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The Work Programme is the Government’s main welfare-to-work programme. Unemployed people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are referred on to the programme from their local Jobcentre Plus, and remain on the programme for up to two years.

The scheme is run by providers who have the freedom to introduce and implement their own ideas and schemes to help unemployed participants find work. Providers are paid by results: they receive a job outcome payment after a participant has spent a minimum length of time in employment (either 13 or 26 weeks), and sustainment payments for every 4 weeks the participant remains in employment thereafter. The harder it is to help an individual into work, the higher the payment the provider receives.

Between June 2011 (when it began) and December 2015, 1.81 million people were referred to the Work Programme in Great Britain and 503,160 participants achieved a job outcome. Industry figures suggest that 770,000 participants spent at least some time in work over this period, including those who have not achieved job outcomes (or are yet to do so).

Contracts for the Work Programme will expire in April 2017.  It was announced in the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015 that the Work Programme would be replaced with a new Work and Health Programme.

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