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Work Programme - is it working?

Ministers have admitted that targets for the Work Programme have not been met. Photo: ITV News

It is the flagship of the Government's welfare to work schemes and it's costing taxpayers £5 billion a year.

I'm at the DWP HQ in Westminster where the Employment Minister Mark Hoban has told us the target of 5.5% getting into work for six months has not been reached - the figure is 3.53%.

For months there has been criticism from Labour as well as a clutch of think tanks - and even some charities.

The programme has been operated since the summer of 2011 - aiming to get people back to work using a network of private companies and charities.

The providers receive bonus payments when they place somebody in work for six months.

There is concern that some provides seem to be doing a lot better than others, meaning the outcome for individuals may depend on factors over which they have virtually no control.

The Government insists that it is still too early to make a judgement on the Work Programme, but today's figures will do nothing to inspire confidence.

It was designed and started in better times - before we were in the double dip situation.

Now there will be searching questions about whether these changed circumstances should see a change in the Work Programme.