employment support programme in the summer (The Work Programme). The Office for National Statistics said that the claimant count increased by 2,400 to hit 1.46 million in January. Women appear to be bearing the brunt of the latest wave of job losses: the number of men claiming unemployment benefit fell by 5,400 between December and January, but the number of female claimants rose by 7,800.Young workers are also struggling to make their way in the depressed labour market, with one in five 16 to 24-year-olds – 965,000 people – now unemployed.

On the same day as unemployment figures were published the BBC have revealed that the government’s new work programme will actually help fewer people than the existing schemes that ministers are scrapping.

“…officials have said they expect 605,000 people to go through the scheme in 2011-12 and 565,000 in 2012-13.

About 850,000 people went through the last government’s schemes in 2009-10 which are now being scrapped”

DWP have said there would be more intensive help for people at Job Centres even if they were not on the work programme. It would be interesting to hear your experiences of the Job Centre and its ability to give the type of intensive support needed in the current job market.

We are working with a number of organisations across the country to offer the Community Allowance as part of the Work Programme – a day like today shows how important it is that we make sure that the support and the opportunities created are really up to the job.

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