A welfare-to-work programme run by the voluntary sector and funded by the Scottish government has "comprehensively outperformed" the Work Programme, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations said today.
The SCVO said the Community Jobs Scotland programme, which funds young people to work at least 25 hours a week for six months and which it runs jointly with Social Enterprise Scotland, had succeeded in getting 40 per cent of the 1,861 people in the programme into long-term employment. Another 4 per cent entered employment or training.
The programme is based on a model similar to that of the Future Jobs Fund, which was run by the last Labour government and ended in March 2011, and costs up to £6,175 for each person involved.
The SCVO and Social Enterprise Scotland receive a 5 per cent fee between them as part of the cost. The rest of the cost is the wages of the unemployed people. All work placements in the programme were with one of 448 participating third sector organisations.
Data produced yesterday by the Department for Work and Pensions shows that about 25 per cent of those involved in the Work Programme since June last year were no longer claiming benefits after three months.
Martin Sime, chief executive of the SCVO, said an independent appraisal had shown how effective Community Jobs Scotland was.
He said that even though CJS and the Work Programme were difficult to compare, because CJS had fewer participants and covered a limited age group, there was still sufficient evidence to show its model was better at getting people into work.
"The Scottish government may be paying more per participant in a scheme like this, but it is still saving money because it is getting much better results," he said. "We know what works when it comes to getting people into jobs. Jobseekers need support and help. They need to be treated as if they want to find work.
"They don’t need to be dragooned into unsuitable opportunities and forced to do all sorts of ridiculous things. They don’t need to be threatened with losing their benefits."
Chris Grayling, the employment minister, said in a statement: "The first figures from the Work Programme show that it is making good progress in meeting its objectives at a fraction of the cost of previous schemes.
"The problem with the Future Jobs Fund and initiatives like it is that they require huge up-front costs from the taxpayer with no certainty of a job at the end.
"We think that Work Programme-style support and a big increase in the number of apprenticeships is the best way to help young people."