The chairman of a committee that oversees the government's spending watchdog has said she was "angry" that a government work programme was failing to deliver good enough results.
"The DWP has not delivered the much needed improved performance on the Work Programme since my committee last examined it in late 2012 and it is very clear to me that it still has a mountain to climb if it is to help those most in need," said Margaret Hodge, of the Commons Public Accounts Committee.
It comes after the National Audit Office found that welfare-to-work scheme was paying private contractors bonuses even when they were under-performing, in a report disputed by the DwP which is running the programme.
A flagship government scheme aiming to get the long-term unemployed into jobs managed to get less than a third of its latest participants into work, according to data highlighted in a new report.
Just 32% of the privately-run scheme's latest intake found jobs, below the 33% minimum success rate demanded by the DwP and under its predicted 39%, the National Audit Office said. It said the programme was unlikely to get better results than previous Government schemes.
The Employment Related Services Association, which represents the Work Programme providers, insisted that it was an achievement to have maintained employment rates despite a "more challenging economic backdrop".
Tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money is being paid out to under-performing firms delivering the government's work programme, Whitehall's spending watchdog has warned.
'Flaws' in contracts drawn up with the companies delivering the welfare-to-work scheme means that even the worst-performing firms are expected to get bonuses, the National Audit Office has said.
It found that the bill is likely to reach £31 million in 2014-15, while it could have cost £6 million if more accurate measures of success had been used.
The way that contracts are drawn up also means that it is difficult for the government to fire companies which are failing to get good enough results, the NAO said.
The Department for Work and Pensions has disputed the facts of the report.
Sweeping changes to the way separated couples financially support their children have isolated single parents and made them feel like they are "going it alone", a 32-year-old mum has told Good Morning Britain.
Ayse Inal, who has a four-year-old son and a difficult relationship with his father, said she was "really angry, because the money that is supposed to be coming to my son, they [Child Maintenance Service] are actually going to be taking a portion of that money."
Parents who have split up will have to pay the Government "4p in the pound" if they need to use the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS) because they cannot be civil enough to come to informal arrangement themselves, the minister for pensions said.
Steve Webb assured Good Morning Britain the new system was "much more effective" than the previous Child Support Agency.
"If the Dad for example, gets a pay rise, we automatically go to tax records, update the figures so maintenance will go up every year there is a pay rise. That will help parents with children."
The new Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will start charging a "£50-£300 finding fee" to locate an ex-partner who has fallen behind on child support payments, it has emerged.
The Department for Work and Pensions is introducing sweeping reforms to the previously free CSA, including turning it into the CMS.
Other charges include:
- A £50 charge if the CMS has to arrange a deduction from an employer.
- A further £50 if they have to take a late child support payment out of a bank account.
- Taking a former partner to court will now cost £300.
The Government is writing to 52,000 parents to begin closing their Child Support Agency (CSA) arrangements and inform them of potential charges if they cannot come to an informal compromise.
A new agency called Child Maintenance Service will replace the CSA and will collect money on behalf of parents who fail to come to an informal agreement.
However, the Government will now start charging families for this service.
Parents have the option of a family based arrangement - which will cost nothing - or face a £20 charge if they use direct pay.
However, if one parent refuses to pay and the Child Maintenance Service intervenes then both adults will be charged.
An influential group of MPs said giving the taxman the power to recover money directly from personal bank accounts without some form of prior independent oversight would be "wholly unacceptable".
The Commons Treasury Committee also dismissed George Osborne's argument that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) already had similar powers to collect child maintenance.
A Department for Work and Pensions minister has said he is 'pleased' that Atos will receive no compensation after it ended its contract with the Government over controversial assessments of whether benefits claimants are fit to work.