Government almost halves number of people expected to use scheme, raising fears of job losses among welfare-to-work staff.

The government'​s flagship employment scheme is facing an "​almighty mess"​, Labour has said, after a revision of official forecasts showed 1 million fewer people would be eligible.

In the latest blow to the work programme, in which companies are paid by results to find work for the long-term unemployed, the government has almost halved the number of people expected to use the scheme. There are now fears that people hired to find work for the unemployed could in turn lose their jobs.

Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "​Chaos is engulfing the government'​s flagship back-to-work scheme. Unemployment is at a 16-year high and yetwelfare to work now appears to be in the hands of the Keystone Cops."​

The government disclosed in May that 1.4 million people would be eligible for the scheme, rather than the 2.6 million forecast in December. This represents a 43% fall in the number of people expected to go through the work programme between now and 2015-16.

Government sources acknowledged there was a surprising spike last December in projections by the Office for Budget Responsibility of the number of people who would apply for jobseeker'​s allowance. The OBR, the government'​s independent economic forecaster, has repeatedly revised downwards its forecasts for economic growth.

Full story in the Guardian


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