FIRMS delivering the Government's flagship programme for helping the long-term unemployed find work have said 20,000 jobseekers are now being helped every month.
More than 200,000 jobseekers have found employment through the Work Programme, under which organisations are paid to help the unemployed into a job, since it was launched in June 2011, figures showed.
The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade body for the welfare to work industry, said criticism of the scheme was unfair, predicting that an increasing number of people will be helped into a sustained job.
The Government will publish data showing how many people have remained in a job for six months after being helped off long-term unemployment. The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI) predicted the figures will show performance targets were missed due to the poor state of the economy.
The ERSA said the programme was proving better value for money to the taxpayer than any comparable welfare to work scheme in the past 20 years.
The Work Programme will save the taxpayer around £1 billion, with an average "cost per job" of just over £2,000, compared with £3,300 under Labour's New Deal, or £7,800 for Employment Zones.
Almost a third of those who started the Work Programme in June 2011 have been supported into a job so far, said the ERSA. More than 64,000 people found work under the programme in the three months to September, it was reported.
Kirsty McHugh, chief executive of the ERSA, said: "Although it is still relatively early days for the Work Programme, these figures show that the Work Programme is making a real difference to people's lives. Not only have over 200,000 people been moved from long-term unemployment into work, but there is clear evidence that month-on-month performance is building which means there will be a consistent rise in sustained employment numbers in the future."
The CESI said all providers were likely to miss their targets because of the economic downturn. "This in turn will have reduced funding for many of the long-term unemployed just at the time that they will have needed it most," said chief executive Dave Simmonds.
Under the Work Programme, which was launched in June 2011, providers can earn between £3,700 and £13,700 per person, depending how hard it is to help an individual, with an initial payment of between £400 and £600.
© Press Association 2012