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Work Programme Forecasts - Analysis

Following the release of the latest forecast figures for Work Programme attachments earlier this month (click here for the original document), W2W Solutions has finally produced our own version of the data. As our regular readers will know, we often review DWP data releases to enable our clients to explore the figures in more detail. Click here to download our Excel spreadsheet.

As time moves on it is becoming increasingly difficult to analyse the data. The payment groups profiled in the original Work Programme ITT were JSA - 18-24, 25+, Early Access and Ex-IB; and ESA - Volunteers, Flow, and Ex-IB. The latest forecast figures released by DWP only cover the first three of these groups and payment groups 8 (IS and IB volunteers) and 9 (JSA Prison Leavers).

ESA figures are notable by their absence, so we can only assume that DWP don’t want anyone to see them.  This is worrying for providers as this is the customer group where the most issues have arisen with actual numbers falling substantially lower than originally profiled.  ESA customers generally attract the highest funding, so while an increase in JSA customers can offset some of the income, it can in no way compensate for a major shortfall in ESA customers.

Our spreadsheet compares the forecasts for May 2012 against the forecasts issued for December 2011, as well as the original profiles within the ITT. With DWP’s penchant for rounding figures, our table doesn’t directly match DWP figures, but still provides an overall representation of the movement within forecasts.

In the groups that we can directly compare it seems apparent that the forecast in December 2011 was extremely pessimistic about unemployment.  At that time DWP increased their original ITT predictions for the main JSA groups by nearly 60%. This forecast has now been reined back in quite drastically (cut by around half a million participants nationally). The drastic cut was pounced upon by Labour and other industry leaders who warned that there could be potential job losses in the industry due to the reduced figures. However, the May 2012 figures still represent an increase of around 19% against the original ITT anticipated through flow for the JSA customer groups, so the scaremongering seems a bit premature.  DWP have heartily defended the figures, but, had they been more open and transparent and released the ESA forecasts along with the JSA forecasts, they would not have opened themselves up to such criticism.  Until they release the ESA forecasts the figures only tell half the story, and there will be accusations that they are trying to hide something.

Trends identified are:

  • the number of JSA 18-24s has dropped since the original ITT in many areas – possibly a sign of the impact expected with the Youth Contract.
  • the IB and IS figures have been cut drastically – these were not issued in the original ITT, but have been slashed by nearly 75% since December.  It’s unclear whether this is due to optimistic profiling in the first instance (although you would assume lessons were learned from the inaccurate profiling of ESA volunteers).
  • JSA early access in the South East and the North West have been cut substantially against the December 2011 forecast and the original ITT.

We hope you find the spreadsheet useful.  It will be updated when the next forecasts are released

30 July 2012 

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