Revealed: How the DWP lied about Clegg’s Youth Contract
On Nov 25th 2011, the Department for Work and Pensions issued a press release about the new Youth Contract, announced with great fanfare by Nick Clegg. The press release included this statement:
An extra 250,000 Work Experience places over the next three years, taking the total to at least 100,000 a year. This will come with an offer of a Work Experience place for every 18 to 24 year-old who wants one, before they enter the Work Programme.
Further to my complaint to the BBC about its handling of this press release, I submitted a FOI request to DWP seeking details on how the supposed £1bn Youth Contract was made up. The request was made well before the latest revelations about “workfare”.
Yesterday I received my reply. This stated:
The Get Britain Working measures includes Work Experience, sector-based work academies and Mandatory Work Activity.
Nowhere in the November press release was Mandatory Work Activity mentioned. This suggests DWP were keen to keep its part in the Youth Contract secret.
More importantly, this means that the DWP’s claim that the scheme is “for every 18 to 24 year-old who wants one“ must be a direct lie, since clients are forced into Mandatory Work Activity on the claim that they do not want to engage.
The text of the FOI reply is copied below:
Dear Mr Cotterill,
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 22 January 2012. You asked:
Please provide a full breakdown of the costs of the Youth Contract set out in your press release of 25th November 2011, and available online at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/2011/nov-2011/dwp132-11.shtml
The statement indicates in the first paragraph that the total value of the Youth contract is £1bn, and four of the five items set out in the press release have costs set against them. The final item (work experience) has no cost set against it. Please therefore provide a copy of any summary paper put together within the Department for Work and Pensions which give details on how the total value of £1bn is reached.
The Youth Contract is a package of measures covering several Government Departments worth almost £1bn and was announced on 25th November 2011 http://www.dpm.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/news/1-billion-package-tackle-youth-unemployment. The table below sets out the anticipated expenditure for each element of the Youth Contract. It covers the overall cost of the Youth Contract (£939m) of which the DWP element is £660m, with the remainder going to other Government Departments and the Devolved Administrations.
Net cost of wage incentive and Work Programme £391
JCP Support £169
Expansion of Get Britain Working measures £93
Sub-total for Employment support DWP £660
Northern Ireland consequentials @ 2.9% £19
Sub total for employment measures £679
Outreach & Skills
Sub total for outreach and skills £260
Total Cost £939
• Jobcentre Plus (JCP) support includes the cost of weekly face-to-face contact from five months and extra advisor support.
• The Get Britain Working measures line includes Work Experience, sector-based work academies and Mandatory Work Activity.
• Outreach and skills includes funding for Apprenticeships and support for 16 and 17 year olds.
• Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) refers to planned Departmental expenditure. More information on public spending planning can be found at: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/psr_spend_plancontrol.htm
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.
Labour Market Interventions Division